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Division Links: BBV, BtB, BGN all focused on rosters, position battles and training camp questions

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images
Bleeding Green Nation

10 training camp questions the Eagles must answer

As training camps get underway, the Birds have some pressing on-the-field issues to attend to.

How will the WR depth chart shake out?

Marquise Goodwin made the WR depth chart a bit clearer when he opted out of playing this season, and with Alshon Jeffery starting 2020 on the PUP list, things appear to have stabilized a bit, at least at the start of camp.

DeSean Jackson and Jalen Reagor will be the outside speed receivers, with Greg Ward in the slot. JJ Arcega-Whiteside figures to get the first crack at the No. 4 spot, with John Hightower and Quez Watkins big question marks further down the depth chart. But what happens when Alshon comes back? Does he get traded? What is Arcega-Whiteside’s future? Will the Eagles add anyone else (Taylor Gabriel?) to the team with Goodwin no longer available? And will they be moving Reagor between the X and Z spots like they did with JJAW last year?

Who will be the team’s No. 2 cornerback?

Darius Slay is a clear No. 1, something the Eagles have desperately needed for years. The question is what the rest of the depth chart will look like. Former second round pick Sidney Jones made some nice plays during the Eagles’ stretch run in the final month of the season, but didn’t see the field all that much. Avonte Maddox had a terrific rookie season in 2018, but was injured for a spell and was otherwise ineffective for much of his sophomore season. Rasul Douglas is still kicking around, but is limited physically and doesn’t offer much resistance matched up against opposing No. 2 receivers. Cre’Von LeBlanc was also quite good in ‘18 but was hurt for most of last year. He’s a dark horse as the No. 2 guy if he can handle playing more than just the slot.

None of these cornerbacks have shown they need to be on the field, so an open competition in the summer could determine who gets the No. 2 spot on Jim Schwartz’ defense.

Who are the linebackers?

There may not be a weaker defensive position group in the NFC East than the Eagles’ linebacking corps. And sure, Schwartz usually never has more than two linebackers on the field at any one time, so no one is saying GM Howie Roseman should have gone out and signed three Pro Bowlers. But linebackers are playmakers and, even in a defense where the defensive line and secondary are the focus, you need decent linebackers to be successful.

Nate Gerry can cover a bit, but by no means should be your No. 1, and yet, here we are. The Eagles picked up Jatavis Brown, who had an outstanding rookie season in San Diego but has struggled since and barely played last year. Undrafted second year player T.J. Edwards isn’t going to “make plays” for you, but he’s technically sound and can help stop the run. Duke Riley and Alex Singleton are big question marks with limited upside as well.

Even if you don’t value a position that much, you shouldn’t ignore it completely. The Eagles never should have let LJ Fort go.

Blogging the Boys

A position-by-position look at how the Cowboys will build their 2020 roster

The situation this year is vastly different, and projecting the players who make the Cowboys has to be adjusted.

Everything except training camp has been eliminated, and practices are curtailed in camp. And for reasons that aren’t exactly clear, coverage of camp is now restricted to a limited pool of reporters, specific portions, and with only one videographer and one still photographer allowed. Putting together our hypothetical rosters is going to be even more a matter guesswork and speculation.

It’s not just us, either. Mike McCarthy and staff are also limited by all that is being missed, although they at least will have up close observation of the practices to work on.

The decisions are just not the same. There is more complexity because of the uncertainty, but there also might be some simplicity just because there is so much less hard data to work with.

The size of the practice squad has also increased temporarily to 16, and teams now can protect four of their PS players every week from being signed away from them. There are also some provisions just to cover promotions due to COVID cases, which is not the same as IR in these bizarre times. That is in addition to the already established ability to elevate two PS players per week to the active roster, making the 53-man roster effectively 55, and not having to expose the elevated players to a waiver claim to return them to the squad. That adds another new factor to the equation.

So before any of us start compiling those rosters, here are some things to keep in mind. Many are unique to this strange time, but there are certainly others that would apply in any case that have to be remembered.

Big Blue View

Better or worse? New York Giants wide receiver position

The Giants didn’t add any significant pieces here, but could they still be better?

Normally at this time of year we would be covering the beginning of training camp from a football perspective, rather than a COVID-19 perspective. Yet, with the virus leading to a rash of player opt outs and dominating the sports headlines nothing is normal.

We won’t have regular football practices to dissect for a few more weeks. So, we are still — from a football-writing viewpoint, sort of in offseason mode.

With that in mind, I thought that over the next couple of weeks we would do position-by-position previews. We have talked about many of these positions and all of the players ad nauseum over the past few months. We will try to approach this a little differently, though.

This is going to be a “better or worse than 2019?” series. We will try to examine whether or not the Giants have gotten better or worse at the position being studied, and we will offer you a poll at the end to determine how fans feel entering the 2020 season.

Let’s start with wide receiver.

Key losses: Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard

Key additions: Corey Coleman, UDFAs Austin Mack, Derrick Dillon, Binjimen Victor

After an offseason that saw the Giants, perhaps surprisingly, not add any wide receivers in the draft or spend significant free agent dollars in an effort to upgrade the position the common question has been whether or not the Giants have enough play-making talent at this position.