Ten things we learned about the Eagles during OTA’s


The final week of OTA’s concluded on Friday for the Philadelphia Eagles, who now have a short break before mandatory minicamp takes place. There was plenty to talk about from the moment the team took to the NovaCare Complex for the first time right up until Doug Pederson met the media today. Here are ten things we learned from the Eagles OTA’s.

There’s a quarterback competition…sort of:
Heading into OTA’s, the main topic of conversation was the quarterback situation. The world was keen to see how Sam Bradford’s return to the NovaCare would play out after such a stern holdout and that storyline ran through every session. Bradford settled in quickly and new Head Coach Doug Pederson was quick to praise both his form and his leadership..but he also said something that caused a few people to scratch their heads.

Confirming starters and promoting competition is something most teams in the NFL do regularly, but considering how unique the Eagles quarterback situation is..it seems like a very obscure route to go down. The general concept is that Bradford is the guy..but it is subject to change if he gets complacent..enticing the other quarterbacks to keep Bradford sharp. Either way, all three quarterbacks have shown great promise in OTA’s..but it’s Bradford who’s leading the “competition”.


Making the most of an opportunity:
Darren Sproles was one of two players to miss all of the Eagles OTA’s and it’s a decision that may come around to haunt him. 27-year old Kenjon Barner has been getting his fair share of first team reps and even moreso when Ryan Mathews missed time with an illness. I posted an All-22 recently showcasing why he could be primed for a bigger role under Doug Pederson and it seems as though he’s hit the ground running.

It’s expected that Ryan Mathews will lead the Eagles backfield in 2016..but how the reps are distributed behind him will be one of the more exciting stories to keep an eye on as training camp and pre-season draw closer. If there’s one thing we know however..the competition is starting to heat up.


Jordan Matthews staying inside after all?
It was made clear very early on this year that Jordan Matthews is likely to transition to the outside. It’s something that we’ve seen during the team’s OTA’s over the past few weeks but is it something we’re going to see in the future?

Yes. Sure, Pederson may feel Matthews is better suited to a slot role..but it’s June. There’s a lot that can happen between now and Training Camp and regardless of where Matthews lines up in September, he will be lined up in a position that suits him best and one that will benefit the team the most. Matthews has been very effective as a slot-receiver and in a new Offense is likely to hit that elusive 1,000 yard season. It’s important to avoid jumping the gun and let things play out..if Matthews works better in the slot, play him there. The third year receiver is aiming to establish himself as a leader this season and has looked impressive during the OTA sessions open to the media.


Cornerback competition is viscious:
From Denzel Rice forcing fumbles and picking off Carson Wentz to Jaylen Watkins picking off Sam Bradford and the rest of the secondary punishing the quarterback on an off-day, if there’s one thing we can take away from OTA’s it’s that competition at cornerback is going to be very fiery. With 11 defensive backs on the roster and only a select few roster spots up for grabs, beyond the likes of Rowe and Carroll..it’s anybody’s guess as to how the rest of the positions will fill up. Every time the media were able to view the Eagles practice, a different corner stood out from the crowd. A very promising position to be in for a team who suffered from another sub-par secondary in 2015.


Simba not at 100%:
Jordan Hicks had a strange few weeks. One moment the linebacker was sidelined for team activities and the next he was back in action. It was revealed today that the rookie sensation of 2015 had endured a quad spasm and will return to the NovaCare for mandatory minicamp..albeit in a limited fashion. The camp begins on Tuesday which is a relief for Eagles fans and it’s also good to hear his limited action is nothing to do with the injury that cut his rookie season short.


Huff and puff:
Competition at wide receiver is stiff..and it’s probably the last thing Josh Huff needs right now. Today, he reportedly looked very good. In previous sessions..not so much.

There are a lot of questions facing Huff in 2016 and OTA’s have been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for him so far. Will he be able to stabilize and begin to turn heads when Mandatory Camp gets underway?


Offensive line:
Doug Pederson openly stated that Allen Barbre would be the Eagles starting left guard while new signing Stefen Wisniewski entered OTA’s taking backup reps at centre. Pederson continued to surprise people by telling the media today that he’s better suited to a guard position. It’s not as if he’s going to start over Brandon Brooks who the team invested in heavily so maybe Wisniewski is going to play on the left hand side overall and Pederson was trying to spark competition. It’s also important to note that third-round pick Isaac Seumalo will be present at camp next week which could throw even more fuel into the fire. The Offensive line may have seen plenty of upgrades..but we still don’t know how it’s going to look come week one.


From pistol formations to triple tight end formations, Pederson’s Offense is set to spring a few surprises during 2016. OTA’s were a clear sign that the former Chiefs Offensive Coordinator has a few aces up his sleeve as the Eagles played around with trick plays and various new concepts. How much of this will carry over into the gameplan is unknown but it’s great to see someone utilizing the strengths of what really is a very dynamic group of Offensive players.


New era, new vibe:
Practices under Pederson appear to be much calmer than Kelly’s. The music is reportedly played less frequently, the tempo is slower and coaches spend much more time one-on-one with their players…who have only sung praises about the changes. It’s not a huge takeaway but it is nice to see the Eagles turning a new leaf and emphasizing the points of emotion and communication that Lurie cemented so heavily into the team’s DNA with the hiring of Doug Pederson.


The future of the fullback:
The Eagles may have cut Ryan Mueller prior to OTA’s, but that hasn’t stopped them from using a fullback in certain looks. From Trey Burton to former Jets tight End Chris Pantale, there have been a few players acting as the team’s fullback and it’s a huge possibility that Pederson seeks to add a few players to work out at the position between now and training camp. Just because the team don’t have a designated fullback on the roster..it doesn’t mean that the idea of a fullback is suddenly wiped off the board. It appears to be an important part of Pederson’s Offense and it will be exciting to see the evolution of the position as the offseason slowly fades into pre-season.



Photo credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke