July 17, 2023   4 MIN READ

Survival Of The Fittest

2023 Season Preview Series: RBs, OL Ready For Battle

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 11th story in a series by Inside The Birds’ Geoff Mosher and Andrew DiCecco previewing the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles season. In Part 11, they identify the best camp battle on offense to watch in 2023 training camp).

D'Andre Swift

GETTY IMAGES: D’Andre Swift leads a very talented group of Eagles RBs that’ll duke it out this summer for roster spots.

Geoff Mosher: Running Back

At running back, the Eagles have a recent first-round pick who has the highest yards-per-carry average since entering the NFL in 2019.

They also have second-round pick who in his second season went over 1,0o0 yards from scrimmage and last year averaged 5.5 yards per carry.

They have a recent third-round pick who gained 17 yards on his only two carries last year, a third-year pro who took on their most RB touches in the Super Bowl last year, and another reliable running back who’s known as a nemesis for one of their NFC East rivals.

The Eagles are so overloaded with talent here, the cupboard doors can’t close tightly. But there’s no way the Eagles can enter the season with Rashaad Penny, D’Andre Swift, Trey Sermon, Kenneth Gainwell, and Boston Scott on the 53-man roster, so something – or someone, really – has to give between now and the end of training camp.

The Eagles haven’t had this much talent at this position since the 2009 squad with Brian Westbrook, rookie LeSean McCoy, and threatening fullback Leonard Weaver.

Or maybe since the 2003 “three-headed monster” committee of Duce Staley, young Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter that helped the Eagles rush for more than 2,000 yards.

Either way, this group has talent from top to bottom, and someone good will have to go. That makes this battle the one to watch most this summer.

GETTY IMAGES: Second-year pro Cam Jurgens is trying to win the right guard job against rookie Tyler Steen and vet Jack Driscoll.

Andrew DiCecco: Right Guard

Maybe not the gaudiest of camp battles but a marquee contention to be sure, the Eagles’ lone remaining question to finalizing what should again be among the league’s top offensive lines will be determined in a matter of weeks.

I could easily hone-in on the more enticing camp competition between wide receivers Quez Watkins and Olamide Zaccheaus, vying to secure the No. 3 spot in the pecking order.

I’d even go as far as to say that given the wealth of offensive components in place, Zaccheaus fits best in the slot due to consistency and proficiency working the short to intermediate levels of the field.

But in Philadelphia, the engine that fuels the offensive juggernaut starts in the trenches, where second-year pro Cam Jurgens and rookie Tyler Steen will undergo an extensive audition to stake their claim as the team’s new starting right guard.

Jurgens, a center by trade and 2022 second-round pick, essentially redshirted last season behind the ageless wonder, Jason Kelce. After logging a year in the system, cross-training, and learning from renowned offensive line guru Jeff Stoutland, Jurgens – a technically proficient lineman boasting lateral quickness and fluidity – should have the early leg up entering training camp.

Working against Jurgens, however, is his lack of size – his weight hovers right around 300 pounds – and play strength. Playing next to Kelce, who’s also slight of build, could prove problematic in terms of generating a consistent push at the line of scrimmage.

Still, it’s tough to envision the Eagles shelving Jurgens for another season given his ability and athleticism.

As far as Steen, the 6-foot-6, 321-pound collegiate tackle is foreign to the position and doesn’t provide the same inherent athletic traits as Jurgens.

The Eagles are understandably intrigued by their third-round pick, who also happens to boast an Alabama pedigree. I’m just not sure Steen, in a three-month crash course, will be able to grasp a new position convincingly enough to earn Stoutland’s stamp of approval.

– Geoff Mosher (@geoffpmosher) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and Senior staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com. Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

Follow the whole series:
Part 1: Most impactful rookie
Part 2: Biggest second-year player impact
Part 3: Breakout 2023 performer
Part 4: Most significant free-agent addition, offense
Part 5: Most significant free-agent addition, defense
Part 6: Strong position, offense
Part 7: Strongest position, defense
Part 8: Most poised for decline
Part 9: Biggest individual concern
Part 10: Biggest team concern

Listen to the latest “Inside The Birds” podcast featuring Adam Caplan and Geoff Mosher:

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