Predicting Eagles' 53-man roster before spring practices

Predicting Eagles' 53-man roster before spring practices

Updated: 9:48 a.m.: Zach Brown signed

The Eagles won’t even take the field together for another few weeks, so I’m well aware this is very premature. 

Heck, we won’t have a good idea of the 53-man roster until training camp and even then, there are going to be a few surprises. There always are. 

But for now, it’s fun to make a prediction and see how much will change in a few months. This time last year, guys like Matt Jones and Corey Nelson were going to make the roster. That didn’t work out. 

Anyway, here’s my first crack at the Eagles’ 53-man roster for 2019: 

QB (3): Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson 

I guess there’s a possibility the Eagles would roll with two QBs and try to sneak Thorson on the practice squad, but after drafting him in the fifth round, that might be too big a risk. They brought him in to develop him and they can’t do that if another team poaches him. The odd man out is former AAF QB Luis Perez. 

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

The top two guys are set and I think Rodgers is the safest bet. The Eagles still have Josh Perkins and Will Tye, but Rodgers has the inside track to make the roster after the Eagles brought him back. He was injured for a lot of 2018, but the team never soured on him. 

WR (5): Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins 

The Eagles kept six receivers out of training camp last year, but I’m not sure that will be the plan this year. That means Shelton Gibson, Charles Johnson and Braxton Miller are the odd guys out, but if the Eagles keep six, one of them could earn a spot. I don’t think Hollins’ roster spot is guaranteed, but he’s the favorite after the top four. 

OL (10): Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jordan Mailata, Matt Pryor, Ryan Bates

This is a little heavy on OL but I have them keeping undrafted OL Ryan Bates from PSU. I think there’s a chance the Eagles will still add a veteran guard, so that guy would then make the roster. They also kept 10 last year. Maybe Big V is traded, but if he isn’t, he’s back on the roster for 2019. 

RB (4): Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood 

I think the top three are solid. After that, there are a few guys battling for the fourth job. I’ve made the mistake of counting out Smallwood before; not doing it again. I have him beating out Josh Adams, Boston Scott and Donnel Pumphrey. 

DE (5): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller

I don’t have Chris Long here because it seems pretty clear he’s leaning toward not returning, so these six were pretty easy. The top two are starters and then there’s the rotational players. I don’t think this group is nearly as good as the group that included Michael Bennett and Long last year. 

DT (4): Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Tim Jernigan, Hassan Ridgeway

The top three are locks as long as Jernigan is healthy. After that, the Eagles traded for Ridgeway, so I have him on the roster for now. But he should be battling with Treyvon Hester for the last spot. I wouldn’t completely rule out Hester in that competition. The Eagles gave up a seventh for Ridgeway, but there’s no guarantee seventh-round picks make the roster. 

LB (6): Nigel Bradham, Zach Brown, Kamu Grugier-Hill, L.J. Fort, Paul Worrilow, Nate Gerry

Brown signed a one-year deal on Friday morning. He will likely start with Bradham and KGH. Fort and Worrilow are veterans and Gerry has shown flashes. All three have proven they can play special teams. Remember, Gerry is still making the conversion to LB from S. This is heavy on LB, but I'm not sure which one to take off just yet. So I'm a little light on DL until I figure that out. 

CB (6): Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc

I don’t know how good the Eagles’ starters will be, but the depth is the reason they were never going to use a high draft pick on a corner. They like all six of these guys and barring a trade, I’d expect them to all make the roster in 2019. 

S (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Andrew Sendejo, Tre Sullivan

I really thought the Eagles were going to draft a safety, but because they didn’t, Sendejo and Sullivan both make the roster. Perhaps the Eagles could still sign an available free agent, but for now, I’m sticking with these three, knowing Maddox has the ability to shift to safety if needed. 

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

I have nothing to say about this. 

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Eagles' coaches to continue working at home despite NFL policy change

Eagles' coaches to continue working at home despite NFL policy change

In a bit of a surprising move, the Eagles have decided to keep their coaching staff sequestered at home, despite an NFL policy that would allow them to return to work at the NovaCare Complex on Friday.

