I want you to look up a number of Eagles players when you go to the Birds Training Camp in the next few weeks. This group of Eagles team leaders were injured a year ago in the amazing Super Bowl run, but are returning to action in 2018. These guys are the reason that I give the Birds a good chance of doing it again. This group consists of Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles, Jordan Hicks and Chris Maragos.
One of the top conversations this offseason is about Wentz and his recovery from knee surgery. He seems to be well ahead of schedule but with Nick Foles on the roster the Birds don’t need to rush him back. When practices start, check to see if Wentz can plant his feet and get velocity on his throws. In addition, take a close look at the young quarterback to see if he can throw on the run like he has done in the past. Most importantly see if Wentz has confidence in that knee being strong enough to take the pounding that comes with being a quarterback in the NFL.
Wentz doesn’t even need to say it, but you know that he is eager to take the Birds to another title. He even admitted that it was tough for him to watch his teammates experiencing all the joy of marching to a Super Bowl Title. If Wentz doesn’t lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl Title in the next few years, he’s going to start hearing about how Foles was able to take the Birds all the way but he couldn’t. Wentz is thirsting for leading the Birds to a Super Bowl in the worst way.
After you check out Wentz take a look at 36-year old left offensive tackle Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowler, whom the Eagles expect to return to his Pro Bowl form after an ACL tear sidelined him for the Super Bowl run. Find out if the team’s strongest player has regained his quickness and is back to Hall of Fame form. Normally Peters dominates when he does one-on-one versus the Birds defensive ends. His technique is flawless and his quickness and strength are second none.
Peters didn’t even consider retiring even though he’s 36 years old. He’s a athletic freak, who has awesome strength. I’m told that his work in the weight room is frightening. He is hungry for a Super Bowl title and despite his Hall of Fame career, Peters has never had his team win a playoff game, while he is playing.
Next up, find Sproles, who is 35 years old and has had an amazing career as a kick returner and running back because of his speed, quickness and toughness. He returns to action after tearing an ACL in his knee and breaking his forearm. Check out the little guy to see if he still has the speed and quickness, which has made him impossible to stop for more than a decade.
Sproles refused to consider retirement after he suffered the injuries. Like Peters, he has tremendous mental toughness and wants to experience winning another Super Bowl, while on the field.
In the middle of the Eagles defense you will see Hicks, who tore his Achilles tendon a year ago. Check to see if he still has the quickness to make tackles all over the field. Find out if he has recovered well enough to pick off passes thrown in the middle of the field.
Hicks has to prove that he can stay healthy. He’s shown tremendous playmaking ability when healthy and on the field, but it all comes down to can he stay healthy. If he gets hurt again, expect the Birds to draft a linebacker early in the 2019 draft.
When the Birds work on their special teams units, look for the 31-year old Maragos and check if he still has the speed to get down first on punts and kickoffs. See if he can still force fumbles on those punts and kickoffs.
Maragos won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks, but he would like nothing better than to do again as an Eagle.
I give the Eagles a good chance to repeat because these leaders are hungry to get back to the title game and experience winning on a Super Bowl on the field. They’re already driving and inspiring this group.