Eagles OTA’s: 9 players who are battling for a roster spot

The Philadelphia Eagles officially started spring minicamp on May 30, although it’s far from the traditional grinder from previous years. Head coach Nick Sirianni prefers to keep things light by holding six practices over the next two weeks.

Let’s be honest: these are glorified walk-throughs, or casual meet-ups for rookies and veterans to bond ahead of training camp. Sirianni used the same method last year and it helped set the foundation for a Super Bowl run. Don’t fix what’s not broken.

Meanwhile, these workouts should at least provide a look at some early positional depth charts and which guys are fighting for roster spots. The main battles are obvious: Olamide Zaccheaus vs. Quez Watkins in the slot; Cam Jurgens vs. Tyler Steen at right guard; and Ian Book vs. Tanner McKee for third-string quarterback.

10 Eagles who need to step up

LB Davion Taylor

It’s hard to believe the one-time raw prospect out of Colorado is now entering his fourth NFL season. His body of work has a lot of blank pages on it, including a season-ending knee injury in 2021. Remember, Taylor was waived after camp in 2022 before getting re-signed to the practice squad. This is going to be the Advenitst’s final chance to show he can play meaningful snaps, with special-team studs Christian Elliss, Patrick Johnson, Kyron Johnson, and Shaun Bradley currently ahead of him for the reserve linebacker spots.

RB Trey Sermon

HOUSTON, TX – AUGUST 25: San Francisco 49ers running back Trey Sermon (28) carries the ball in the second quarter during the NFL preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans on August 25, 2022, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

Nick Sirianni hyped up the third-year player out of Oklahoma in late March but that was prior to the team trading for D’Andre Swift. The dynamic in the running backs room has changed a bit, although Sermon — “Man, this guy has a chance to be really good,” Sirianni said — will get plenty of touches this summer. He’ll be in a legitimate battle with Boston Scott to be the change-of-pace guy. Kennedy Brooks will be in the mix for a practice squad role.

S K’Von Wallace

Philadelphia Eagles safety K’Von Wallace (42) celebrates after the Arizona Cardinals missed a field goal attempt during the second half an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

It’s hard to see the free safety out of Clemson suddenly morphing into anything more than a special-teams player at this point. He’s had opportunities to show he could be a starter; unfortunately, Wallace has often looked lost on the field. It’s a shame because he’s a good kid. And with the emergence of Reed Blankenship, combined with the Eagles decision to draft Sydney Brown, it sure looks like Wallace’s days are numbered in a midnight green jersey.

P Arryn Siposs

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JANUARY 08: Philadelphia Eagles punter Arryn Siposs (8) looks on during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles on January 8, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Who is excited about a heated punter competition at Eagles camp? Everybody, right? It might be funny to read those words out loud but Siposs could be in for a real battle with undrafted rookie Ty Zentner who was a Ray Guy Award semifinalist at Kansas State in 2022. The Eagles aren’t going to keep two punters.

CB Josiah Scott

The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder saw action in 16 games last season while making four starts in 2022. He cross-trained at safety at training camp, then filled in as the starting nickel cornerback for an injured Avonte Maddox. Scott was a darling of outgoing defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. But Gannon is (thankfully) gone. And the Eagles have decent options in the secondary after signing Greedy Williams in free agency and drafting Kelee Ringo out of Georgia.

QB Ian Book

Ian Book
GREEN BAY, WI – AUGUST 19: New Orleans Saints quarterback Ian Book (16) passes during an NFL preseason game between the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints on August 19, 2022, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI. (Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire)

The former Notre Dame standout was the Eagles unchallenged third-stringer in 2022 following the release of Reid Sinnett. He was a place-holder, though. Book never saw a snap. He was a healthy scratch all year. While the powers-that-be dropped canned praise on him — “we have high hopes for Ian Book,” Sirianni said after the team inked Marcus Mariota — he’s likely headed for the waiver wire. Tanner McKee (and his rifle arm) is coming for the No. 3 job.

WR Greg Ward

Greg ward
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 13: Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receiver Greg Ward (84) celebrates a first down reception in the second half during the game between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles on December 13, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The only thing that might keep the fan-favorite receiver around for another year is his strong relationship with Jalen Hurts. They have been known to work out together back in Houston. However, Ward was relegated to practice-squad player in 2022 and the pass-catching group in Philly has only gotten better. It’s hard to fathom the one-time quarterback beating out speedsters like Devon Allen or Britain Covey.

DE Derek Barnett

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 27: Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett (96) looks on during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 27, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

There are multiple reports saying how bullish the Eagles remain on the former first-rounder out of Tennessee. For starters, he’s cheap and the organization has long valued bargain hunting. That, and Barnett has flashed talent at times: 21.5 career sacks, including the most important fumble recovery in franchise history. Barnett will likely be given every opportunity to win a spot, but this is a squad loaded for bear along the defensive line. Logic dictates he gets traded ahead of Week 1.

OT Roderick Johnson

The Eagles don’t have a lot of depth behind starting left tackle Jordan Mailata after losing Andre Dillard in free agency. Johnson, who has played in 29 career games, might give them veteran security there but better odds are on them keeping Fred Johnson — at least until Brett Toth is fully healed from his season-ending knee injury. The Army lieutenant underwent surgery in late January and needs nine months of rehab. Also, keep a close eye on Josh Sills who has tremendous upside depending on what happens with his legal troubles.

Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire