The Philadelphia Eagles will open up minicamp on Tuesday, June 12. This event will include the full team and wrap up a series of OTAs. With training camp beginning in July, this will be a big chance for the coaching staff to figure out who has the inside track in several position battles. While the Eagles are set at most roster positions, there are a number of battles that will play out over the course of the offseason. Here is a look at some position battles to watch as minicamp unfolds over the next couple of days. When this round ends, some of these players will have an edge when the team starts camp.
Could the Eagles really start Fletcher Cox over Mike Patterson in the middle of the defensive line? It could happen if the first round pick continues to perform the way he has. Patterson is still recovering from a brain operation and won't return until training camp. By that point, Cox should have made a major impression on the coaching staff. I still think that Patterson will have the edge but I wouldn't be surprised if Cox becomes the starter. Either way, I expect both to get a lot of playing time.
The Eagles are pretty set with DeMeco Ryans in the middle and rookie Mychal Kendricks on the strong side. That means that Jamar Chaney, Brian Rolle, and Casey Matthews will battle it out for the starting job on the weak side. Right now, Rolle has the edge. He played the position a lot in 2011 and already beat out Matthews once. However, Chaney should have something to say given his experience. My guess is that the Eagles won't make a decision about this position until the regular season begins.
Backup tight end
With Brent Celek entrenched as the starter, the intriguing battle is between Clay Harbor and Brett Brackett. The Eagles plan to run sets with multiple tight ends after watching how well it worked for the New England Patriots. There is always a chance that they will carry three tight ends but I wouldn't bank on that. That means that Harbor and Brackett have to find a way to beat the other one out. Harbor has the edge in experience but not by much. He has just 22 career catches. Whoever has a better grasp on the playbook is likely to win the job.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie moves to the outside, leaving a cornerback spot open for nickel packages. Veteran Joselio Hanson is the early favorite, but rookie Brandon Boykin has impressed the coaches. The Eagles might end up deciding that Boykin is better suited for the return game as a rookie, but his talents in the secondary can't be overlooked. If he continues to push during minicamp, the team will give him a serious shot during training camp.
Mark Paul is a Philadelphia resident and lifelong Eagles fan.
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