Cooper vs. Baskett: Who Wins the Battle for Fourth?

Written By Bob Cunningham On Sunday, June 13, 2010

Will Hank Baskett be able to earn back his old job?

It's still a bit odd that the Eagles actually have a surplus of receivers, but that's the issue they'll be facing during training camp.

There will have to be some talented guys released or stowed away on the practice squad, but deciding who that will be could prove one of the more difficult decisions this coaching staff will have to make.

As of now, fifth-round pick Riley Cooper and Hank Baskett, in his second stint with the Eagles, are the two guys fighting it out for the fourth receiver spot. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant are the unquestioned top three (in that order), so fourth is the best either of these guys will do.

It's anyone's job for the moment, but Cooper certainly produces the most intrigue as a rookie over a guy in Baskett who is unlikely to have a breakout season after years of being a role player.

But no matter who wins the fourth job, it's likely the other will simply be relegated to the fifth spot and will have to play a lot of special teams -- something that would fit either of these guys who are known for their willingness to play the most inglorious of roles.

However, Jordan Norwood, who was active and played in one game last season, as well as Dobson Collins, who spent 2009 on the Eagles' practice squad, and Chad Hall could all make a push for that fifth spot.

Norwood and Collins boast experience, however minor, but Hall would really be the guy to watch here. He's got some added value as a return man and could look like a great opportunity to take Jackson off punt return and not risk an injury.

But if we really want to throw a wrench in this whole thing, we'll have to consider the possibility that Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg see Cornelius Ingram as more of a receiver than a tight end.

If that's the case, it would be very hard to see him not make the squad as at least the fifth receiver based purely on potential if nothing else.

The Birds did go out and draft Clay Harbor, a guy they really seem to like, in the fourth round and have also kept Martin Rucker around. Rucker is a guy they picked up off the street last season, but just the fact that he has stuck around for this long, even on the practice squad, shows the coaches believe he can play.

There's no way this team heads into September with four tight ends, so moving Ingram to receiver and making the battle for fourth a do-or-die type scenario is a very real possibility.

Obviously, there is a lot of time to see what these guys have. Cooper could completely shut down once the pads come on, Baskett could light it up, Rucker could look terrible and get cut, Ingram could tear his ACL again (fingers crossed that doesn't happen), etc. etc. so I'll have to wait until Training Camp to make any real predictions.

However, if I did have to guess right now, I would probably put my money on Baskett and Cooper both sticking around as the fourth and fifth receivers respectively, while Rucker is once again tossed on the practice squad or cut and Ingram is kept around as Brent Celek's backup.

Harbor would then become the third tight end and backup fullback -- a position he's seen a little bit of time at during minicamp and OTA's. So, basically, the guy is an H-back.

Either way, this is going to be one hell of a camp battle that I can't wait to watch unfold.

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