4 most exciting Eagles roster battles to watch this summer

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Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins (16) carries the ball against Washington Commanders safety Bobby McCain (20) during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The Philadelphia Eagles are now just a few weeks away from OTA practices. The road to the 2023 regular season starts here and after a thunderous NFL Draft, there is plenty for fans to keep an eye on as the Summer draws near.

Here are the 4 most enticing roster battles to watch this offseason.

War in the running back room

The Eagles said goodbye to Miles Sanders this offseason but promptly replaced him with Rashaad Penny. The former Seattle Seahawk has struggled to stay healthy, but is one of the more dominant backs in the NFL when he is at his best. It was assumed that the backfield would take a natural shape with Kenny Gainwell being the focal point, but even that is now up for debate.

Howie Roseman traded for another former Georgia Bulldog during the NFL Draft in the way of D’Andre Swift. The former Detroit Lion is held in a similar regard to Penny but has a different skill set. There is plenty to like about the makeup of this backfield and its similarities to that which made the Super Bowl in 2017, but who will head the rotation?

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DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 02: Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (20) runs with the ball during the third quarter of an NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Detroit Lions on October 2, 2022 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)

Training Camp is going to play a vital role in figuring out which back is the head of the table and although that may change on a weekly basis, one has to look at Kenny Gainwell’s standing here as he’s the only back with long-term contractual upside. It would be a shame to see him get lost in the mix despite outperforming Sanders by the time the postseason came to an end.

A new Eagles wideout can slot right in

The Philly receiving corps is among the most explosive in the NFL. A.J Brown and DeVonta Smith ripped defenses to shreds last year and the third starter in that equation did have his part to play, although he left some meat on the bone.

Quez Watkins struggled with concentration drops last year and this offense is now simply too good to allow mediocrity dictate the pace.

Enter Olamide Zaccheaus.

The 5-foot-8, 193-pounder was signed by the Eagles earlier in the offseason and is coming off a breakout 2022 campaign where he excelled in the slot for the Atlanta Falcons. He hauled in 40 balls for 533 yards and 3 touchdowns while making his biggest impact when Marcus Mariota was under center.

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles WR Quez Watkins (16) carries the ball in the first half during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles on September 19, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

That last part could well be the most important. As a backup, he’ll be taking most of his reps with a quarterback he knows all too well and threw him into some great situations last year. Chemistry in camp matters and Zaccheaus might just have an edge in his battle against Quez Watkins.

In Safe hands

The Eagles added a playmaking Safety to their defensive backfield during the NFL draft in the way of Sydney Brown. He’ll be joining a Safety room loaded with fringe-level starters and guys on short term deals such as Terrell Edmunds. It will be very interesting to see if the rookie Safety can hustle his way into some defensive playing time this season, perhaps unseating a guy like Clemson’s K’Von Wallace, who was once thought to have the same ceiling.

It’s getting tight

Surprisingly, Philly failed to add a tight end during the NFL Draft. It was assumed that depth behind Dallas Goedert could do with a boost, but only UDFA Brady Russell was added into the mix. He joins a list containing Grant Calcaterra, Jack Stoll, and Tyree Jackson.

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Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert (88) runs with the ball after making a catch as New York Giants cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (22) tries to stop him during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

However, the Eagles made a Richard Rodgers-Esque signing last week, bringing in former Jaguars TE, Dan Arnold. He has 1,258 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns over his career and while primarily a backup, he at least provides some stability while the remaining players juke it out. But will we see a surprise TE2 come week 1?

AP Photo/Matt Rourke