The NFL is allowing coaches — but not players — to work at team facilities starting Friday, as long as local and state guidelines allow it.

But Doug Pederson is apparently so happy with the way virtual sessions between the coaches and players have gone over the past several weeks that he doesn't see a reason to bring his coaches into the building yet.

"The virtual collaboration over the past three months has proven that the contributions and value of our employees is not dependent upon their physical presence at the facility," the team said in a statement.

Many Eagles assistants don't live in Philadelphia year-round and the new coaches on Pederson's staff haven't had the chance to look for homes yet.

Because players aren't allowed into the complex — other than injured or rehabbing players — it wouldn't really change the way the Eagles are holding virtual OTA sessions.

The current set of offseason workouts is scheduled to end on June 25, and training camp is scheduled to begin about a month later.

The Eagles will be opening the NovaCare Complex and the Linc to a limited number of employees next week.  

"Over the last 12 weeks, our organization has remained connected, united and focused on our preparations for the upcoming season," the Eagles said in an unattributed statement. 

"We have been planning for and will begin a phased approach of gradually returning a limited number of employees to the NovaCare Complex and Lincoln Financial Field beginning Monday in compliance with the state and local guidelines, NFL policies and in consultation with medical experts."

The Eagles closed the NovaCare Complex on March 13 and players and coaches have been meeting virtually since. 

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Drew Brees fumble highlights how much Carson Wentz nailed it

Drew Brees fumble highlights how much Carson Wentz nailed it

As we watch Drew Brees backpedal, apologize and now try to smooth things over with his teammates and his city, one thing is becoming clear. 

Carson Wentz nailed it. The first time. 

Wentz last Friday became one of the first high-profile white athletes in America to speak out about the killing of George Floyd. He stopped short of specifically calling out police brutality but he condemned “institutional racism” and his approach was one of understanding and empathy. It was honest, it was refreshing and it was unifying. 

Then there’s what Brees said. 

Brees in an interview on Wednesday reiterated his response from 2016 about the peaceful protests against police brutality and racial injustice once held by NFL players during the national anthem. Brees said he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America.” 

For Brees’s black teammates who have been fighting for racial equality, and for those affected by racial injustice, those words hurt. Not just because Brees completely missed the point of those protests but because of his complete lack of awareness. It hurt more because it came from someone they thought was an ally. 

Malcolm Jenkins on Thursday said he had spoken to Brees but he still posted his emotional responses to those comments. A strained Jenkins choked back tears as he talked about how much the words from Brees pained him. 

One of the big problems for Jenkins was the loss of trust. In an emotionally charged week, during which Jenkins has been trying to effect real change, someone he considered to be an ally, a friend, a brother, completely discounted the cause. 

To Brees’s credit, he did apologize on Thursday morning. While many will argue that his apology fell short in many areas, it’s at least a start to his rebuilding trust in the locker room and in New Orleans, where crowds of protesters on Wednesday chanted “F— Drew Brees!” Some will accept his apology, some will want to see more and some never will. 

For his sake and for the sake of his teammates, I hope the apology wasn’t hollow. I hope Brees learns why his words hurt so many. 

It’s hard to imagine Brees watching those videos of Jenkins and not wanting to rectify the situation. Imagine causing so much pain to someone you’re supposed to care about. 

While plenty of Saints players have spoken out against their quarterback’s words this week, many Eagles players have gained even more respect for their quarterback. DeSean Jackson earlier this week said his white teammates like Wentz, Zach Ertz and Jason Kelce stepped up. In that moment, Wentz wasn’t just a leader of a football team; he was a leader of the community. 

This isn’t about football right now. But eventually, there will be NFL games and it’s fair to wonder how these parallel situations will play out short-term and long-term in their respective cities. One team seems to be weaker because of this and one team seems to be stronger. 

While Brees caused what might be irreparable damage to the brotherhood of his football team and to his legacy in New Orleans, Wentz took a huge step forward as a leader of his locker room and the community. 

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