NFC East: Mike McGlynn

Examining the Washington Redskins' roster:

Quarterbacks (3)

Jay Gruden only had two quarterbacks in each of his three seasons with Cincinnati, but Griffin still needs to prove his durability. If something happened to him, they woulld still be in good shape with Cousins and McCoy. If they go with two then McCoy gets left off.

Running backs (4)

The Redskins could also stash Chris Thompson on the practice squad as further insurance. Thompson can easily bump himself onto the roster with a good summer; he’s a good fit in Gruden’s offense and the new coach liked Thompson coming out of college. But durability is an issue. By keeping four here, the Redskins can go with an extra player at another spot. This means Evan Royster is on the outs, but he doesn’t give the Redskins anything they don’t have in better players. He is insurance only.

Receivers (6)

I am not cutting Leonard Hankerson, rather I’m just not sold that he will be on the active roster at the start of the season. If he shows this summer that he can play, then, yes, I would have him on the 53-man roster. But the Redskins were not sure what to expect from him and when he might be healthy. Therefore, I can see him taking a little longer to return. Gruden likes Moss and they drafted Grant. Robinson needs to take a step.

Tight ends (3)

Rookie tight end Ted Bolser would head to the practice squad, where he can develop. He didn’t look close to a roster spot just based on how he looked this spring. Reed is firmly entrenched as the starter with Paulsen their top blocker and Paul a special teams ace.

Offensive line (10)

In reality, I could see them keeping only nine offensive linemen. It all depends on how Long and/or LeRibeus looks at guard. They love Long -- Gruden has said he could compete immediately -- so if he shows he can play, then they could cut Chester. Compton is a little surprise, but they like him as well. This position will be fluid and I’m not sold on the 10 I have listed.

Defensive line (6)


This one is fluid as well because it depends in part on Bowen’s health. I like Chris Neild and so do they, but can they keep him? Golston is more versatile and a key player on special teams, but he’s also 30 and they must get younger.

Linebackers (9)

As of now I’d have Rob Jackson out, especially if Jenkins develops as a pass-rusher. But this will be a close race. And I have them keeping an extra guy inside in Hayward because of his special teams ability.

Cornerbacks (5)
Chase Minnifield remains eligible for the practice squad. Richard Crawford is coming off a knee injury and it’s hard to place him on here without seeing him play. The one benefit for Crawford is that he can play in the slot; they need depth at that spot.

Safeties (4)

I really don’t feel good about this position and am not confident that I have this one right, at least for that final spot. Robinson’s special teams ability gives him the edge over Bacarri Rambo, who must have a strong camp. Akeem Davis can help on special teams, but with no NFL experience he will be stashed on the practice squad.

Specialists (3)

The Forbath selection is based on never having seen rookie Zach Hocker kick in an NFL game. If Hocker is consistent this summer and shows a strong leg, then he can win the job.

Redskins notes: Tempers flare

June, 17, 2014
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ASHBURN, Va. -- It felt like training camp: Temperatures threatened to reach 90 degrees in the morning and there was more back-and-forth banter. And, of course, there was a shoving match. It wasn't even the first scrap of the spring, but it was one of the more notable ones because it was a little more intense.

Defensive lineman Doug Worthington and offensive lineman Mike McGlynn were engaged on a play that ended up getting more heated. McGlynn grabbed Worthington's facemask and pulled his helmet off. They had to be separated and that was the extent of it.

"Sometimes competitive players push and shove," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "We've just got to avoid that."

"I've never seen a guy take another guys facemask off," Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said. "That was impressive. Emotions are high; guys are ready to go."

[+] EnlargeColt McCoy, Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsThe Redskins will enter training camp with three quarterbacks, Colt McCoy, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, who all ran through drills on Tuesday.
Yes they are. This wasn't the first time players snapped at one another in the spring. It happened during organized team activities when tight end Niles Paul and corner Chase Minnifield had words followed a week later by Paul and linebacker Adam Hayward.

But by this point of spring, players are more than ready to finally put on the pads so they can hit for real.

"There's no doubt they're ready," Gruden said. "Offensive linemen, defensive linemen, it's very difficult for them to handle these practices, without pads."

Jackson getting healthier: Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson said his hamstring is around 90 to 95 percent recovered. "That's good enough speed for me to get out here and work," Jackson said. The receiver missed nearly two weeks of OTA sessions because of a strained hamstring. He returned last week and looked better Tuesday.

