It’s June. AKA, the only time of the year where the NFL doesn’t dominate every sports outlet. It’s been especially slow for Eagles fans since the team decided not to hold any mandatory minicamp practices this offseason.
I think I speak for every Eagles fan when I say training camp can’t get here soon enough.
Aside from watching all the new faces compete in a live setting, there will be plenty of interesting storylines to follow throughout camp. And with every training camp, we’re bound to get some great camp battles at various positions.
Let’s take a look at some of the most intriguing positional battles ahead of this year’s training camp.
Wide Receiver 4
Contenders: Zach Pascal, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward
The top-three wideouts for the Eagles offense is already set in stone. DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, and Quez Watkins will see the majority of playing time at receiver this season. The fourth spot on the depth chart is still very much up for grabs.
Newly acquired Zach Pascal, along with Jalen Reagor and Greg Ward, will duke it out for that spot. Pascal feels the front runner for the spot, mostly due to his connection with Nick Sirianni. But my money is going towards Reagor here.
I’ve been vocal about this before — I still have faith that Reagor will eventually figure it all out. His career trajectory draws a lot of comparisons to Nelson Agholor, and as we all know, Agholor’s breakout campaign came in year three. Reagor is entering his third year with the team in 2022. He clearly has the physical talent to make an impact. Hopefully, it finally comes into fruition on the field this year.
As for Ward, I love him just as much as the next Eagles fan, but his primary role this season will likely be on special teams. It’s crazy to think at one point during the 2019 season — just three years ago — Ward was essentially the team’s WR1. We’ve come a long way.
Contenders: T.J. Edwards, Kyzir White, Davion Taylor, Nakobe Dean
The entire linebackers room is going to be interesting to watch during camp this year. After years of terrible linebacker play, the Eagles finally added some real talent to the group this offseason.
Along with the new additions, T.J. Edwards is coming off his best season to date and Davion Taylor showed some promise last season before getting hurt. All four guys have potential to be a starting linebacker in this league.
Of all the names, I’m the most interested in Nakobe Dean, for obvious reasons. He was the most important part of the best defense in college football last season. His instincts are unmatched, he has a real nose for the football, and he just makes plays. Whether that be against the run or in coverage, Dean is an all-around solid backer who has a bright future in the NFL.
The question is, can Dean have a profound impact in year one? As of right now, it’s hard to say. Training camp will be our first indicator on how Dean may be utilized in 2022.
Backup Tight End
Contenders: Jack Stoll, Tyree Jackson, Grant Calcaterra, Richard Rodgers
We already know Dallas Goedert is a stud. Behind him, there are a lot of question marks.
Jack Stoll took over TE2 duties following the Zach Ertz trade, but he was primarily used for his blocking expertise. He posted a Pro Football Focus pass blocking grade of 84.2 in 2021, the highest mark of any qualifying tight end last season. On the receiving end, Stoll was only targeted five times, hauling in four of them for 22 yards. If he can develop as a pass catcher, Stoll can be a very serviceable TE2 for the Eagles offense.
Tyree Jackson and Grant Calcaterra are the real wild cards of the group. Jackson was a training camp standout last season after making the transition from quarterback to tight end. He had some promising moments during the preseason, but a back injury sidelined him for most of the year. Jackson got some playing time towards the latter half of the year and started in the team’s Week 18 contest against Dallas. He was having a pretty solid night, hauling in three catches for 22 yards, including his first touchdown reception of his career. Unfortunately, he suffered another injury during that meaningless game, tearing his ACL on punt coverage.
The time table for Jackson’s return is still up in the air. If he can return at full strength for training camp — which is a big ‘if’ — he has a real chance to secure a role within the Eagles offense.
If Jackson is unable to suit up right way, rookie Calcaterra will likely get a shot to prove himself. His backstory is pretty wild, retiring from football following a litany of concussion issues in 2019, only to return in 2021 and put forth his best collegiate season to date with SMU.
Calcaterra has real vertical and YAC ability if utilized correctly. If he can stay healthy, he may be primed to be the TE2 for years to come.
Then we have good ‘ol DickRod. If worse comes to worst, Rodgers is a solid veteran who can contribute give the opportunity. He’s not a long-term solution to the TE2 spot, but he’s a good veteran to keep around.
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