Quick Takes on Eagles New LT Demetress Bell

Quick Takes on Eagles New LT Demetress Bell

1. The future is Bell?

The length of Demetress Bell's news contract worth $35 million was a surprise, but the Inquirer's Jeff McLane reports only the first year of the five-year deal is guaranteed, making it so Bell only plays out the remaining years if the team needs him -- which they might.

Jason Peters' future is up in the air as a result of his injury. The one silver lining from this disaster is Peters has almost 18 months to rehab for kickoff in 2013, but recovery from an Achilles injury can be unpredictable. Peters can become a free agent in 2015 as well, so the front office won't have long to make a decision on how to proceed with their All-Pro left tackle.

Bell is a nice insurance policy should things take a turn for the worse with Peters, but he also protects the Eagles in the event of another catastrophic injury along the offensive line, or from a situation as simple as Danny Watkins not panning out. Todd Herremans can always slide back to guard if Peters is healthy, so there are a few different combinations they can try.

All of which is contingent on Bell proving his worth. Again, the Eagles undoubtedly have their outs, and if everybody is healthy and playing at a high level, the estimated $7 million annually is generally too much for a back-up anything. However, five years leaves the team with the option to retain Bell's services for as long as they deem necessary -- and that much is anybody's guess.

2. Bargaining Chip

Five years was a bit of a surprise, but it's not just about renting a left tackle for this season. The Eagles are positioning themselves to make moves.

Assuming Peters does make a near-full recovery, and everybody else is alive a year or two from now, the Eagles could have themselves yet another asset for the trading block. Some team desperately in need of a left tackle down the line may be willing to pay a steep price to acquire Bell should he have a quality season. We won't go so far as to place a value on his services, but five teams kicked Bell's tires this offseason, so he will draw some interest.

3. Eagles Can and Should Still Draft Linemen

This addition does not preclude the team from adding more depth in the draft. In fact, if Peters' injury proves anything, it's the old adage you can never have too many tackles on the roster. Obviously it's not a front-line, first-round type of need anymore, which is great. The belief is tackle could be a reach at #15 overall, and you still have to hold out some bit of hope Peters can eventually return to form.

That said, you can no longer count on Peters, nor can you assume Bell solves that problem, nor that King Dunlap can be the guy either. It would be wise to find something with which to break glass in case of emergency should plans A, B, C all fall flat.

Knowing the Eagles, they will do exactly that. In fact, looking back on the Andy Reid era, it's actually unusual they were caught with their pants down in this situation. Ordinarily the Birds have a handful of versatile linemen in their employ who could slide outside at a moment's notice, not at all unlike Herremans. It seems with Evan Mathis and Danny Watkins, that's not the case. They further emptied their coffers by dumping Jamaal Jackson and Winston Justice, so reenforcements surely are on the way.

So while signing Bell was a great short-term investment with certain long-term repercussions, don't expect the Eagles to stop there. With the exception of one or two off years, offensive line has almost always been a strength under this regime. No reason to expect that commitment to change.

Want to play corner for Jim Schwartz? Must worry about more than deep ball

Want to play corner for Jim Schwartz? Must worry about more than deep ball

The Eagles might not have any top-flight cornerbacks, but they certainly have a lot of guys with some talent.

Many of them are young, and all of them are battling for just several roster spots.

That hodgepodge of talent has made the corner position one of the more intriguing spots at this year's training camp. We're not sure how it'll all shake out, who will be the starters, who will be the depth players.

But one thing's for certain: Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz wants all of them to be aggressive.

"It's going to be fun to watch the corners compete," Schwartz said after practice Tuesday. "We have some guys that can cover. We have some guys that have a great opportunity here. If they'll get up and they'll challenge receivers, like I said before, if you can cover — you can't cover many people if you don't want to challenge guys. That's God's honest truth. I could play the deep ball. I'd get my ass 50 yards deep and you couldn't get one over the top of me, but I couldn't cover anything else.

"There's a fine line in there. And the fine line is you obviously have to play the deep ball in this league, but if that's the only thing you're worried about, you're not going to cover anything else."

Schwartz said he's happy with the blend of veteran and young players on the roster, before rattling off five names: Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, JaCorey Shepherd and rookie Jalen Mills.

The one notable omission from that list of names is second-year player Eric Rowe, who finished last year as a starter, but has been somewhat of a forgotten man this spring and summer. On Monday, head coach Doug Pederson mentioned some "hiccups" Rowe encountered learning the new defensive scheme (see story).

Even with Rowe buried on the depth chart for now, there are still plenty of talented, young corners fighting for jobs.

Carroll, on the other hand, isn't young. He's 29 and a returning starter from last year. Schwartz praised Carroll's smarts and said he's been a resource for younger players. But Carroll is also coming off of a fibula fracture and subsequent surgery. That's why he's one of the select vets that reported to camp early.

"This is important for him now," Schwartz said. "It's a good opportunity for him to come back before the full club gets here, just to sort of test it out and see how he's feeling. You don't want to judge too much. He might need a day here or there. It helps that he's a veteran player."

It seems Carroll, on a one-year deal, has a decent shot of being a starter opposite McKelvin. During the spring, Brooks worked outside in the base package and moved inside to the slot. At times, the rookie Mills also played in the slot.

Schwartz said corners in the slot need a different set of skills than the ones outside. They need to have the "courage" to take on big-bodied running backs and the occasional pulling guard. They also need to cover differently.

"It's very rare that you're getting the same routes," he said. "You're not getting the same routes from the slot as you are from the outside. So there's a different skill set. Some guys can play both, some guys can't. So it's our job to determine over the next six weeks where all the guys fit in that."

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts; Ichiro in CF, 4 hits away from 3,000

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts; Ichiro in CF, 4 hits away from 3,000

Ryan Howard is in the Phillies' lineup Tuesday night, batting fourth against Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler. 

It's the second start in three games for Howard, who has actually been productive lately when he's gotten a chance to start. He went 2 for 3 on Saturday and had a homer in three of his previous five starts. Over that span he's gone 6 for 21 with three home runs and five RBIs as the Phillies' starting first baseman.

One of those homers was against Koehler last week at Citizens Bank Park, a two-run shot.

Howard's struggles this season have been well-documented and he's still hitting just .165, but he and Tommy Joseph have produced from a power standpoint. The only team in the majors that has more home runs from its first basemen than the Phillies (24) is the Cubs (26).

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Cody Asche, LF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Peter Bourjos, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

And for the Marlins:

1. Ichiro, CF (four hits away from 3,000)
2. Martin Prado, 3B
3. Christian Yelich, LF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
5. Chris Johnson, 1B
6. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
7. Jeff Mathis, C
8. Miguel Rojas, 2B
9. Tom Koehler, P

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Wayne, Pa. -- Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q+A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime.