Wake-Up Call: Former Eagles Finding Work

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Chip Kelly told reporters earlier this summer that even if he ran the slowest offense in the NFL, his practices would still be up-tempo.

“The only reason we practice fast is because we want to get more plays in. And if we get more plays in, guys will get more reps. The more times they get reps, the better they get as a player,” he explained. “We have 90 guys on our team that we’re trying to improve on a constant basis. So how do we improve them or make decisions or evaluate them if we never get a chance to have them on film?”




No matter your standing, you're going to get plenty of work if you are a part of this team. That's an attractive feature of the Kelly operation for reserve players looking for a home or to better their standing in the league.

“If you’re [second or third string], you want to be in our camp because you get more reps than anyone else,” said Kelly. “Because of the reps we get in practice, our guys get a chance to develop a little more. You go to some teams and the threes aren’t getting many reps — they are losing time compared to our guys.”

Interestingly enough, a good number of Eagles released in recent days quickly landed jobs elsewhere. Offensive linemen Karim Barton and Donald Hawkins were claimed by Cleveland. (Hawkins has since gone to the Cowboys). Emil Igwenagu got scooped up by Detroit. Joe Kruger went to San Diego. Houston  claimed Damaris Johnson. Damion Square is now in Kansas City with Andy Reid. Henry Josey landed on Jacksonville's practice squad while military veteran Alejandro Villanueva found a home in Pittsburgh.

Part of that speaks to the growing depth on this club. And part of it could be that Kelly's methods regarding increased reps are proving beneficial.

"We told those guys on Day One, I hope that goal one for us is that you make this football team, but then goal two is that you get an opportunity to make another football team with the exposure that you get here," said Kelly, "and hopefully we prepare you for that."

WHAT YOU MISSED

The Eagles signed eight players to their practice squad Sunday.

The first installment of our season preview series looks at life without DeSean Jackson.

Howie Roseman defends Kelly on the issue of having a lot of Oregon players on the roster.

Sheil analyzes the offense and defense now that the roster has been trimmed to 53.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Tommy Lawlor offers his thoughts on the practice squad moves.

[Will] Murphy. I get that Kelly likes the way Murphy practices. He must be the Jerry Rice of practice players. I don’t like seeing Murphy on the squad because I don’t think he’s got an NFL future and there seem to be lots of WRs out there with more talent. If this is Kelly’s one vice, I can deal with it. But I’m not a fan.

Why Tucker and not Josey? Tucker is a better blocker and STs player. He was here last year and knows the offense. I thought he had a real shot at the roster this year. Josey is a tough subject. I need to re-watch the Jets game before saying too much. There is no doubt that he lit up teams this preseason, but there are 2 key questions. First, how much of that was him vs the system and players around him? Second, could he have that kind of success against starting players?

Bob Brookover of the Inquirer thinks this could be the year when the Eagles finally turn it around at the safety position.

In 2014, safety could finally be a safe word to use around Eagles fans again.

"I feel like with me, Malcolm [Jenkins], and Nate Allen back there, we definitely have one of the best safety corps, but I'm not into talking," second-year safety Earl Wolff said. "We'll prove it this year."

The proof, of course, must come on the field, but preseason confidence is high. The free-agent addition of Jenkins tops the list of reasons. He signed a three-year contract and left the New Orleans Saints, who opted to give Jairus Byrd, a more high-profile free agent, a longer and more lucrative deal.

"I definitely have a chip on my shoulder, but my motivation right now is more proving to the players on this team what I can do more than proving that to [the Saints]," Jenkins said. "My urgency is to prove my worth to this team right now, but I definitely have a chip on my shoulder from switching teams."

COMING UP

Here's to a safe and relaxing Labor Day for all our readers. Rest up. Football's coming.

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  • CTAZPA

    Pending the last two practice squad, the Eagles picked up nobody from other teams, while eight Birds were signed. That’s a strong, positive indication of the talent on the roster.

