By Karina Styles
Coming off a surprise playoff appearance last season in Chip Kelly’s inaugural year, there are high expectations for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014. They are hoping to once again win their division and maybe advance a little bit farther in the playoffs. While there are plenty of players locked into their positions, there are a few key position battles to keep an eye on. Here is a closer look at the two biggest battles on defense this year. Anyone who played fantasy football last year understands Philadelphia struggled on that side of the ball, so they are looking to use competition to make themselves better.
At this point in time, there might actually be a total of four players who could fight for this position. It has been a weak spot for the Eagles for a while now, but at least there is plenty of competition to bring out the best in everyone. At this point in time, Nate Allen is still going to be the frontrunner going into training camp. He has not really shown that he is a superstar at that position by any means, however, and that has opened the door up for younger talent.
The two most promising players at this point in time seem to be Earl Wolff and Ed Reynolds. Wolff has shown quite a bit of talent in the past, but his biggest issue is staying healthy on a consistent basis. As for Reynolds, he is still a work in progress and might be a little bit too young to be a superstar. Allen is going to get an opportunity to hold onto his spot, but youth seems like the better option at this point.
Right Outside Linebacker
Putting pressure on the opposing quarterback is essential for Philadelphia to get a few more stops in 2014. That part of the defense let the team down in 2013, and people in fantasy football definitely took notice with their low ratings. At this point in time, it looks like the right outside linebacker position is going to come down to Trent Cole or Marcus Smith.
Cole is the older player of the bunch, and he is going to really try and show that he has versatility on the edge. He still has the ability to put some pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but he is losing that quickness that allowed him to have success in the past. That means Smith could come in as a rookie and possibly steal the starting position.
Coming out of college, Smith has the ability to provide not only a better pass rush, but better coverage as well. That could be key for Philadelphia if they want to get younger and more talented. Expect both to play a lot, but it seems like Smith is going to see increased playing time as the season moves along.