Eagles work out punters, show interest in Jeremy Shockey
According to various reports, the Eagles recently worked out four punters and have shown interest in former Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey, perhaps gearing up for a few Training Camp moves. Per Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer, longtime Bears punter Brad Maynard, who was in town for a workout in June; was joined by fellow punters Mat McBriar, Jason Baker, and Chris Bryan at the Eagles’ facilities. Meanwhile, according to reporter Tim McManus, Shockey and former Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe are each expected to meet with the team.
Undrafted Florida product Chas Henry maintained consistency as the Eagles’ punter in his rookie season last year, but ranked among the worst in the league in terms of net yardage and garnered criticism for a botched fourth-down throw that hurt the team in a crucial loss. Philadelphia recently released Henry’s only competition at the spot, rookie Ryan Tydlacka, but the club has made no secret it wants to challenge the young special teamer over the last few months. Even during the 2011 campaign, several free agents were brought in to work out for the coaching staff, and with Maynard among four veterans getting another look, Henry could be on the brink of the roster.
Maynard is 38 and had somewhat of a low punt yardage average last season, but is one of the most experienced players on the market, having been on an active roster since 1997. The Bears’ punter for a decade, he has placed more than 30 punts inside opponents’ 20-yard line in seven different seasons. McBriar, a two-time Pro-Bowler with the Cowboys from 2003-2011, is just as much of a household name as Maynard after consistently ranking among the league’s top yardage punters, but has somewhat of a checkered injury history. Baker, an Eagle in 2002, has spent time with six teams in his 11-year career. Meanwhile, Bryan has had brief stints with Tampa Bay and New York since arriving from the Australian Football League.
As for the Eagles’ apparent interest in tight ends, the team doesn’t appear to have a dire need at the spot with Brent Celek locked in atop the depth chart, although Shockey and/or Shiancoe could provide veteran insurance in the event Clay Harbor is unable to secure a job. Shockey isn’t getting any younger at age 31 and has long been dubbed an archenemy of the Eagles because of his outspoken attitude and previous affiliation with the Giants, but has four Pro-Bowls and respectable pass catching numbers on his resume. The 32-year-old Shiancoe is similarly aging and experienced a decline in production last year, but proved to be a reliable red-zone target over the course of his five-year tenure with the Vikings beginning in 2007.