Eagles who will be hurt without NFL OTAs this spring

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Dave Zangaro
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10 Eagles who will miss having in-person OTAs this year originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Eagles players earlier this week released a statement through the NFLPA that they will not be attending in-person voluntary workouts this spring, which will be a bigger deal for some than others.

The Eagles were the 19th team to release a statement about voluntary workouts this spring, saying that it’s “unnecessary for us to put ourselves at risk in this environment” during the ongoing pandemic.

The statement also said players will hold each other accountable to stay in shape, which is very important. But not everything can be duplicated at home. (The Eagles will still have a mandatory minicamp in mid-June.)

The players’ decision to skip OTAs was made as a safety precaution so you can’t really fault them. But that doesn’t mean some players won’t be hurt by it. And some of the players who lose the most aren’t even on the team yet. The entire rookie class would normally benefit from having spring practices. And Nick Sirianni would rather his team practice in person too.

Sometimes the importance of OTAs can be overblown. After all, the NFL had a season last year after no OTAs and it wasn’t sloppy at all. In fact, it worked to prove the NFLPA’s point that they’re not really necessary.

But aside from the rookie class, other Eagles players could have used the spring workouts this year.

Here are 10 players who come to mind:

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: Sure, Jalen Hurts is expected to have some receivers work out with him in Texas this offseason, but this is about more than that for JJAW. Entering Year 3 in the NFL, this might be the final chance for the former second-round pick and now he has a new coaching staff to try to win over. And remember, JJAW has looked pretty good in OTAs before, so a good showing in the spring would have maybe altered the new coaching staff’s perception of him.

Genard Avery: We heard a report a while back that Avery was switching positions from defensive end to linebacker, so this extra time could have helped him. The Eagles spent a fourth-round pick to trade for Avery a couple years ago and they haven’t gotten much out of it. Now he has a new position in a new scheme so any extra time would have helped.

K’Von Wallace: Rodney McLeod is still recovering from a torn ACL so someone would have gotten the starter reps next to Anthony Harris. It’s likely that Wallace would have been the next guy in.

Andrew Adams: The Eagles’ two biggest free agent additions on defense — Harris and Eric Wilson — previously played in Minnesota and will at least have a base knowledge of the defense Jonathan Gannon wants to run in Philly. Adams is the outsider trying to find his role.

Hakeem Butler: The Eagles still have Butler on the roster listed as a tight end. He was talented enough to be a fourth-round WR a couple years ago and might have upside as a tight end. After watching what new TEs coach Jason Michael did with Mo Alie-Cox in Indy, it’s intriguing to think about what he could do with Butler.

Andre Dillard: Dillard was going to be the starting left tackle last year before a torn biceps. Now, he’s coming off that injury and might very well be behind Jordan Mailata in the left tackle competition. Dillard would probably want as much time as he can get to win it.

Miles Sanders: Sanders had a decent season in 2020 but missed games with injury and didn’t have the breakout campaign people were hoping for. It’s worth pointing out that he’s never been able to get a full spring in the NFL and won’t again this season. With a new scheme in place, Sanders could still realize his potential in Year 3.

Davion Taylor: We all knew Taylor was a project when the Eagles took him in the third round last year but he played just 32 defensive snaps as a rookie. Now, he has to learn a new defense so any extra time he could have gotten on the field would have helped.

Travis Fulgham: What is Fulgham? I have no idea and I’m not sure the Eagles do either. But after watching him become the best receiver in the NFL for a month before turning back into a pumpkin has to have the Eagles flummoxed. There’s talent there, but how much?

Brett Toth: Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland’s newest project is the former Army tackle, who came back from Arizona during last season. Toth has bulked up to NFL standards but still needs a ton of work in pass protection after playing at Army, where they run all the time.

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