Opportunity Knocks

Posted: August 6th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 23 Comments »

Marcus Smith moved to DE this offseason. Unfortunately, he didn’t bring good fortune with him. Smith hasn’t stood out at his new position. Today he suffered a concussion that could really hurt his chances to make the roster.

The former 1st round pick got a new lease on life when Doug Pederson took over as coach and hired Jim Schwartz to run the 4-3 defense. The new staff hoped playing in a simpler, more aggressive system would bring out the best in Smith. Based on all the practice reports, that simply hasn’t happened. This staff won’t feel any loyalty to Smith. He either earns a roster spot or he doesn’t.

The concussion could keep him out a few days or a couple of weeks. Time is crucial for Smith, who needs to show he deserves a spot.

With Smith out now, there is a chance for another backup DE to move up the depth chart. Steven Means has played well in recent days and is doing what Smith couldn’t…getting everyone to notice him. Jimmy Bama shared his take on Means from today.

Steven Means showed well during this drill. He blew up a running play to his side five yards in the backfield, but could not make the tackle in the end zone, as he was still being blocked. He stuck with the play and was able to bring down Byron Marshall, who did a good job at least wiggling his way to about the half yard line before Means could bring him down. After the play, one of the players on the sideline yelled out, “I see you, Means!” Throughout camp, Means has been playing RDE with the third team D. Today he got reps with the twos after Marcus Smith sustained a concussion. Means has clearly been better than Smith, in my opinion.

Means was signed to the active roster in early December of last year. He’s bounced around the NFL (TB, BAL, HOU, PHI), but hasn’t been good enough to stick anywhere. Maybe he has finally found the right defense for him. He is 6-3, 260 and athletic. He had a 38.5 inch vertical jump at his Pro Day. That shows explosion and that’s critical to being effective as a Wide 9 DE. You must fire off the ball and get into the backfield.

The Eagles have 3 outstanding DEs. Bryan Braman is mainly a STer, but can come off the edge and be effective as a role player. The 5th and final spot is open. Means is making his case for the job. Rookie Alex McCallister has a lot of potential, but must get bigger and stronger. Means has outplayed him to this point. There is a long way to go before we know what will happen at the bottom of the roster, but Means has done a good job of showing he deserves serious consideration.


Tim McManus has an update on the kicker battle.

9:55 — Caleb Sturgis and Cody Parkey take turns kicking field goals. Sturgis has been more accurate overall, but in this instance has one bang off the upright and out. He’s able to connect from 50-plus yards out a moment later, however, while Parkey’s try comes up short and right.

Parkey was terrific in 2014. Sturgis was pretty good last year. This is a legitimate battle between two talented kickers. FGs are going to be the key, but KOs in preseason games will also play a part in determining which guy wins the job.

10:18 — Jalen Mills hasn’t stood out as much since the pads have come on, but looks good here as he breaks up a pass intended for Chris Givens down the left side that’s intercepted by Blake Countess. Jaylen Watkins nearly comes up with a pick a beat later, which would have been his second of the day. With both Jenkins (hamstring) and Rodney McLeod (personal reasons) out, Watkins has been getting some first-team looks at safety along with Ed Reynolds and Chris Maragos and is acquitting himself pretty well.

Mills was quiet for a bit, but it sounds like he has picked things up the past couple of days. There is nothing unusual about a rookie having some ups and downs as he goes through Training Camp. It is encouraging that Mills seems to be coming back around.

I’m curious about the backup Safeties. Watkins and Reynolds have talent. But each of them has one glaring weakness…tackling. That just happens to be arguably the most important thing for a Safety playing behind the Wide 9 front. I hope both players have made big strides in this area, but I won’t believe it until I see them in a preseason game.


Good stuff from Jeff McLane on MLB Jordan Hicks.

— That being said, the Eagles’ run defense had a strong outing – particularly middle linebacker Jordan Hicks. He shot into the backfield during a “thud” period and wrapped up Sproles for a loss. Later, Hicks shed guard Stefen Wisniewski at the second level and stopped Barner. It’s been said before, but if Hicks can stay healthy the Eagles defense will be that much better off. The first team unit was without safeties Malcolm Jenkins (hamstring) and Rodney McLeod (excused to attend a family funeral). A rotation that consisted of Ed Reynolds, Jaylen Watkins, Chris Maragos and Blake Countess took their spots.

Hicks is critical to the defense for a few reasons. First, he’s got the brains to be a good MLB. He picked up the complex 3-4 very quickly last year. Figuring out the Wide 9 and 4-3 should be easier than that. Hicks is tough and athletic, meaning he can play the run and cover well. He’s not a 250-pound thumper that struggles when dealing with speedy athletes.

Hicks is also a playmaker. He picked off 2 passes and broke up 3 others. He forced a fumble and recovered 3 others. Finding a MLB who can do more than just tackle can be hugely beneficial to a defense.

McLane also noticed Ron Brooks, who hasn’t gotten much attention recently.

