The Philadelphia Eagles' hot topics as OTAs get under way
How does Carson Wentz look after visiting a QB coach? Who will emerge at cornerback?
The Eagles will hold their first full-team practice of the offseason on Tuesday when the veterans and rookies gather for organized team activities. The veterans have been training together for the last month, and the rookies participated in their own minicamp two weeks ago. The full roster will be together to begin four weeks of the final phase of the offseason program before training camp.
They cannot wear pads and there is no live contact, but they can finally practice offense vs. defense with seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills. Here are the key questions that the team will begin to answer:
What's different in Year 2 for Carson Wentz?
When Wentz arrived for OTAs last year, he took snaps with the third-team offense and needed to learn a new system and meet new teammates. He's now the unquestioned franchise player, and the Eagles hope a full spring and summer as the starter will show the strides he took as a rookie. Wentz trained with a private quarterback coach in California to refine his mechanics, so he can show the improvements on Tuesday. He will also benefit from working in a full-team setting with the new offensive weapons, including top receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Is Jeffery the answer at wide receiver?
The Eagles' major offseason splash came at wide receiver, where they found much-needed help with a former Pro Bowler who has the potential to be one of the NFL's top receivers. But Jeffery only signed a one-year deal in part because he hasn't recorded a 1,000-yard season since 2014 and he missed 11 games in the last two years. A fresh start in Philadelphia with Wentz offers Jeffery a chance to show that he's the game-changing player from three years ago, and he can finally run routes against defensive backs this week.
Who's on the first-team offensive line?
In an effort to protect Wentz, the Eagles tried to ensure there's depth on the line. But there will be a competition for starting spots even though all five starters return from last season. The top spot in question is left guard, where Allen Barbre is the incumbent. Isaac Seumalo, Stefen Wisniewski, and Chance Warmack will compete with Barbre for the role. Seumalo, the team's third-round pick last year, is an emerging player who excites the team's brass. His long-term future could be at center, where Jason Kelce remains the starter after the team passed on trading him. Wisniewski is also a starting-caliber center. Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, and Brandon Brooks are entrenched in their starting spots.
Who's starting at cornerback?
The biggest weakness on the Eagles' roster is at cornerback, and the depth chart will likely remain unsettled through training camp. Both primary starters from last season are gone. Jalen Mills is expected to be a front-runner for a starting job. Third-round pick Rasul Douglas will have an opportunity for early playing time. Ron Brooks is a returning contributor. Veteran Patrick Robinson is a former first-round pick who has started for three teams, and Dwayne Gratz offers starting experience. The Eagles will need to settle on three cornerbacks to play on the outside and in the slot. But none of these candidates will cause sleepless nights for opposing offensive coordinators - just fans awaiting the eventual return of Sidney Jones.
Can Tim Jernigan replace Bennie Logan?
With Logan departing in free agency, a starting job is available at defensive tackle. Jernigan, 24, came to the Eagles from Baltimore and is in line to start. Beau Allen is sidelined because of a pectoral injury and sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls cannot participate until the University of Washington finishes its academic calendar, so Jernigan should get the first-team snaps next to Fletcher Cox and face little competition during OTAs. A former second-round pick, Jernigan totaled 13 sacks in three years and has a chance for more production in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's scheme. He'll need to learn his role in the system during the next few weeks and adjust to playing next to Cox.