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What to watch in Week 2 of Eagles OTAs: Offensive line changes, emergence of second-year players

Coordinators Jim Schwartz and Mike Groh will also make their first public comments of the offseason on Tuesday.

Tight end Dallas Goedert could make a big leap in his second season.
Tight end Dallas Goedert could make a big leap in his second season.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The Eagles return to the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday for the second week of organized team activities, with practices scheduled each of the next three days. The suspense from last week’s sessions have subsided — yes, Carson Wentz is a full participant; no, Malcolm Jenkins has not been present — but intrigue remains while the Eagles spend the spring laying the foundation for what they’re hoping will be another Super Bowl run.

Here are the key topics to watch for Week 2:

No setbacks for Carson Wentz: All eyes are always on Carson Wentz, and though he’s back at practice, it’s important that he avoids any setbacks while returning from the stress fracture in his back. Last summer, Wentz started training camp as a full participant before the team scaled back his participation. The Eagles need Wentz to maintain good health – and good quarterbacking – throughout the spring leading up to training camp. If there’s no change in his activity level on Tuesday, that would be a good sign.

Offensive line shuffle: With Brandon Brooks injured and Lane Johnson and Jason Peters absent, the Eagles took a long look at their young, reserve offensive linemen last week. It also included some new spots for those linemen. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who has been an offensive tackle in his three seasons with the Eagles, practiced at right guard. That’s an interesting development, considering it would create more value for Vaitai and offers the Eagles another potential starting option if Brooks isn’t ready to begin the season while returning from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Vaitai moved from left tackle because the Eagles drafted Andre Dillard in the first round, and it’s clear Dillard is their left tackle of the future. That also meant the Eagles moved Jordan Mailata from left tackle to right tackle, adding new responsibilities for Mailata in his second year playing organized football.

Who’s back?: The Eagles were missing 10 likely starters last week because of injuries and voluntary absences — attendance is not required — and they know there are certain injured players who won’t be ready until training camp, such as Brooks and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (foot). But other players who were partial participants could progress to taking more work in team drills. Defensive end Derek Barnett is one player who fits this description; he was limited last week after missing half of last season with a shoulder injury. Rookie running back Miles Sanders also did not participate because of an unspecified injury, but there’s excitement about seeing the second-round pick on the field. There were also absences unrelated to contracts, such as that of new linebacker Zach Brown, that are worth monitoring to see if they return this week.

Class of 2018: Two of the standouts on the first day of spring practices were the Eagles’ top two draft picks last season: tight end Dallas Goedert and defensive back Avonte Maddox. Both players contributed as rookies and could be in position to take big leaps in Year 2. Goedert has earned a bigger role in the offense after playing 48 percent of the offensive snaps last season. Coach Doug Pederson and the offensive staff have spent time this offseason focused on two-tight end sets to discover ways to use Goedert and Zach Ertz together. Maddox was a pleasant surprise last season because of his versatility — he played safety, slot cornerback, and outside cornerback — and he could see a similar role this season. Maddox manned the slot last week. The Eagles’ other three draft picks from 2018 — defensive end Josh Sweat, offensive lineman Matt Pryor, and Mailata — are also players under focus this offseason. Sweat is trying to carve a spot as the Eagles’ fourth defensive end, and Pryor and Mailata could be valuable reserve linemen. Pryor might push for playing time at right guard if Brandon Brooks is absent, too.

Coordinators speak: Tuesday marks the first public comments this offseason from defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Mike Groh, who both have pre-practice news conferences. Schwartz’s unit must replace Michael Bennett, Chris Long, and Jordan Hicks and integrate Malik Jackson into the system. Schwartz will also have decisions to make about starters at linebacker and cornerback, where there could be heavy competition this summer. Groh is back after an uneven first season as offensive coordinator. Although he doesn’t call plays, he has a big role in the game plan and on third downs. Groh’s unit has reconfigured the depth chart with the additions of running back Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders and wide receivers DeSean Jackson and J.J. Arecega-Whiteside. There’s also the need to keep Wentz healthy and establish the No. 2 quarterback to replace Nick Foles — Nate Sudfeld is the clear frontrunner — so Groh will be busy this spring.