Eagles Wake-Up Call: Clay Harbor And Life On the Bubble

Philadelphia Eagles TE Clay Harbor.It is number-crunching season in the NFL. Teams are in the process of whittling their rosters from 90 all the way down to 53. By the time the August 31 deadline hits, nearly 1,200 players across the league will have lost their jobs. A reminder that this is a harsh business.

“I think Billy Davis made the point.  Billy got cut in his one tryout with the Dolphins,” said Chip Kelly, who didn’t have to deal with anything quite like this in college.  ”That is the only time you get cut, and you remember that for the rest of your life.  We have to do it, that’s part of our job, but I think we were conscious of that.  We sat down with everybody [during the first round of cuts].  Our coordinators all sat down with everybody.  Our position coach sat down with them. It’s a difficult time.”

The Eagles have their 53-man pretty well figured out by this point, but Thursday’s preseason finale against the Jets allows players on the bubble one last chance to make their pitch to management. Clay Harbor gets to make that pitch from two different positions. He will play the first half at wide receiver, and the second half as tight end.

“I’m hoping that’s what gives me a shot to make the roster here. I feel like I can do a lot of different things. I can play wide receiver, I can play tight end or the H-back role and play special teams,” he said. “I think that’s my shot right there. If I’m going to make it, I’m going to be doing a lot of different things.”

Harbor made the transition from receiver to tight end in college and was good enough to be drafted in the fourth round by the Eagles in 2010. He played end for the Eagles from 2010-12, collecting 46 receptions for 421 yards and four touchdowns over that time.

The tight end spot is jammed with three quality players in Brent Celek, James Casey and Zach Ertz. Harbor has been trying his luck elsewhere. He moved over to linebacker during practice briefly, and most recently has been seeing snaps at receiver.

“I think it’s a positive that teams can see that I can line up out wide and get open against cornerbacks. I think when you can do that as a tight end it really shows teams that you’re an athletic player, you can stretch a defense and you can do things that s ome tight ends can’t,” said Harbor. “I think I’m playing the best football I’ve ever played, I’m the most confident I’ve ever been. Physically I’m the best player I’ve ever been. That being said, I think this is the first time that I think there is a really good chance that I’m not going to make this team. All I can do now is go out Thursday, play to the best of my ability and let the cards fall where they may.”

As for his chances of making the team?

“If they decide to keep four [tight ends] I’ll be here, if they decide to keep three I think I’ll get released,” said Harbor. “For me it’s 50-50 right now. That’s the way I see it.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

Bryce Brown dodges a major injury, talks ball security.

Sheil breaks down the offensive and defensive performance from Saturday’s game.

The battle between Nate Allen and Earl Wolff for the final starting safety spot could come down to the wire. 

Kapadia takes a closer look at that safety situation.

A few leftovers from Saturday’s locker room session in Jacksonville.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Peter King says the Eagles could run 1,200 offensive plays this season, more than the 2012 Patriots.

Of the 45 snaps Michael Vick orchestrated, only one came with the play clock inside five seconds. Mostly, Vick snapped with between about 21 and 15 seconds left on the 40-second clock. There was an 11-play no-huddle sequence late in the first-quarter on a Philly field goal drive; Vick ran twice on it, and jogged back to the line each time, getting the play call in the helmet and snapping the next play each time with the play clock in the teens. The guy’s got to be in fabulous shape. Now, Vick threw two brainlock passes during the game—one an interception, one while he was going down for a sack that was the classic careless Vick we’ve seen at times in his star-crossed career. And this was probably his worst offensive performance of the three preseason games, though his numbers were good.

Jimmy Kempski writes that Vick was holding onto the ball even longer than usual against the Jags.

Last Saturday in Jacksonville, Michael Vick held onto the ball an average of 3.66 seconds per dropback. Kelly was asked about Vick holding onto the ball before practice this morning.

“There was just a couple, but I thought there was great coverage,” said Kelly. “A couple of those were seven-man protections, so we didn’t have everybody out there. There were 3-man routes and Jacksonville wasn’t blitzing, but those guys were in great coverage. Part of being a great QB is making great decisions, so if people are covered I’d rather our quarterback hold onto the ball than release the ball.”

19 of Vick’s 30 dropbacks took at least 3 seconds before he either got the ball out, got sacked, or got to the line of scrimmage on a scramble. I highly doubt the Jaguars’ coverage was that good.

COMING UP

Chip Kelly speaks at 9:30. Practice to follow. We’ll bring you the latest.

  • Filadelfia

    Harbor is a beast

  • Jack Waggoner

    Just who would they be looking to keep at Harbor’s expense? Some receiver like Shepard or Maehl? Makes no sense.

  • jon h

    Can’t see them releasing Harbor, but they could trade him – there’s a lot of TE needs throughout the league. Hope they keep him though. I think Kelly really likes the 4 TE sets.

    • Jack Waggoner

      I don’t think we’ll see 4 TE sets often if at all once the real games start. I think that was just Chip trolling us during preseason. But what he has done is cross-train Ertz as well as Harbor to play some receiver.

      • JofreyRice

        Ertz blocks about as well as Desean Jackson, so he’s got that part down, already. POSITIVITY!

  • damrvrhunter

    Cue the Vick apologists!

    • Maggie

      Why? This article is about Clay Harbor. Or hadn’t you noticed?

  • Andy124

    I like Harbor’s grip on reality. I hope we keep 4 TE.

    • poetx99

      i really think we have to. 4 TEs might be a luxury, but 2 are not in kelly’s offense. and if we only kept 2 and 1 went down, that would screw with his playcalling.

      harbor has been doing well and is on an uptick. keep him around.

      • Jack Waggoner

        There is no fullback. Whatever that used to be is another tight end now, his slot in the roster is a TE slot. So it’s not that much of a luxury to carry 4… it was like carrying 3 in the past, which we did at times.

  • BlindChow

    Harbor’s in a pretty good spot. With all the TE injuries (and arrests) he’s pretty much guaranteed a job somewhere.

  • BlindChow

    Sounds like Kelly might be covering for Vick the way Reid used to cover for his players after less-than-stellar performances. That’ll certainly help his cred in the locker room.

    • Adam

      Yeah Kelly has a rep of being very supportive and protective of his players, especially when it comes to the media.

    • Token

      Really I dont care what it does in the locker room. It leads to a pampered team that doesnt care. We have been down that road before. The players coach bull can work for a time but at some point guys have to be worried about their play on the field.

      A guy like Tom Coughlin has damn near had his whole team hate him seemingly, 2 Superbowls.

      • BlindChow

        It depends on what he says behind the scenes. Not throwing them under the bus is different than “pampering.”

      • Adam

        There’s examples on both ends of the spectrum that works and doesn’t work.

    • damrvrhunter

      Wagons fully hitched for another run on the Michael Vick Experience. It is not like we know how the ride ends.

  • PaoliBulldog

    I can’t see Kelly cutting Harbor at this point. Kelly would probably like to keep five TEs if he could, and I think it’d be hard to bring in another TE this late in the preseason.

    The least versatile non-kicker on this roster is Dorenbos. I get the idea that the kicker, punter/holder and long snapper can practice more easily as a unit, but the way Kelly manages practice time, I don’t see that an an insurmountable problem. Having a backup C or TE who can also long snap would be a bonus. Hell, I bet Lane Johnson could learn how to do it – he was a high school QB.

    • Cyrus Robinson

      Don’t take a great long snapper for granted. Add a few turnovers and missed fgs to this year’s stats if we release Dorenbos.

      • poetx99

        this can NOT be overemphasized. i’ve seen teams do this before (really pennywise and pound foolish) to save what is only a couple hundred thousand (difference between a rookie and vet min salary, and then, precisely as you said, have blocked punts, blocked FGs, missed FGs, etc.

        ignore ST at your peril.

        plus, i just like dorenbos. he does his job well. is great with the fans, and seems to be a great lockerroom guy.

      • PaoliBulldog

        Oh, I’m not suggesting that Dorenbos be cut, just that I’d ry to find or groom a more versatile replacement. If, say, Harbor had shown up for training camp having learned how to long snap, he wouldn’t be on the bubble.

  • Jack Waggoner

    Kelly (the O-lineman) will be kept on the roster, it sounds like, even though he will miss the first few weeks of the season. Apparently his rehab from back surgery is going well.