Three QBs: Gruden said the Redskins will take three quarterbacks to training camp. Teams often take four or five to keep arms fresh. But Gruden wants to make sure the three quarterbacks he does have -- Griffin, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy -- get enough reps. Griffin, obviously, will get the majority of them in camp. If a quarterback gets a tired arm in camp, or if someone gets hurt, Gruden would have to find another one. "But I can also throw perfect spirals and complete passes," the ex-college quarterback said laughing.
The Washington Redskins enter their final week of offseason work with a three-day minicamp. It'll look a lot like their OTA practices, but the difference is that this week is mandatory. With temperatures expected in the 90s, or near them, over the next three days, it'll be good preparation for Richmond later this summer.

Here are some things -- but certainly not all -- that I'll be looking for over the next three days:

Griffin
Robert Griffin III's finish: It’s tough when you watch someone just once a week to accurately gauge their progress. Griffin has had some good moments and not-so-good ones, but watching over three days will reveal more about where he’s at in terms of his passing. Has he remained consistent with his fundamentals? Is the accuracy more consistent? What we still won’t see until games begin is the ability to extend plays, which is a huge part of his game. But a good week for Griffin would propel him into the final month before camp with a lot of momentum, capping what has been a productive offseason for him. Don't know what that will mean for the season, but he'll exit this offseason feeling much, much different than he did a year ago at this time for a variety of reasons.

Offensive design: During the OTAs, we saw a lot of situational football – red zone, third downs, two minutes, etc. Hoping we get to see even more, to get a better sense of who the Redskins might be this season. Thus far, Griffin has operated a lot under center and in shotgun during certain situations. Coach Jay Gruden sounds intent on developing him, so this helps. (Not that the other staff didn’t want to develop him; it had Griffin as a rookie and then with no offseason. Tough to develop a player who can’t practice. How it would have handled it I don’t know.)

Rookie improvement: Rookie tackle Morgan Moses knows the issue he has with staying low and has worked on it since the OTAs started. Over three days, how much improvement will he show? How about Trent Murphy? His spin move has been terrific (mostly against young players); how much else will he show? Bashaud Breeland seems to have improved and, with Tracy Porter’s durability an issue, he could be a plus for the Redskins. But is he still grabbing too much? It’s hard with the running backs to tell a whole lot, so Lache Seastrunk’s true impact won’t be known until the games start. Thus far he hasn’t stood out. Is guard Spencer Long looking more comfortable?

Hatcher
Hatcher
Defensive looks: How are they using their personnel? Will they really be doing a lot of different things this season? Or is it just offseason chatter? Won’t know for a while on that, but we’ll get to see more of what they plan to do. In some cases it’s not about having different looks, it’s about – they hope – having better rushers with the addition of Murphy and Jason Hatcher.

Offensive line: There will be an interesting battle along the line this summer, even if it’s just for one of the backup positions (especially at guard). If the Redskins keep nine offensive linemen, that means two players from this group might not make it: Mike McGlynn, Adam Gettis, Josh LeRibeus, Maurice Hurt and Tom Compton. This assumes Chris Chester keeps his job (not a lock). And they’re not going to cut Long or Moses. Remember, they signed McGlynn in free agency and his ability to play center helps. The others have some work to do.

David Amerson’s progression: He’s had a quiet camp and I mean that in a good way. It’s not like he’s messing up or getting beat and looks lost. Does that continue this week? Amerson’s continued improvement (plus a lack of cap room) is among the reasons the Redskins are not one of the teams who have inquired about recently released corner Brandon Flowers, according to a source.

DeSean Jackson: Needs to make sure he exits these three days with a good hamstring. If he’s fully recovered, it’s always impressive to watch his speed. He’s not the fastest player I’ve ever covered (Darrell Green), but he is explosive.

Coordinator chatter: We should get our first chance to interview special teams coach Ben Kotwica this week, as well as defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Will be nice to finally hear more of what they think about their groups after the spring workouts end.

Redskins sign Mike McGlynn

March, 28, 2014
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The Washington Redskins added more depth to their offensive line and, perhaps, sent a message to some of their younger offensive linemen. For the second time this offseason they signed an interior lineman, despite having a number of younger players at guard.

McGlynn
Washington signed offensive lineman Mike McGlynn on Friday, adding a player who has starting experience and can play all three positions.

McGlynn is viewed as someone who can provide depth, more so than as a potential starter. He has started 48 games, including four with the Bengals in 2011 when Jay Gruden was the offensive coordinator. By all accounts he struggled at guard this past season with Indianapolis, but fared better when shifted to center. At 325 pounds he’d provide more size inside; one scout said he is not an athletic player -- the Redskins will still use the outside zone runs.

But the Redskins like that he could play anywhere along the line. Also, this should be a clear message to the young guys -- Josh LeRibeus, Maurice Hurt and Adam Gettis -- that they will have zero handed to them in 2014. LeRibeus in particular should have ascended to a starter’s role by now, his third season in the NFL. But based on these moves, Gruden clearly isn’t wowed by what he’s seen of the young guards and, perhaps, LeRibeus in particular. This move should serve as a kick in the pants.