    • MediaMike

      In 62 of the 63 total spots.
      Where our new ILB?

    • Dominik

      Could also be a indication that Chip doesn’t want to develop players on the PS (at least not primarily), but wants the Practice Squad to practice good (and therefore prepare the team for the game on Sunday). Players who know the Practice will practice better.

      I’m sorry, but as long as Maehl or Casey Matthews are on the roster of your football team, you shouldn’t speak about good depth. We have good depth at some positions, but overall – I don’t think so. Not yet. I thought so, too, but the 53 proved me wrong.

      • DirtyWaters

        Maehl is the 6th WR, right? 5th at best? How many snaps is he going to see, even if we have a rash of injuries?

        • Mr. Magee

          He better be a heck of a ST player then

          • DirtyWaters

            Exactly.

  • Bullwinkle

    The Eagles are a little bigger, a little older, and a little slower. Are they a better football team? I’m not sure, but one thing that’s for sure is that we’ll find out. Maybe Josey’s great play was partly the result of the system, but the other backs also benefited from the system and by comparison, Josey was the best runner. He seems like a very nice kid. I hope he does well with the Jags.

    • MediaMike

      I think Josey was clearly the 5th RB and they couldn’t justify room for more than 4 (p-squad included) given the workload of McCoy, versatility of Sproles, and hopeful expansion of touches for Polk. Tucker is a better player than Josey as well.
      I enjoyed watching Josey play, hoped they kept him, but don’t have any outrage over the situation unless they were going to keep Barner.

      • NickS, Combine Warrior

        “but don’t have any outrage over the situation unless they were going to keep Barner”…. This exactly.

        • MediaMike

          I think they had the final order of RBs totally correct. Prior to being banged up Tucker was getting rave reviews from McCoy.

          • NickS, Combine Warrior

            I’d pretty much agree with that. Although a Josey fan from what I saw, plus liking the kid coming out of Mizzou, I knew Tucker was above him. He looked really good.

        • Kleptolia

          Barner is still an Eagle. Injured reserve.
          I can’t write evil laughter, only insane laughter.
          But since I said it, you’re already hearing both, anyway.

          You’re welcome.

          • NickS, Combine Warrior

            Thought Barner was waived with an injury settlement.

          • Kleptolia

            He cleared waivers and was put on IR, according to Caplan. I think that sort of IS the injury settlement.

            Oddly, I think there was a rule change in 2012 that allows one player to come back from IR to practice after six weeks and be eligible to play by week 8. I don’t know if this will be enacted in Barner’s case or not, or if that’s even a thought among the coaching staff.

          • MediaMike

            I don’t mind paying the guy to be on IR.

      • Rockedupeaglesfan

        Yes, the Barner acquisition nearly started WWIII around here.

        • MediaMike

          I didn’t mind the trade for him, but he showed on the field (the real field in games, not practices we’re not able to view and/or college tape) that he was not as good as the rest of the RB corps. Again, I didn’t mind the conditional trade but would have been offended if he’d made the roster over better players.

          • Rockedupeaglesfan

            Yeah, he never passed the eye test. People dug in on the Josey vs Barner camps, but the reality was both were long shots.

          • MediaMike

            What didn’t help was making the cut of Josey official prior to Barner. People assumed the worst.

          • Rockedupeaglesfan

            I always assumed it was BS when a team said, we are cutting you so you can look for a job elsewhere. This time, I think it was an honest approach. Like, you aren’t going to make our squad, we won’t drag this out any longer than necessary, good luck. Plus, isn’t Barner getting an injury settlement, that may have delayed his announcement.

    • http://www.damokleez.com EaglefaninAZ

      Upvoted your post, but I do have issues with the “a little slower” thing. Most athletic Oline in the league, guys that have been in the same system for 2 years now. Once again, I will agonize when watching other teams play, while they do all of that archaic standing around and huddling stuff.

      • Bullwinkle

        I was thinking a little slower at receiver and possibly O line with 4 of the 5 starters over 30. There is typically a natural physical decline with NFL players after age 30. I think the O line will be very good, but not as good as it could be if the players were a few years younger. I hope the young lineman will get an opportunity to share time with the starters (and not due to injuries).

        • http://www.damokleez.com EaglefaninAZ

          I think we’re fortunate that the Oline 2’s have looked so good the last few weeks. Bodes well for our future. And yes, we’re slower at receiver, but I think the emphasis that’s going to be put into the sideline to sideline game will help negate some of the downside to that.

        • MagatBrackendale

          Jerry Rice was considered slow, too. Swann was considered a pretty boy. Those 2 turned out fairly well and, oddly, both were catching passes thrown by QBs who were also considered “not good enough” at one point in their careers.

          • Bullwinkle

            Both Rice and Swann had 40 times above 4.5; however, both were exceptional athletes. Although they lacked elite straight line speed, they more than made up for it with superior quickness, coordination, and smarts.

    • Pennguino

      What I liked about Josey was his adjustment of speed and patience. You saw him setting up blocks. Some of his outside runs were things of beauty. He would accelerate to the outside destroying the angles the LB’s had on him and then turn the corner and read a block and then be off to the races. He had about 140 yards and TD more that was called back b/c of penalties.

      I think Tucker was a more complete back but not as explosive as Josey. Would had like to see Josey get a shot at returns. Barner screwed him that way.

      • Max Lightfoot

        I hope he does well w/Jaguars. Josey’s a guy you can’t but help cheer for, IMO.

      • Bullwinkle

        Agree; I’ve been watching the Eagles backs since the 60s and I thought Josey was one of the more exciting ones. He reminded me a little of Charlie Garner. I hope he gets a good shot with the Jags. Sometimes the difference between success and failure is opportunity. Case in point is Evan Mathis. He was an aging, not highly thought of backup until the Eagles gave him a real shot.

    • MagatBrackendale

      What that game also showed quite well is that the team has some very good replacements for the aging offensive line. Although the starters are some of the best in the league, Old Man Time catches us all.

  • Soybot

    You could drive a garbage truck through the holes that Josey was running through in the preseason. The backup OL dominated the last two games. Josey was the only healthy runner which is why he got so many carries. There’s a reason he cleared waivers.

    • MediaMike

      A few things.
      1) Josey is now on the Jags practice squad, so no reason to act like folks didn’t see a spot for his potential in the NFL.
      2) I agree the blocking was good and Josey great benefitted from that.
      3) Josey was clearly the 5th best RB. I would only be up in arms about the cut of Josey if they kept garbage Barner over him.
      4) Why the dirt kicking on Josey’s roster grave from you?

      • mark john

        or is he on the Jags practice squad to help them gameplan for the eagles.

  • MediaMike

    We shall not rest until Casey Matthews becomes a former player! The turf monster attacked Mr. Long’s knee, robbing us of our chance to see Matthews gone, but we’ll remain hopefully for the day Matthews is out of here.

    • Dominik

      What a day it will be. Almost as good as the day Patrick Chung was cut. Remember that? Oh, the good old days.

  • Token

    Ok. Im over all this stuff now. Looking forward to the real games.

    • MediaMike

      NOTHING IS OVER!
      – John Rambo 1982

      • MagatBrackendale

        Something like:
        The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
        ― William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

        Something like some of the people on this blog, present company excepted, still talking/writing about some players who were cut some time ago and have no relevance to the Eagles of 2014. ;~)

    • Rockedupeaglesfan

      For reals. If any of our cuts or any one from our practice squad makes an impact this year I’ll eat my hat. We get so worked up about the final cuts, which is stupid, when you think about the 54th man on the roster and the first guy up on the PS – neither is dressing on Sundays.

      • Token

        lol this is very true. Yet I fall for it every year. Casey Matthews should still not be on any NFL roster, but whatever. Lets just play so I can at least complain about real games.

        • Rockedupeaglesfan

          Yep, every year.

      • NickS, Combine Warrior

        Gotta love preseason.

  • MediaMike

    I’m sorry I missed the DeSean article yesterday, but I’m glad our trusty writers T&S put the correct production analysis on the move.

  • MediaMike

    So we, along with everybody else, are looking at a roster with a close to final 53.
    Prediction time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    11-5! Division win, home wild card round win, road divisional round loss. Progress!
    1 – Win vs. Jacksonville (1-0)
    2 – Loss @ Indy (1-1)
    3 – Win vs. Redskins (2-1)
    4 – Win @ San Fran (3-1)
    5 – Win vs. Rams (4-1)
    6 – Win vs. Giants (5-1)
    8 – Loss @ Cards (5-2)
    9 – Win @ Texans (6-2)
    10 Win vs. Panthers (7-2)
    11 Los @ Green Bay (7-3)
    12 Win vs. Titans (8-3)
    13 Loss @ Dallas (8-4)
    14 Loss vs. Seattle (8-5)
    15 Win vs. Dallas (9-5)
    16 Win @ Washington (10-5)
    17 Win @ NYG (11-5)

    Wild card round – Win over Arizona or Chicago

    Division round – Loss @ New Orleans, Green Bay, or Seattle

    As a preface to anybody questioning the win @ San Fran for week 4;
    – Niners D is vastly diminished due to injury, free agent defections, and suspension
    – They’re, according to a few writers such as Evan Silva, planning on having Kaepernick throw a lot more this year because they’ll need to score more often to win. A read one and run guy like Kaepernick who can’t (according to Greg Cosell – who is the leading authority on NFL QB play) make NFL level reads and throw guys open on a consistent basis being asked to throw a lot is a recipe for disaster.

    • Andy Six Score and Four

      Did you see the bit in the Wall Street Journal listing Kaepernick as statistically the luckiest qb in the NFL when it came to interceptions?

      A league average of 1 in 5 passes defended end up intercepted. With an average performance there, he’d have tossed 15 picks, nearly double the 8 he actually threw. That’s a large number for a guy with so few pass attempts.

      Foles also benefitted from some luck there. An average performance would have led to a whopping,.. THREE interceptions. Obviously, we can’t expect that kind of luck to hold out.

      • Rockedupeaglesfan

        I didn’t see that, but that’s interesting. A lot of times thoses “lucky bounce” stats even out the next year. Between that, and the issues on D, they could be set up real down year.

      • MediaMike

        ha ha ha ha ha.
        Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan from Sirius NFL were at Niners camp a few weeks ago and were remarking that Kaep still has no touches on any of his passes and guns a very flat football to every route runner.
        That would totally explain the INT potential on so many of his passes.

        • Rockedupeaglesfan

          That type of touch is called throwing a McNabb

          • MediaMike

            Except McNabb was very good at not putting the ball with it could be picked off. It may have gotten grass stains in the process, but I appreciated McNabb’s ability to avoid turnovers.

          • Rockedupeaglesfan

            True. His best attribute was his ability to protect the ball.

      • anon

        rather be lucky can good?

        • Pennguino

          One of my all time sayings.
          Rather be lucky than good. Some days my best may not be good enough. At least with luck, I always have a shot.

    • NickS, Combine Warrior

      I don’t even want to do this because it looks so easy on paper. But, I call a win over Indy and a loss vs the Rams as a letdown game. And I can’t imagine a situation where we lose to Dallas, so I’d switch that with the game @ WSH in week 16, just to not be too homerish and say we go 6-0 in division. I’m stopping now, I think 10-6 is the likely outcome and I’m about to talk myself into 12-4 or 13-3.

      • MediaMike

        I’d argue that we played our worst football games vs. Dallas last year, hands down. Why the F was the finale in Dallas even remotely that close? For some reason, we matched up like crap vs. that team.
        I can’t call 6-0 in division and I see the Skins and Giants as inept on both sides of the football. Dallas will be good on O this year.

