PHILADELPHIA– You may not recognize the Eagles when they head into training camp in late July.
The Eagles’ front office worked feverishly folding the hand dealt by former head coach and general manager Chip Kelly to redeal under the leadership of Andy Reid protégé and current head coach Doug Pederson. The changes, however, may leave the team unrecognizable to the seasoned fan.
Philly natives can appreciate a tourist’s taste for Pat’s, Gino’s or even Jim’s Cheesesteaks — but may keep the hidden gem of Max’s Steaks in North Philly under the table.
Similarly, the quarterback competition between Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz is expected to dominate the training camp conversation, but the Eagles will be searching for their diamond in the rough.
FRESH MEAT: WHO WILL BE THE NEXT STAR?
Eagles University, or so it seems, will host a plethora a rookies this training camp. Philadelphia is looking for their new favorite student to capture the hearts of locals like DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy once did. The birds, however, have their work cut out for them to rebuild. Ink was set to paper on the four-year contracts for the 2016 draft class:
QB Carson Wentz (1st round, 2nd overall)
RB Wendell Smallwood (5th round, 153rd overall)
S Blake Countess (6th round, 196th overall)
S Jalen Mills (7th round, 233rd overall)
DE Alex McCalister (7th round, 240th overall)
LB Joe Walker (7th round, 251st overall)
G Isaac Seumalo (3rd round)
T Halapoulivaati Vaitai (5th round)
The Eagles also agreed to terms with 16 rookies who will be fighting for their football lives during training camp:
LS John DePalma (West Virginia)
LB Quentin Gause (Rutgers)
TE Dillon Gordon (LSU)
G Darrell Greene (San Diego State)
C Bruce Johnson (Maine)
WR Marcus Johnson (Texas)
WR Cayleb Jones (Arizona)
RB Byron Marshall (Oregon)
RB Cedric O’Neal (Valdosta State)
WR Hunter Sharp (Utah State)
DT Aziz Shittu (Stanford)
CB C.J. Smith (North Dakota State)
LB Myke Tavarres (Incarnate Word)
WR Paul Turner (Louisiana Tech)
DT Destiny Vaeao (Washington State)
DT Connor Wujciak (Boston College)
RECAP: WHO YOU WON’T SEE AT TRAING CAMP
The slaughtering of the Eagles roster by Chip Kelly cannot be undone, but it can be combatted. Owner Jeffrey Lurie and VP of football operations Howie Roseman tried to rid themselves of every GM decision made by Kelly with the exception of Sam Bradford, in hopes to seemingly return to a more ‘Andy Reid’ style.
Remember the shocking move to deal the backbone of the Eagles offense RB LeSean “Shady” McCoy to the Bills for LB Kiko Alonzo? Well, Alonzo was flushed out with Kelly in a trade with the Dolphins after recovering from a torn ACL.
CB Byron Maxwell. Obtaining a Legion of Boom Super Bowl champion defensive back seemed liked a good idea, right? Wrong. It turned out to be another high-price bust for Kelly. After criticism of not living up to his six-year, $63 million contract – Maxwell was dealt to Miami for a top 10 draft pick.
Who can forget about the Eagles once, maybe current, archenemy obtained from the Dallas Cowboys, RB DeMarco Murray. In hopes of replacing McCoy, Murray became an easy run to stop finishing with only 702 yards and six touchdowns. Murray was sent packing to the Titans.
Roseman and Lurie also parted ways with former Jets QB Mark Sanchez, who was dealt to the Broncos for a 2017 draft pick. In his place Pederson got his Kansas City backup QB Chase Daniel.
While this was not the doing of the front office, veteran S Walter Thurmond, aka Dick Mahoney, decided to retire despite his best statistical year in the NFL.
Ahead of free-agency and his 11th season, LB DeMeco Ryans was released.
WHO YOU’LL RECONGIZE AT TRAINING CAMP
DE Fletch Cox. You better believe it. The Eagles 2012 first round draft pick recently signed a six-year $103 million extension with $63 million guaranteed. He’ll be fighting to prove his worth.
TE Zach Ertz. The Eagles put pen to paper this offseason to lock up tight end Ertz to a five-years $42 million extension, which will keep him an Eagle until 2021. Ertz racked up 853 yards, 75 receptions and two touchdowns in 2015. He highly impressed West Coast trainer Todd Durkin who called him an “old-school grinder” according for nj.com, at a San Diego training put on by Sam Bradford.
DB Malcolm Jenkins. It’s hard to call Jenkins just a safety when he does so much on the field. In 2015, Jenkins took snaps as a safety and slot corner. As the veteran heads into his eighth season, you can expect production wherever you line him up. In 2015, he forced three fumbles, had two interceptions, one touchdown and combined for 109 tackles.
T Lane Johnson, DE Connor Barwin, LB Mychal Kendricks , CB Vinny Cury, and DE Brandom Graham are other names that you’ll recognize ahead of training camp.
Will Doug Pederson be successful in bringing this team together? The beginning of that answer will take pace Monday, July 25 when quarterbacks, rookies and selected veterans are due to report to training camp. The entire team will report on Wednesday, July 27 and the first practice will begin on Thursday, July 28 at the NovaCare Complex.