Philadelphia Eagles cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
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Click here for a complete list of the Philadelphia Eagles' roster moves.

Surprise move: It's not a huge surprise that nickel cornerback Joselio Hanson was released, considering how deep the Eagles were at cornerback after their frenzied first week of free agency. But I do think people are surprised that they couldn't get anything for him in a trade before releasing him. It seems no team wanted to compensate the Eagles and also assume Hanson's contract, which had $7.6 million left over the next three years. He was an extremely effective nickel corner last year and surely will end up on someone's roster (Cleveland? Arizona? St. Louis? The Giants?) before long.

It was a bit of a surprise to see the Eagles cut defensive tackles Anthony Hargrove and Derek Landri and keep Cedric Thornton, but ultimately I guess they believed Landri and Hargrove weren't big enough to play the position in Jim Washburn's scheme. Very small but very effective former CFL star Phillip Hunt made the team at defensive end, though. And cutting Sinorice Moss and Johnnie Lee Higgins leaves the Eagles looking for help in the return game.

No-brainers: Keeping five safeties (Jarrad Page, Kurt Coleman, Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Colt Anderson) and six linebackers (Casey Matthews, Jamar Chaney, Moise Fokou, Akeem Jordan, Brian Rolle and Keenan Clayton) makes some sense because they have questions at those positions and will hold onto depth until they sort out roles. Tight end Donald Lee probably can help someone, but with all of the options the Eagles have at receiver, there isn't much room in the game plan for many two-tight end sets. Mike McGlynn started 14 games for the Eagles last year, but it was clear from the start of camp that there was no place for him on the new offensive line.

What's next: The Eagles are likely to poke around and look for help at linebacker and kick returner, but they're set at almost every position and extremely deep at most. If I'm their front office, I begin focusing my attention on whatever potential resolution there might be to the DeSean Jackson contract situation.
The Eagles have made a ton of changes to their roster. In fact, in my recent post-lockout grades piece Insider, I gave Philadelphia an A-plus.

[+] EnlargeJason Peters
Geoff Burke/US PresswireLeft tackle Jason Peters anchors Philadelphia's deep, talented offensive line.
It really doesn’t get any better than that folks. A ton of huge names are being discussed in all the various media markets, but today, I want to focus on the Eagles’ offensive line. Philadelphia’s front five should be vastly improved. And there are a ton more options at Andy Reid and new line coach Howard Mudd’s disposal.

Jason Peters is entrenched as the left tackle. He gets far more criticism in the public eye than he deserves. In my opinion, he is easily one of the top-five players in the NFL at his position.

At left guard, Todd Herremans is the incumbent. He has done well in that spot. But his body type is long and leaner. He isn’t built like the prototypical guard. I think there is a chance Philadelphia considers playing him at right tackle, where I think he could do quite well. He is a very good run blocker without compromising the agility needed to protect the edge.

Jamaal Jackson is a favorite of mine -- when he is healthy. He is a powerful center who can move heavy nose tackle-types off the ball. And he isn’t a liability in space or in protection. But the whole key with Jackson is health. Rookie Jason Kelce, who’s been getting a lot of first-team reps, is also in the mix at center.

The Eagles used their first-round pick on Danny Watkins. A tackle at Baylor, Watkins is projected to play guard at this level. I do think he could contribute as a right tackle for Philadelphia if need-be. Even with the lack of practice time during the lockout being considered, you don’t draft guards in the first round to use them as reserves. He is sure to start at guard, probably on the right side. I think Watkins will be a Pro Bowl guard before long.

At right tackle, I mentioned that Herremans could be an option, but the most logical starter here is newly signed Ryan Harris. Like Jackson, durability has been the No. 1 negative with Harris. But this is a guy who was excellent in Denver’s quicker zone-blocking scheme. Harris is a well above-average athlete for an NFL right tackle and exactly what Mudd looks for at the position.

Although it seems that the starting five is set as it stands today, there are other factors at work here. Philadelphia also signed Evan Mathis, a pure guard, away from the Bengals. Cincinnati didn’t give him the opportunity that he deserved and the Eagles wisely pounced on him. But he has performed like a starter when given the opportunity.

Winston Justice has been the starting right tackle now for a few seasons. He remains in the picture, but had a rough time last season. Mudd could get him back to his 2009 form and there certainly is talent here.

Mike McGlynn is a versatile inside guy who also could be a factor going forward, but most likely only if Jackson continues to struggle to stay on the field.

I expect the Eagles' offensive line to be very much improved this season. Due to better coaching, better players and far more options, this could be one of the top-five lines in the league.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com. Follow Matt Williamson on Twitter @WilliamsonNFL.

