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The Eagles' runners are big and tough, although they lack speed and breakaway power without Brown. Izzy Lang and Tom Woodeshick are bulling, battering ballcarriers without real outside speed. Harry Jones, a sprinter who presently is recovering from a shoulder separation, and rookie Cyril Pinder, a second-round draft pick who is a co-holder of the University of Illinois record for the 60-yard dash, could give Philadelphia an outside threat, if Kuharich uses them. Dan Berry, who looks like Paul Hornung even to his ability to throw the option pass, could be a help later in the season if his ankle heals.
The offensive line will regret the retirement of Jim Ringo, who has given up after setting a league record by playing 182 consecutive games at center. He will be replaced by either Gene Ceppetelli, a Canadian import who played out his option with Hamilton, or Dave Recher. The Eagles will be paper-thin at guard, where veteran starter Jim Skaggs is out with torn cartilage in his right knee, Jon Brooks, a No. 2 draft choice in 1967, reported overweight and was sent home and two more draft choices failed to report for one reason or another. A rookie fifth-round pick, Mark Nordquist from Pacific, who was drafted as an offensive tackle, is Skaggs's replacement. Bob Brown, who is one of the top blocking tackles in football, has a questionable knee. All in all, the Eagle offensive line must be rated very doubtful.
Most of the Philadelphia draft was designed to bolster a woefully weak defense. The first pick was Tim Rossovich, a 245-pound defensive end from Southern California, and the third choice was a teammate of his, Linebacker Adrian Young. Floyd Peters, who has played for nine years at defensive tackle in the NFL, says, "We've got to find the combination of guys who will play every play tough, not just one series then have a mental lapse. I don't believe in wholesale shake-ups. That's like saying last year you were all wrong. But I think you'll see a few new faces on defense."
Since only the Falcons gave up more points than the Eagles in 1967, Peters' prediction seems valid. The defenders gave up 4,972 yards, ranking 14th, and the defensive line got to opposing passers only 23 times, tying for 14th with New Orleans. The line has been reorganized and the addition of Rossovich may give it more mobility, but it is a slender reed and its reserves are of poor quality.
If the pass rush was slow, the line-backing was mediocre. Dave Lloyd has been around for 10 years in the middle spot but is out with a rib injury. He might well have lost his starting job to Ike Kelley. Kelley, who is short (5'11") and light (223) but who hits with abandon and has more speed than Lloyd, is also hurt but should return early in the season. Mike Morgan played on the left side most of 1967, but he will be pressed by Young, the rookie. Harold Wells was the best of a trio of aspirants for the right-side linebacker in 1967 and will likely continue to hold down the position this year.
Haymond, who came to the club from Baltimore, should help a secondary which, considering the slow pass rush, was more to be pitied than censured in 1967. Haymond will take over at right cornerback in place of Jim Nettles. Al Nelson at the other cornerback secures that position as long as he can stay whole. In 1967 he broke his right forearm twice, once in the preseason games and again in the ninth game of the season. Nate Ramsey and Joe Scarpati return at the safety posts.
Nelson was one of 15 players to undergo surgery last season, five of whom were regulars. The list breaks down, in a manner of speaking, to eight knees, three ankles, one wrist, one shoulder, one forearm (twice) and one finger. If the Eagles can avoid wholesale injury this year, which, considering early returns, seems doubtful, they could be a little better. But with their No. 1 quarterback already hors de combat, their chances are slim. With luck, they can beat Washington, but they haven't a prayer against Dallas, and the New York Giants should handle them easily.