The Philadelphia Eagles will open training camp for all the players at the NovaCare Center on Wednesday, July 24 with possibly its most talented team in years. That would include the Eagles team that won the 2018 Super Bowl.
The Eagles appear to be strong at just about every position. Of course, some areas may be stronger then others. Nevertheless, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has the makings of a team that could contend for the NFC championship.
As training camps begins, Pederson will have a chance to look at the new acquisitions from the off season and the draft picks leading into the preseason. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz will certainly be one of the players to watch.
The Eagles would like to see the Carson Wentz who was having an MVP-like season in 2017 before he tore his ACL. Wentz finished that season with 3,296 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Immediately following his injury, Nick Foles stepped in to lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl championship.
Last year, Wentz missed the first two games of the season as Foles was the starter. Then, Wentz stepped and played 11 games but sustained a back injury. He missed the remainder of the season as well as the playoffs. Foles came in for Wentz and played the rest of the way including the postseason.
After the season, Foles became a free agent and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. So, this is Wentz’s show. Training camp and the preseason will give him an opportunity to work with the receivers in getting his timing down and get a feel for moving around in the pocket.
Wentz should have a prolific passing attack. He has some great receivers with Alshon Jeffery (65 receptions for 843 yards and 6 touchdowns), Nelson Agholor (64 catches for 736 yards and 4 TDs) and tight end Zack Ertz (116 catches for 1,163 yards and 8 TDs).
However, the difference maker could be the return of wide receiver DeSean Jackson who started his NFL career with the Eagles in 2008. Jackson spent six seasons with the Eagles before moving onto the Washington Redskins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively. The Eagles got Jackson from Tampa Bay in an off season trade. The three-time Pro Bowler had 41 catches for 774 yards and four touchdowns. He had four receptions for 129 yards including a 75-yard TD in Tampa Bay’s 27-21 win over the Eagles last season.
Jackson, 32, can still stretch the field with his speed. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder gives the Eagles a deep threat in the passing game. It would be good to see Wentz and Jackson develop some chemistry.
Running back Jordan Howard figures to be a big part of the ground attack. Howard was picked up in a trade with the Chicago Bears. The 6-foot, 204-pounder had 250 carries for 935 yards and nine TDs with the Bears last season. Howard has pretty good speed and can run between the tackles. He’ll garner some attention in training camp.
On defense, Malik Jackson was a terrific player for the Jacksonville Jaguars the last three years. The Eagles signed him in the offseason. Jackson, a defensive tackle, gives the team size and quickness up front. A year ago, he had 30 total and 23 solo tackles with 3.5 sacks. Jackson, a 6-foot-5, 295-pounder could add some depth on the defensive line.
The Eagles should take a good look at three rookies — offensive tackle Andre Dillard, running back Miles Sanders and defensive end Shareef Miller.
Dillard was a first round pick coming out of Washington State. The 6-foot-5, 311-pounder gives the Eagles a young prospect on the offensive line. Training camp and preseason could be huge for him.
Sanders was a second round pick from Penn State. The 5-foot-11, 211-pound running back played extremely well for the Nittany Lions last year. He rushed for a career-high 1,274 yards and earned All-Big Ten recognition. The Eagles have a crowded backfield, but Sanders has a lot of ability.
Miller was a fourth round selection from Penn State. The former George Washington High and All Public League standout plays defensive end. A year ago, Miller, a 6-foot-4, 254-pounder, had 41 total and 25 solo tackles with 7.5 sacks. This is an important training camp and preseason for him.
The training camp should be a busy and exciting time for the players and coaches.