Observations From Eagles Training Camp
By Scott Daniels
Training camp is underway and, unfortunately, negativity has engulfed the Eagles pre-season preparations. Riley Cooper’s stupidity has taken away the focus on what could be the most intriguing seasons in a long time. So as Chip Kelly and company brace themselves for what could be a tumultuous ride, here’s a peak at some of the top storylines from Eagles mini-camp.
Regrettably, Cooper’s racist remarks have taken center stage and I’m not so sure the Eagles, or the NFL for that matter, have acted appropriately. The NFL decided not to implement any punishment, and the Eagles fined Cooper at first then excused him from team activities so he could seek counseling. This drew public outcry, but even worse, some of his teammates verbally expressed their loss of respect for him.
Cooper’s comments were unbelievably dumb, but this is a locker room disaster that could easily spill over to the field. Prior to his dismissal from camp, Cooper was often seen by himself during drills and practically isolated from his teammates. If this continues, Kelly will have no choice but to release him. His apology was heartfelt, but the Eagles cannot afford to let one player’s senselessness blow up a locker room.
Michael Vick’s Progress
Over the last few seasons, Vick has had a major problem with his balls getting swatted at the line. No one can dispute his ability to elude the pass rush and break out of the pocket, but he has to be better delivering strikes to his receivers in the pocket. To help Vick achieve this, Kelly has members of his staff wearing large panels extending up from their shoulders to imitate an errant hand from those enormous, yet pesky defensive lineman.
So far, Vick has struggled.
Kudos to Kelly on the creativity with this drill, but let’s hope Vick improves on his accuracy. Nick Foles is breathing down his neck, and as much as Vick appears to be the team’s leader, he has not won this quarterback job just yet.
Damaris Johnson Heating Up
As expected, this young wide receiver is already wowing the Eagles coaching staff in just about every drill. Yards after the catch is in this guy’s blood. He certainly is not the biggest guy on the field, but in space, he’s a terror.
Kelly knows he has a weapon with him. Beyond the slot or three-receiver set, Johnson has the No. 2 receiver job in his sights. If Cooper is out of the picture, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be given the opportunity.
Matt Barkley Out Of The Quarterback Conversation
He was a great pick in the fourth round. With a quarterback controversy already brewing in Philly, why not throw in a hot-name quarterback from USC? Kelly’s intentions were clear: no one’s job is safe now that he’s in town. Players will have to adjust, or they’ll be replaced.
For a while, Barkley was adamant about competing for the starting role. But if mini-camp has shown us anything thus far, Vick and Foles are the frontrunners for the job. They’ve had the majority, if not all, of the snaps with the projected starters. Most people saw this coming, but it’s virtually a foregone conclusion that Barkley will be holding a clipboard this season.