Back to the first team defense, cornerback Ron Brooks stopped Burton with an open field tackle. He had several of those today. Brooks is still playing opposite McKelvin with the first team defense. It might be time to start considering the possibility that he may start the season there. Bradford connected with Jordan Matthews when the slot receiver took corner Aaron Grymes to school. They combined for a 20-yard-plus play another period later. Tight end Zach Ertz had the catch of the day when he extended for a Daniel BB.

I thought Brooks got reps with the 1’s in the spring mostly because he knew the scheme. It seems more and more like he’s genuinely impressed the coaches. I still have a hard time buying him as a starter, but we’ll see what happens.


You love the assistant coaches and players interacting like this. Practice can be long and hard. Summer days are brutally hot. Little things like this break up the monotony and bring some fun to the day. It also gets the competitive juices flowing and that can help players.


You might have thought the Eagles would add a RB just to help eat up reps, but the coaches seem to genuinely like that group of players. WR is a different story. The coaches aren’t sure of much beyond Jordan Matthews. They’ll keep looking around.


23 Comments on “Opportunity Knocks”

  1. 1 Opportunity Knocks - said at 12:30 AM on August 6th, 2016:

    […] Tommy Lawlor Marcus Smith moved to DE this offseason. Unfortunately, he didn’t bring good fortune with […]

  2. 2 A_T_G said at 12:38 AM on August 6th, 2016:

    Alternate title: Steven Means Business.

  3. 3 TXEaglesFan said at 2:27 AM on August 6th, 2016:

    I was thinking d ends justifies the Means.

  4. 4 A_T_G said at 12:36 AM on August 7th, 2016:

    That is much better.

  5. 5 bubqr said at 2:17 AM on August 6th, 2016:

    So what is the O/U on when Rowe will move to Safety? Considering his profile and our lack of solid backup safeties, I think it’s a matter of time.

  6. 6 P_P_K said at 10:34 AM on August 6th, 2016:

    Interesting idea. Does he have a background or skills to convert to Safety?

  7. 7 Rellihcs said at 12:31 PM on August 6th, 2016:

    Played that position more than corner in his life… So…

  8. 8 P_P_K said at 2:13 PM on August 6th, 2016:

    Thanks, I didn’t realize that.

  9. 9 Dan in Philly said at 11:44 AM on August 6th, 2016:

    He can tackle. He might be great at safety

  10. 10 Insomniac said at 2:56 PM on August 6th, 2016:

    If he doesn’t get it within the next 2 years, he’ll most likely be converted to safety. He could be Jenkins 2.0 a.k.a bad CB/good safety.

  11. 11 usmcnole said at 5:12 PM on August 6th, 2016:

    Thats what I’m thinkin. But whos spot would he take? Jenkens or mcleod?

  12. 12 Insomniac said at 5:48 PM on August 6th, 2016:

    If Mcleod doesn’t live up to his contract then he’ll likely have competition. Jenkins is on the wrong side of 20, so if either of them don’t play well this year then neither one of them is safe.

  13. 13 usmcnole said at 5:53 PM on August 6th, 2016:

    I hope he can stick. He seems like he can be a stud if/when he puts it together

  14. 14 Insomniac said at 5:54 PM on August 6th, 2016:

    Same but this year has yet to be played so it’s all assumptions at this point. Hope all 3 of them play at a high level for years.

  15. 15 Dan in Philly said at 8:10 AM on August 6th, 2016:

    Maybe Carroll can become a safety if he can’t cover.

  16. 16 Rellihcs said at 12:30 PM on August 6th, 2016:

    He can cover. His issue is staying healthy.

  17. 17 P_P_K said at 10:35 AM on August 6th, 2016:

    I’m psyched to see what Hicks can do this season. How cool it will be to have a stud middle linebacker.

  18. 18 Ark87 said at 1:24 PM on August 6th, 2016:

    I worry about his durability. While the system is simpler to pick up, he probably won’t be kept as clean to make plays as the 3-4. He’ll likely be taking on much larger men at the point of attack, regularly. I really like Hicks, but he makes me look nervously at the depth behind him.

  19. 19 P_P_K said at 2:16 PM on August 6th, 2016:

    Those Bill Davis days have traumatized many of us.
    Lack of mlb depth is a glaring problem, but if Jordan can stay healthy, he and the entire the front seven have great potential. Here’s to good health.

  20. 20 PacificPurl said at 3:49 AM on August 7th, 2016:

    Ark was referring to Washburn’s wide 9. What did that have to do with Davis?

  21. 21 P_P_K said at 3:51 AM on August 7th, 2016:

    You’re right. I meant Washburn.

  22. 22 Gary Barnes said at 10:48 AM on August 6th, 2016:

    Daily posts, you’re spoiling us, Tommy. Thanks

  23. 23 truehaynes said at 7:45 PM on August 6th, 2016:

    Random post but Deon long went to Maryland and I took a winter class. Really cool dude. He used to give me rides home from class. Has legit talent but terrible luck with Injuries in college