Predicting Eagles' 53-man roster after 2 preseason games

Predicting Eagles' 53-man roster after 2 preseason games

We’ve seen all of spring practices, we’ve seen all of training camp and now, we’ve seen two preseason games. 

That’s enough to get a good guess at what the 53-man roster will look like. 

The Eagles have until 4 p.m. on Sept. 1 to cut nearly half of their players, from 90 to 53. Here’s my guess on how that goes: 

QB (3): Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld 

Sorry, Christian Hackenberg fans. The fifth-string quarterback won’t make the team. Neither will fourth-stringer Joe Callahan. These three are locked in stone unless a quarterback on another team goes down between now and Sept. 1 and the Eagles are opportunistic. But that doesn’t happen all the time. 

RB (4): Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood

The top three are locks and the fourth guy keeps changing. Like almost every day. The four guys fighting for that job are Smallwood, Josh Adams, Donnel Pumphrey and Matt Jones. Right now I have Smallwood there because he’s been the best of a terrible race. At least he’s somehow managed to stay healthy. Pump and Adams are hurt right now and Jones is coming off a terrible performance in the second preseason game. 

If Sproles wasn’t 35 and coming off an ACL tear, I would have kept just three. 

TE (3): Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers

I’m concerned that Rodgers won’t be ready for the start of the season, but for now, I have him on the roster. Doug Pederson said Rodgers’ knee injury is “week to week,” which doesn’t sound good. If Rodgers isn’t ready for the opener, look for Billy Brown or Josh Perkins to sneak on the roster for a week or two. 

WR (6): Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Greg Ward 

I know there was a report from NFL Network about the possibility of Jeffery starting the season on PUP, but I can’t see that happening. Even if he’s not ready for the opener, I really don’t think he’s going to be unavailable for six weeks, which is what would be the case on the PUP. Even if he can’t play Week 1 or 2, he’s worth that roster spot knowing he’ll come back before six weeks is up. 

Aside from that, I think the top five are locks. Gibson deserves to be called a lock at this point. Then it gets trickier. I know the team likes Kamar Aiken, but he hasn’t shown me a ton and now he’s hurt. Markus Wheaton is hurt too. I just like Greg Ward. We’ve seen him get first-team reps with Agholor out, so that lets me know what the team thinks of him. He gets the nod for now. If Bryce Treggs didn’t get hurt, he was pushing for a spot. 

OL (9): Jason Peters, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Matt Pryor, Isaac Seumalo, Jordan Mailata 

The big omission on the list is Chance Warmack. I think having Pryor and Seumalo gives the Eagles backups who are just as good at guard and more versatile. So the Warmack experiment might be over. I kept Mailata on the active roster because I think the team might worry about exposing him to waivers. Maybe he makes the team and then ends up on IR a little later, sort of like what happened with Pumphrey last year. 

DT (4): Fletcher Cox, Haloti Ngata, Destiny Vaeao, Bruce Hector

I’m pretty confident Tim Jernigan will start the season on NFI, which forces the Eagles to go a little light at DT. They have two DEs who can move inside, so they can afford it. You’ll notice I have undrafted Bruce Hector from South Florida beating out former sixth-rounder Elijah Qualls. I’ve seen Hector overtake Qualls on the depth chart and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. 

DE (6): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Michael Bennett Josh Sweat, Steven Means

The Eagles can afford to go heavier at DE because they have guys who can move inside on passing downs with Graham and Bennett. Means is the last guy in. He won’t get to play much — he might be better off getting cut and finding a team with some playing time to offer — but he’s a valuable member of the Eagles even if it’s only during the week. 

LB (5): Jordan Hicks, Nate Gerry, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Joe Walker, LaRoy Reynolds

You’ll notice no Nigel Bradham. We’ll get to him in a second. Those top three are locks. Walker was a guy I left off of previous predictions, but over the last few weeks, I’ve seen that the Eagles think a lot more of him than I thought. He’s their backup MIKE and a good special teamer. LaRoy Reynolds is a solid depth piece and special teamer. I think he makes the team over Corey Nelson, who has had a disappointing summer. 

CB (6): Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, De’Vante Bausby

A little heavy on corners, but the Eagles have depth here. I don’t think there are any surprises here. Maybe Bausby, after getting overtaken by Maddox, gets cut. But I like him as a depth piece. 

S (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Tre Sullivan

I had Graham on my last prediction too; he wasn’t on the team then. I think most of us were waiting for that to happen. He’ll be the third safety, but Sullivan has earned his roster spot too. 

Specialists (3): Jake Elliott, Rick Lovato, Cameron Johnston 

Johnston hasn’t been very good this summer, but he’s the only punter on the roster. So he’s on the team. 

NFI: Tim Jernigan; PUP: Chris Maragos 

Reserve/Suspended: Nigel Bradham 

Jernigan and Chris Maragos seem destined to be on the NFI and PUP lists, respectively. Neither have practiced all summer and it doesn’t appear they’ll be ready for the opener. 

