Michael Vick and Nick Foles are among the veterans reporting Monday. Head Coach Chip Kelly has already announced that past success means nothing. “We’re going to have to name a starter at some point in time,” Kelly said. “That’s why I think it would be unfair right now…We have until September 9th, so we’ll see how it works itself out.”
Kelly’s philosophy does not stop with the signal caller. He has said it many times in multiple ways that he and his staff will field the best team possible. Training camp and preseason will be the proving grounds for the players who will be fighting for a starting position.
Among the positions that will have competition is the defensive backfield. The Eagles will have some faces returning among the defensive backs but fresh faces – pickups from the draft and free agency – are projected to be starters. Jordan Poyer, a seventh round pick from Oregon State, and Earl Wolff, fifth round pick from NC State, will get the early advantage to impress Chip Kelly at camp.
Poyer will likely battle second-year cornerback Brandon Boykin for the nickel corner position. At 6-0 and 191 pounds, Poyer has played all over the field. He also possesses solid, fundamental tackling, an art that has been lost in the Eagles in recent years. As a senior, Poyer intercepted seven passes while defending another 14 passes. The Oregon State Beaver was s steal for the Eagles in the final round of the draft and will fight hard for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Earl Wolff is another young body in the youth-filled safety position for the Eagles. As the only safety reporting to training camp early, Wolff will carry the workload for the first few days of camp. With 2012 starters Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen returning and Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips joining the squad from free agency, the safety positions will be open to plenty of competition.
Wolff topped 100 tackles in both his junior and senior seasons at NC State. The fifth rounder possesses the rare combination of big-hit ability and pass coverage that will be beneficial for making the roster. With stiff competition, Wolff would make a good special teams player. Unlike many of the Eagles defensive backs from 2012, Wolff has a great sense of angles to take when tracking a ball-carrier. He also has the speed and tackling to track down kick returners.
Poyer and Wolff are both coming into crowded positions and will have tough fights to make the roster. As rookies, they will have the benefit of attending camp early and getting reps before the full team reports on Thursday. There is no doubt that the Eagles secondary will be a totally new look from a season ago.
It is still unknown what Kelly requires from his defensive players or what Defensive Coordinator Billy Davis will ask of his players. The Eagles may not name starters until two or three weeks into the preseason and any slacking in-season will surely warrant a benching. Kelly vowed to put the best team on the field no matter what a player’s past may be. With a lot of youth around in positions that needed improvement, they have a chance to make an impact early.