Eagles

Predicting Eagles' 53-man roster after spring practices

Predicting Eagles' 53-man roster after spring practices

The Eagles are now in summer break mode until training camp in late July, when training camp starts. 

That’s obviously when the real practices begin, but we have seen them for several OTAs and then the mandatory minicamp, so we at least have something to work off of. 

It’s too early, but here’s my first crack at the Eagles’ 53-man roster: 

QB (3): Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld
This is easy … for now. There’s always the possibility Foles gets traded during training camp. Remember, this happened a couple years ago when Sam Bradford was shipped to Minnesota after the Teddy Bridgewater trade. But for now, we’ll keep all three of these guys on the list. 

RB (4): Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, Matt Jones
The Eagles kept five out of the gate last summer. That included Donnel Pumphrey, who landed on IR shortly after. I have Pump and Wendell Smallwood both missing the cut in favor of Jones. The Eagles signed Jones this offseason and head coach Doug Pederson talked like the veteran is really in their plans. In order to get on the field, he’ll need to cut down on his fumbles, but he’s on the squad for now. 

TE (3): Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers 
Billy Brown didn’t have a great spring, so we can’t give him the nod over Rodgers, who didn’t do anything to lose his spot. Josh Perkins had a decent camp, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll make the team. Rodgers for now, but Brown could sneak in with a great training camp. 

WR (6): Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Markus Wheaton, Shelton Gibson 
Greg Ward and Rashard Davis had good springs, but it’s hard to see either of them beating out these guys and that’s with the Eagles keeping six. I have them with six because the top four are locks, Gibson stuck last year and has improved and Wheaton is coming off an impressive spring. He’s the last guy in. 

OL: (9) Jason Peters, Stefen Wisniewski, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Chance Warmack, Matt Pryor, Isaac Seumalo
The five starters and Vaitai are no-brainers. I then kept Warmack as a backup guard, Pryor as a backup tackle and Seumalo as a backup everything. Seumalo has struggled early in his career, but that versatility is enough to keep him on the roster. No Jordan Mailata. It’s possible the Aussie makes the team, but there’s no way he can play this year. If he makes the team, it’s just because the Eagles don’t want to chance him going elsewhere. 

DE (6): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Michael Bennett, Chris Long, Josh Sweat, Steven Means
Really, the top five here are pretty easy. The question is if they keep a sixth, which would be a pretty high number of ends. But it’s just good to have Means around. He’s a great practice player who brings a ton of energy and is also versatile enough to move inside on certain downs. He’s worth keeping in the building. 

DT (4): Fletcher Cox, Haloti Ngata, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls 
We’re light on defensive tackles, but Bennett and Graham can slide inside sometimes, so we don’t need as many. Until I see Tim Jernigan on the practice field, I’m going to assume that he’ll start the season on the NFI. That keeps a spot open for Qualls. Keep an eye on Aziz Shittu too. He is healthy after a knee injury last year and had a great spring. 

LB (5): Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Corey Nelson, Nate Gerry, Kamu Grugier-Hill 
I left Joe Walker off this list for now, but I think he still has a shot to make the team; he’s just had trouble staying healthy in his short NFL career. Either Nelson, Gerry or Grugier-Hill will win the WILL job left by Mychal Kendricks. The Eagles also have veteran LaRoy Reynolds, but he wasn’t able to practice all spring. We’ll see what he can do in training camp. 

CB (6): Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, De’Vante Bausby
This time last year, we were talking about cornerback as a positional weakness for the Birds. A lot has changed. Darby and Mills will start and I still think Sidney Jones is going to win the nickel job. And then the team still has Bausby, who has come on strong, Douglas, who is a great guy off the bench and a rookie draft pick in Maddox. Maddox might not make the team on merit, but they drafted him and can’t afford to lose him. D.J. Killings is off the roster for now. 

S (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Corey Graham
Tre Sullivan is left off this list, which is hard to do based on what the team thinks of him and based on how he looked this spring. But I still can’t see the team being comfortable enough to really give him playing time. I also haven’t seen enough from undrafted Jeremy Reaves. Graham is on the street right now, but he reportedly wants to play and the Eagles still seem interested and have the cap space to get it done. That makes too much sense to me; I think he’ll be back. And as long as Maragos is healthy, I think he’s still a valuable special teamer. 

Specialists (3): Jake Elliott, Rick Lovato, Cameron Johnston
Easy for now. They’re the only ones on the roster. 

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Roob's 10 observations: Wendell Smallwood's chances, Tom Brady-Nick Foles handshake, Bryce Brown's elite company

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Roob's 10 observations: Wendell Smallwood's chances, Tom Brady-Nick Foles handshake, Bryce Brown's elite company

Wendell Smallwood working his way back into the running back picture, the bizarre NFL career of Bryce Brown, Michael Bennett and Shakespeare, the handshake that never was and Brian Westbrook’s 2006 postseason.

Only one place you’re getting all this!

