Before we look ahead to the regular-season opener at Detroit, let’s look back at a July 26 column in which I posed “12 questions to answer as Eagles Training Camp opens.” How many of those questions were answered? How many are still to come? A glance back …
1. Who earns the starting job at right guard?
Isaac Seumalo is the most underrated player on one of the best, if not the very best, offensive lines in the NFL. He goes about his business quietly, professionally, and technically very soundly. Coming back from a tough 2021 injury, Seumalo made the move from the left guard spot to the right guard spot and didn’t skip a beat, teaming so well with right tackle Lane Johnson. While there was no clarification publicly when Training Camp started as to whom would get the first crack at right guard, Seumalo just went out there and won the job. He had a terrific summer and is playing some of the best football in his career here.
2. How has Brandon Graham recovered from his 2021 injury?
There probably isn’t a full answer here until we are well into the regular season, but Graham has been his usual self on and off the field to date: Great energy, explosiveness, and a speed-to-power combination that makes him so special off the edge. The tempo in the regular season is different, of course, so we will see how Graham produces and how many reps he earns. The Eagles have some depth at defensive end, so it could be that the idea is to rotate in players and keep everyone fresh. But the bottom line with Graham is that he feels great and looks great and everybody is extremely happy about that at One NovaCare Way.
3. What does Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon have planned for a pass-rushing standout Haason Reddick?
No way were the Eagles going to tip their hand in the summer on how to use Reddick, who demonstrated great strength and power and relentlessness in Training Camp. The guy gets after it every day. He’s got the versatility to line up in multiple places in the defense, so stay tuned. Gannon is a creative guy who wants to put his players in the best positions to be productive, and that could be in a number of spots for Reddick. This is for sure: The Eagles want Reddick to wreak havoc. They will look for favorable matchups for him.
4. Where does the 2022 Draft Class fit in?
It was a very promising showing by the five-man Draft Class in the summer, with more to come ahead. But none of them are projected as immediate starters and that’s kind of the plan here: Howie Roseman has a line of succession he plans and there are pieces here who project into that line in the future. Right now, though, Jordan Davis is part of a defensive tackle rotation. Cam Jurgens is a backup center who will likely get more cross-training at guard so the Eagles can keep him active on gamedays. Nakobe Dean is a backup linebacker and potentially a piece on special teams, and that’s the same projection for Kyron Johnson. Grant Calcaterra is the third tight end here behind Dallas Goedert and Jack Stoll. All five draft picks are what the Eagles thought they were. That’s a good thing. It’s also good that they are going to have a chance to develop the right way.
5. In his second season in the offence, what kind of strides has QB Jalen Hurts made?
Nick Sirianni and Hurts himself were asked this question repeatedly through the summer and each had consistent answers: Having the same coaching staff for a second season has made a world of difference for Hurts, who has made great improvement in every phase of his game. We saw Hurts in one preseason game and all he did was lead a touchdown drive and complete all six of his passes. He looked throughout the summer like he had taken the next step in his development. There is a high level of confidence here from both Hurts and the coaching staff about his performance.
6. How does AJ Brown’s presence impact the offense?
Brown made plays every day in Training Camp. The way he uses his body to create separation is uncanny. He’s a special player and it will be fun to see how defenses play the combination of Brown and DeVonta Smith. Brown and Hurts have chemistry and are on the same page and really connected on the field in the summer. The Eagles have a talented group of receivers, with Brown leading the way. The passing game has a chance to be dynamic.