Philadelphia Eagles training camp capsule
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (7-9)
OPEN CAMP: July 24, NovaCare Practice Facility, Philadelphia.
LAST YEAR: Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz proved he’s real deal, giving team franchise player to build around. Wentz was brilliant during 3-0 start and finished strong. In between, No. 2 overall pick endured plenty of growing pains along with rest of team under rookie coach Doug Pederson. Wentz threw for 3,782 yards, set rookie record with 379 completions, had 16 touchdown passes, 14 interceptions and 79.3 passer rating. He also became first QB to start 16 games for Eagles since Donovan McNabb in 2008. Wentz didn’t have much help. He was surrounded by mediocre group of receivers and running backs and didn’t have top blocker Lane Johnson for 10 games because of suspension. Defense improved under new coordinator Jim Schwartz after three awful seasons at bottom of most statistical categories. Still, cornerbacks struggled and pass rush was poor. Other bright spots were rookies CB Jalen Mills and RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai, S Malcolm Jenkins and special teams.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: WRs Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, RB LeGarrette Blount, QB Nick Foles, DT Tim Jernigan, rookies DE Derek Barnett, CB Rasul Douglas, WRs Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson, RB Donnel Pumphrey.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: DT Bennie Logan, DE Connor Barwin, CBs Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll.
CAMP NEEDS: Wentz and new playmakers – Jeffery, Smith, Hollins and Gibson – have to build chemistry while working holdover WRs Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor and TE Zach Ertz into mix. Coaches need to figure out which back they’ll count on for bulk of workload or if they’ll take committee approach. Eyes will be on Barnett because Eagles need someone to consistently pressure QBs. Sorting out secondary is top priority on defense.
EXPECTATIONS: Eagles are supposed to be rebuilding but made win-now offseason additions on offense. There hasn’t been repeat champion in NFC East since Eagles won four division titles in row from 2001-04. If offense lives up to potential and defense improves, Eagles could be in mix. Winning record is more realistic than playoff berth. Step backward could cost Pederson his job.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL