Some positions to watch

Posted: July 19, 2013

KEY POSITION battles, other than quarterback:

1. Safety: Nate Allen and Patrick Chung seem the most likely starters, but Kenny Phillips could unseat either of them if his oft-repaired knee holds up. Brian Dawkins recently noted that Allen is the Eagles' most talented safety, but that his play is inconsistent. And he could be healthier.

2. Offensive line: We've all decided that first-round rookie Lane Johnson is going to start at right tackle. We'll see if Chip Kelly agrees, when camp is complete. I don't think 2011 first-round pick Danny Watkins is without hope of working his way back into a starting spot; he's fighting an uphill battle, but the battle is really just getting started. Todd Herremans can move back and forth between guard and tackle pretty easily, should Watkins emerge as a force. Remember, Herremans became a right tackle at the end of camp in 2011 and played just fine.

3. Defensive end: One of the starters is going to be - spoiler alert - 2012 first-round pick Fletcher Cox. The other could be Cedric Thornton, Clifton Geathers, Vinny Curry, rookie Bennie Logan, or somebody who isn't here yet. The previous regime regarded Thornton as a diamond in the rough. We'll see what the new guys think.

4. Outside linebacker: The starters just about have to be Connor Barwin and Trent Cole. But Brandon Graham was lights-out after he finally got a chance late last season. Of course, that was back when he and Cole were defensive ends. If Graham picks up pass coverage better than Cole, what happens then? Just asking.

5. Running back: Is Felix Jones here to back up LeSean McCoy, or to provide a veteran fallback should McCoy or Bryce Brown get injured? I'm thinking the latter, but Jones sure has a lot more NFL experience than Brown.

- Les Bowen

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