Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp 2008: Fullbacks and Tight Ends

Today we will take a look at the fullback and tight end positions for the Philadelphia Eagles. The fullback position seems to be wide open for Jason Davis and Luke Lawton. Last season’s incumbent Thomas Tapeh is now a member of the Minnesota Vikings. The tight end position is L.J. Smith’s to lose as Brent Celek, Matt Shoebel and newcomer Kris Wilson are all fighting to climb the depth chart.

For Jason Davis and Luke Lawton, a position on the Philadelphia Eagles roster will come down to the thankless duties of precision blocking and special teams work.

For all of the fuss that’s made about the lack of standout wide receiver – the fullback position on this team is one that has neither a standout nor a stand-in. The Eagles have struggled to find a fullback that could double as a blocker in reciever since Kevin Turner back in the late 1990′s. Things didn’t pan out with Jon Ritchie in 2003-04, since then the position has been a revolving door.

No one can really say who has the inside track in the current battle for fullback. Although Luke Lawton has the experience (6 teams in 5 seasons), Jason Davis is familiar with the Eagles offense and seemed to turn some heads in the 2006 training camp before he was placed on IR for that season.

The news from camp is that Davis has had the best camp thus far but, Lawton is said to be better on special teams. Stay tuned to see how this battle plays out.

The starting job belongs to L.J. Smith, who was given the franchise tag in the offseason by the Birds. Smith, when healthy is one of the best young tight ends in the game. L.J.’s production hinges on his involvement in the offense, he tends to lose focus if he doesn’t see the ball for long stretches, resulting in dropped passes. In the Reid’s scheme Smith’s blocking assignments are minimal, his contribution comes in the ability to get separation and work in the middle of the field. Smith hopes to return to his 2005 form where he posted career highs of 61 receptions and 682 yards. Expect Donovan McNabb to look for Smith early and often when the Birds are in the red zone.

With L.J. Smith missing 6 games last season, the Eagles incorporated a tight end by committee. The tandem of Matt Schobel and rookie Brent Celek combined for 27 catches for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns. Paltry numbers? Yes, but used primarily as blockers Shobel and Celek were able to spring Brian Westbrook and help out in the all important pass protection dept. Celek showed to be a pleasant surprise as a receiving tight end showing the ability to get past the second wave and find space between the linebackers and the secondary. Reminds me a little of Chad Lewis. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him or lined up opposite L.J. Smith in goal line situations. Shobel is your typical blocking tight end, who will get his reps when the Eagles go to their “Heavy Package” occasionally catching a bone from McNabb.

Wildcard Kris Wilson was a free agent pickup from the Kansas City Chiefs. Wilson has spent the first three seasons of his career learning behind All-World tight end Tony Gonzalez, right now Wilson is trying to adjust to the nuances of the West Coast Offense, after a long look from the staff in the preseason, Wilson may end up on special teams or the practice squad.

10 Responses to “Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp 2008: Fullbacks and Tight Ends”

  1. Mizzo says:

    Pleaaaaaaaaase let this be the breakout season we all have been hoping for from LJ.

    Away from the thread real quick..here’s something for the fellas…goodness Eva

  2. thebrotherreport says:

    My day just got a little better.

  3. Mizzo says:

    You ain’t lying…damn girl…damn.

  4. origin says:

    Yo Mizzo how is my boy Mcnabb’s shoulder?

    Also I like that dude Brent Celek he looks good. Maybe reid can use a 2 TE set more often. Anyway the eagles have never been able to replace FB kevin turner. Dang shame that dude was a good run blocker.

    Also looks like Farve is going to Tampa Mizzo. That means if this is Mcnabbs last year, he will be in Minnesota next season.

  5. HarveyDent says:

    @Origin, McNabb is fine. I hit the Eagles’ site every day and from the clips I see he’s lost weight and bouncing around. His teammates say he’s getting all the balls out to all fields. An interview he did with Eagles’ Live yesterday touched on the fact this is probably his quietest camp in his time with the team and if that’s true with a healthy body then the NFL better watch out again this season for #5.

    @Mizzo, you brought back sad memories when you mentioned Chad Lewis. If he doesn’t muck up his foot in the championship game against the Falcs I truly believe the Eagles would have won SB39. Lewis was always DMAC’s security blanket because he could find the seams in the D and play within himself which always helps a team. TO had a highlight game but if Chad had played then the ‘ship drought would’ve ended in J’ville that night.

    LJ will do fine this year but Celek will continue to turn heads and make it easier for the team to cut him loose next year. Celek is going to be good. Probably Todd Heap/Jeremy Shockey good but that’s how good LJ will need to be this year to help in the redzone.

    One other thing, I read on the ‘site yesterday that the Eagles have been working on the fade pattern with Baskett in TC. Baskett, LJ, and Celek in the redzone with BWest, CBuck, and/or Booker in the backfield with a scrambling McNabb? Sounds like money, smells like money, definitely will be money.

  6. thebrotherreport says:

    TBR wrote this piece

  7. Mizzo says:

    Why ya’ll keep doing that?

    That’s my brother but damn brothas lol

  8. mkrob says:

    L.J. Smith is the best receiver on the team, Reggie Brown is good but when it comes down to it, Donovan will be looking for L.J.

  9. HarveyDent says:

    My apologies TBR

  10. How often do you yourself do Weight training or do you just write about it?

    Can I ask though – how did you get this picked up and into google news?

    Very impressive that this blog is syndicated through Google and is it something that is just up to Google or you actively created?

    Obviously this is a popular blog with great data so well done on your seo success..

    Soccer greats you should write about next.

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