Notes from the Eagles' locker room

December, 20, 2010
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NEWARK, N.J. -- Before my flight leaves from Terminal A, I wanted to share a few nuggets that didn't show up in my postgame column following the Eagles' stunning comeback win over the Giants:
  • A loud cheer went up in the locker room as rookie defensive end Brandon Graham appeared on crutches. He didn't make the trip with the team because he's on injured reserve (knee), but he found a ticket to the game. He was so desperate to celebrate with his teammates that he persuaded a security guard that he was on the team. He started shouting as he entered the locker room and several defensive players raced over to greet him.
  • Eagles safety Quintin Mikell was being looked at by the medical staff when DeSean Jackson won the game with a 65-yard punt return. Mikell could barely turn his head because of what appeared to be neck pain, but he said he expected play next Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. When I asked him what coach Andy Reid said at halftime with the Eagles trailing 24-3, he said, "Coach Reid was actually smiling. He kept saying, 'Let's do something great. Let's do something great.'" Mikell was one of several players who said they'd never seen Reid so emotional after a game. Center Mike McGlynn poured a bucket of either Gatorade or water on Reid in the postgame locker room.
  • Left guard Todd Herremans told me that he felt like Jim Valvano after the game. Everyone remembers the late Valvano racing around the court looking for someone to hug after his North Carolina State team won the national title against Houston. "Nobody was out there to love me," joked Herremans.
  • Right tackle King Dunlap asked me if he thought the team might win an ESPY award. I told him that I don't have a lot of say in the voting process but that it seems like a possibility.
  • Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel sat at his locker and said to no one in particular, "Wow, I am still in disbelief."
  • I overheard long-snapper Jon Dorenbos ask a teammate, "Did we clinch the NFC East?" Quarterback Kevin Kolb explained to Dorenbos that the Eagles still had a bit of work to do on that front.
  • A quote that tells you a lot about Michael Vick's mindset: "We just said to ourselves, 'Listen, we're just going to go out there and play for pride above anything else. They may beat us 49-25 but we're going to play with pride and we can't complain.' And that's all I want. That's all I want to ask of my teammates, and my offensive line, to play with some pride and enjoy the game."

Monday Afternoon Blitz Package

October, 25, 2010
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- As we prepare for tonight's "Monday Night Football" showdown between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, here are a few observations about the two teams that played Sunday. The Redskins and Eagles have identical records (4-3), but they don't have the same mindset today:

Philadelphia Eagles
  • There's no excuse for giving up 27 fourth-quarter points to the Tennessee Titans -- even when the great Kenny Britt's involved. Eagles coach Andy Reid took up for defensive coordinator Sean McDermott during his news conference earlier today. Reid said he thought McDermott had a "heck of a game plan, doggone it." Unfortunately, that game plan didn't include any answers for Britt, the former Rutgers star who was bouncing back from a bar fight Friday. Reid said he understood why McDermott couldn't simply put his best cornerback, Asante Samuel, on Britt to stop the bleeding. But the explanation didn't really hold water. Nate Allen and Ellis Hobbs had no chance against the speedy Britt, so McDermott should've tried something different. McDermott's a talented young coach, but he deserves all the heat he's taking in Philly today.
  • A lot of us picked Brandon Graham to be the rookie defensive player of the year, but he's not showing up a lot on film. Graham appeared on the injury list with an illness and ankle problem. Maybe that explains why he was only on the field for 18 snaps. This is way too early in the season for Graham to be hitting some type of rookie wall, so this is a situation that bears watching. The Eagles need Graham to be more consistent.
  • Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon had the best game of his career. You wondered if there would be some fall off when Brodrick Bunkley suffered an elbow surgery, but Dixon continues to raise his level of play. He was on the field for much of the game Sunday and he responded with seven tackles, a sack and two tackles for a loss. Dixon was a big reason the Eagles did a nice job against Chris Johnson. He's too quick for some of the enormous guards in this league. I don't see his playing time going down a bit once Bunkley returns.
  • You hate to single out center Mike McGlynn, but he sort of made it easy. McGlynn was man enough to claim responsibility for that fumble on the Titans' 3-yard line that turned the game around. Jason Jones was apparently his man on the play. Sometimes a defense can do things to confuse an offensive lineman, but there's really no excuse for not accounting for Jones. He didn't do anything that tricky -- other than basically taking a handoff from Kevin Kolb. Just an awful mental mistake at the most crucial point in Sunday's game.
Washington Redskins
  • If I'm Mike Shanahan, film of that loss to the Lions from '09 is playing on a continuous loop at Redskins Park. This is the ultimate trap game with the bye week followed by a rematch with the Eagles. The Skins had a letdown against the Rams earlier this season. The Lions are a similar team to the Rams. If you allow them to hang around for a little while, there's a decent chance you'll take the loss. This is no time for the Skins to feel all that great about themselves. Yes, the four wins are impressive when you take last season into consideration. But a loss to the Lions on Sunday would be pretty difficult to overcome.
  • Make Ryan Torain carry a football around campus all week. Torain has emerged as a dynamic player for an offense that's short on playmakers. But he can't fumble the ball in the red zone -- or anywhere else for that matter. I remember hearing about former Rams and 49ers running back Wendell Tyler being presented with a football that had a handle on it. That's the kind of gag gift that might grab Torain's attention this week. But if Torain will secure the football, he has a chance to have a big-time season. Like I told you during training camp, Torain and Arian Foster are going to be huge. Wait, did I forget to actually put that in print?
  • It's time to cue the Rocky music in Ashburn, Va. If Rocky McIntosh plays like that on a regular basis, the Redskins will have a formidable defense. McIntosh looked so much more comfortable in Jim Haslett's defense Sunday, and I think he's ready to do that on a consistent basis. I'm trying not to overreact to all these standout performances on defense because of the Jay Cutler factor, but it's tough.
  • Speaking of standout performances... Albert Haynesworth was brilliant in Sunday's game. The play he made to stand up Cutler at the goal line turned the game around for the Skins. When Haynesworth's at his best, he's unblockable. Haslett has done a nice job of making Haynesworth feel like he's in the Titans' defense. If not for the play of DeAngelo Hall, Haynesworth would've been the defensive MVP. By the way, can we go ahead and give the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award to DeAngelo Hall?

