2008 Eagles Training Camp Battles

2008 Eagles Training Camp Battles

Resident Eagles expert Kulp has broken down some of the key training camp battles to keep an eye on starting next week. Enjoy.

It’s July, and that means football season is right around the corner.
Soon enough, Andy Reid will be forced to break the hearts of 26 young
men and Jerome McDougle, and he’ll do it after they’ve spent about
three grueling weeks living in the dorms of a small university in
Bethlehem, PA. I’d still rather be training camp retread Michael
Gasperson than the poor saps that visit Eagles Training Camp like it’s
really something to see.

There
are always some roster spots to be won and starting jobs to be lost, so
I’ve highlighted three of the more high profile competitions, and six
more for some filler.

WIDE RECEIVER
Greg Lewis v. Hank Baskett

Can
G-Lew beat the odds and make it to his sixth season wearing midnight
green? Will Hank Baskett become a dangerous red zone threat? Ha ha, no.
You were probably expecting DeSean Jackson here, but he instantly
becomes the primary slot receiver if he can only pull his head out of
his ass. The real question with this set of receivers is who sticks on
the upgraded punt coverage unit. Jason Avant is almost a lock as he
moonlights in a possession receiver role, which means one of Philly's
least favorite sons is about to go. In a minor upset, I say they are
both out in favor of Bam Childress.

RUNNING BACK

Correll Buckhalter v. Tony Hunt

I
initially thought the addition of Lorenzo Booker meant the end for
Buck. Now I'm not sure it isn’t young Tony Hunt getting shown the door.
Last season, he underwhelmed the coaching staff to the point where he
was banished from the field on gamedays. Maybe it was his
look-the-other-way method of blitz pickup. On the other hand, Buck has
managed to stay healthy the past two seasons, and he's been fairly
effective with limited touches. His versatility (FB, KR) probably earns
him a roster spot as a situational running back. The Eagles have never
seemed interested in using a short-yardage back, but they may keep Hunt
if they carry four backs.

FULLBACK

Jason Davis v. Luke Lawton

Madden
players will likely stick to one-back sets the first few weeks after
the game ships, because Dan Klecko will be the only fullback on the
roster (rating: 66!). This battle became a lot less interesting after
the converted D-tackle was taken out of the running, but the Eagles
appear desperate to replace Davis. They actually traded to acquire
Lawton, a subtle nod that he’s probably their guy. I hear his other
skills include long snapping, so Jon Dorenbos better watch his back too.

STRONG SAFETY

Sean Considine v. Quintin Mikell

This
news might make some people sick to the stomach, but Sean Considine is
going to get one more shot at this, simply because there is always some
excuse for his poor tackling. First, he wasn’t able to lift weights
after shoulder surgery. Last season, it was because the shoulder never
healed properly. Hopefully special teams captain Quintin Mikell gets a
fair chance to win the job, otherwise Considine can look forward to
being the Carlos Ruiz of the Eagles defense when he really should be
looking for work.

TIGHT END

Matt Schobel v. Brent Celek v. Kris Wilson

Matt
Schobel is another guy I assumed couldn't make the team, but he's going
to Lehigh anyway. Here's an interesting statistic: Schobel's reception
totals have declined every season since his rookie year in 2002, this
despite the fact that he started six games in 2007, and according to
Pro Football Prospectus, the Eagles throw from the two tight end set
more than any other team. Unless there is a team REALLY desperate for a
tight end (looking at you, Buffalo), that trend should culminate in
2008 when he finally catches zero passes, ending six years of futility.
Now Kris Wilson attempts to live his dreams of playing tight end in the
NFL, something he didn't quite get to do with the Chiefs. Not to worry,
because if you don't beat Brent Celek, we're still looking for a
fullback.

DEFENSIVE END

Darren Howard v. the field

It's
not always easy to spot a defensive end who has outlasted his
usefulness, but one indication is when the player comes up with more
pass deflections than sacks. That was exactly the case for Howard last
season, and he returns slimmed down and ready to attempt another go
with the Eagles. He actually should have considered gaining weight and
trying to make the team as a defensive tackle, because it would be much
easier beating out Kimo von Oelhoffen for a roster spot than the
combination of Chris Clemons, Juqua ???, and rookie Bryan Smith. The
Eagles wish him luck in his future endeavors.

LEFT GUARD

Todd Herremans v. Max Jean-Gilles

Andy
Reid would love it if Max Jean-Gilles could win the starting job over
Todd Herremans because it would add another 50 pounds of raw power to
the already mammoth O-line. MJG is absolutely enormous and he run
blocks like there is a buffet table in the end zone. Herremans is the
better pass blocker, though you probably can't tell at times. We all
know Andy thinks the fastest way to the buffet table is through the
air, so the coach's affinity for the passing game indicates this is
Herremans' job to lose. That being said, MJG is talented enough to take
over right now if he cuts out a few extra servings at dinner.

RIGHT CORNERBACK

Sheldon Brown v. Lito Sheppard

We
get it, Lito. You're pissed off because you want to be a starter and
receive the financial recognition that comes with it. Sometimes you
need to just go out and take what’s yours. The $57 million dollar man
obviously won't be riding the pine, but right corner is up for grabs.
How else will you feed your family, Lito? To survive, you need to show
up and compete for playing time. Sheldon Brown is a respectable challenge,
but if you expect to see those big time bonuses next summer, you need
to put him in his place: the nickelback.

