” If you’re a kid coming out of college right now, the job market is as barren as the Sahara. For an aspiring accountant, nurse, journalist, lawyer, graphic designer, sales rep or any one of a hundred other professions, sending out resumes has become as futile as mailing a Christmas list to Santa.
Ordinarily, the same can be said for NFL rookies trying to earn meaningful playing time on the Andy Reid-coached Eagles. But not this year. This year, the team’s training camp at Lehigh University has become the land of opportunity for newbies.
Young is in and old is out. Goodbye, Donovan McNabb. Hello, Mike Kafka. Au revoir, Brian Westbrook. Bonjour, Charles Scott.
Arrivederci, Sheldon Brown. Buon giorno, Trevard Lindley. Auf Wiedersehen, Darren Howard. Guten tag, Daniel
Te’o-Nesheim and Ricky Sapp.
The Eagles, who have qualified for the playoffs 8 of the last 10 years, who won 11 games a year ago, headed into two-a-days as one of the youngest teams in the league. They selected an NFL-high 13 picks in the April draft and have made it clear to them that if they can shine in these 3 weeks of camp and the four preseason games, there will be a place, perhaps a prominent place, for them on this baby-faced, but playoff-contending, football team.
“Coach said [Monday] that they’re looking for some of the young players to step up,” said Sapp, a fifth-round defensive end out of Clemson. “So, I’m just going to come out here every day and try to take somebody’s job.”
After watching his defense give up 27 touchdown passes last year and hold just two of their last 10 opponents under 20 points, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott has told his rookies that there’s plenty of work available on that side of the ball.
“I’m looking for the best 11,” McDermott said. “I don’t care young or old. I want the best 11. It doesn’t matter what you make, doesn’t matter how many years you’ve played. If you’re here and you perform, you’re going to play. Bottom line.”
One rookie, second-rounder Nate Allen, already has risen to the top of the depth chart at free safety before even laying a single training-camp lick. Another, first-round pick Brandon Graham could wrest the starting left end job away from Juqua Parker if he gets his unsigned butt into camp reasonably soon.
Te’o-Nesheim and Sapp both will get hard summer looks from McDermott as potential nickel pass-rushing specialists. So will swift-but-light linebacker Keenan Clayton, who already is impressing the coaches in the 3-day rookie phase of camp with his coverage skills.
Another rookie who will be given an opportunity to impress this summer is Lindley, the fourth-round cornerback out of Kentucky.
Ellis Hobbs heads into training game as the man to beat for the starting right corner job that opened up in early April when Brown was shipped to the Cleveland Browns. But he’s hardly a lock to win the job.”