It’s all this week’s Roob’s 10 Random Eagles Observations, and it starts here:

1. It’s been interesting watching Wendell Smallwood this preseason. He’s a guy who when training camp began I didn’t give much of a chance to, only because he’s never been able to stay healthy and the Eagles went into camp with a deep, talented stable of backs. But while Matt Jones, Josh Adams and Donnel Pumphrey have been banged up and on and off the field, Smallwood has not only stayed healthy, he’s made the most of his reps. He looks terrific. I’ve always felt Smallwood is a talented kid. I wrote about him last week and how he spent the offseason learning how to take better care of himself, and so far it’s paying off. Much of making an NFL roster is simply handling the workload during camp and proving to your coaches that they can rely on you. And Smallwood hasn’t missed a rep. This preseason. Not one. So far he’s outlasted the other guys in that battle for the fourth running back spot behind Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles. Has he done enough? With a couple weeks before final cuts, it’s too early to say. But he’s definitely worked himself from the brink back into the mix.

2. I’ve been disappointed by Mack Hollins’ training camp. He’s one guy I expected to make a big leap in Year 2, and while he still might, he hasn’t flashed yet. Shelton Gibson and Bryce Treggs have both outplayed Hollins in practice. Hollins has that great size and is a valued special teamer and as a second-year fourth-round pick he’s probably got the team made. But I expected to see more. Treggs is another guy who was off the radar when camp began but has that great speed and keeps showing up at practice. And Gibson simply looks like a different guy from last year. The depth the Eagles have at wideout is insane. Guys like Rashard Davis, Greg Ward Jr. and DeAndre Carter probably have no shot to make the team, but once upon a time, they would have been starters around here.

3. Michael Bennett is an interesting dude. Someone in the locker room used the phrase, “All’s well that ends well,” and he said, “Where’s that phrase from?” I said it’s the name of a Shakespeare play, and he said, “A lot of people think Shakespeare wasn’t a real person.” I said, “Yeah, there’s a theory that he was three different people.” His response: “I’m three different people.” 

4. I know a lot of people think the whole “Tom Brady hasn’t shaken Nick Foles’ hand” thing is overblown, but it really bothers me. There are certain customs in sports that are there for a reason. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever, and he should have sought out Nick either on the field immediately after the game or somewhere after the game — the lockers weren’t too far apart. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but sportsmanship means a lot to me. I know one thing: If the Patriots won that game, Nick Foles would have found Tom Brady, told him “Great job,” and shook his hand. 

5. Brian Westbrook’s 2006 postseason was insane. He rushed 20 times for 141 yards against the Giants and 13 times for 116 yards against the Saints. His average of 7.8 yards per carry is second-highest in NFL history in a single postseason (minimum 30 carries) behind Hall of Famer Marcus Allen’s 8.03 in 1983. He’s the only back in NFL history with back-to-back playoff games with 100 rushing yards, a 7.0 average and a touchdown. His 257 rushing yards are third-most in NFL history by a back in a two-game postseason (behind Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson in 1985 and Arian Foster in 2011). 

6. I love listening to Doug Pederson talk about why he’s so aggressive as a play caller. Because generally, he admits he really has no idea. I think it almost evolved by accident. He started going for it on fourth down in 2016 with nothing at stake and it started working, and he just felt comfortable doing it, and he just got in that habit, and the team got used to it and enjoyed it, and by the time the Super Bowl came along it had developed into his personality and the team was completely in step with him, and the success of the Philly Special was the product of that. You can’t run that play if you’re the least bit tight or indecisive, but the team had gotten so used to Pederson doing anything at any time in any situation it was just another play. The man is a genius.

7. Chip Kelly and Pederson have the same number of regular-season wins after two years. 

8. You figured that had to be wrong so you looked it up, didn’t you!

9. I’ve never seen an assistant coach grow as much as Frank Reich did in his two years with the Eagles. When he first started out as Doug’s offensive coordinator, he seemed to be painfully shy around the media, gave one-word or brief answers during press conferences and appeared generally uninterested in providing anything remotely revealing about football or the players he coached. By the time he left, he was one of the most interesting, insightful and quotable assistant coaches I’ve ever been around, and his commentary after the Super Bowl about Nick Foles’ performance was brilliant. I’m convinced this transformation had a lot to do with him getting the Colts head coaching job. Teams don’t want a head coach who can’t handle the media, and Frank in a very short time went from a guy who wasn’t comfortable in those situations to one who embraced them.

10. Bryce Brown had one of the strangest career arcs in Eagles history. He averaged 15 yards in his first 10 NFL games and 19 yards in his last 30 NFL games. In between, with LeSean McCoy injured, he ran for 178 yards on just 19 carries against the Panthers and 169 yards on 24 carries against the Cowboys, with two TDs in each game. Only three players in NFL history have had consecutive games with 165 rushing yards, a 7.0 average and 2 TDs — LaDainian Tomlinson, Barry Sanders and … Bryce Brown. Other than those two historic games in a seven-day span, he averaged 3.5 yards per carry and 18 yards per game. But for a brief bit of an otherwise forgettable 2012 season, he made NFL history. 

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Eagle Eye podcast: Previewing second preseason game

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Eagle Eye podcast: Previewing second preseason game

On this edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss the likelihood of Carson Wentz not being healthy for the regular-season opener. Is this the best team Doug Pederson has had in Philadelphia? Also, how do players approach the second preseason game?

1:00 - Updating Carson Wentz's status.
4:00 - Guys still confident Wentz will start against the Falcons?
7:00 - Doug Pederson says this is the deepest team he's had.
10:30 - Doug Pederson and Nick Foles speak about preseason snaps.
15:00 - How do players approach the second preseason game?

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