There really is no sports microscope quite like the one athletes get thrown under during training camp down at the NovaCare Complex every summer. With reporters tweeting about every play, keeping track of QB completions, punter hang times, who lines up where and how often, and everything else under the sun, there is a pressure cooker that is unique to the Eagles when it comes to camp performances.
Many legends have been made, and ruined, from play at Eagles training camp. And many roster spots have been earned and squandered too.
With the first practice set to be open to the media and an assortment of lucky fans starting midweek next week, which players are likely to be under the most pressure to make a good impression?
5. Arryn Siposs, P
As of right now, the Eagles have chosen not to bring in any competition at the punter spot for Siposs — much to the chagrin of many after he struggled toward the end of the regular season and in the Eagles’ playoff loss in January. He’ll have to bring his A-game, hang time and coffin corner skills to camp and show the Philadelphia brass they are right to have faith in him. Otherwise he could find himself going up against whatever punter the Eagles snag on the waiver wire later in August to compete with him.
4. Issac Seumalo, G
Coming back from injury and on a contract year, Seumalo’s starting role is not entirely assured as the team has a lot of talent and depth at interior offensive line. They drafted Cam Jurgens, the heir apparent to Jason Kelce at center in the second round this year and if Seumalo has a sluggish camp, there’s a chance the rookie could see the field sooner than expected. Seumalo also will need to contend with Jack Driscoll, a depth guard who has filled in for him in spurts over the last couple of years as he’s dealt with various injuries. Seumalo needs to come out healthy and solid to fend off a potential demotion or worse this summer.
3. Nakobe Dean, LB
It’s hard to really know what to expect from Dean, who had the pedigree, hype and resume of a first-round pick but for whatever reason fell to the Eagles in the third round back in April’s draft. He showed briefly he was healthy in OTAs this spring, but is he really good enough to start this year?
He’ll have some fierce competition in T.J. Edwards as well as Davion Taylor, all of whom are likely better suited for the MIKE role, though WILL could also be a spot for Dean. Kyzir White and Haason Reddick will likely each get substantial playing time at a rush linebacker spot. The play of the entire linebacking corps in training camp could dictate who starts and who gets snaps and where, and this might be one of the more interesting battles to keep an eye on during training camp.
2. The depth WRs
The Eagles’ top two wide receivers will be A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. It’s extremely likely that their No. 3 will be speedster Quez Watkins. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.
The team brought in a player head coach Nick Sirianni is familiar with from the Colts in Zach Pascal. They also have returning steady veteran Greg Ward and former first-round pick Jalen Reagor on the roster. Plus, track star Devon Allen will be gunning for a 53-man spot. There likely won’t be room for all of these wideouts come cutdown day. Will the team give a first-round investment one more chance? Will any of the aforementioned wideouts get meaningful targets once the season starts? This particular training camp is of incredible importance to those fighting to lineup wide this season.
1. Jalen Hurts, QB
Jalen Hurts will be under the most pressure this training camp and it’s not even close. Can you imagine the buzz this city will have if he has a dominant camp, showing growth in accuracy, decision making and other key areas that held him back in 2021? And can you imagine the despair around town if he has a horrible camp, looks like he regressed and has everyone worried?
Everywhere you look, you see NFL pundits proclaiming that the Eagles have all the ingredients to contend if Hurts winds up playing better this season. With Hurts and most of the starters likely not to participate much — if at all — in the three preseason games, it will be up to practice reports from our Jimmy Kempski and others to inform Birds fans on how Hurts looks in August.
Let the overreactions begin.
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