Answering a few lingering questions as Eagles break for summer
The Eagles practiced indoors for all of 25 minutes on Thursday, the final day of their three-day mandatory minicamp.
They then scattered to various destinations. Time is theirs for the next five weeks or so before reporting back to training camp on July 24.
Head coach Doug Pederson told them before they left that he appreciated their attendance and hard work throughout the spring workouts and OTAs. He said to them that he liked their attention to detail and effort.
Pederson then told his team to “enjoy the next five and a half weeks. Spend time away from football with your family. Spend time with them and friends. And then the third, and probably the most important thing, is get your mind ready to go.
“Get your mind right these next couple of weeks. And that's just not players. I was talking to myself, coaching staff, everybody because when we come back in July, we hit the ground running and we're ready to go.”
By all accounts it was a productive offseason of work for the Eagles. Everyone who participated emerged relatively healthy. So that’s a good thing.
There are questions that remain, though. Every team has them in June, and the Eagles are no different.
Here are some of them:
Will the veteran players who spent the spring rehabbing be ready to start training camp?
It’s a list that includes right guard Brandon Brooks (Achilles), defensive end Derek Barnett (shoulder), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (foot), safety Rodney McLeod (knee) and cornerbacks Jalen Mills (foot) and Ronald Darby (knee).
Dabry and McLeod both said they would be ready to go, but the team will likely take it slow with them and the others.
Brooks may not be ready in time for the opener. The others should be.
Can Jason Peters navigate the season healthy?
Way too early to tell, but at 37, the odds are not good. Rookie first-round pick Andre Dillard better be ready.
(Pederson talks Peters in attached video)
Will Miles Sanders make an impact this season?
It’s already disconcerting that the second-round draft pick suffered a hamstring injury during rookie camp the weekend of May 11 and did not practice the rest of the spring.
We all know the Eagles’ history with hamstring injuries, and it’s not good.
“Obviously it’s going to be a little more difficult now that we're going on this vacation, on this break,” said Pederson. “I fully expect him to come in ready, come in healthy, ready to go. We have to get him in the mix early.
“Definitely have to see exactly where he is mentally from all the mental reps that he took this spring, and slowly work him into the mix and see just how he can help us on game day.”
Is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside the real deal?
The second-round rookie receiver sure looks like it. He gives Carson Wentz another red-zone weapon, and I’m putting him down for four touchdowns this season.
Will Malcom Jenkins have a new contract or more guaranteed money by the time camp opens?
I’m guessing he will because something certainly happened to make him show up at mandatory minicamp after all signs pointed to him holding out. Jenkins mentioned that he spoke with team owner Jeffrey Lurie and feels valued and respected. Something will get done.
Can Mack Hollins and/or Shelton Gibson hold onto their roster spots?
It’s not so easy to see the Eagles giving up just yet on Hollins, who had a promising rookie season in 2017, but he is still presumably hampered by an injury that cost him his entire second season and limited him to just individual drills during mandatory minicamp. Gibson also showed some flash in his first two seasons but ended minicamp with an undisclosed injury, though he was on the field watching drills.
The Eagles have some receivers that could be in position to unseat either one or both incumbents. The three that really jumped out were Marken Michel, Greg Ward, and Charles Johnson. Carlton Agudosi, a 6-6, 220-pound target from Rutgers, has potential and some of that showed through during the OTAs.
Are the Eagles any closer to figuring out the puzzle at defensive end?
It’s difficult to judge a defensive lineman’s play when the team s only practicing in helmets and no pads, but there were some flashes shown by second-year player Josh Sweat, third-year man Daeshon Hall, and rookie Shareef Miller. Of course, the full story won’t be known until pads come on and the hitting ramps up later this summer.
As it was Pederson singled out Sweat.
“I think Josh Sweat is in a great place right now,” said the coach.
Did Nate Sudfeld inspire confidence?
The backup quarterback had his moments, but more consistency is still needed. The four preseason games in August will be a good barometer to deermine whether or not the Eagles can win with Sudfeld if Wentz goes down for a third straight year.