PHILADELPHIA – Ten thoughts after week 1 of Eagles training camp…
Denard Wilson will be a defensive coordinator in this league next year. It may even be with the Eagles if Jonathan Gannon lands a head coaching gig. Wilson, 40, may even be a head coach someday.
The defensive passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach is an impressive individual and has seen the game from both the playing and coaching ranks.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve been around some great defensive coordinators, in my opinion,” Wilson said earlier in the week. “You know, I’ve been groomed by Greg Williams. I’ve been groomed by Todd Bowles, who are very good in this league and they’re very thorough.
“So, you know, I’ve been tutored by them. I know how to run a ship. I know the responsibility. So, what if the opportunity presents itself I’ll be ready for it but I’m here where my feet are and I’m just trying to be the best defensive back coach that I can be.”
Zach Pascal needs to get on the field. Food poisoning can be a rough deal, but the free-agent WR signing has yet to take a single snap in camp. That’s not good for any player, yet alone a newcomer like Pascal.
Granted, head coach Nick Sirianni knows him from their time together in Indianapolis, but will that be enough to render a decision on him? It’s Howie Roseman’s job as the GM to put together the 53-man roster, and he doesn’t know Pascal the way Sirianni does.
Keep an eye on Deon Cain. He’s made some plays and could steal a roster spot depending on whether or not the Eagles keep six receivers.
K’Von Wallace could be in trouble. It’s only one week, but the former fourth-round pick is being pressed for a job by Andre Chachere. In my pre-camp 53-man roster projection, I had the Chachere on and Wallace off the team with Philly keeping four safeties. Wallace hasn’t done anything to change my mind, so far.
James Bradberry has been the best player in camp. I’ll predict right now, Bradberry will have a contract extension before the end of the season.
Brandon Graham has been the best player in camp. OK, that can be true of both Graham and Bradberry can it? It’s such a close call, that I went with two best players in camp.
Graham is in terrific shape and has a renewed passion for the game after missing last season. He has gotten first first-team reps, but more of a reduced role for the now-34-year-old coming off an Achilles injury would probably serve him – and the team – well.
Mr. T not pitying any fools. Marlon Tuipulotu, the second-year defensive tackle has gotten some first-team reps at nose tackle and has looked good with what he’s done with them. He looks bigger and quicker and is making a strong push to make this roster.
The Eagles thought enough of Tuipulotu to keep him on the 53-man last year, but he was a game-day inactive for all but five games and played just 55 snaps.
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“You say he got off to a slow start, I say he was a rookie and as the season progressed, he got better and better,” said DL coach Tracy Rocker. “And that’s the thing I enjoy watching about Marlon. He cares. It’s important to him.
“He did extra work to become better. The most important part is he got better every game. The mistakes that he made, he didn’t make them again.”
A toss-up for the most improved players. Both CB Zech McPhearson and LB Shaun Bradley look better than they did a season ago, more aggressive.
McPhearson, a fourth-round pick in 2021, has made some nice plays and will be the backup corner to Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Bradley, a sixth-round pick in 2019, has also done a nice job.
Bradley looks like he might be able to start for some other teams in the league, he’s been that good, but on this team, there is plenty of depth and talent, though he could be a top backup option.
Undrafted free agents haven’t stood out. Yes, it’s early, but I just don’t see a UDFA making it. Not on this roster, which feels rather complete after a strong offseason from Roseman constructing it.
The Georgia draft picks. Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean seem to be on two different paths right now.
Dean has his work cut out for him to earn playing time, but he understands that.
“You gotta become more of a student of the game,” he said. “It’s a lot of people who have been playing this game for a long time. People on Year 10 or Year 12 trying to take it in from guys like Fletcher (Cox), BG (Brandon Graham), (Jason) Kelce. I’m thinking where I was at 10, 11, 12 years ago. I’m 21 now, so I was like 9 years old.
“So, it’s like just thinking about that, it’s definitely something you can learn from watching them and talking to them, seeing how they do things.”
The Eagles had reconstructed their linebacker room prior to the draft and didn’t know Dean would be there in the third round, but when he was, they grabbed him.
He’s undersized, yes, so it will be interesting to see if he holds up to the rigors of the pro game, but he is also very instinctive as a player.
Davis, meanwhile, looks like he could be ready for a larger role than some thought, maybe in the neighborhood of 40-50 percent of the defensive snaps. He is in shape and has shown that the adjustment to the pros won’t take long.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.