NFL training camps are starting all around the league. This will be the first one for Doug Pederson as the Philadelphia Eagles head coach. Pederson will get a good look at all the veterans, draft picks and free agents in the coming days at the NovaCare Complex.
“Yeah, I had a hard time sleeping last night,” Pederson said. “We left here doing meetings last night. I was just anxious to get here. I was excited to be here. I wanted to be here extremely early, but you just have to pace yourself. It’s a long camp. You have to take it day by day. I was excited to pull into work this morning to know that this is going to be my first one and get a chance to work with these guys.”
Pederson will find out who can do exactly what on the field. In addition, he may find a diamond in the rough or someone who may come out of nowhere with a chance to make the Eagles 53-man roster.
A year ago, Rasheed Bailey, a former Division II All-American wide receiver, had himself quite a training camp. Bailey, a Roxborough High product, had a sensational summer catching 10 passes for 100 yards including a touchdown reception from quarterback Tim Tebow in the team’s last preseason game against the New York Jets. He made it all the way to end of camp, but was cut before the start of the regular season. After a brief stint in the Canadian Football League, Bailey is on the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad. Although Bailey didn’t land a spot on the roster, he opened a lot of eyes with his play on the field and probably should have made the team.
In taking a look at the Eagles roster, there are some unheralded players who could garner some attention. Linebacker Myke Tavarres was signed by the Eagles as an undrafted free agent. Tarvarres, a 6-foot-1, 230-pounder, was a two-time all-conference at College of the Siskiyous (Weed, Ca.). In 2013, he joined Arkansas, but transferred to Incarnate Word in San Antonio, a Division I FCS program. Tavarres led the Cardinals in tackles (110), tackles for loss (22.5) and sacks (8.5). He could get a look at linebacker.
The Eagles are pretty solid at defensive tackle with Bennie Logan, Fletcher Cox and Beau Allen, but what about Aziz Shittu, an undrafted free agent out of Stanford? Shittu had a great career with the Cardinal. He was selected first-team All-Pac-12 after putting together career highs in tackles (57), tackles for loss (14.0) and sacks (four).
In the secondary, Jalen Mills could be a player to watch. Mills, a 6-foot, 196-pounder, was a seventh-round pick from LSU. He received All-America honors for his efforts with the Tigers. He completed his college career with 216 tackles, eight tackles for loss, six interceptions and four sacks in 46 games. Mills could push for some time at defensive back or nickel back if he has a good training camp and preseason.
On Monday, the Eagles opened training camp for rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans. The Eagles first full-team practice will take place on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
“First of all, it’s a great three days to get acclimated, number one, to the schedule,” Pederson said. “It’s great for the coaches to kind of get back into the swing of football and thinking football before we get the rest of the team in here. And then I think, thirdly, just getting the quarterbacks in here and getting their arms loose and kind of getting into a full lather before they really get cranked up Friday, Saturday and the rest of camp.”
It’s a good time for a lot of these players you may not be familiar with to make a great impression.