7 things we’ll be watching at Eagles OTA practices

7 things we’ll be watching at eagles ota practices

7 things we’ll be watching at Eagles OTA practices

The Philadelphia Eagles began “Phase Three” of their offseason workout program on Monday. For those unfamiliar, that means they’re now holding OTA practices. There’s no live contact but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.

Tomorrow’s practice on Wednesday, May 22 marks the first spring session open to media. I’ll be down at the NovaCare Complex to report back on my practice observations. Here are some of the keys things I’ll be watching for.

1 - Answers to depth chart questions

There are multiple position battles to monitor this offseason. These practices could offer some more clarity on where things stand.

  • Where does Cooper DeJean line up? The guess is we’ll see him start out as the nickel with the second team but maybe he’ll be on the outside instead. Perhaps we see him lining up at multiple positions? Really, the whole secondary bears watching. Is James Bradberry even at practice? Does Quinyon Mitchell immediately get the first team nod? How does Isaiah Rodgers fit in?
  • Who is the right guard? Tyler Steen will probably be working with the first team. But will the Eagles rotate him at all with Matt Hennessy and/or Trevor Keegan?
  • Who is WR3? With DeVante Parker unexpectedly retiring, Parris Campbell will probably be the third first team receiver along with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. Will the Eagles rotate him with Ainias Smith? Does Johnny Wilson get any looks?
  • What does linebacker look like? Nakobe Dean and Devin White are currently the projected starters. Do they get all the first team reps? Do the Eagles rotate other guys in? How does Zack Baun, whom was mentioned first by Fangio when asked about the off-ball linebackers, fit in?
  • Who is QB2? It’s probably Kenny Pickett. But it’ll be interesting to see if he gets all the QB2 reps or if the coaches actually give Tanner McKee a fair chance to win the job by mixing him in.

2 - New coordinators

The Eagles have a new offensive coordinator in Kellen Moore and a new defensive coordinator in Vic Fangio. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s any noteworthy schematic stuff. At the very least, we’ll get a first impression of what they’re like out on the practice field.

3 - New players

Notable names include:

  • Saquon Barkley
  • Bryce Huff
  • Quinyon Mitchell
  • Cooper DeJean
  • Devin White
  • Mekhi Becton
  • Kenny Pickett

4 - Injury updates

Season-ending injuries at this time of year are especially brutal. The Eagles will obviously be hoping to avoid those. But we’ll also get a look at any lingering injuries from last year.

  • Sydney Brown suffered an ACL injury in early January.
  • Nakobe Dean is coming off injuries to both of his feet.
  • Ainias Smith missed rookie minicamp while still recovering from a stress fracture.
  • Zech McPhearson suffered an Achilles injury last August.

5 - Attendance

Save for the Eagles’ mandatory minicamp from June 4-6, the team’s offseason workout program is voluntary. And so some key players might be missing from practice. Sometimes it’s a matter of established veterans (like Fletcher Cox and Lane Johnson last year) not needing the reps. Sometimes it’s more than that, as evidenced by Haason Reddick — who was not thrilled with his contract situation — not coming to OTAs last year. Again, is Bradberry going to be there?

6 - Second-year leaps

Sometimes players take a really big developmental leap from Year 1 to Year 2. The Eagles really stand to benefit from members of their 2023 NFL Draft class stepping up. Can Jalen Carter take another step closer to stardom? Is Nolan Smith going to be a factor as a pass rusher like the team needs him to be with Reddick gone? What if Kelee Ringo builds on the potential he showed late last year and proves to be the second-best corner on the team?

7 - The unexpected long shot who pops

In 2018, De’Vante Bausby randomly looked awesome in OTAs. He faded down the stretch in training camp/preseason, however, and failed to make the team before later being brought back on the practice squad. Last year, it was Christian Elliss who looked really good in spring practices. He made the team but his defensive playing time went down until injuries forced him back onto the field. The Eagles eventually cut him to sign Shaq Leonard, which turned out to be a mistake. Will we see an unexpected player really stand out this spring?

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