Inside Slant: A look at Eagles camp

Eagles coach Andy Reid suggested this week that running back Duce Staley's decision to skip the club's final June minicamp could possibly cost him his starting job this season. Staley, who led the team in rushing last season and also had 51 receptions, boycotted the minicamp to protest the club's apparent disinterest in re-signing him. He is in the final year of his contract and will earn $2 million this season.

Cornerback Bobby Taylor, who earned his first Pro Bowl invitation last season, also is entering the final year of his contract and also skipped the minicamp. But his starting job is a little more secure.

"They were under contract and they were expected to be here, so I was disappointed about that," Reid said. "You know that in the NFL, there's great competition, and we've always strived for that here. If you miss (practices), you give other guys opportunities. Other guys had time to play (in that minicamp). We're always going to play the best guy. They gave guys opportunities to show themselves with the (starters). The fill-ins did a pretty good job."

Staley's position at the top of the depth chart is tenuous because of the return of Correll Buckhalter. Buckhalter averaged 4.5 yards per carry as a rookie two years ago before tearing his ACL in a spring minicamp last year. If he can recapture the form he showed as a rookie, Staley's offensive role could be drastically reduced.

Staley rushed for 1,029 yards last season, but averaged just 3.8 yards per carry. He's a tough between-the-tackles runner who seldom is brought down by the first tackler. But he isn't the outside threat that Buckhalter, or even second-year man Brian Westbrook is.

Staley's real strength is as a pass-catcher. The Eagles frequently lined him up wide last season and he averaged 10.6 yards per catch, more than any other running back in the NFL.

Buckhalter has been cleared for full activity in training camp, but ACL injuries typically take more than a year to completely come back from. But if Buckhalter can prove he's the same runner he was before the injury, Staley could end up being essentially a third-down back this season.

CAMP CALENDAR: Rookies held their first workout on Saturday morning. The first full-squad practice will be Wednesday morning. The Eagles will break camp at Lehigh on August 15 and continue two-a-days for another two weeks after that at their training facility in south Philadelphia.


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