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    Philadelphia Eagles OTAs Preview: Safety Battles, Olamide Zaccheaus vs. Quez Watkins, and New Coordinators Steal the Show

    With the Philadelphia Eagles' OTAs upon us, what should we watch for throughout camp? Two new coordinators and two position battles come to mind first.

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    The Philadelphia Eagles OTAs, like the Eagles organization itself, are different. Head coach Nick Sirianni has embraced Philadelphia culture, becoming one of the few heels in the league at his position. But to his team, he is anything but. Philadelphia is the only team in the NFL without a mandatory minicamp. And if their Super Bowl appearance a season ago is any indication, the Eagles don’t need to hold mandatory practices in June.

    2023 Philadelphia Eagles OTAs Preview

    Football is a game of chess, and the Eagles are starting to put their pieces on the board. Although they won’t mandate participation before training camp, Philadelphia has two new coordinators and some more moving parts to address on offense and defense.

    Eagles New Coordinators

    The offense shouldn’t look all that different in 2023 than it did a season ago. Brian Johnson has spent the last two seasons in Philadlephia as Jalen Hurts’ QB coach, and he has a lot of play-calling experience in his past.

    He also has an intimate relationship with Hurts dating back to his childhood. That, paired with the coach’s time game-planning with Shane Steichen, should make for a seamless transition between the two.

    MORE: Jalen Hurts Will Once Again Need To Learn a New Environment

    The transition from Jonathan Gannon to Sean Desai may not seem too terribly different on the surface, but that’s not necessarily the case. While the two defenses aren’t so structurally different on the surface, there are key philosophical differences between Gannon and Desai that should favor the Eagles’ defense in 2023.

    That doesn’t mean they’ll be as good as a season ago, at least analytically. It will be fascinating to see what kind of fronts we’ll see throughout camp and where the different pieces of Philadelphia’s defensive line will line up.

    Who Are Philadelphia’s Starting Safeties?

    As a seventh-round rookie, Reed Blankenship surprised many with his performance after the Eagles lost C.J. Gardner-Johnson to injury for a chunk of the season. But after losing Johnson and Marcus Epps in free agency, Philadelphia must start anew on the back end.

    Newcomers Terrell Edmunds and Sydney Brown will each try to earn themselves starting roles in Desai’s defense, although it’s likely all three see the field at the same time throughout moments in 2023. NFL teams are starting to utilize more three-safety groupings instead of three-linebacker groupings, and Desai is one who already prescribes to that.

    MORE: Are the Philadelphia Eagles a Top-5 Defense Heading Into 2023?

    Edmunds was an underwhelming selection for the Steelers for most of his rookie contract, but he played well down the stretch for Pittsburgh and can likely give Philadelphia quality snaps if one of the other two safeties don’t stand out during camp.

    The most interesting piece of this puzzle is Brown, who mostly played in the box for the Illini in a defense that relied heavily on man coverage. But none of that mattered because the team fell in love with the player.

    “Sydney Brown was a passion player for a lot of people in this organization,” Howie Roseman said after the selection. “He was a red star guy. And I think just a tremendous person with obviously really good athletic tools, leadership ability, and for us, just excited to get him in the building.”

    Olamide Zaccheaus vs. Quez Watkins

    The battle of the slot receivers. Quez Watkins entered 2022 with heightened expectations after a really solid second season in Philadelphia. However, he largely came up short last season and did so in big moments.

    Olamide Zaccheaus comes north from Atlanta, where the 5-foot-8 receiver spent his first three seasons in the league as an undrafted free agent. The Falcons put a free agent tender on him a season ago, and the fifth-year receiver decided to return home for his next professional stop.

    The St. Joseph’s Prep alumnus caught 40 passes a season ago for a run-heavy Falcons offense. It will be fascinating to see how the two players are used and if there is a legitimate hierarchy between them or if they’ll be used situationally.

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