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Eagle Eye - Eagles release first depth chart

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Eagles release first depth chart

In advance of Philadelphia’s first preseason game of the year, the Eagles have released their first official depth chart of the season. Not surprisingly, the depth chart raises as many – if not more – questions than it answers, but let’s look at some of the finer points.

On offense, Eagles coach Chip Kelly apparently decided to string out the frustration of the media and fans as much as possible by listing the starting quarterback as “7 Michael Vick/9 Nick Foles” and Matt Barkley slated as the second stringer. Kelly said he will announce who will start Friday’s game against the Patriots on Wednesday.

Right now, everything points toward Vick as the starter. Vick’s had the most consistent effort in training camp and put on a good show for the fans at the second public training camp of the season on Monday. He connected with a number of different receivers on the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, throwing a touchdown to DeSean Jackson and running another in. Barkley and Foles, meanwhile, struggled on those drills. In the 7-on-7, Foles couldn’t score from three chances from the 8-yard line while Barkley failed to get into the end zone. Both displays drew audible groans from the crowd.

That touchdown to Jackson is something the Eagles hope to replicate a lot this season, and there was never any question he would be a starting wide receiver. Instead, the question was who would be next to him, and right now, on paper at least, that’s Riley Cooper. Cooper, of course, has been excused from team activities to attend counseling after he was recorded using the N-word at a country concert in June. Behind Cooper on the depth charts is Jason Avant, so expect him to start opposite Jackson this Friday against the Patriots. Listed second behind Jackson is the 5-8 Damaris Johnson, who has had a strong camp so far.

The offensive line looks fantastic compared to the way the 2012 season ended. Jason Peters is back at left tackle with Evan Mathis at left guard next to him. Jason Kelce will be snapping the ball, with Todd Herremans next to him at right guard. Currently, rookie Lane Johnson is listed at right tackle, and it’s likely to stay that way as long as he doesn’t have any setbacks. Dennis Kelly is a nice backup to have, but the Eagles don’t have much to lose by getting Johnson in there immediately to play.

Brent Celek and James Casey are listed as the tight ends, with Casey able to play as a fullback as well. Second-round selection Zach Ertz has been getting equal touches in training camp and will likely be swapped in and out on drives, but hasn’t done enough yet to dethrone Celek as the starter. One surprise at running back: Felix Jones, the former explosive back with the Cowboys, is listed fourth in the depth chart behind LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk.   

Kelly has been rather vague about what formation he will run this season, claiming it’s a hybrid of the 3-4 and the 4-3. On Monday, he officially listed his depth chart as a 3-4 formation, though this could easily change over the course of a game. This is because Trent Cole is listed as the starting outside linebacker on the right side, so he could easily slide up top to the front line to throw something different at the offense.

On that front line is Isaac Sopoaga at nose tackle with Fletcher Cox on his right and Cedric Thornton on his left. Sopoaga was really the only choice for the first team. Bennie Logan, the team’s third-round pick from LSU, is listed as his backup. Clift Geathers is behind Thornton and Vinny Curry is listed behind Cox.

With Cole on the right, Connor Barwin will be on the left side of the linebackers and DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are on the inside. This is the strongest linebacker group the Eagles have had in a long, long time and will pull a lot of leadership from it as well. Currently, Brandon Graham is listed as the backup for Barwin.

There’s only one surprise on the secondary: Nate Allen is still on the first team. He’s listed as the starting strong safety, which is surprising considering Kenny Phillips has been much better than Allen over the past few years. It’ll be interesting to see if that changes throughout the preseason or if Allen has really showed Kelly something that he likes. The rest of the secondary is different, as it was expected to be. Bradley Fletcher, the free agent signing from St. Louis, is on the left next to Cary Williams, who won a title last year with the Ravens. Former Patriot Patrick Chung is listed as the starting strong safety.

Everything looks how it should on special teams. Rookie punter Brad Wing hasn’t unseated Donnie Jones as the starter yet, and Alex Henrey is the only true kicker on the team. Jackson is still listed as the punt returner, but it would appear that Johnson would take over that role while also returning kick offs.

While the Eagles likely will not have a starter locked into place until the team prepares for its third preseason game at Jacksonville on August 24, there are a few other positions that might need to be monitored more than quarterback. Whether Cooper actually returns to the team and when it would be if he does could have a big impact on the way this offense operates, as he clearly is faster and more athletic than the aging Jason Avant.

On defense, Philadelphia is going to live and die with that group of linebackers, so they need to show chemistry and leadership early and often. It is also worth watching the way Phillips moves once he enters the game Friday evening. Maybe Allen is really outplaying him, but Phillips’ bad knees could be the cause of him being listed with the second team too. 

 

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