Training camp is nearly three months away, but some of the more important position battles are starting to shape up. With new QB Kevin Kolb in place, the most significant competition could happen at center. Jamaal Jackson, for better or worse, has held down the position steadily for years, but the torn ACL he suffered in December has left a void. Nick Cole, who did a fine job at right guard, slid over but struggled in Jackson's place. The biggest issues for Cole were snapping, timing and line calls with former QB Donovan McNabb.
The Eagles would love to move Cole back to guard and are auditioning others at the position. The pecking order after Cole for now appears to be Mike McGlynn, followed by A.Q. Shipley and Dallas Reynolds. McGlynn has very little experience at center, but the former fourth-round pick has the intelligence to handle the position. Shipley is a college center who was plucked from the Steelers' practice squad, but he has yet to play in an NFL game. Reynolds spent last season on the Eagles' practice squad before being promoted to the active roster Dec. 29.
Head coach Andy Reid said Jackson's rehab is "coming along at a good pace" but that the team has confidence in the other candidates in case he's not ready by Week One. In the first part of the season, the team faces a slew of 3-4 defenses, which put a nose tackle right over the center and often can lead to confused blocking assignments. And with Kolb opening his first season as a starter, that QB-center cohesion will be crucial.
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