Impressions on the First Iteration of the 2011 Eagles Depth Chart

Impressions on the First Iteration of the 2011 Eagles Depth Chart

There's a lot of fun "firsts" once football season starts to roll around. First day of training camp, the first day Madden is released, and, of course, the first Sunday of the season are all popular ones. Today was the less heralded, but still entertaining for football geeks, first draft of the Eagles' depth chart, as the headline would imply.

Of course, a couple of notes before we get into some analysis. First, the depth chart is always UNOFFICIAL. It's compiled largely based on watching who is taking what snaps during practices, not by members of the coaching staff. Also, obviously much can and will change before the regular season gets underway, but it's still interesting to take a peak at what the team is working with up at Lehigh.

So with that in mind, thoughts on a few key positions after the jump.

RT1 - Ryan Harris
This has to be considered the second biggest surprise on the depth chart. The Harris signing was met with little fanfare (we didn't even post on it), and sort of lost in the shuffle after the Birds acquired some guys named Nnamdi, and Cullen, and Ronnie. For now, he is the starting right tackle.

Winston Justice is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but Andy Reid told reporters back in April that the starter of two seasons would compete with King Dunlap for his job. Dunlap, however, is currently third on the chart, even behind 2009 fifth rounder Fenuki Topou, who has yet to appear in an NFL game.

Meanwhile, Harris--who signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum--is becoming a greater threat to Justice. A third round pick out of Notre Dame in 2007, the 6-5, 300-pounder started 34 games at right tackle in four seasons with the Broncos, and by all accounts he has been very impressive in camp.

We thought the Eagles could target a high priced talent in free agency, and indeed there is at least one report they went after Doug Free, so when they wound up with Harris, it seemed minor. It appears he could really push Justice though, which certainly isn't a bad thing with him coming off an injury and a subpar season protecting Mike Vick's blind side.

LDE2 - Jason Babin; RDT2 - Cullen Jenkins
The first time I read over the list, I actually did not notice two of the three biggest free agent additions on defense weren't listed as starters. It's mildly interesting, but probably means little.

Babin is currently slotted behind Juqua Parker, who seems to be locked in a battle for his starting job every summer. Ultimately, it doesn't matter much who holds the designation as a starter, because the Eagles will rotate their ends. At $6 million/year, Babin will have more than his fair share of chances to rush the quarterback, while a fresher Parker should equal a more productive Parker.

Antonio Dixon is ahead of Jenkins, though again, there will be some kind of rotation here. But assuming Patterson returns (as he intends) and the Birds are playing with a full deck, it is actually possible Dixon's name could stay on top. He was an effective run-stopper last season, which might make him more appropriate on first and second downs, as opposed to Jenkins, who is coming over from a different defensive alignment entirely.

It could be they are just working Jenkins into the system, but it could be he will also see the bulk of his action on third downs and obvious passing situations.

MLB1 - Casey Matthews; SLB1 - Jamar Chaney
Not much the Eagles do shocks me anymore, but Matthews as the starting middle linebacker accomplished precisely that. I figured at the most, Chaney would reprise his role in the middle, and Matthews would compete at one of the outside positions. It appears they may have pegged him as their new MIKE from the very beginning.

Neither Matthews or Chaney are exceptionally big, both standing at 6 feet, so I suppose they aren't losing anything from a size perspective. For that matter, Chaney--last year's seventh round pick--has only been in the league for one season, with three career starts including the playoffs, so they're not exactly losing out on a wealth of experience either.

Only the Eagles could tell you exactly why they went with Matthews over Chaney in the middle, but it may have something to do with the difference in athleticism. Matthews, a fourth round rookie out of Oregon, is measurably slower than Chaney (4.78 to 4.54 in the 40-yard dash). In Jim Johnson's defensive system, the middle linebacker was typically aggressive around the line of scrimmage, while the outside backers more frequently played in space.

If defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is maintaining the principles of JJ's system, then it makes sense to put the faster player in more coverage situations. As for trusting a rookie at such an important area, if it were anybody else, I'd be more concerned. This Matthews kid, on the other hand, has football in his blood.

RCB1 - Nnamdi Asomugha
Nothing really to add here, but it is sort of cool.

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).