By Joe Giglio

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — When Eagles training camp opens in August, competition will be the buzzword across the roster. From the cornerback, to safety, to inside linebacker, to guard, head coach Chip Kelly will be watching position battles closely throughout the summer.

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For Mark Sanchez, competition at the quarterback position was promised when he re-signed with the team at the start of the offseason. Now, as the totality of the offseason wheeling and dealing is complete, it’s not hard to imagine the former USC and New York Jets quarterback actually winning the competition.

Of course, that would mean the competition is fair.

As the Eagles wrapped up OTAs, Sanchez was the No. 1 quarterback. As Sam Bradford graduates from medical rehab to performance rehab, his status is still uncertain and limited to tossing a football around in practice.

Coming off ending last season as the starter, Sanchez has a leg up — literally. Kelly, never one to expound on an answer when he doesn’t believe in the topic, recently had this to say about why Sanchez is so much better now than he was in his first camp with the team last summer.

“He’s just a whole year advanced. He was probably in the tail end of medical rehab and probably in the performance rehab part when we got him last year at this point in time. Now he’s full go,” Kelly said. “I think you can see it in how he’s performing out there now. He’s also not learning an offense again. A lot of times not only are you trying to figure out how you’re throwing the ball again because you’re coming off a year‑long layoff in terms of throwing the football, but he is really comfortable in terms of the scheme.”

With Bradford hobbled and tasked with learning the offense, the idea of Sanchez performing better in camp is likely. Throw for throw, Sanchez has a legitimate chance to be the better quarterback throughout the summer.

But, despite Kelly’s usual mantra and competition edict, this one won’t be fair. The Eagles, despite what will be said, won’t have a real quarterback competition. For the third year in a row, Sanchez is fighting a losing battle.

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In 2013, he was outplaying Jets rookie Geno Smith for all of August. Then, inexplicably, Rex Ryan sent him into the fourth quarter of a preseason game behind a line of castoffs. A few snaps later, a rigged competition for Smith was over by knockout.

Last year, despite showing flashes of outperforming Nick Foles — including an obvious chemistry with then rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews — the idea of beating out a quarterback coming off a historic season was far-fetched. Foles was the guy no matter what Sanchez did.

Now, it’s about Bradford’s health, not a competition. If Bradford is able to stand in Week 1, he’ll be the guy in Atlanta. The Eagles have too much invested in his arm, upside and contract to go any other route.

Making Sanchez believe a competition exists allows the team to prepare him in the event that Bradford is hurt or has a setback. Considering Bradford was limping around the field just last week, there’s value to having Sanchez prepare as the starter and believe it’s a reality.

Competition will be the theme of camp everywhere, except the quarterback room. Get ready for Sanchez to be the better quarterback all summer, but don’t expect that to mean a thing when Bradford takes the field for the opening drive on Monday Night Football in Atlanta.

 

 

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Joe Giglio is a host on WIP. Find him on Twitter @JoeGiglioSports. Catch Joe’s next show on WIP tonight at 10PM.