Wrap-up: Titans 37, Eagles 19

October, 24, 2010
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Let's a look at quick look at how the Philadelphia Eagles lost this game, 37-19 to the Tennessee Titans:

What it means: It means the Eagles coughed up a game they had under control in the third quarter. The Eagles had a 16-7 lead and were moving toward the Titans' goal line when Titans defensive tackle Jason Jones caused a fumble and gave his team new life. Neither center Mike McGlynn nor right guard Max Jean-Gilles attempted to block Jones, so it's hard to say who blew the assignment. The play completely turned this game around and the Titans drove down and made it 16-10.

The goats: The Eagles had no chance at covering Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt after he missed part of the first half as punishment for a night club altercation last week. Safety Nate Allen allowed an 80-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter when he let Britt race right past him. Titans quarterback Kerry Collins badly underthew the ball, but Allen couldn't recover in time. It was the rookie's worst game of the season. And he didn't get much help from cornerback Ellis Hobbs, who allowed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Britt to give the Titans a 27-19 lead. Britt had seven catches for 225 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles' secondary. He was brilliant in the second half, but the Eagles also gave him a hand by completely blowing coverages. And just so we don't leave anyone out, what a sad effort by Asante Samuel when Chris Johnson broke his tackle attempt to run for a first down late in the game.

The final nail: The Eagles would have had the ball back with 3:49 left in the game trailing by eight, but Jorrick Calvin fumbled during a punt return. He didn't appear to field the punt cleanly, and then he complicated matters by fighting for extra yardage during the return. It's not like he was going to escape the players who had him in their grasp. It was a back-breaking mistake, but on this day, Calvin had plenty of help.

What's next: The Eagles will have a week off to think about what may have been. This loss could haunt the Eagles the rest of the season as they now fall into a second-place tie with the Skins with a 4-3 record. And remember that the Skins have wins over the Cowboys and Eagles. The Titans absolutely own the NFC East with wins over the Eagles, Redskins and Cowboys. The Giants sit alone in first place in the division at 4-2.

Eagles go heavy on offensive line

September, 19, 2010
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With the loss of center Jamaal Jackson for the season, the Philadelphia Eagles will be forced to take more offensive linemen to the game. As the Inquirer points out. Guards Reggie Wells and Max Jean-Gilles, both inactive last Sunday, will dress against the Lions.

If Mike McGlynn runs into trouble at center, Nick Cole will move from his right guard spot and likely be replaced by Jean-Gilles. Because of the offensive line situation, veteran defensive end Darryl Tapp is having trouble finding a uniform on Sundays. And we're still waiting to see third-round pick Daniel Te'o Nesheim take the field in the regular season.

The Eagles and Cowboys are both one loss away from full-out panic mode. I'm in Arlington, Texas, for Bears-Cowboys, but I'll have one eye on Eagles-Lions.

Wrap-up: Packers 27, Eagles 20

September, 12, 2010
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What it means: The Kevin Kolb era is off to a rough start -- especially when he gets knocked out of the game with a concussion. There's no shame in losing to the Green Bay Packers, but the Eagles did it in awful fashion. Don't let that fourth-quarter comeback fool you. That was a miserable showing for the Eagles, and they came away with what appears to be a devastating injury. They lose a valuable player if Leonard Weaver is out for the season with a knee injury.