        • NickS, Combine Warrior

          Fair. Who’s to say Chip hasn’t figured out that issue already? I get your point, though. Either way, hard to call a loss to that terrible D.

        • MagatBrackendale

          One caveat on the Dallas O. Romo’s spine.

    • Kleptolia

      Made my prediction months ago.
      12-4.
      NFC Championship game.
      Lose to Seattle.
      I’m not a ‘Hawks fan, but I still think they’ll make another Super Bowl. That’s a tough team to beat.

      • MediaMike

        I don’t see how any team in the NFL closed down the considerable gap Seattle has over them. I agree with your back to back prediction.
        Dr. Salary cap will be paying them a visit in 2015 and beyond when I see them handing off the dynasty mantle to us.

    • Max Lightfoot

      Pretty close to my predictions. Just substitute loss @ Dallas w/loss @ NY Giants.

      I can see 10-6, possibly 11-5. Depends on injuries, if the Eagles stay relatively healthy at key positions. Who knows, they might even possibly bag the Seahawks in Week 14 this time – now that would be an upset!

      I also agree on winning a playoff game before exiting. This will be another exciting season. Go Eags!

  • Glenn

    Can’t wait until the real games. I’m surprised Josey cleared waivers, and the Eagles didn’t pick him up on the practice squad. Kelly is clearly not a Josey guy. Thought he would be be perfect on the practice squad, as a developmental player.

    • MediaMike

      A guy can choose to go where he wants for practice squad purposes. A look at Jacksonville’s “depth” chart could indicate that Josey believes he could be their 2nd or 3rd RB in 2015 and wants to catch on there. He’d still be buried behind at least 3, if not 4, guys here.

  • DirtyWaters

    43% of the eagles’ cuts have jobs. 33% of the first round of cuts were able to sign elsewhere. I’d be curious to see the league average and see if Chip is right.

  • Kev_H

    The NFL groupthink mindset has to be frustrating to a player when he gets on the wrong side of it. Josey spent his college years tearing up the SEC, suffered a horrendous injury causing him to miss his junior year, but came back strong in 2013. He went undrafted because of the injury, but it seems clear to me, If he’s healthy, he’s a player. But pundits question his pre-season performance as if he is some schlub who came out of nowhere. He can play, but the question is if he can stay healthy over the long haul.

    • MediaMike

      I don’t see things as that dire with him. It is very hard to want to put a guy on your 53 right away if he wasn’t in your camp. There are also a ton of RBs that aren’t even on practice squads right now. Josey landed in a very good spot in Jacksonville. That team will be run first for a while, has suspect depth after Toby, and could easily add Josey to their 53 after a few weeks of practice. I think he’s in a good place. He was our 5th best RB, so I understand why he didn’t make the 53 and I think he can see a clearer path to a real roster spot in Jacksonville.

  • PaoliBulldog

    So who gets the last tw PS spots? Might as well be Kinne & Momah so we’ll have something to debate in betwen Sundays.

    Good for Josey. I presume the Eagles offered him a spot but he opted for Jax so he wouldn’t have to sit behind Shady & Sproles.

    Would have loved to keep Villanueva as a developmental player and as first line of defense in case of a zombie apocalype.

  • southy

    If Jenkins’ addition is reason number 1, surely reason number 0 is the absence of one “Friendly fire” Chung.

  • William Rhodes

    I don’t even get why PS is worth reporting on. These guys rarely last a full season on the PS, they are not protected at all, most of them will never see an NFL roster. If an Eagles starter gets hurt, we’re just as likely to sign somebody from a different practice squad to take his place.
    Most of the time the PS players are just playing scout team. RBs playing at DE, etc.

  • Joseph Haas

    I was stunned by the cutting of Matthew Tucker and think we were fortunate to re-sign him to the practice squad. I don’t think Sproles and Polk are adequate depth behind McCoy and fully expect to see Tucker on the 53-man roster before long.