Angelo Cataldi: Malcom Jenkins will be biggest story of Eagles’ camp

Malcom Jenkins could prove to be the most important free agent acquisition the Eagles have made this offseason. Credit: Getty Images Malcom Jenkins could prove to be the most important free agent acquisition the Eagles have made this offseason. Credit: Getty Images

With the Eagles opening training camp in 10 days – can it somehow get here sooner, please? – Malcolm Jenkins will be the most important story of the summer, and, hopefully, the fall and winter, too. No player promises more reason for improvement in the 10-6 team, but also more risk of failure.

Coach Chip Kelly is acknowledged as a genius on offense, as he proved in his rookie NFL season. Defense, however, is another matter, given his 29th-ranked unit in 2013. So when Kelly signed Jenkins to take over the free-safety position butchered last year by Patrick Chung, his decision met with immediate concern.

And let’s not forget that New Orleans coach Sean Payton happily let Jenkins become a free agent so that he could sign a more highly rated safety, Jarius Byrd. Although Byrd had played for Kelly at Oregon, the coach never even contacted Byrd. Does Kelly know something Payton doesn’t? Or is it the other way around?

So far, Jenkins has made a terrific first impression – with his mouth, not his play. The man can talk. He has already demonstrated the leadership required of his position, something Chung also sorely lacked. Jenkins even fed the Payton-Kelly comparison when he said the Eagles were accomplishing far more in OTAs than Payton ever did.

Now comes the hard part for Jenkins, and for Kelly. When he left New Orleans, the word on Jenkins was that he was a poor open-field tackler and a mediocre pass defender. In other words, he isn’t much of an upgrade over Chung. The Eagles are going to need the difference-maker Chip Kelly sees, and not the disappointment Sean Payton saw.

Idle thoughts

  • The most overhyped story of the summer so far is Nerlens Noel’s play in the NBA summer league. Fans do realize the almost-No. 1 pick of the 2013 draft averaged less than 14 points against a bunch of novices, right? Other than staying healthy, the Sixers center is proving nothing right now.
  • Just call it temporary Linsanity. First, Jeremy Lin was coming here, along with a first-round pick, to create salary-cap room for Sixers GM Sam Hinkie’s former team, the Houston Rockets. Then, the Lakers snatched Lin away. Clearly, the Rockets are not as smitten with Hinkie as the Philadelphia media.
  • This Cole Hamels trade talk is insane. Yes, he’s quirky, but he’s also 30, on a roster filled with 35-year-olds. Plus, does anyone feel confident GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would get a good return on one of the best lefthanded starters in baseball?
  • Now that the World Cup has mercifully ended, can we restore order here, please? The only thing the past month proved is that soccer is really, really boring.
  • On Thursday, something very exciting is happening in Sea Isle City, NJ. Dour former Flyers coach – and current LA assistant coach – John Stevens will display, right on the beach at 57th Street, the Stanley Cup that the Kings just won. The only way this event could be even more thrilling is if Stevens gives a speech.

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