With the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2014 season about to begin now is a perfect time to make some predictions about the team this year. Here are eight spicy meatballs for you:
1. Cornerback Nolan Carroll won’t steal a starting job from Bradley Fletcher, but he will still be on the field quite a bit as the Eagles unveil a revamped “dime” package. This is something the Eagles didn’t show much last season because they didn’t have the personnel. However, Carroll has been so good at camp that Chip Kelly went out of his way to praise him yesterday.
He said that Carroll “is a guy that continues to show up everyday”, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer I(. McLane reports that Carroll has been the sixth defensive back in the Eagles’ “dime” package, and that defensive coordinator Billy Davis suggested we’ll see more of that this season.
2. Rookie first round pick Marcus Smith is going to have an immediate impact on defense this year, which may come as a surprise to fans but not so much for his teammates.
Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com reports that Smith is already gelling with the defense. He received high praise from inside linebacker and captain of the defense DeMeco Ryans.
“He’s really stepped in and you really don’t see him as a rookie,” Ryans told Frank. “He’s like one of us already, like a vet already, the way he’s stepped in and just meshed with everybody in the locker room.”
Fellow linebacker Connor Barwin echoed the same sentiment. “He’s going to get on the field, he’s going to play,” Barwin said. It’s exciting to think what he’s going to be able to do, out there with Trent [Cole] or out there with me.”
This is an encouraging sign for an Eagles defense that lacked a steady pass rush last season. With Smith ahead of schedule, he could become a key situational player right away in 2014.