Friday, May 29, 2015

Eagles OTA Spotlight: Can the Eagles count on Sam Bradford and Earl Wolff?

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Two major ingredients to an Eagle revolution on both sides of the ball, Earl Wolff and Sam Bradford, are not having encouraging OTA outings. Both have been limited in practice. That's really no surprise for Bradford, but its disheartening in regards to Wolff--its not giving anyone a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Obviously Bradford is a key cog to our faith in the Eagles offense, but apparently Chip Kelly is announcing things as an open competition. “Everybody’s in competition,” Kelly said, “and the best players play.” That approach is his way and Sanchez is taking it seriously while Bradford has disappointingly been seen limping around the field (limited OK, but limping?)--not good.

"After he met with reporters, Bradford walked into the NovaCare Complex with a pronounced limp. Kelly, predictably, said he couldn’t predict when Bradford would be 100 percent...?
- Jeff McLane, Inquirer

Bradford injured his ACL early last season. Players who bounce back from ACL injuries typically aren't limping in limited-participation OTAs. But the word is that Bradford's trainers have been taking a slower approach to rehab. For now, we know why Bradford is not 100%.

"He is on schedule... We all think there's three phases: There's medical rehab, there's performance rehab and then there's prepare to play. He's probably right at the tail end of medical rehab. He'll probably start throwing some 7-on-7 next week, but I think he's right on schedule in terms of where he is." - Chip Kelly

On a bright note, reports are Braford is making some positive impressions throwing the ball.

The real kick in the butt for me is Earl Wolff. He's the safety that can complete the defense and really become an integral part of a resurrection in the secondary. But even if he's healthy for preseason (and shows-up strong and effective), it's hard to feel like you can count on him for 19 games. Wolff has flashed top-shelf ability against elite competition. He just hasn't shown he can stay healthy--and again.

Without Wolff, the most interesting secondary shuffle in the league could take place.

Natural safeties, Ed Reynolds and Jerome Couplin, have a great opportunity to earn time while the salvo of cornerbacks auditioning for a starting spot opposite Byron Maxwell might also get consideration at safety.

It's no secret that Chip and Billy Davis like the cornerback-safety hybrids at safety--reference the acquisition of Malcolm Jenkins and the strong push for Devin McCourty. Thow-in the factoid that Chip drafted three safety sized cornerbacks and no natural safeties.

NOTE: Eagles second round pick, Eric Rowe, spent three years playing safety at Utah before converting to cornerback in his senior season. He's getting the early reps at cornerback, but his versatile skill set and size is a scheme fit for the Eagles safety position.

Every team that makes a championship run has players like Sam Bradford and Earl Wolff. It's too soon to expect this team to fully come together now. Its too soon to expect players to be fully recovered fully from 2014 season ending injuries now. And its too soon to draw any firm conclusions now.

But if things fall into place. If Bradford and Wolff can fulfill their roles. It becomes much easier to see this team taking shape and it becomes intuitively more realistic to expect this team will be complete on both sides of the ball--poised to make a run.

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