Spadaro: Eagles will need role players to once again contribute

What do the Eagles need to do to become the ninth team in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowls?

By Dave Spadaro

Some of the storylines for the Philadelphia Eagles season ahead are already established: Can quarterback Carson Wentz recover in a timely fashion to again be a superstar at the position? Does Jason Peters have enough gas in his tank to be great at left tackle? And so on.

The biggest one: What do the Eagles need to do to become the ninth team in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowls?

We’re a long way from the start of the regular season, but the Eagles are going to need wall-to-wall contributions from the roster to repeat.

And while Wentz and the stars of the team will largely dictate the success, there are some under-the-radar players who bear watching. Here is a list of five to eye …

CB SIDNEY JONES

A second-round draft pick in 2017 after tearing his Achilles tendon six weeks before the draft, Jones played only in the regular-season finale against Dallas in his rookie year. He’s all the way back physically and he had a chance to get a taste of NFL action in that Dallas game and now Jones is being counted on to take a quantum leap. Like, maybe becoming the best cornerback on the team already. The Eagles love everything about Jones, who has size and speed and toughness in his game. Had he not been injured, Jones would have been a top 10-to-15 draft pick in 2017. Instead, the Eagles gambled on him and then nursed him back to the field very slowly. This season, the Eagles get back the payment on the gamble. Jones has a chance to be outstanding.

OG STEFEN WISNIEWSKI

Truth is, Wisniewski was signed by the Eagles prior to the 2016 season to provide depth at both guard positions and the center spot. Well, it hasn’t exactly gone as planned. Wisniewski started six games in ’16, 11 in the regular season of 2017 and all three playoff games. He’s the odds-on favorite to start at left guard in 2018. And with a schedule that includes a bunch of games against bigger, stronger defensive tackles, Wisniewski is a key figure lining up next to Peters.

RB COREY CLEMENT

Clement accepted more and more responsibility as an undrafted rookie and, lo and behold, there he was in the Super Bowl catching four passes for 100 yards, including a sensational touchdown. The next step for Clement is to become more involved in the running offense, which should be a natural transition. Clement and Jay Ajayi form the 1–2 punch in the backfield for the Eagles. They’ll each get plenty of touches.

DT HALOTI NGATA

Plans, plans, plans. The idea when the Eagles signed grizzled veteran Haloti Ngata in March was to have him play 20 or so snaps each season and eat up space and running backs. But when news broke last week that starter Tim Jernigan had back surgery to repair a herniated disc, Ngata’s role changed. He’s going to play. He’s going to have to dust off the magic that made him a five-time Pro Bowl player. Does he have that in him?

WR NELSON AGHOLOR

Agholor had his breakout season in 2017 and then shredded defenses in the playoffs with 15 catches, including nine in the win over New England in Super Bowl LII. Just how good can Agholor be? Can he be that game-changing slot receiver to connect with Wentz? It’s something to watch as Agholor reserves the disappointment of his first two NFL seasons. ••