Eagles Training Camp Preview: Safeties

Ed Kracz

With Malcolm Jenkins now in New Orleans, the Eagles’ safety unit is going to look vastly different than in previous seasons.

Rodney McLeod returns, but other than him, this is a relatively new group.

You can count Rudy Ford and Marcus Epps, but Epps played just 99 defensive snaps in seven games after coming over from the Vikings in midseason, and Ford was put on IR after 10 games in which he played just 16 snaps on defense.

Jenkins’ departure in free agency wasn’t the only bit of big news to hit the safety position. The other was the re-signing of Jalen Mills to be a safety after spending the first four years of his career as a cornerback.

Here’s more on the safety position as the Eagles prepare to open training camp on Tuesday:

DEPTH CHART

FS: Rodney McLeod, K’Von Wallace, Marcus Epps

SS: Jalen Mills, Will Parks, Rudy Ford

WHAT’S CHANGED

Newcomers: Will Parks came in free agency and K’Von Wallace arrived as a fourth-round draft pick.

Departures: Malcolm Jenkins. This will be a most telling loss, not only on the field, where Jenkins lined up just about everywhere except defensive line, and in the locker room, where Jenkins’ voice echoed in every corner.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Not many in Philadelphia may have seen Parks’ four years in Denver, but the product of Germantown High School in Philadelphia made plenty of plays, including a November game against the Saints as a rookie in 2016 when he recovered a blocked field goal and ran it into the end zone for the game-winning two points.

Parks has played in 62 of a possible 64 games with the Broncos and had one interception in each of his four seasons in the league.

If he is able to adapt quickly to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s scheme without the benefit of any on-field time in the offseason, he has the ability to fill some of the roles played by Jenkins.

CAMP BATTLES

There really isn’t much to speak of here, unless Mills struggles in adjusting to his new role as the strong safety. If he does, Parks could be poised to take over.

It’s unlikely that Mills will falter, however, especially considering the fondness Schwartz has for Mills and his ability to put a bad play behind him quickly and not let it fester.

ROCKY: THE LONGSHOT

Take your pick between Marcus Epps and Rudy Ford. If the Eagles keep five, one of them could stick around.

WHO STAYS ON THE 53?

The Eagles ended the season last year with three active safeties. With Avonte Maddox’s ability to play on the back end, and a plethora of cornerbacks, the team will likely keep just four players and that means the ones who stick around are McLeod, Mills, Parks, and Wallace.

WHO GOES?

Epps and Ford.

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