Tomorrow's talker: You know everyone will be talking about quarterback Michael Vick's performance Monday. He passed for 175 yards and ran for 103. He made one really poor decision not to run the ball into the end zone, but he certainly gave the offense some much-needed punch. Kolb had a rough first half with only 24 passing yards, but I thought he was handcuffed by his head coach. It almost felt like Andy Reid was being too tentative with his young quarterback. If you're going to trade your franchise quarterback to a division rival, you better be ready to trust his replacement.

What I liked: Nate Allen had some rough moments but he had his first interception in the second half, which gave the Eagles some hope. Trent Cole and Juqua Parker combined for three sacks on Aaron Rodgers. But the downside to that is that Brandon Graham was really quite in his debt.

Big revelation: The Eagles are about to find out how much depth they have. With Jamaal Jackson leaving the game with an elbow injury, reserve center Mike McGlynn may get a chance to start next week against the Lions. And it's unlikely we'll see middle linebacker Stewart Bradley (concussion).

What's next: Philly has some soul searching to do. They may catch a break if Matthew Stafford (shoulder) can't play, but the Lions won't be a gimme. Again, this couldn't have gone much worse.

Andy Reid: Jamaal Jackson will start

September, 5, 2010
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Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid said Sunday he expects Jamaal Jackson to start at center against the Green Bay Packers unless there's a "setback." Jackson has made a remarkably quick recovery from a serious knee injury and Reid talked about what his return means to the Eagles.

"This is what we have. We have good depth, so it allows Jamaal to get back in there and give it a shot here," Reid said on Sunday. "As long as he feels strong and good about it and the doctor feels good about it, then we go that direction. Again, if he tires or fatigues at all, we’ve got Mike McGlynn, who’s taken great snaps in there and we feel very confident that he could step in and play. Nick hasn’t played in the preseason, so if he were to get fatigued, we’ve got Reggie [Wells] there, we’ve got [G] Max [Jean-Gilles] there. We’ve got people that have played in positions that we feel very comfortable with to step in and play."

Reid was complimentary of Stacy Andrews, but he indicated that Nick Cole was always going to start at right guard if Jackson made it back to play center. That's a nice thing to say about Cole, but I think the Eagles expected Andrews to win the job in training camp. Obviously that didn't pan out.

If they can stay healthy, the Eagles appear to be in pretty good shape on the offensive line.

Update: For no apparent reason, I had the Eagles opening with the Cowboys in this blog entry last night. My apologies.

Camp Confidential: Philadelphia Eagles

August, 9, 2010
8/09/10
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ESPN.com NFL Power Ranking (pre-camp): 17

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- On a Tuesday afternoon last week, Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb watched one of his star wideouts, Jeremy Maclin, get carted off the field. The same thing had happened to DeSean Jackson a couple days earlier. You would think Kolb might be worried, but that's not an emotion that suits him. Kolb spent the three weeks before camp playing out every possible scenario in his mind so that setbacks like these wouldn't affect him.

"I tried to play out the good situations and the bad situations in my mind," Kolb told the NFC East blog. "I need to stay consistent as the quarterback of this team, so I imagined what all could go wrong and sort of told myself how I was going to react. Only 32 guys in the world that will get this opportunity, and I don't want the opportunity to pass me by."

If you were expecting a wide-eyed quarterback trying to grow into a job, you've come to the wrong place. Handed the task of following the best quarterback in the history of the franchise, Kolb just doesn't seem fazed. With Jackson and Maclin both out of Wednesday's practice, Kolb started firing balls to rookie Riley Cooper. Kolb entered the league in the same rookie class as linebacker Stewart Bradley and Brent Celek in 2007, and everyone's known those players would eventually take over the team in terms of leadership. But it was still stunning when the Eagles pulled the trigger on the biggest trade of the offseason.

Kolb has reached out to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to ask him about following an elite quarterback. And he's also struck up a texting friendship with Cowboys Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, which may make a few fans queasy. Recently, Kolb spent hours watching an old tape of Aikman because "he was unbelievably accurate."

Kolb is relishing the Eagles' new underdog role and he understands that a lot of that has to do with him being the starter. He understands there's added pressure playing quarterback in a city that seems to base its identity on how the Eagles are performing. But he seems to have the right temperament.

"I played in front of 15,000 people when I was 15," said Kolb. "I think playing high school football in Texas gives you a good foundation. And now that I'm a little older, I think I'll be able to handle 70,000."

