Eagles training camp notebook: Underdogs take center stage as rookies and vets arrive


It’s FINALLY here. Eagles Training Camp has officially started for selected veterans, quarterbacks and rookies. While that meant around 30 players were at the NovaCare Complex working today ahead of the first team practice on Thursday, competition was still extremely high. Here’s some takeaways from the first day of training camp.


Injury update:
Doug Pederson revealed today that both Jordan Hicks and Jordan Matthews would be limited for the opening part of Training Camp. Hicks suffered a hand injury that required a minor procedure while on his honeymoon, while Matthews has been battling knee tendonitis for several months. Neither injury is expected to be serious.

Ryan Mathews hasn’t reported to camp due to his current injury status, but there’s likely going to be no change on that front until August.

Ron Brooks is also back in the building…meaning the fight for the starting nickel spot has been taken up a notch.


Close…but no cigar?
One of OTA’s biggest standouts was UNC’s Mack Hollins. The Eagles rookie seemed to pick up right where he left off today…or so it seemed.

Putting the drop rightfully aside, Hollins reportedly had yet another strong day, making some impressive catches and giving Undlin’s defensive backs plenty of trouble in goal-line situations.


A new training camp favorite?
Rasheed Bailey, Paul Turner, Greg Ward Jr? Don’t write off the former Houston quarterback just yet. Ward had an impressive spring and with many of the wideouts above him on the roster not practicing until Thursday, he’s making the most of the opportunity, turning plenty of heads in the process.

It’s still early days, but with a new position and a new jersey number, comes a new sense of opportunity.


Is Gibson in trouble?
Much has been said around Shelton Gibson’s struggles catching the ball in individual drills throughout spring, and most of it has been overhyped or unwarranted. Today however, that trend continued, with Gibson dropping several passes throughout the day that drew some questions in Pederson’s direction after practice. Normally, this wouldn’t be worth noting, but when Adam Caplan, an NFL Insider who is renowned for being plugged in with all things Eagles makes an observation, it’s definitely worth paying attention to.

It would seem as if Gibson may face a tougher climb than first expected, but we’ll analyze this in more detail over the coming days.




Clement shows his physicality:
I wrote recently about how Clement may end up causing more than a surprise or two this Summer, as he potentially lines up to displace Wendell Smallwood. Clement’s sheer size and physicality make him the perfect backup to Blount should he ever get injured. Well, after a relatively quiet Spring…Clement bolted out of the gate.

Clement’s progress will certainly be interesting to watch as Camp progresses, especially considering that the backfield now requires a workhorse back and plenty of versatility.


With cornerback class thinning, it’s time to “Go forth” and make a play:
One of the most intriguing UDFA’s signed by the Eagles has been UCLA’s Randall Goforth. The undersized cornerback jumped out during practice today, picking off a pass from Carson Wentz.

The cornerback contest is set to be the most intense on the roster, so any shot to gain leverage on those not yet attending is huge.


Shepherd’s warning:
After missing OTA’s for what was an apparent undisclosed injury, the fourth tight end on the roster simply needed a big training camp if he is to convince the Eagles to keep an extra tight end on the team once again. So far, so good, for the former Shepherd standout who dominated during his collegiate career.

It was Trey Burton who broke out one year ago, will Brown now follow in his exact footsteps as an undrafted free agent?


Cornerback intricacies:
This is one of those notes you’ll only see from a reporter like Turron Davenport (if you’re not following him already, then you absolutely need too!), but it’s amazing to see how Undlin is approaching the early stages of training camp. With such a young cornerback class, that attention to detail is absolutely critical for development.

From Jomal Wiltz and Randall Goforth, to Rasul Douglas and a second round pick who is looking on from the sideline, being able to coach up the defensive backs before the current starters arrive is really important. Especially as such a hefty amount of traffic may mean that Undlin can’t get as close to the DB’s lower on the depth chart as he’d like when the live tackling periods and 10/10/10 practices begin. These early days where there’s some slight room for error will be integral for getting the undrafted corners up to speed.


Pumphrey’s role is becoming clearer:
We already knew that the SDSU standout was going to be used in a variety of ways after being drafted by the Eagles. OTA’s and minicamp saw Pumphrey lined up in the slot, outside, and making defenders miss out of the backfield. The possibilities were seemingly endless, but as TD notes below, there was plenty of focus on catching out of the backfield today.

It will be worth watching to see if Pump’s role changes once the rest of the backs arrive, but as of right now…it looks as if he’s still one of the most versatile and dangerous weapons in the Eagles arsenal.


Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports