Eagles Wake-Up Call: Depth Chart Analysis

Chris PolkThe Eagles have released their game notes for Friday night’s matchup with the Patriots, and included is an (unofficial) initial depth chart.

Here are some thoughts, position-by-position:

Quarterback – The depth chart has both Michael Vick and Nick Foles listed with the first team. The guess here is that Vick will start vs. the Patriots and Foles will start the following week. We’ll find out for sure on Wednesday or Thursday.

Running back – The top two spots are no-brainers: LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown. The third running back will play an important role though. He’ll be expected to play significant snaps should McCoy or Brown go down with an injury. Chris Polk has had a really good camp so far, and he’s listed with the third team, ahead of Felix Jones and Matthew Tucker. Polk has shed weight and has stood out during practice. His forte is running defenders over, and Polk will get a chance to prove he can still do that against New England.

Wide receiver – Interestingly enough, Riley Cooper is still listed as a starter opposite DeSean Jackson. Damaris Johnson and Jason Avant are second-teamers, while Russell Shepard and Greg Salas are with the third team. Arrelious Benn, who just returned to practice on Sunday, is back with the fourth team. There are plenty of spots up for grabs at this position. I’m specifically looking forward to seeing Shepard in the preseason.

Tight end – It’s been widely assumed that we’ll see a lot of two tight end sets, and the depth chart shows “12” personnel, or one running back and two TEs. The two guys listed here with the first team are Brent Celek and James Casey. In reality, that means very little. The Eagles didn’t take Zach Ertz so he could sit the bench. He’ll likely play as big of a role as the other two and could emerge as the best receiving threat out of the three.

Offensive tackle – No surprises here. Lane Johnson and Jason Peters are the starters. Dennis Kelly is battling an injury, but he is in the driver’s seat to be the first backup. Don’t forget that the Eagles could also choose to bump Todd Herremans outside in the event of an injury to Johnson or Peters. Worth noting that newcomer Michael Bamiro is listed with the third team.

Guard/center – No surprises here either. Danny Watkins and Allen Barbre back up Evan Mathis and Herremans. Barbre got a look at tackle Monday. If he can flash some versatility, he could earn a roster spot. At center, Dallas Reynolds is listed with the second team behind Jason Kelce, and Julian Vandervelde is with the third team. Vandervelde has gotten some first-team snaps with Kelce out, though, and could still earn a roster spot.

Defensive line – The first team is Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga and Cedric Thornton. Thornton is no lock to start though. Clifton Geathers is listed with the second team, but he has a chance to steal a starting job. Second-round pick Bennie Logan is the backup nose tackle. Vinny Curry is on the second team too. The coaches seem to like undrafted free agent Damion Square. He’s listed with the third team.

Outside linebacker – As we’ve seen all camp, Connor Barwin at LOLB and Trent Cole at ROLB. Brandon Graham is listed as Barwin’s backup. Billy Davis will need to figure out what he’s got in Cole and Graham during the preseason. Right now, Graham’s role is a mystery.

Inside linebacker – The Eagles’ starters are solidified in DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. Backup spots are up for grabs. Casey Matthews and Jamar Chaney are listed with the second team. Third-teamers Jake Knott and Emmanuel Acho will look to make a move and earn roster spots.

Cornerback – Free agents Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are the starters. Brandon Boykin has been the best defensive player on the field during camp. He and Curtis Marsh are listed with the second team. Rookie seventh-round pick Jordan Poyer is way back with the fourth team.

Safety – There’s been a lot of mixing and matching at this position during camp. Nate Allen and Patrick Chung are listed as the starters, with Kenny Phillips and Kurt Coleman on the second team. Earl Wolff is back with the fourth team, but I wouldn’t read too much into that.

Specialists – Jackson is the No. 1 punt returner; Johnson the No. 1 kick returner. And Donnie Jones is ahead of Brad Wing for the punting job.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Your running diary of Eagles practice observations.

Chip Kelly goes to every special-teams meeting and takes notes.

Peter King chimes in with some thoughts on the Eagles.

An All-22 look at how the defense is moving towards a 3-4.

T-Mac answers three popular questions.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com likes what he’s seeing from Chris Polk:

Chris Polk continues to impress. On one play, he was lined up in the slot, 1-on-1 against Mychal Kendricks. Polk smoked Kendricks on a slant route. Impressive. I haven’t seen Kendricks beaten that badly all camp, and he has covered guys like Damaris Johnson and Russell Shepard from the slot. Polk also tore off a long run, which was legit, even without tackling. Nobody even got a finger on him. Good burst. Polk is a completely different player than what I saw in camp in 2012. If he continues to play this well, he’s not only going to wrap up the #3 RB job, but he’s going to contribute in a meaningful way. Meanwhile, Felix Jones had a drop and a double-catch today.

Elliot Harrison of NFL.com has Brian Dawkins going into the Hall of Fame in 2018:

There are some out there who might feel Dawkins was a superior player to John Lynch. Still, Lynch will have waited several years by the time Dawkins’ name first surfaces. Also, given the difficulty safeties have encountered in finding their way to Canton, even a nine-time Pro Bowler will have to wait a year.

COMING UP

The Patriots are in town. We’ll have you covered all day long.

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