Alec Asher lone bright spot as Phillies continue to limp to finish with another loss to Mets

Alec Asher lone bright spot as Phillies continue to limp to finish with another loss to Mets

The Phillies returned home from a bad road trip Friday with only three games to play and the only thing to play for being the role of spoilers.

With the New York Mets in town looking to put a stranglehold on a wildcard spot, the Phillies, as another losing season finishes out, could be a thorn in the side of their rivals.

Alec Asher looked like he was playing the part of spoiler, retiring the first 11 batters he faced, but the Mets rallied, got behind starter Robert Gsellman, and turned back any Phillies sabotaging on this night, beating the home team, 5-1.

The two teams are heading in quite opposite directions.

The Mets, with their win, clinched at least a tiebreaker in the wildcard and guaranteed their season not ending on Sunday, the league’s final regular season date.

The Phillies on the other hand… 

“We’re certainly limping home,” said manager Pete Mackanin an hour or so after being ejected for the first time this year. “Not playing well, not swinging the bats very well.”

They struck out 14 times Friday night. And after scraping a run across in the second inning, never really looked like they were in the game at the plate.

Mackanin's ejection came in the eighth inning. Mackanin wasn’t happy with first base umpire Will Little and was thrown out of a game. Reliever Michael Mariot threw a fastball in on Yoenis Cespedes and Cespedes appeared to lose control of the bat through the strike zone. When appealed to, Little ruled Cespedes did not swing, and out came Mackanin.

"I had to get thrown out there," Mackanin said.

Perhaps he just couldn't stand to watch anymore. 

Gsellman battled through some early struggles and stymied the Phillies’ offense. Gsellman turned in six innings of one-run baseball, improving to 4-2 on the year. He allowed one run on seven hits and struck out seven.

Asher, in his last start of 2016, was the lone bright spot on this night.

With two outs in the fourth, his brief perfect game bid was ended with a single from Yoenis Cespedes. That was followed by another from Curtis Granderson. 

Jay Bruce then worked a full count but Asher couldn’t put him away. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Bruce singled home Cespedes to tie the score. 

A fourth consecutive single, this time off the bat of T.J. Rivera, allowed Granderson to cross the plate for a 2-1 Mets lead.

Asher’s night and season ended with a Bruce home run - his third in as many games - to lead off the top of the seventh.

“I wanted to go sinker away and just kind of got it mid-thigh belt,” Asher said. “He took advantage of the mistake.”

Asher, 24, went six-plus innings Friday, throwing 104 pitches while allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out four and walked zero.

His 2016 finishes with a 2.28 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 27 ⅔ innings pitched. He struck out 13 and walked four.

“Last year when Asher was here I recall being asked if it was a smart thing to do because he got rocked so badly,” Mackanin said. “We talked about if and when he did get back to the big leagues if he would be able to handle it. What kind of make up he had. Certainly he made an adjustment. Added a two-seam fastball which he never had. Has a plus changeup. He needs a little more work on his breaking ball, but nevertheless he’s pitched well since he’s been back. He’s done a good job.”

The Phillies bullpen hasn’t lately.

Mariot, in relief of Asher, gave up two runs in 1 ⅔ innings of relief, including Bruce’s third RBI of the night to give the Mets a 5-1 lead.

The Phillies offense then went quietly into the fall night. The Mets didn’t allow a hit from the final 12 Phillies hitters.

Their season will continue beyond Sunday.

“It’s step one of a bigger accomplishment,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “We’re certainly pleased we get to play past Sunday.”

The Phillies are just limping.

Orthopedist on Ben Simmons' injury: 'The prognosis is good'

Orthopedist on Ben Simmons' injury: 'The prognosis is good'

On Friday, Sixers fans got some bad news when the team revealed that No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

The Sixers didn't give a timetable for his return, saying that they were reviewing treatment options for the 6-foot-10 point-forward.

As a guest on CSNPhilly's Sportsnet Central, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Schwartz gave a little insight into Simmons' injury. Schwartz is not treating Simmons, but has dealt with similar injuries. Schwartz believes the prognosis is good for the Sixers' rookie.

"The big question is where the exact location of this fracture is," Schwartz said. "That will dictate the prognosis and the treatment. If it's at the base of the fifth metatarsal, it's usually a non-surgical treatment. It's usually a cast/boot for six to eight weeks and return to play somewhere around eight weeks."

That would be great news considering Sixers fans didn't get to see Nerlens Noel the year he was drafted and are still awaiting the debut of 2014 draft pick Joel Embiid. 

Schwartz warns that the injury could be something known as a Jones fracture, which would likely require surgery and the recovery could be three to four months. The prognosis would still be good, according to Schwartz, but other NBA players have had lengthy recoveries with a similar injury.

"The prognosis is still good, but we know that Kevin Durant had a Jones fracture and he was out for an entire season because of it not healing," Schwartz said. "But the prognosis is good, however, the question is whether it's going to require surgery or not."

For more from Schwartz on Simmons' injury and possible timetable, check out the video above.