Eagles Release Kenny Phillips, Jamar Chaney

Kenny PhillipsAdd two more names to the list of roster cuts: Kenny Phillips and Jamar Chaney.

Pro Football Talk and Adam Caplan were first with the reports, respectively.

The 26-year-old Phillips just hasn’t been able to get healthy. He had major surgery on his left knee back in 2009 and hasn’t been the same player since. Phillips also dealt with a right knee injury that sidelined him for nine games last year, and he’s been dealing with a quad issue in recent weeks.

He played in the first preseason game against New England, but has sat out the last two.

The Eagles did not include any guaranteed money in Phillips’ contract when they signed him back in the spring. They knew this move was a possibility, but were hoping he could get healthy and help solidify what has been a problem position over the last several years.

Now, they’ll have to look elsewhere.

Patrick Chung appears to have one of the starting spots locked up, but the other one is still up for grabs. Nate Allen is the favorite, but rookie Earl Wolff rotated in with him on the first team vs. Jacksonville.

The Eagles also have Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson and David Sims on the roster. Anderson seems like a good bet to make the roster. Coleman is on the bubble, and Sims is likely a longshot.

***

Chaney, a seventh-round pick in 2010, started 23 games in three seasons, including five in 2012. In his first career start, he notched 16 tackles against the Giants as a rookie, but was not able to sustain that success.

Tweeted Chaney:

The Eagles have some spots open at inside linebacker. DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are the starters. Undrafted free agent Jake Knott has a good chance to make the squad. Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho are on the bubble.

This is another position the Eagles could address once other teams make cuts.

The roster currently stands at 76. The Eagles need to make one more cut by Tuesday at 4 p.m.

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Eagles Cut 10 Players, Get Roster Down to 78

The Eagles announced the following 10 roster cuts: TE Derek Carrier, DE Eddie McClam, WR Nick Miller, offensive tackle Nic Purcell, offensive lineman Isaac Remington, TE Will ShawDT Daryell Walker, CB Eddie Whitley, LS James Winchester and punter Brad Wing.

The two most notable names on the list are probably Whitley and Carrier.

The Eagles have three tight ends who are definitely going to make the roster: Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and James Casey. Carrier had some nice moments this summer, but he won’t be the fourth. Clay Harbor has been practicing at wide receiver, so he could be a WR/TE option to make the team.

Whitley (injury/waived) also had some nice moments this summer, but suffered a left knee injury during last night’s game. The Eagles are thin at cornerback. They’ll go with Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin, but beyond those three, there are question marks.

Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes are both currently sidelined with fractured hands. The only other healthy cornerbacks on the roster are rookie Jordan Poyer and Trevard Lindley.

The Eagles could certainly make a move to add a corner from another squad in the coming weeks, although teams generally don’t cut ties with productive players who can cover.

Meanwhile, with Wing gone, Donnie Jones officially wins the punter job.

The Eagles’ roster now stands at 78 players. They need to make three more cuts by Tuesday at 4 p.m.

The team then needs to get down to 53 by Saturday at 6 p.m.

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Kelly On Offense: We Were Our Own Worst Enemy

Chip KellyChip Kelly was not happy with the turnovers and penalties Saturday night against the Jaguars, but overall, he didn’t seem too concerned with the performance of the Eagles’ offense.

“We were again our own worst enemy on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said. “We turned it over three times. One was on a punt return by Damaris [Johnson] and the one [Bryce Brown fumble] that goes through the end zone. And besides that, the two big penalties where we had huge first downs where we get them called back because we got penalties, whether it was on the 4th-and-1 or on the third down early in the first half. So those are the things that kill drives – the penalties and the turnovers. We need to continue to work on that.”

Other than the fumbles by Johnson and Brown, Michael Vick threw a first-half interception. Kelly said Vick was trying to throw the ball away on the play.

“I thought he did a real good job of keeping plays alive at times, but some other times where you’ve got to cut your losses and get us back to the line of scrimmage and get the next snap,” Kelly said.

Asked if he felt Vick held on to the ball too long, Kelly said: “No, I thought Mike, a couple times, they did a good job in coverage, put a man underneath and ran with receivers. The one thing I don’t think he did, besides the one he tried to throw away, he didn’t force the football. And I think he did a good job of keeping them honest and picking up some real good yardage running after they kind of did a good job early in coverage. And if you do that, then the quarterback can hurt you with his feet. …That’s an encouraging thing that when you have a guy back there that when they do have good coverage on you that you can then beat them on our feet, and that’s what he did.”

Vick went 15-for-23 for 184 yards, a touchdown and an interception, playing into the third quarter. He also ran seven times for 53 yards.

The starting offensive line played together for the first time. Kelly said he thought Jason Peters was “a little bit rusty” but he felt the protection held up for the most part.

“We were OK,” Kelly said. “There were times where we picked it up well, and there were other times we didn’t, so that’s what this deal’s all about. We need to get back and make the corrections we need to do. A couple twists early got to us, and guys gotta be ready early, I think. That’s part of the deal.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles rotated Nate Allen and rookie Earl Wolff at safety with the first team. Kelly said that was Billy Davis’ plan going into the game.

Veteran Kenny Phillips has been dealing with a quad injury. He tried to give it a go during warm-ups, but wasn’t ready and didn’t play.

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Eagles Trade Felix Jones For LB Adrian Robinson

The Eagles made a trade today, sending running back Felix Jones to the Steelers in exchange for linebacker Adrian Robinson.

The deal is pending physicals and was first reported by Adam Caplan.

Robinson (6-1, 250) played outside linebacker with Pittsburgh. The Eagles currently have Connor Barwin and Trent Cole at those spots, with Brandon Graham rotating in. The other outside linebackers fighting for roster spots are Chris McCoy, Everette Brown and Travis Long.

