The Philadelphia Eagles finally had their entire team report to training camp on July 25. Now that the Eagles are all in place, the stage is set for their most eventful training camp in years. However, all of Philadelphia will likely just focus on Chip Kelly and all his quarterbacks, when there are more storylines than that.
The main story of camp will likely be the race to start the season opener at Washington on Sept. 9. Yet while Kelly, Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Dennis Dixon and more get all the attention, other figures will have a lot to start proving as well.
Here is a list of all the other important figures to keep an eye on at training camp, as the Eagles need them to come through just as much as Kelly and the quarterbacks. If they can’t, it won’t matter who starts under center — especially since they’ll likely get benched or hurt anyway without any support.
McCoy hasn’t played since mid-November of last year, but the Eagles need him to be completely healthy now. With Andy Reid gone and with the quarterback race uncertain, McCoy and the running game could finally get some real responsibility. He exclaimed he wanted to be “dominant” when he arrived at training camp on July 25, and the Eagles would have a much smoother transition under Kelly if he was.
Johnson was Kelly’s first ever draft pick and the No. 4 overall selection, making his career an early referendum on the Kelly era. Of course, the Eagles can’t expect the right tackle to make an impact like Reid’s first ever pick did. But even if he isn’t McNabb, Johnson needs to be a centerpiece for the Eagles’ new and hopefully improved offensive line.
Johnson and the offensive line need leadership from Philadelphia’s newest offensive line coordinator. Like Kelly, Stoutland is an NFL rookie, although he has coached in college for the last 11 years. Adjusting to the NFL would be hard for anyone, but being trusted to fix one of the league’s worst lines — and perhaps protect one of the league’s most fragile quarterbacks in Vick — could be Herculean for Stoutland at first.
Jackson and Maclin
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin
Although Kelly’s offense is supposed to favor mobile quarterbacks like Vick, his signal caller will still need to throw. On paper, having star receivers like Jackson and Maclin should make that easier, yet the Eagles have suffered from Jackson’s inconsistency and Maclin’s injuries in the last two years. If Philadelphia is going to rub up the scoreboard again, its two best receivers must be highlight reel caliber again.
Kelly is the face of the Eagles’ new offense, but its other mastermind is in the shadows by comparison. Shurmur worked in Philadelphia under Reid and just came off a tough head coaching stint with the Cleveland Browns, yet he has the experience to balance Kelly out. If Shurmur can turn Kelly’s grandiose visions and plays into a workable NFL offense, the Eagles might just be onto something.
While the Eagles will make headlines for their offense in one way or another, Philadelphia’s defense is even shakier. Kelly can do all the experiments he wants, but if new defensive coordinator Davis can’t make a difference, the Eagles will have to win shootouts every week.
Philadelphia used to have one of the most feared offenses and defenses in the NFL. If it can’t get that back with Kelly’s unconventional offense, renewed vigor from Davis’s defense will have to do.