Each week throughout football season, I provide 10 interesting thoughts, stats or stories on Monday.  Usually about half will be on the Eagles and half from league-wide, but today we focus more on the Eagles with training camp just getting underway

 

1. For whatever reason, I’m starting to think the Eagles safeties will be better than expected and their linebackers might be worse.  Nate Allen should be 100 percent healthy, and I’ve always thought he was going to turn out to be at least a quality NFL starter, if not more.

Between Kurt Coleman, Jaiquawn Jarrett and O.J. Atogwe, the Eagles should be okay at the other safety spot.

At linebacker, though, DeMeco Ryans is going to be facing the pressure of being expected to turn around the unit along with the challenge of learning a new defense.  We saw how that learning experience turned out for the Eagles free agents last year.

Ryans has had a full offseason with the team, which will help, but the Eagles also plan on starting a rookie at the SAM in Mychal Kendricks. Jamar Chaney is competing at the WILL after undergoing offseason neck surgery.

A free agent, a rookie and a guy coming off of neck surgery might mean the turnaround at the linebacker position takes longer than expected.

2. Every year at training camp there are unexpected storylines.  The NFL provides lots of drama, and while the Eagles locked up several players to long-term extensions and everyone seems to be coming into camp healthy, expect something dramatic to happen at some point.

Unfortunately, Mike Patterson’s health is emerging as a top storyline again this year.  As a journalist, we aren’t supposed to root for one player over another, or one team over another.

But how can you not root for Patterson, a likeable guy who had a seizure on the field at Lehigh last year, found out he had a brain AVM, got back on the field in only a couple of weeks and played 15 games, only to undergo offseason brain surgery?

3. I’m going to miss Asante Samuel at training camp.  That guy knew how to entertain, even during a practice.  I smirked many a times when hearing his voice, even from another field, as Samuel talked trash or cracked jokes.

It’s rare to see Andy Reid laughing during a practice, but Asante Samuel would force one out of him every now and then.

4. By the way, if you’re going to training camp this year, don’t go before Friday and sleep in when you do.  The full team doesn’t report until Wednesday, when there is only one practice. Thursday is closed to the fans, and starting Friday the Eagles have a walk thru at 8:15 a.m. each day and a full practice at 2:45 p.m.

I’m one of those rare guys who enjoys training camp practices, but even I’ll tell you a walk thru is not much fun to watch.  The afternoon practices should last two to three hours each day (three hours is the maximum allowed in the CBA).

5. This is my top tip for training camp (aside from a couple of trade secrets I’ll never publicly reveal!).  When you arrive, see where the lifts for the cameras are.  There are three fields at camp, and one of them will have two cameras by it – one behind an end zone and one on the sideline.

This is the field the Eagles plan on using for the most important parts of practice, which they want to get two angles of film on.  Keep that in mind, and don’t be one of the people stuck all the way at the other end of the wrong field, missing out on the best parts.

6. I can’t decide if I like the Eagles new practice schedule or hate it.  In previous years, the Eagles main practice was in the morning and the afternoon was the walk thru.  Now they’re flipped.

We still get our press conferences in the morning, which means we can’t ask questions gleaned from observations of the main practice. That’s a drawback.  If we oversleep, though, we won’t miss as much.  That’s a plus. Not that we esteemed members of the media ever do that, or anything. (Hey, training camp is a grind for all involved!)

When it’s extremely hot and we’re getting sunburn on our sunburn, we won’t have our classic excuse to slip back into the media trailer – “I’m not getting anything out of watching a walk thru.”

On the one hand, I’ll be on the Sports Bash live during the main practice, reporting the latest.  On the other, the workday will go from 8 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m., instead of 8 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m.  Ultimately, I think I liked it more the old way. We’ll see.

For the fans, though, I think it’s generally a positive – you can work a half day and still make it out for the main practice, or you can take the whole day off, sleep in and still catch the main practice.  Just remember to drink lots of water and bring your sunscreen.

7. I can’t wait to get my hands on the new All-22 film the NFL is releasing this year.  Coaches are going to hate the fact that it’s available to the media and fans.  H-A-T-E HATE. I can imagine the questions now.

A lot of media members know enough about football to watch the tape and fire away with some highly intelligent, pointed questions, which can be backed up with evidence from the tape – meaning that coaches and players might have a harder time saying “Well, if you see the film, this is actually what happened.”

On the flip side, there will be a lot of dumb questions from those who don’t know what they’re watching.  Sometimes it might look like a corner blew his coverage or a lineman missed a block, when they actually followed their assignment and a safety or another lineman made the mistake.

But hey, who am I kidding? Coaches are still going to blow off the questions they don’t want to answer, anyway.  It’ll make for some good material here on Monday Musings, though.

It also means that I could theoretically watch every single game in the NFL in a total of eight hours.  I might not go to quite that extent, but I'll watch at least a handful each week.  The Eagles next two opponents, and the rest of the NFC East, for example.

8. The NFL’s divisions look more balanced to me this year than in years past, with the AFC North, NFC North and NFC East perhaps the toughest three.  Last year the AFC North was 37-27, the NFC North was 36-28, while the AFC East and NFC South were both 33-31.

The Saints are likely to fall off this year due to Bountygate.  Nobody in the NFC East reached 10 wins last year, and I expect two out of the three of the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys to hit double digit wins this season.

9. Good for Derrick Ward, who spent eight years in the NFL and recently went on a Twitter tirade against drunk driving in the NFL.  Here’s what he had to say, with all of the tweets condensed into a paragraph.  You can follow him @DerrickWard32:

“Alright NFL players!!! Its absolutely E-N-O-U-G-H!!! Drinking and Driving? How dumb can u be? Its absolutely stupid and your making the good guys that actually do right in the NFL look bad.

How easy is it to call a cab to get a ride home? So what? Leave your car get it in the am!? Stop being so dumb! Yes that's right dumb!

I'm sitting here retired enjoyed a great career now all I want to do is become a fan and I see numerous arrest for DWI in the past several weeks? How many has it been this week 4?

Absolutely ridiculous your not only putting yourself in danger but your putting other innocent people in danger that don't deserve your stupidity. Open your eyes and do the right thing.

I know what its like to get go out get drunk and debate on weather to drive home or not. Call a taxi!

So what if u spend some money to take one or u get a ticket on your car in the am when u go bac 2 get it at least u won't have to pay bail and then lawyer fees and then miss game checks from being suspended for a few games.

Damn this really has me furious and its so avoidable. Tighten up youngesters of the NFL because guess what it doesn't mean National Football League it really means Not For Long league..... #JustVentingSorryEveryone

There's no excuse to drive drunk! NONE! If all else fails WALK! NFL players are world class athletes Walking should be nothing!”

10. There were 31 total arrests in the NFL this offseason.  Dion Lewis was the only Eagle to land in handcuffs, allegedly due to his drunken attempt to get into his hotel by pulling a fire alarm.  The Lions led the league with six arrests, two each for Aaron Berry, Nick Fairley and Mikel Leshoure. No players were arrested more than twice. Nine defensive lineman were arrested, more than any other position.

Of course, defensive lineman account for approximately 18 percent of a roster.  When you account for the number of players typically carried on a roster at each position, running backs were most likely to be arrested, with six arrests at the position.

There were 10 arrests in the NFC North, more than twice as many as in any other division.

Ryan Messick covers the Eagles for 97.3 ESPN FM.  Follow him on Twitter.