PHILADELPHIA -- When the Philadelphia Eagles hold their final practices of the offseason this week, they will provide coaches with film to study and analyze before the team begins training camp. It will be the last opportunity for players to help -- or hurt -- themselves before the serious process of preparing for the season gets underway.
Here’s a look at five players who can do themselves the most harm this week. (Yesterday, we looked at five players with the most to gain this week.)
Linebacker Marcus Smith. Last year’s first-round pick can certainly help himself, too. No question about that. But it seems unlikely that Smith is going to move ahead of Connor Barwin or Brandon Graham on the depth chart this year.
After being limited by a groin injury during organized team activities (OTAs), there is much more risk of Smith further falling in the coaches’ estimation. Put it this way: The longer the undrafted Travis Long continues to look better and more effective than the first-round draft pick, the worse it will be for Smith. He needs to show that last year was just a rough start for a capable player.
Tobin replaced Evan Mathis at left guard and started five games. When Mathis returned and Herremans went down with a torn biceps, Tobin moved over to right guard. After two games, Tobin was benched. Andrew Gardner, the guy who is competing with him again this year, played right guard for the last six games of the season. Tobin can’t afford to let Gardner slip by him on the depth chart again.
Quarterback Tim Tebow. During the OTA practices that were open to the media, Tebow had varying levels of success. Early on, he seemed to have some trouble. This past week, he looked quite a bit better.
That’s to be expected from a guy playing in a new offense. And that’s why a strong week of minicamp work would reinforce the positive impression Tebow made last week. But a step backward could leave Chip Kelly wondering if it’s worth the distraction Tebow brings (through no fault of his own; he’s just an attention magnet) for a guy who isn’t going to compete for the No. 3 quarterback job.
Tight end Brent Celek. Chip Kelly seems very fond of Celek, a player he has praised on several occasions for his work ethic and unselfishness. But we’ve also seen that being a 30-year-old veteran holdover from the Andy Reid era, with a salary of $4.75 million, does not count as a positive when Kelly is evaluating his roster.
Going into this third season, Zach Ertz appears poised to become a star. He is that good a receiver. It will be interesting to see what happens when Sam Bradford figures out what kind of a weapon Ertz can be. Celek has remained the starter because of his blocking prowess. He needs to maintain that edge on Ertz while finding ways to make some of the big catches he has in the past.
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Kelly gave DeMeco Ryans a contract extension in between raving about the veteran’s leadership qualities. Kiko Alonso is the only return Kelly managed to acquire while parting with LeSean McCoy, Trent Cole, Todd Herremans, Evan Mathis and Cary Williams. Meanwhile, Kelly has commented on how much time Kendricks missed last year with a calf injury.
With two inside linebacker jobs and three strong candidates, Kendricks seems to have an uphill climb. He needs a good week to remind the defensive staff of what kind of a player he really is.