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Up in the Air


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Up in the Air

Posted: August 7th, 2023 | Author: Tommy Lawlor 

The NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint. To a lesser extent, the same is true of Training Camp. A slow start to camp or a couple of bad practices doesn’t mean it is crisis time. The coaches and scouts want to give players time to grow, but also know the clock is ticking as they try to find the best 53 players and get the team ready for the season. It can be tricky to find the right balance between being patient and not being aggressive enough.

TC has mostly been good for the Eagles, but there are a few players/situations worth discussing.

Backup QB

Jalen Hurts has missed three games in the past two seasons. The Gardner Minshew Experience is now playing in Indy so the Eagles need to find a new backup QB. They signed Marcus Mariota to give them an experienced, athletic player behind Hurts. Unfortunately, Mariota is off to a disappointing start in camp. Accuracy has been a real issue for him so far. Check out these comments from Jimmy Bama after Sunday night’s practice.

There was a stretch of three consecutive plays in which Mariota badly missed his intended target:

    1. He misfired high on a sideline throw over the head of Zaccheaus out of bounds.
    2. He then threw another pass over the head of tight end Jack Stoll, again, out of bounds.
    3. And finally, he sailed a third pass over the head of Joseph Ngata in the middle of the field. If there had been a safety trailing that play it would have been an easy INT.
That sequence actually drew a few grumbles from the crowd, which is hard to do in an "all love” type of open practice setting.

If Mariota has to play this season, I think you can expect to see a quarterback who will make his share of plays — particularly with his legs — as long as the Eagles are able to keep him on schedule. But if you’re looking for him to mount a comeback with throws to the intermediate and deeper areas of the field, it’s probably not going to happen.

That’s not the worst description of a backup QB, but it isn’t ideal for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. Mariota still has several weeks and multiple preseason games to show improvement. The Eagles know what he’s done in the past so I doubt they are overly concerned. But I’m sure the coaches would love to see better play come from Mariota. There is no questioning his ability to make plays. The team needs him to improve as a passer. I do think playing with the starting OL and receivers would help him. Still, you expect more from a player with his track record.

Ian Book is in his first TC with the Eagles. He hasn’t stood out and likely won’t be winning a roster spot. One of his big issues is a lack of arm strength. He doesn’t have to be John Elway, but his throws just aren’t impressive.


As long as Nakobe Dean is a stud, no issues. But he hasn’t stood out this summer and now he’s missed a couple of practices due to injury. While that’s not ideal, it isn’t terrible either. Dean is going to shine in games more than practice. And the injury seems minor. Nick Sirianni said Dean will be back soon.

Nick Morrow was expected to start alongside Dean. Morrow has had a quiet summer so far. Christian Elliss had a terrific spring and has continued to make plays this summer. He and Dean could be your starting LBs. That won’t intimidate opposing players right now, but the duo looked good together in mop-up duty last year. The team has high expectations for Dean. Elliss wasn’t expected to be this good, but he keeps checking every box. The real test for both guys will be starting in the regular season.

Shaun Bradley has impressed those watching camp. He’s not going to win a starting role, but can secure a roster spot if he continues to play well. Ben VanSumeren is a project. He has to show good potential to make the practice squad.

Recent additions Myles Jack and Zach Cunningham are in Philly to compete. They’ll start by battling for roster spots. They also will try to earn playing time. The team needed better depth at LB. Now they have multiple players battling for roles. That’s better than counting on role players and rookies to overachieve.


I think the Eagles are better at safety than some others might. The team likes Reed Blankenship and has high hopes for him. He showed a lot of promise last year. This time around he’s got some experience to add to his athleticism and ability. The spot beside him is open at this point, but this is different than LB. The Eagles have some good options.

K’Von Wallace is in his fourth season in the NFL. He played his best football last year. That only involved one start, but you could see the light finally coming on for him. He’s gotten reps with the starters a few times this summer and seems to be building on last season. Here is Jimmy Bama’s take on him.

  1. K’Von Wallace continues to get a lot of first-team reps. I don’t have an official count or anything, but at this point I would estimate that he has gotten more first-team reps at safety than Terrell Edmunds. On Sunday night, Wallace was around the ball a lot on running plays, and he had a nice little pop (without going too far) on Grant Calcaterra after a short completion.

Good for him. Not everyone progresses at the same rate. It would be kinda cool to see a safety from Clemson playing well for the Eagles. I think that happened once before. CJ Gaddis maybe?

Terrell Edmunds was brought in to add experience to the secondary. He’s gotten reps with the first team, but has also been a role player. I don’t know if the Eagles are just giving Wallace more of a chance because he’s unknown or if he’s truly out-played Edmunds.


While the Eagles had the fifth fewest punts in the league last year, this position still matters. Re-watch the Super Bowl if you need a reminder. Unfortunately neither of the punters in camp is having a good summer. Here is Brandon Lee Gowton with his take.

Neither Arryn Siposs nor Ty Zentner have looked good punting in camp but the former has been less worse than the latter.

The results of their three punts in terms of yardage and hang time:

Siposs: 45, 4.31
Siposs: 47, 4.71
Siposs: 43, 4.57

Zentner: 53, 4.31
Zentner: 40, 4.00
Zentner: 55, 4.00

Zentner posted the longer distances but his hang time was bad. He’s not giving the punt coverage team enough time in those instances. For context, the NFL’s two worst punters in average hang time last year came in at 3.85 and 4.10 seconds.

The Eagles also had Siposs and Zentner practice some directional punting. Neither of them was able to pin the ball close to the corner but Siposs came closer than the rookie did.

What in the name of Donnie Jones is going on here? Competition is supposed to push players to be better. This could be a spot where the Eagles will actively watch the waiver wire. They need to be better than last year.


Jalen Carter has been up and down. That’s not an issue for a rookie DT. He has moments where he overwhelms blockers, but has also had more than a few where the blockers got the best of him. Carter isn’t on track to start right now, but I didn’t expect him to. He should be a key role player this season. If he does start and makes an impact, that’s even better.

Nolan Smith has been one of the stars of camp. His motor and athleticism have been incredibly impressive. He’s got a lot of players in front of him, but Smith is showing that the Eagles need to find snaps for him.

Tyler Steen had a shot at being the starting RG. Cam Jurgens seems to have won that compeition. Steen is now seeing most of his time at backup LT. You love that kind of versatility from a rookie.

Sydney Brown started with the 3’s and has worked his way up. He’s now with the 2’s. Brown has impressed people with his speed. He flies downhill, closing to the ball in a flash. That’s what you want in run support. And he is physical.


I had low expectations for Kelee Ringo this year. He’s physically gifted, but needs a lot of work. Ringo has started to flash in recent days. I still don’t expect him to play this year, but it is good to see him making some plays.

Tanner McKee probably has the lead for the #3 QB spot. He’s had some good moments in camp. McKee hasn’t stood out, but you can see why the Eagles liked him enough to draft him.

DL Moro Ojomo started slow. He began flashing the past few days. Unfortunately he got poked in the eye on Sunday night. No word on his status. Ojomo is likely battling for a spot on the practice squad.


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