The Eagle Eye: What We See and Hear

Keeping our eyes peeled wide open and our ear to the ground, we bring you various news and notes heard along the way. They come from various sources with various thoughts, but they provide some insight into how the 2006 Eagles may look.

  • RB Brian Westbrook is a versatile back who can cause matchup problems in the passing game when the defense tries to cover him with a safety or linebacker. He's a good perimeter runner, but isn't very effective between the tackles. Persistent fears about his durability were confirmed again when he went down with a foot injury late in the season.

    It will be interesting to see if the Eagles try to bring in another featured back to provide cover for Westbrook's injury history or if they stick with the crop of young backs already on the roster.

  • RB Ryan Moats is a similar style runner to Westbrook, versatile and elusive on the perimeter but not as effective between the tackles. It's a long shot that he'll ever reach the status of Westbrook and appears headed for a backup type career.
  • RB Lamar Gordon was inadequate as a short-yardage back for the Eagles. Don't look for him to get much attention from the Eagles and he might not even be a part of the 2006 Eagles.
  • FB Josh Parry is not a very good blocking fullback. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, but doesn't have the speed to do much with it after the catch. In other words, he can't block and he can't run, which isn't a lot of help, is it?
  • TE L.J. Smith was on a 90-catch pace early in the season before QB Donovan McNabb got hurt. Trouble is, he's not a very good blocker, which has hurt the Eagles' perimeter running game. Since the birds have a lot of perimeter type runners, Smith doesn't provide a lot of help. This is one guy that McNabb definitely makes better and more useful by being able to get him the ball. Smith owes Donovan big-time.
  • TE Chad Lewis re-signed with the Eagles at mid-season, but probably won't be back next season. He's well liked and respected in the locker room, but just simply doesn't fit into the Eagles' plans.
  • WR Reggie Brown had a solid rookie season, catching 43 passes with four touchdowns. Coach Andy Reid has called him the most talented receiver he's coached. But with Terrell Owens gone, the sense is the Eagles need to find a solid veteran to pair with Brown.

    Don't be surprised if in a few years, the Eagles are looking for a young receiver to pair with Reggie Brown, who they'll then refer to as a "solid veteran".

  • WR Todd Pinkston, who missed all of last season with an Achilles' tendon injury, is a vertical threat who averaged a league-best 18.8 yards per catch two years ago, when he was playing opposite Terrell Owens.

    No, he doesn't have the ability to take over for Owens, even if he is healthy. In fact, with the emergence of Brown, Pinkston better have rear view mirrors installed on his helmet.

  • WR Greg Lewis was in over his head last season when he was forced into the starting lineup. But he can be a good number three or number four receiver. He's got good hands, pretty good speed and a knack for finding the hole in a zone. In the right role, he can provide some help.
  • LT Tra Thomas, an often inconsistent player, has a high salary cap number and is coming off major back surgery. He might not be back nest season. The talent is there, but the desire - and now, a healthy back - appear to be lacking.

    The Eagles are determined to rebuild the defense and Thomas will likely be lost in the shuffle or see a severe cut in playing time. Although with the big cap number that he brings, he'd be a pretty high-priced backup.

  • OL Todd Herremans, a rookie, played pretty well in place of injured starter Tra Thomas before breaking his leg. As long as he can get himself healthy, the Eagles are very high on what Herremans can provide.
  • RT Jon Runyan, 32, is an unrestricted free agent. The Eagles would like to re-sign him, but they don't want to overpay him because of his age. Runyan has made it pretty clear that he's looking for a pretty good sized payday and while he loves playing in Philadelphia, it's likely that he'll test the market.
  • RG Shawn Andrews, who played at a much-too-heavy 370-plus pounds this season, might slide outside to replace Jon Runyan if Runyan becomes a free agent. Andrews needs to make the most of the potential opportunity and slim down some to more effective.
  • C Jamaal Jackson replaced Hank Fraley after Fraley got hurt at mid-season, and played well. He's bigger and stronger than Fraley and probably will be the season-opening center.
  • DT Mike Patterson, the Eagles' first-round draft pick, played OK for a rookie. He certainly gained some respect and outplayed fellow DT Darwin Walker who was a major disappointment.
  • DE Jevon Kearse had a disappointing season, despite his 7 1/2 sacks. He never has developed an inside pass-rush move, which has enabled tackles to ride him to the outside.
  • DL Jerome McDougle, the Eagles' 2003 first-round pick, missed the entire season after getting shot just before the start of training camp. McDougle has recovered well and has put on a lot of the weight that he lost because of the shooting. Time and training camp will tell if he's ready.
  • MLB Jeremiah Trotter was one of the league's better run-defending inside linebackers and earned a spot in the Pro Bowl. Trotter just keeps getting better and better and has stepped up to take a leadership role on the Eagles defense.
  • LB Dhani Jones had a disappointing season. The Eagles' decision to turn the undersized Jones into a strongside linebacker has not worked very well. The Eagles likely will move Jones back to the weak side and bring in a new strongside linebacker.
  • LB Keith Adams had a disappointing season as a starter. Adams is better suited for a special teams and backup role.
  • LB Matt McCoy was the Eagles' second-round draft pick, but he never got on the field, mainly because of problems picking up coordinator Jim Johnson's defense. The Eagles are expecting McCoy to make a significant contribution in '06.
  • CB Lito Sheppard, hurt by the lack of a consistent pass rush, got beat much too often and must play better in 2006 or risk falling down the depth chart. The same is true for Sheldon Brown. Both players should be hoping and praying that the Eagles can find a way to put together a better pass rush and take some of the heat off of the secondary.
  • SS Mike Lewis, a former Pro Bowler, was terribly inconsistent and made a slew of mental mistakes that resulted in busted coverages and missed assignments.
  • FS Brian Dawkins is 32 and wasn't the same playmaker in 2005 that he's been most of his career. Again, the lack of a pass rush could have contributed, but Dawkins is starting to show wear and tear.
  • CB Rod Hood moved into the starting lineup after starter Lito Sheppard got hurt and played very well. He's a restricted free agent who could draw some interest from other teams, but the Eagles won't let him go. Sheppard and Brown should be paying attention to just how much the Eagles are willing to give Hood, because while they regressed, Hood moved ahead in 2005.

    Meanwhile, while Hood will likely see a good amount of time in the secondary, he could well have seen the last of his kick return duties. Ryan Moats and Bruce Perry are the leading candidates for that job.

  • PR Reno Mahe doesn't have great speed, but is sure-handed and managed to average a league-best 12.8 yards per return in 2005.
  • The kicking game appears set. David Akers is one of the league's very best kickers and P Dirk Johnson missed much of the season with a sports hernia, but will be back. He doesn't have a great leg, but is consistent and has a good net average. In other words, he gets the job done.

War Nest Top Stories