[+] EnlargeKevin Kolb
Brian Garfinkel/Icon SMIThe Eagles have high hopes for Kevin Kolb, who threw for more than 300 yards in each of his two starts last season.
THREE HOT ISSUES

1. Will this offensive line have any continuity heading into the season?

When the Eagles lost center Jamaal Jackson last year in the playoffs, the offensive line was in trouble. Nick Cole had done a nice job at right guard, but he was thrown into a bad situation at center. Jackson is still recovering from a knee injury and will likely be sidelined to start the season. Cole's been banged-up in practice and it's not like Mike McGlynn and A.Q. Shipley inspire a lot of confidence. The most consistent player on the offensive line last season, left guard Todd Herremans, has missed the first part of camp with a foot injury. You don't want Kolb lining up behind an offensive line that features a different player every week.

2. Do the Eagles have the best receiving corps in the league?

When Maclin and Jackson are healthy, the Eagles may have the most dangerous group in the league. Jason Avant is one of the best third receivers in the league, and he can bail out a quarterback on third down. Kolb's biggest strength is his accuracy. He knows how important it is to deliver the ball to Jackson and Maclin in stride. If you're wondering why this team seems to have such a quiet confidence, just look at these receivers. Throw in the fact that Kolb and Celek are best friends and you have the makings of a Tony Romo-Jason Witten combination.

[+] EnlargeAllen
Cliff Welch/Icon SMIThe Eagles hope Nate Allen is the answer at safety.
3. Can rookie Nate Allen solve the issues the Eagles had at safety?

The Eagles never recovered from the loss of Brian Dawkins via free agency last season. They tried just about everyone at his old position, but it was a nightmare. Allen has looked like a starter from the day he stepped off the bus. He's mature beyond his years and moves with a grace that belies his inexperience. I think the Eagles made great use of the Donovan McNabb pick (No. 37) in landing Allen. And the former South Florida star doesn't appear to feel any added pressure because of where he was taken. It's easy to see that he would've been starting in front of Marlin Jackson even if he'd remained healthy.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

I know it's tough to call a first-rounder a "surprise," but Brandon Graham has exceeded everyone's expectations. I love how he's spent time in the film room studying some of the shorter defensive ends around the league. And then he immediately takes some of the moves (Elvis Dumervil) to the field. The Eagles' offensive line doesn't know what to do with Graham, and I think other NFC East offensive tackles will have the same issue. Graham is learning how to use his arms at this level and he already gets incredibly low to the ground when he's turning the corner. He's been the story of camp in a lot of ways. Can't wait to see him in a game. And one more surprise: Ellis Hobbs is having an excellent camp after returning from a neck injury.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

There's nothing that really jumps out at this point other than the offensive line issues. But I'd like to see more from Darryl Tapp. The defensive end was hoping to jump-start his career after coming over in a trade from Seattle. He just looks out of place in Sean McDermott's defense right now. In the practice sessions I observed, he didn't really make anything happen.

[+] EnlargeRiley Cooper
Howard Smith/US PresswireRookie Riley Cooper has stepped up when called upon in training camp.
OBSERVATION DECK

  • Cooper is taking full advantage of the extra repetitions. He made the catch of the day last Wednesday when one of Kolb's passes was tipped by Tapp. Cooper cut off his route and made a diving catch in the flat. Seems like he's quickly becoming a fan favorite and he could actually play himself into the rotation this season. General manager Howie Roseman's a Florida grad, so look for the Gator connection to continue. I don't think Hank Baskett is long for this roster, but he and Kolb did hook up on a deep ball.
  • I talked to second-year running back LeSean McCoy about how he's improved his lower-body strength. He thinks he left a lot of yards on the field because he didn't break enough tackles. I think it's helping McCoy to have Duce Staley in camp serving a camp internship.
  • Rookie free safety Kurt Coleman out of Ohio State has made a favorable impression but was called for pass interference Wednesday when Kolb used an excellent play-action fake to free up McCoy down the sideline. You can tell that McCoy's going to show up in the passing game a lot more this season.
  • This is the only camp I've attended where fans tailgate in the parking lots between morning and afternoon practices. Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell seemed to get caught up in the moment when he remembered that he'd visited the Lehigh University campus when he was deciding on colleges a few years back.
  • Bradley destroyed Eldra Buckley when he made the mistake of trying to jump over a pile. And when Buckley made a catch in the flat, former Lions linebacker Ernie Sims lit him up. Sims stared down at him like Chuck Bednarik once did to Frank Gifford. As I noted in my observations last week, Andy Reid's team hits harder than any of the other teams in the division during camp. We're not simply talking about thuds. I'm talking about linebackers taking ball carriers to the ground. This is how things were done about 20 years ago across the league. Roseman told me that the Eagles felt like it was important to quickly introduce the rookies to how physical the league is.
  • I watched Reid take Kolb aside Wednesday and have a long conversation. I think he and McNabb had such an understanding that they rarely had to have a lot of long discussions. But I'm not saying that's a negative about Kolb. It seems like Reid's sort of rejuvenated by the thought of having to coach a quarterback all the way through practice. I remember Bill Parcells saying that about Romo all the time. "You have to coach him all the way through the game," Parcells would say. Reid didn't think that was a big deal when I brought it up, but it's obvious he's spending more time with Kolb. And the two seem to have a great rapport. In fact, Kolb already takes the sharp stick to Reid at times.