Bradham is suspended for Week 1, so he actually won’t count toward the 53-man roster. The Eagles get to keep an extra player for a week. Hooray!

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After building rapport with Carson Wentz, Golden Tate preparing to play with Nick Foles

After building rapport with Carson Wentz, Golden Tate preparing to play with Nick Foles

Remember when we were all worried about how long it would take Golden Tate to get on the same page with Carson Wentz? 

Back to the drawing board. 

After weeks of learning the intricacies of playing with Wentz, it now looks like Tate is going to be playing with Nick Foles on Sunday. While Foles has played with most of the other receivers on the team before, he’s had just these last few practices to throw to Tate. 

It would make sense if Tate were concerned that Foles has a rapport with his other receivers, much more than he has with Tate. Even Dallas Goedert got to play with Foles in training camp. 

“I’m just going to go out there and play,” Tate said on Friday. “I know my plays, I know what I’m supposed to do when my number’s called. I’m just going to do the best I can and not even worry about it.”

While the Eagles say Wentz is doubtful for this weekend, it’s pretty clear Foles will be the Eagles’ starter on Sunday night in LA. Foles has taken all the first-team reps this week in practice and the game plan is based on his being the starting quarterback. 

Tate claims nothing really changes for him with a new quarterback. Aside from getting on the same page as Foles, he will still run the same routes and claims he has a great grasp of the playbook. 

Since joining the Eagles, Tate has had varying levels of production. Last week, he had just one catch for seven yards, but in the previous game, he had 85 receiving yards and a touchdown. 

Tate hasn’t been working with Foles for long, but he’s been impressed with what he’s seen. 

“He’s a confident guy,” Tate said. “I think he has a really good beat for the game plan. Even though he hasn’t been in there, I think he does a really good job of staying prepared and taking mental reps. It’s just his time. For him, he’s been in this situation before. He handled it really well. I’m expecting him to play his best ball and we’re going to help him play well and try to win some ballgames.”

You’ll notice Tate said ballgames, which was maybe a slip of the tongue, but more likely a feeling that is being felt by many Eagles. The franchise quarterback has a fracture in his back; he probably ain’t playing the rest of this season. 

Obviously, if the Eagles were to go on a run these last three games, Foles will need to play well. He took over at QB last season and obviously led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl championship. 

Then, still a member of the Lions, Tate watched the Super Bowl and came away impressed by Foles’ performance. He noted that while a lot of folks had counted the Eagles out, Tate actually thought they were going to win Super Bowl LII. They did because Foles turned into the Super Bowl MVP. 

“He went out there and made plays,” Tate said. “Caught the ball, threw the ball. He did a lot to help this team win a Super Bowl. I was impressed.” 

Now, Tate will be catching passes from him on Sunday. At least he hopes. 

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Eagles injury update: Carson Wentz downgraded to doubtful

Eagles injury update: Carson Wentz downgraded to doubtful

Carson Wentz has been downgraded to doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Rams, according to the official injury report released by the team on Friday afternoon. 

Just hours earlier, head coach Doug Pederson said Wentz would be questionable for this game, despite also saying that the stress fracture in Wentz’s back will take around three months to fully heal. 

It seems pretty clear the Eagles are preparing for Nick Foles to start this game after Wentz missed practice all week, so it’s worth wondering about the need for Wentz to travel with the team. Sitting on a 5 1/2 hour flight seems like it might put unnecessary stress on Wentz’s ailing back. 

On Friday morning, Pederson said Wentz would travel to Los Angeles with the team, but if for some reason he doesn’t make the trip, the Eagles would need to downgrade him to out. 

As for the rest of the Eagles’ injury report, here is is: 

Out: Jordan Hicks (calf), Tim Jernigan (back), Sidney Jones (hamstring), Isaac Seumalo (pec)

Questionable: Michael Bennett (foot), Shelton Gibson (wrist), Avonte Maddox (ankle, knee) 

The four guys who are ruled out for this game missed practice all week, so there’s no surprise they won’t play in this game. Hicks hasn’t played since the New Orleans game, when he hurt his calf. Jernigan returned a few weeks ago, but back spasms have kept him out since. Jones tried to play through a hamstring injury last week, but didn’t get on the field this week. 

Without Seumalo, who hurt his pec in the loss to the Cowboys, the Eagles will start Stefen Wisniewski in his place at left guard. That’s a significant loss, especially as the Eagles are about to face Aaron Donald and a dominant Rams’ defensive line. Seumalo had quietly been playing pretty well since early season struggles. 

As for the questionable players, Bennett has been listed as questionable for the last couple weeks but has been able to play through his foot injury. I’d expect that to continue. 

We don’t really have a sense of whether or not Maddox will play this weekend. He’s been out since the Saints game, but the Eagles could certainly use him. It’s not entirely clear where he’d play this week if he returns. He has played safety and nickel corner this season. 

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