July 9, 2024   4 MIN READ

On Guard!

Steen's Battle To Win RG Is Offensive Battle To Watch At Birds Training Camp

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When it comes to the offense for the Eagles, there isn’t much mystery as to which players are expected to fill out the starting lineup.

Such is the case for a team not lacking in electrifying playmakers, strong trench play and league-best upside.

But while most of the job vacancies pertain to depth – namely wide receiver and tight end – there is a starting position that carries some uncertainty.

In true, traditional training camp form, the winner of the battle royale will be determined later this summer.

While the competition for the role of third wide receiver is way more exhilarating – and easier to gauge – it’s the potential jockeying for positioning at right guard that has my interest.

Let’s take a closer look:

Tyler Steen

GETTY IMAGES: Second-year pro Tyler Steen will have to hold of challengers to win the right guard job.

Right guard

The Eagles return much of the same offense from last season, a unit that finished in the top seven despite its shortcomings.

Newly appointed offensive coordinator Kellen Moore inherits a pair of 1,000-yard wide receivers in A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, and a dynamic tight end in Dallas Goedert, who could feasibly see a career season.

The team also made a splash early in free agency, landing running back Saquon Barkley, an explosive dual-threat who should provide immediate returns.

But what about the offensive line, a position group largely taken for granted with renowned offensive line guru Jeff Stoutland helming the unit?

Without overstating, the loss of future Hall of Fame center is meteoric in terms of on-field production and leadership.

The Eagles, however, have prepared for this moment, and will move Cam Jurgens over from right guard to his natural center position. While Jurgens, athletic and highly intelligent, isn’t likely to replicate Kelce’s prolific resume, the third-year lineman is capable of taking over without missing a beat.

But moving Jurgens over creates a void at right guard without a definitive replacement.

Tyler Steen, a second-year converted tackle, will be given every opportunity to run away with the job. The Eagles, who selected Steen in the third-round of the 2023 NFL Draft, would be thrilled if Steen initiates a major second-year leap, settling in between Jurgens and right tackle Lane Johnson.

It’s also worth noting that Steen has worked exclusively with the first-team during spring practices, and his locker is now stationed among the starters.

What remains to be seen, however, is how Steen fares at a position in which power and leverage are essential. For perspective, Steen looked shaky in his lone extended appearance last season against the Dallas Cowboys – so much that the Eagles reverted back to veteran reserve Sua Opeta, who hardly figured into the team’s long-term plans, the next time they needed a fill-in.

Viewing this from another angle, a case could be made that Steen, with a year under Stoutland’s tutelage and a full offseason acclimating to the position, has a considerable upper hand over potential challengers.

His primary contender figures to be intriguing veteran Mekhi Becton, a tackle by trade who experimented at guard during spring sessions.

Becton, who at 6-foot-7, 363 pounds, dwarfs most lineman, has a size and experience advantage over Steen, having started 30 of 31 games played.

A 2019 first-round pick of the New York Jets, Becton likely functions as the Eagles’ swing tackle, but a world does exist where Becton outperforms Steen in training camp.

There’s also other candidates with starting experience in contention, including veterans Matt Hennessy and Max Scharping.

The goal is to field the best five, and if healthy, one of those players would appear to be Becton.

How smoothly his cross-training goes this summer could go a long way in determining the winner.

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

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