Big Question: Eagles happy with O-line?

June, 15, 2010
6/15/10
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NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Should the Eagles have done more to fortify their offensive line?

Somewhat surprisingly, despite a wealth of draft picks, Philadelphia didn’t make any major additions to its offensive line. The Eagles must feel quite comfortable with what they have despite Jamaal Jackson’s injury situation and the release of Shawn Andrews. So, let’s examine this situation more closely.

[+] EnlargeJason Peters
Walter G. Arce/Icon SMIWhile he's received some criticism since joining the Eagles, Jason Peters remains one of the better left tackles in the NFL.
Jackson is the best option at center, but he just recently started running and it wouldn’t be a shock if his knee injury landed him on the physically unable to perform list to start the season. Jackson was on the verge of establishing himself as one of the better centers in this league, particularly as a run-blocker, but this looks like Nick Cole’s job for the time being. Mike McGlynn has the ability to play center as well, but his best fit is at guard. Cole moves well and is good in protection, but isn’t nearly the pile-mover that Jackson is in the run game. But as backup centers go, you could do much worse than Cole until Jackson returns.

Stacy Andrews has been tough to count on of late, but if healthy, he will start at right guard. He also could move to right tackle if Winston Justice struggles at the position where Andrews’ brother Shawn used to play. Even if Andrews can’t be counted on, the guard depth is pretty strong with McGlynn and Max Jean-Gilles backing up Andrews and left guard Todd Herremans. Herremans is another player who, in a pinch, could slide over to right tackle, but he is quite sound at left guard. McGlynn is a potential up-and-comer who could surprise this year if needed.

Like Cole at center, Justice is better in protection than as a run-blocker. But that isn’t much of a problem in this pass-happy offense and overall, Justice was impressive in 2009. As noted above, there are backup plans in place if Justice struggles, but I fully expect him to hold down the fort at right tackle.

At left tackle, Jason Peters has caught a lot of heat since his arrival in Philadelphia, but I think he is still one of the very best tackles in the business. He has taken too many penalties and does have to be more consistent, but doing battle with the blindside edge-rushers in this division is no easy task. I have no concerns about Peters.

So, all in all, I am in the Eagles’ corner with their decision not to dedicate heavy resources to adding to their offensive line. There are some questions, but there are also some fallback options. I think this group will be fine.

Beast scores heavily at Senior Bowl ('05-'09)

January, 28, 2010
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One of the first things you learn when covering the Senior Bowl from 642 miles away is to always have a phone number handy for ESPN Stats & Information guru Alok Pattani. On Wednesday morning, I commissioned a study on how many players drafted by NFC East teams over the past five years participated in the Senior Bowl.

The numbers have obviously dipped in recent years because of all of the underclassmen coming out, but the Senior Bowl is still an important part of the evaluation process -- especially for the Philadelphia Eagles. Here's the breakdown from 2005-09:


In 2005, the first six players selected by NFC East teams were all on Senior Bowl rosters. In 2009, only three of the first 11 players picked by NFC East teams participated in Senior Bowl week. As we've already stated, this probably has a lot to do with the spike in underclassmen entering the draft. These players are not eligible for the "Senior" Bowl. We're also seeing some of the big-time seniors sit out the Senior Bowl because they feel like there's more to lose than to gain. That's why I admire a player like USC safety Taylor Mays showing up and competing in Mobile, Ala., this week.

For a somewhat unheralded player such as Idaho offensive lineman Mike Iupati, the Senior Bowl can provide a rare opportunity to compete against athletes from larger schools. Iupati has had a breakout week and some draft experts, including our own Todd McShay, think he could go in the first round.

Over the past five seasons, nine of the 17 first-round picks in the NFC East were on the Senior Bowl roster. That list includes DeMarcus Ware, Jason Campbell, Brodrick Bunkley, Mathias Kiwanuka and Anthony Spencer. Over the past few years, the Eagles have been pretty shrewd when it comes to identifying and tracking players who participated in the Senior Bowl:


Here's a great Excel spreadsheet if you're interested in finding out which players from the NFC East have participated in the Senior Bowl over the past five years. In 2009, the Giants selected linebacker Clint Sintim (Virginia) and offensive tackle Will Beatty (Connecticut) in the second round and Ramses Barden (Cal Poly) in the third. All three players participated in the Senior Bowl. And at least two of the players -- Beatty and Sintim -- could be starting in 2010.

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