Eagles Release Unofficial Depth Chart – WHO’S THE STARTING QB?!?!

Eagles Release Unofficial Depth Chart – WHO’S THE STARTING QB?!?!

Whoever is responsible for this version of the Eagles’ depth chart, which is posted on the team’s web site but honestly means next to nothing, totally copped out when they got down to quarterback. And the first-team signal caller is…?

7 Michael Vick/9 Nick Foles. Still no hint on who will start the first preseason game, either, which is already this Friday.

To be fair, the slash aligns with what we’ve seen at practice so far. Vick and Foles continue to split the work on the first-team offense, so it’s only natural they would split that tiny line on the depth chart as well. There is a growing belief among some of the reporters at training camp that Vick may have pulled away from the competition slightly in recent days, but the chart is only meant to reflect reps. Also, it's still so close as to border on irrelevant.

Sorry, we’re still going to have to wait a few weeks before that all sorts itself out. As for the rest of the depth chart, again, it’s very early in the process, and if you ask head coach Chip Kelly, fluid. The only reason there is a depth chart at all is because it’s mandated by the NFL in advance of any games. That said, we can have some fun with this, so let’s analyze the rest of it, shall we?

Running Back

Chris Polk is ahead of Felix Jones, which bodes well for the second-year back’s chances of making the squad. Polk has looked sharp and explosive carrying the football. He told reporters on Monday that he dropped weight during the offseason, between 15-20 lbs., and it really shows in his initial burst. He’s underrated as a receiving threat as well.

Jones is having a quiet camp, and was no lock to make the roster coming in. There’s still time, but Polk owns a distinct advantage right now.

Wide Receiver

Riley Cooper is listed as one of the two starters, but that could change as his absence from camp becomes extended. Cooper was first up after the injury to Jeremy Maclin, but since he left Damaris Johnson and Russell Shepard have seen time with the ones. Arrelious Benn has finally returned from injury, and he’ll have a chance to climb back into the picture as well. Nothing settled there.

Tight End

No real surprises here, although it is worth noting that two tight ends – Brent Celek and James Casey – are listed as starters. Most teams traditionally list one, but that’s a perfect example of how prevalent the position will be in Chip’s offense.

Offensive Line

Interesting thought courtesy of Philly.com’s Jimmy Kempski from inside the press box today: the depth at tackle is not what it appears. If anything were to happen where Jason Peters or Lane Johnson couldn’t go, the likely backup is actually Todd Herremans, who of course is the starter at right guard. Herremans would line up at right tackle (Danny Watkins would enter at guard), while Johnson would either be replaced or move over to left tackle. That in effect makes Denis Kelly the fourth-string tackle, which means the rest of them better be versatile if they hope to make the team.

Defensive Line

Cedric Thornton is holding off Clifton Geathers at one of the two end positions for now I guess, although Geathers has seen some time with the first stringers as well. It’s difficult to gauge because the Eagles have been trying a lot of different combinations, and while there have been some live periods, guys aren’t really hitting/tackling much yet.

Bennie Logan is listed as the top backup at nose tackle behind Isaac Sopoaga, as Antonio Dixon missed a few practices due to injury. Dixon may have to make up for lost time once the exhibition games get underway.

Linebacker

No surprises here. Connor Barwin and Trent Cole on the outside, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks inside. Incumbents are all listed ahead of the less-known fringe players. Need to see them in games.

Cornerback

Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are both ahead of Brandon Boykin, who is having one of the best camps of anybody on the team. Boykin saw some extended time with the ones while Williams was nursing his hamstring injury, but this list is still going with the offseason acquisitions. If the second-year corner keeps it up, he’s going to force the coaching staff’s hand sooner rather than later.

Eddie Whitley, a bubble player signed off of the Cowboys’ practice squad during the offseason, is having a strong camp as well. It’s a little surprising to see him listed below the Trevard Lindleys and Brandon Hughes of the world.

Safety

Starters: Nate Allen and Patrick Chung. It seems like on defense in particular many of the spots are penciled in the way they were projected heading into camp. The truth is lots of different players have had chances to roll with the first-team at safety, including Colt Anderson and David Sims, even rookie Earl Wolff at the bottom.

Specialists

For those concerned with the big punter battle, Donnie Jones is holding off rookie Brad Wing. Oh, and DeSean Jackson is your punter returner, Damaris Johnson kicks.

>> 2013 Unofficial Depth Chart [PE.com]

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”