The preseason is a wrap, all of the evidence is in and now the coaches must decide who to keep and who to let go. The roster must be down to 53 players by 6 p.m. Saturday. Will Danny Watkins make the cut?
By the sounds of it, there are no guarantees that he is on this team at the end of the weekend.
“Danny is competing like the rest of those guys up front. There is always some really good out of Danny, but there is also some mistakes out of Danny,” said Chip Kelly when asked how the lineman has progressed this summer. “It’s going to be a battle. When you feel good about your five but then where are we going to be and how many are we going to carry I think is what it’s going to come down to.”
With the projected starters getting the night off, Watkins got the nod at right guard Thursday against the Jets. Kelly did not sound pleased with the unit’s performance overall, saying that the Eagles were “very shoddy in protection early.” Nick Foles ended up on his back quite a bit.
“I don’t think we protected him very well. A lot of times it was a four-man rush, it was in his face and he didn’t have a chance to set his feet,” said Kelly. “We had some protection issues with the second o-line.”
There is probably plenty of blame to go around across that front.
The coaches will evaluate the tape and then make their final decisions. As Kelly mentioned, it becomes a numbers game. Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans and Lane Johnson are your starters. Allen Barbre appears to be a primary backup both at guard and tackle. Dennis Kelly, assuming he can come back sooner than later from a back injury, would likely occupy another spot. Then there is a grouping of linemen that includes Watkins, Julian Vandervelde, Matt Tennant, Matt Tobin, Michael Bamiro, Dallas Reynolds and Matt Kopa that the Eagles must choose from. How many do they keep? And who?
Kelly has made clear that he values versatile players. Where several of these backup linemen have played at multiple spots this preseason, Watkins has worked exclusively at guard. You wonder if that hurts his chances.
There is a financial number to consider: Watkins’ $1.1 million base salary for the season is guaranteed. Would that be enough to influence the team’s decision?
The answers will present themselves shortly.
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