Eagles Players With Something To Prove In Preseason Games
The Eagles first Preseason Game is Thursday Night versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, what players have something to prove heading into 2016 during the Preseason? Here are my Top Five Players I am keeping an eye on and see how they perform during the Preseason:
Eric Rowe: Entering his second year with the Eagles, Rowe is preparing for a season in which he will play in his third defensive scheme in three years. At the University of Utah, Rowe was a three year starter at Safety before being shifted to Cornerback for his Senior season in 2014. In 2015, Rowe started the final five games at Corner of his Rookie season due to injuries. Now in 2016 Rowe is having to learn another defense and is having to earn his place on the team as the Eagles signed two Cornerbacks during the offseason. According to Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz, Rowe has been more impressive practicing with the pads on at Training Camp versus practices without pads on. It will be interesting to see how Rowe performs in game action and if his play can move him up the depth chart as he competes against four other players for playing time.
Jason Kelce: After being named a Pro Bowler in 2014, Kelce's play took a step back in 2015 in which he looked smaller, lacking the leverage and strength to hold his own versus NFL Defensive Lineman. While Kelce has never been the biggest offensive line compared to other Centers around the NFL, playing in the Chip Kelly system digressed his progress developing into a stronger player. This past offseason Kelce has trained hard to get stronger and it will be interesting to see if Kelce can get back to the level of play that earned him a Pro Bowl selection and how he handles Defensive Lineman after Kelce gained some weight this offseason.
Caleb Sturgis: In 2015 Sturgis came to the Eagles in Week 4 after Cody Parkey was injured. Sturgis had a solid season overall going 18-22 on Field Goals but two of his four misses were from 33 yards and 32 yards. This was an issue for Sturgis when he played for the Miami Dolphins (posting a 77.4 Field Goal Percent over two season) and his time at the University of Florida (Only made 95.6% on Field Goals and 79.5% on Field Goals during his college career), the contrast of his great talent as a Kicker versus his inherent issues with consistency. Can Sturgis build on the overall success of 2015 or will the inconsistencies of his past come back to haunt him?
Chris Givens: After a solid Rookie season in 2012 with 42 Receptions and 3 Touchdown catches, Givens' production as a Receiver has been lackluster over the last couple seasons (65 Receptions and 2 Touchdown catches over 3 seasons). With the type of speed that makes him a deep threat option for the Eagles offense, Givens has to show he is more than a "One Trick Pony" if he hopes to get consistent playing time in 2016. How he performs in Preseason Games will determine his spot on the team's depth chart and if he can be a consistent contributor.
Jalen Mills: Eagles coaches have heaped praise on Jalen Mills during Offseason OTAs and Training Camp, but how will Mills perform in live game action? He is a year removed from breaking his Ankle which forced him to miss the first five games of his Senior season. During his time playing at LSU, Mills started games at Nickel Corner, Outside Cornerback and Safety, so he has shown the ability to be versatile. But the combination of his injury and off the field legal issues hurt his draft stock, dropping him to the seventh round instead of being a second or third round selection. Will Jalen Mills perform on the field at the high level he did at LSU and validate the praise of his coaches? Time will tell if the hype around Mills is real or not.