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Three Eagles Making a Move Off the Bubble

Patrick Johnson, Josiah Scott and Noah Togiai have dramatically increased their value to the Eagles this summer

Before training camp began, most would have labeled Patrick Johnson, Josiah Scott, and Noah Togiai as bubble players for the Eagles with a wide range of potential outcomes.

In the case of Johnson, a seventh-round pick in 2021, the arrival of Kyron Johnson as a sixth-rounder this year seemed like a potential problem because the latter arrived from Kansas with the rep of being a solid special-teamer on top of his pass-rushing skills as the potential backup to Haason Reddick as SAM linebacker.

Michael Clay, however, downplayed that perceived advantage when asked about it by earlier this month.

"That's a very interesting question. ... When they go out there, there are veteran guys that are savvy, there are guys that know some tricks of the trade and it's more of just the learning experience with that," the special teams coordinator said. "So I wouldn't say they have an advantage. It's nice that they did play a lot coming in college, but you’ve still got to start from ground one."

Patrick Johnson was supposed to be ahead of Kyron when it came to Jonathan Gannon's defense after getting his feet wet with 111 snaps last season. What wasn't expected was the 254 reps on special teams meaning so much against the guy with 4.4 speed.

The difference was a game-high 17 reps for Patrick to just 7 for Kyron in the preseason opener against the New York Jets, something that was perhaps foreshadowed by Kyron Johnson.

"I watch Shaun Bradley," said Kyron recently when discussing his special teams role. "I mainly watch him and Patrick and T-Jack [Tarron Jackson] the dudes that have been here before me. 

"So I just sort of watch them and just do it alone. I still bring the same intensity of my own. Just trying to make sure that I don't mess up at all. And not only that, but I go full speed like I've been doing."

Patrick Johnson

Patrick Johnson

If it is a battle of the Johnsons, Patrick has outplayed Kyron to the point where Howie Roseman will have to keep three SAM LBs if he likes the rookie's upside.

“I think he has that same kind of chip on his shoulder that [I did], and I gravitate to guys like that, guys with something to prove," former undrafted free agent turned starting MIKE linebacker T.J. Edwards said on Sunday when discussing Patrick Johnson.

"Because I know how it feels, and you see it with him changing his body and him coming out here and doing extra stuff after practice and before practice and just the want-to that he’s had.”

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Moving on to Josiah Scott and it was notable that the 2021 trade pickup was behind when it came to the Roseman hype machine when compared with the organization's three second-year corners acquired post-training camp last year: Mac McCain, Kary Vincent, Jr., and Tay Gowan.

Yet it's been Scott who has proved he's the team's best slot cornerback after Avonte Maddox and further bolstered that status by cross-training at safety and seemingly lapping players like K'Von Wallace, Jaquiski Tartt, and Andre Chachere on the back end.

“Just his skillset,” defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said when asked why the Eagles wanted to see Scott on the back end. “That was a good little adjustment that we felt like, 'hey, let's take a look at him cause the nickel position is a mirrored position with the safety in some things.' He is doing a good job. Happy with how he's responded to that, and we will see where it goes.”

Maddox did the same thing earlier in his career and some have ended held on to the possibility of a full-time move for him, although that's no longer even debated inside the NovaCare Complex.

“[Scott has] shown that he can do both,” Maddox said. “Just coming from my experience playing both, it’s just showing that you’re able to play multiple positions and be able to compete at a high level at them. Making the depth better on the depth chart. You’ve got guys that can play multiple positions, it’s a good thing.”

Togiai, meanwhile, was seemingly buried entering camp as a 2020 undrafted free agent once lost to waivers to Indianapolis before being brought back and quickly turning into an afterthought.

Every once in a while, though, certain players remind you that the NFL is sometimes what it claims to be, a meritocracy.

Togiai has taken advantage of a hamstring injury to rookie Grant Calcaterra to show that he's the second-best tight end in camp behind Dallas Goedert even though the coaching staff is still defaulting to Jack Stoll for now.

Perhaps relevancy is short-term for Togiai until Calcaterra can prove he's healthy or Tyree Jackson finishes his ACL rehab, but the bottom of the depth chart is now in Togiai's rear-view mirror.

"He's done a good job of getting himself in the right position," TE coach Jason Michael said. "And he's capitalized this offseason just in terms of the way he's gone about things. 

"You know, the things you see on the field as well as behind the scenes with his nutrition and his physical part. And when a guy goes down, he's really stepped up and made some plays."

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Sports. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talker Jody McDonald, every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube.com and JAKIBSports.com. You can reach John at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen