Originally posted on Eagles Eye  |  Last updated 5/22/12

First, the mandatory headlines: the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday signed quarterback Nick Foles to a four-year contract. The Eagles drafted Foles, who played at Arizona, in the third round. They also released QB Jacory Harris (Miami), who we knew was rookie minicamp cannon fodder, but at least Jacory got some time and attention in the NFL spotlight...and may yet catch on with another team.

Foles set career records at Arizona in yards passing (10,011), touchdowns (67), attempts (1,369) and completions (933). He is the No. 4 quarterback on the Eagles' roster, behind Mike Vick, Mike Kafka and Trent Edwards.

First-round pick Fletcher Cox remains the Eagles' lone unsigned draft pick. He will be permitted to participate in the upcoming OTA sessions which open today at NovaCare Complex in Philly...if his agent allows it.

One of the great legacy commenters here at Eagles Eye and for many years before over at PE.com's OTI  has been the legendary T-Boner, who I like to think chimes in from somewhere out near Boise, Idaho...

T-Boner is a man's man, a "just the facts, ma'am" man...and he has regularly bestowed us with up-to-the-minute updates on transactions and personnel developments relating to not just the Eagles but the entire NFL. For this effort and contribution on Boner's part I am forever grateful. He puts the meat on the bones here, no pun intended... We as an Eagles community are lucky to have him as a consistent feed of daily news. If this radio show ever gets picked up by a national syndicate, I'll make sure Boner gets the paid assignment at the News Desk.

I like to think of Boner as the modern Eagles version of Fess Parker. They share similar physical traits. Fess Parker was 6-5, a gifted athlete who starred in football at the U. of Texas in the late 1940's, but who also had wonderful communication arts skills--- and found offers abounding in the broadcast and dramatic arts fields in the early 1950's.

Parker debuted in "Springfield Rifle" in 1952... He then did a sci-fi movie called "Them"... Walt Disney saw him in it and decided to cast him over James Arness as "Davy Crocket"... Parker as Davy Crockett took off like wildfire...Later Parker diversified into other roles like the good father in "Old Yeller" and the 1962 TV series "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"... He returned to his frontiersman character in the hit TV series "Daniel Boone" in 1964...  In later years he scored big in real estate. He died in 2010...

Welp, that's how I see and appreciate Boner...and all he does for me and this site. I'm a little verklempt...tallk amongst yourselves...the topic---man crushes and unsung heroes...

Speaking of unsung heroes, here's our guest columnist Mark Eckel of the Trenton Sports Times who takes us to the uncomfortable subject of the "Six Unsung Heroes" of the 2012 Eagles as the signed roster currently dictates:

"Sure, the defense has been rebuilt and, at least on paper, should be much better..."

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson and running back LeSean McCoy, the team’s two top playmakers, have brand new, long-term, multi-million dollar contracts.

And yes, quarterback Michael Vick needs to cut down on his turnovers for the Eagles to be successful.

That’s been the theme of what appears to be a good Eagles offseason.

"There’s always more, however..."

So here’s a look at six players whom you haven’t heard much from, if at all, the past few months, but might be instrumental in the team’s success next fall.

• Dion Lewis: McCoy’s backup could be a bigger factor than you might imagine. I’m not talking about putting up big numbers for the season or even for a game.

Lewis, who broke McCoy’s rushing records at Pitt, just needs to make one or two big plays a game and should get the opportunity to do so.

The fact the Eagles did not draft a running back lets you know they think Lewis is just fine as the No. 2 back. And as a change of pace guy for McCoy, he could change the course of a game as well.

• The Backup Quarterback: One of the more interesting battles in training camp and throughout the preseason will be for the No. 2 quarterback job between veteran Trent Edwards, Mike Kafka and third-round draft pick Nick Foles.

Edwards, a former starter in Buffalo, sat out the entire 2011 season. Kafka hasn’t shown enough in his first three years with the team, and Foles is a rookie.

One of them is going to emerge as Vick’s backup, and if past performance means anything, he’s going to have to start at least two games (Vick hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2006). Again, you can’t expect miracles, but as any good backup, you expect at least a .500 mark in the games he has to play.

• Antonio Dixon: All the talk on the defensive line has centered on draft picks Fletcher Cox (first round) and Vinny Curry (second round). Dixon, the big defensive tackle who spent last year on injured reserve with a torn tricep, still has 20-25 pounds on any of his linemates and remains the team’s best run-stopper in the middle of the line.

Cox is likely to rotate with Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins at the defensive tackle position, but coordinator Juan Castillo will find room for Dixon even if it is just in the all-important short-yardage and goal-line packages.

• Jamar Chaney: DeMeco Ryans came in a trade with Houston to take over in the middle, and Mychal Kendricks was selected in the second round to man one of the outside linebacker spots. That leaves Chaney, the Eagles best linebacker the past two years, for the final spot.

William Perlman/Star-LedgerThe return of Antonio Dixon from injury to the Eagles' defensive line will be key because Dixon is bigger than the two defensive tackles the Eagles drafted.

Chaney did what he could with not much around him his first two years on the field. Now, with Ryans, and with Kendricks as active as advertised, Chaney's role and job should be a lot easier.

Last year, Chaney had three interceptions; that’s the most by an Eagles linebacker since William Thomas had three in 1996.

• Joselio Hanson: Now that Asanté Samuel is gone, the starters at the corners are set with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

That leaves the nickel spot for Hanson, unless he allows rookie Brandon Boykin to take it from him. In today’s NFL, the nickel corner may as well be a starter since more and more teams use three wide receivers all the time.

• Chas Henry: In his rookie season as the Eagles’ punter, Henry finished 23rd in gross average at 42.9 yards, 28th in net average at 37.5 yards and put just 19 punts inside the 20-yard line, 24th best in the league.

"He’s going to have to have a much better second season."

That's an alternative take for sure, and I thank Marck Eckel for it...  it's a little unnerving, to say the least. But let's face it, this coming season is going to have to be a year of dramatic changes and surprises all along the roster spectrum for major improvement (and a possible championship) to occur. At least Mark Eckel is willing to walk into the NFL wilderness of doubt and surprise. Just like Fess Parker would...and just like Boner.


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