Top Eagles storylines heading into 2023 OTAs

Top Eagles storylines heading into OTAs originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles on Tuesday begin their Organized Team Activities, the next step toward a 2023 season after losing the Super Bowl in February.

While OTAs begin this week, the Eagles’ offseason program began back on April 24. The NFL offseason is broken into phases as dictated by the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFLPA. The beginning of OTAs marks the start of Phase 3 for the Eagles.

This year, the Eagles again have just six OTA sessions: May 30, June 1-2, June 5-6, June 8.

Here are some key storylines this spring:

Take it easy … again

The Eagles under Nick Sirianni are all about keeping their players safe and that won’t change this offseason. The Eagles have just six OTA practices, while the maximum in the CBA is 10. No live contact is permitted during OTA practices but teams can hold 7-on-7s, 9-on-7s and 11-on-11s during this window. So they’ll get in some good work but don’t expect it to really look like football.

In addition to cutting the OTAs short, the Eagles are also just one of two teams (along with the Bengals) to not have a mandatory minicamp. This is the second straight year just the Eagles and Bengals have punted on the mandatory camp. That means that their entire spring workout schedule is technically voluntary, although the Eagles are expected to have strong attendance these days.

The Eagles have operated like this under Sirianni since he took over in 2021 and that certainly won’t change now. Not after the Eagles played a Super Bowl with all 22 opening day starters healthy. While some of that comes down to luck, it’s hard to argue with results.

An eye on the depth chart

We’ll have plenty of observations from the couple of practices Eagles reporters will be in attendance but many of them honestly won’t be super important. What might matter is our first look at the depth chart on the field. Because it at least gives us an idea of where things are starting.

Most of the positions on this team are solidified but there are a few questions marks worth watching:

1. Right guard: Expect second-year OL Cam Jurgens to get the first crack at this position but the Eagles did draft Tyler Steen out of Alabama early in the third round, so he’ll get some worth there this summer too. It’s a competition but the Eagles will probably give Jurgens every opportunity to win the gig.

2. Safety: It seems likely that some combination of Terrell Edmunds, Reed Blankenship and Sydney Brown will start. That’s after both safeties from the 2022 season moved on in free agency.

3. Running back: The Eagles let Miles Sanders walk in free agency and have a group that now includes Kenny Gainwell, Rashaad Penny, D’Andre Swift and Boston Scott. The breakdown of reps and touches is something we’ll watch all summer.

4. WR3: Quez Watkins returns for another season but after struggling in 2022, it’s fair to wonder how much he’ll be pushed by free agent pickup Olamide Zaccheaus, who has had success as a slot receiver in the NFL.

5. Linebacker: Yeah, it’ll probably be Nakobe Dean and Nicholas Morrow … but is that good enough?

The new defense

We won’t get carried away with spring practice observations but the Eagles do have two new coordinators in 2023. We won’t see much change on offense with the promotion of Brian Johnson to OC. But on defense, the Eagles hired Sean Desai. We have an idea of what he’s going to run but this will be our first glimpse at his defense on the field.

Seeing the new guys

The Eagles brought back a good chunk of their Super Bowl roster from 2022 but there are some new faces, including two first-round picks in Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith. Also a few new skill players in Swift, Penny and Zaccheaus.

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