Several Eagles Under the Radar with Training Camp About to Open

There are obvious players that will bear watching when practice kicks off camp on Wednesday, but here are a few that aren't being talked about as much
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Jalen Hurts. Obviously.

DeVonta Smith. Well, of course.

The left tackle battle. For sure.

Those are some of the obvious players and storylines to watch this summer.

Here are some under-the-radar players to pay attention to when the Eagles hit the field for the first practice of training camp on Wednesday.

JOSIAH SCOTT

The assumption is Avonte Maddox will win the slot cornerback role, especially now that the Eagles signed veteran corner Steven Nelson to be CB2.

It wouldn’t surprise me, however, if Maddox works at free safety initially, with the assumption being Rodney McLeod won’t be ready to play Week 1 and perhaps a game or two later due to the torn ACL he suffered late last season.

If Maddox moves back to safety, that will open a battle between Josiah Scott and perhaps Zech McPhearson to see plenty of nickel snaps.

Scott was acquired for a sixth-round pick along with Jameson Houston in a trade with the Jaguars on May 18. Giving up a draft pick means Scott’s candidacy for a role beyond special teams cannot be understated.

Josiah Scott was traded to Eagles on May 18, 2021

Josiah Scott (left)

He and Maddox are close to the same size – 5-9, 185 pounds – and have similar skill sets.

If Maddox is needed at safety, Scott could end up playing more than the 80 snaps he took in Jacksonville as a rookie fourth-round pick last season.

MICHAEL WALKER

The wide receiver, who carved a name for himself as a returner while at Boston College, is similar to Scott in two ways - he came from Jacksonville and arrived after the new staff was in place. It’s likely the new coaches, specifically Nick Sirianni and perhaps OC Shane Steichen, wanted him, and that can only help his cause.

Walker was signed on June 11, a week after the team wrapped up its OTA practices on June 4. He did not play last year after being put on Injured Reserve coming out of camp then getting released with an injury settlement, so we will learn how quickly he can get back in the swing of things.

LUKE JURIGA/ROSS PIERSCHBACHER

The Eagles need a backup center for Jason Kelce. Landon Dickerson could fill that role, depending on how healthy he is. Nate Herbig certainly could do it as well.

It was interesting, however, to hear Kelce mention Juriga’s name as a possible backup and eventual replacement. When asked about the topic during his guest bartending appearance in Sea Isle City, N.J., on June 30, he said Isaac Suemalo, Juriga, and Herbig in that order.

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Seumalo isn’t moving from right guard, at least not this year.

Juriga was an undrafted free agent last year who played 14 offensive snap and 34 on special teams.

Pierschbacher, who is 6-4, 315 pounds, was a fifth-round pick of Washington in 2019 out of Alabama and was a late addition to the Eagles’ practice squad last year, signing on Dec. 14.

ELIJAH HOLYFIELD

The son of former heavyweight champion of the world, Evander Holyfield, isn’t on many peoples' radar, with most conceding that Kerryon Johnson and Jordan Howard will battle to be RB3 or RB4 behind Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and maybe rookie Kenny Gainwell.

Elijah Holyfield

Elijah Holyfield

That may very well be the case, but Holyfield had a solid camp last summer and is a battering ram at 5-10, 215. If he can improve his pass-catching and pass blocking – big ifs, for sure – he could surprise.

JAKE ELLIOTT/ARRYN SIPOSS

For all Sirianni’s talk about competition, there isn’t any for Elliott, the kicker, or Siposs, the punter.

Elliot got a big contract extension in the fall of 2019 and is counting just over $2 million against the salary cap. He struggled last year, missing two of his three kicks from the 20- to 29-yard range and making just 73.7 percent of his kicks, which is a career-low since becoming the Eagles’ full-time kicker in 2017.

Siposs was yo-yoed between the active roster and the practice squad for the Lions last year after going undrafted out of Auburn. He has yet to punt in an NFL game.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.