The Eagles need to trim the roster down to 53 players by 4 p.m. on Saturday. Here’s how I see it playing out heading into the team’s final exhibition game:
Quarterbacks (3): Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley.
Sanchez was so good this preseason that Chip Kelly is holding him out of the final game along with Nick Foles. A lot of work for Barkley, who could use a good outing Thursday to put on his resume.
Running backs (4): LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Matthew Tucker, Kenjon Barner.
This is a tough one. Chris Polk gained 98 yards (8.9 avg. ) and scored three times on just 11 carries last year. He has a bunch of promise but hasn’t been able to stay healthy. A hamstring tear left him sidelined for most of training camp. The Eagles recently acquired Barner from Carolina for a conditional seventh-round pick. The former Duck could potentially be used as a return man. I’ll say that gives him the edge over Polk. Maybe Henry Josey finds a spot on the practice squad.
Wide receivers (6): Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Brad Smith, Jeff Maehl
Ifeanyi Momah hasn’t been used much on special teams this preseason. Kelly wants his reserves to be standout special teamers, so I don’t think he makes it. Maybe a year of seasoning on the practice squad. Arrelious Benn, who is coming off a concussion, had the blocked punt against New England to go along with a touchdown catch (off the hands of Momah). He could find his way on. Maehl is battling through an ankle injury as he tries to hang on to a spot.
Tight ends (3): Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey
I had Emil Igwenagu making the team in my first projection. Good call on my part.
Offensive linemen (9): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, Allen Barbre, Matt Tobin, David Molk, Dennis Kelly, Andrew Gardner.
Lane Johnson goes on the reserve/suspended list after the preseason and won’t count against the 53-man.
The second unit has played well this preseason. That’s an encouraging sign, as there were a lot of questions about depth at this position heading into the offseason.
Defensive linemen (7): Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Cedric Thornton, Taylor Hart, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, Brandon Bair.
Bair has earned a spot. Think he needs to make the team. Allen has stood out this summer. We’ll predict that he gets the nod over Damion Square, who is eligible for the practice squad.
Outside linebackers (6): Connor Barwin, Trent Cole, Marcus Smith II, Bryan Braman, Brandon Graham, Travis Long.
Graham’s ability to rush the passer makes him too valuable to let go. Braman is here to play special teams. Long is cross-training as both an inside and outside linebacker. The ability to play him inside in a pinch could allow them to carry just three true ILBs.
Inside linebackers (3): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode
I could go either way on Matthews (I had him making the team in my first projection) but I’m thinking Long can take over his role from last year as a player that can play inside or out if need be. Emmanuel Acho is also fighting to make the team.
Cornerbacks (5): Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll II, Jaylen Watkins.
Roc Carmichael is a pretty good special teams player and that at least gives him a chance of sneaking onto the team, but spots are hard to come by.
Safeties (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Chris Maragos.
Ed Reynolds had to miss some time this spring because of the NCAA graduation rules and had a quiet summer. The Eagles could try to stash him on the practice squad.
Specialists (3): Jon Dorenbos, Alex Henery, Donnie Jones.
The Eagles may not finish with Henery as their kicker but I’m guessing they start with him. Cody Parkey hasn’t had much time to audition. Don’t think they would be comfortable just handing that job over to him. I can’t see Kelly committing two roster spots to kickers.