Robinson played his college ball at Temple, starting 38 games at defensive end. He signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent before last season and was active for 12 games as a rookie, but played only on special teams. According to Pro Football Focus, he did not register a special-teams tackle. And per SteelersDepot.com, Mike Tomlin called Robinson a “one-trick pony” last year:

If you heard the NBC broadcast of the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night game against the Indianapolis Colts, you likely heard Cris Collinsworth talk about what head coach Mike Tomlin told him about undrafted free agent linebacker Adrian Robinson.

Collinsworth said that when he asked Tomlin about Robinson, who had solid first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Steelers coach described the Temple product as a one-trick pony that gets up the field, can rush the passer, but doesn’t play special teams and doesn’t drop.

As friend of the blog Sam Lynch points out, Robinson is not practice-squad eligible.

Going forward, don’t be surprised if the Eagles look at outside linebackers who get cut by other teams. This is still an area where they could look to add depth.

As for Jones, he was unimpressive in the first two preseason games and was unlikely to make the roster. The Eagles have their first three running back spots set with LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. Undrafted free agent Matthew Tucker has a chance, but the Eagles could also add a running back from another team once more cuts are made.

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Vick As a Runner? ‘I Will Be a Threat’

Michael VickMichael Vick had a playful response today for reporters who constantly pepper him about his inability to stay healthy.

“You guys act like I get hurt once a week,” he said with a smile. “You all did that to me, changed the way I played my game.”

Now that he’s been named the starter, Vick no longer has to deal with questions about competition and instead spent his media session discussing a variety of other topics, like injuries, turnovers and the new offensive scheme.

The injuries are a tired, yet important, issue. And Vick was his usual self, unable to make up his mind about how he would approach each game.

One minute, he was saying: “I still have to protect myself and that’s most important. I have to be very cautious.”

The next minute? “You’ve gotta play the game all out and give it everything that you got. I think when you go into a football game not wanting to get hurt, or try not to get hurt, it doesn’t allow you to play the way that you want to play.”

If we’re to draw any conclusions here, the safe bet is to expect Vick to play how he has in the past, unless he proves otherwise.

But he is directing a new offense.

Told that the general public assumes he’ll be used more as a runner this year, Vick said: “That could be very true. I’m gonna have my opportunities to do what I like to do in this offense and to run the football. And yes, I will be a threat. That’s exciting. That’s what I’ve worked hard this offseason for. I’ve built the strength up in my legs to be able to do that. I’ve tested myself with Shady and passed that test, so now I’ve just gotta outrun linebackers and safeties.”

By my count, Vick has sustained five major injuries in the past two seasons. In 2011, all four occurred while he was in the pocket delivering the football. The concussion last year was sustained when Vick took off to run against the Cowboys.

Last year, several playoff teams – the 49ers, Seahawks and Redskins – had quarterbacks who could hurt defenses with their legs. While Vick’s considerably older than Colin Kapernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, he took notice and is excited about being able to use his entire set of skills.

“Watching those guys, you just see how far the game has come and the evolution of the game and this position,” Vick said. “It’s accepted now. Teams want dual-threats, and those teams were in the playoffs and deep in the playoffs.

“The mobility, it just gives you an extra facet of the game that is kind of hard to stop at times.”

Earlier in the day, Chip Kelly praised Vick for being the team’s top performer in the offseason conditioning program. Vick said he and Jeremy Maclin were at the team facility every day working out together.

“I never felt like I was out of shape,” Vick said. “I felt like looking back now and the way I feel as of today, I think I was kind of under weight and could have been a lot stronger.

“Coach challenged me to get back into tip-top shape and to get back to playing from where he knows I can be successful at.”

If teams combat the read-option by sending the unblocked edge defender to hit the quarterback, Vick said he believes the added weight will help.

“We have something for that,” he said with a smile. “That’s 220 pounds you’re staring at right here, soaking wet.”

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Kelly: Vick Ranked No. 1 In Offseason Program

Chip KellyChip Kelly might have been a bit hesitant to praise one quarterback too much when Michael Vick and Nick Foles were competing for the top spot.

But now that he’s named Vick the starter, he’s willing to let everyone know what’s impressed him about the 33-year-old signal-caller.

“What I’ve learned about him is how passionate he is about this game,” Kelly said. “He has not missed a day. He’s here every single day. You listen to our strength and conditioning guys… I asked them the other day who’s from top to bottom, if you could rank our guys, and he was by far number one in terms of his attitude, work ethic, helping other players, everything. In terms of weight-room, off-field things. I’m not in the weight room every single day with those guys, but I always get input from them of what’s going on in there. Every facet of what you’ve asked him to do since he’s been here, he’s been outstanding at.”

Back in May, Tim wrote about Vick’s offseason training regimen, which included work with a ninja stick. He may no longer be at his athletic peak, but by all accounts, Vick is doing everything in his power to battle father time.

DESEAN BUYING IN

Back in the spring, DeSean Jackson had to have a little sit-down with Kelly to figure out why he ran practice the way he did.

But since then, Jackson looks like he’s on a mission. The speedy wide receiver has had an outstanding summer and seems to have a great understanding of the Eagles’ new offense.

“I think DeSean’s had a fantastic camp,” Kelly said. “He’s been out there every single day. I think he’s improved, he’s getting stronger in the weight room. He’s another guy that’s kind of bought in to what we’ve asked him to do and helped make himself a better player. I’m excited to see him once the real season gets along because I think he’s a huge advantage for us because he can create some mismatches out there.”

Jackson and the Eagles’ starters are expected to play at least the first half Saturday night against Jacksonville.

TRA JOINS COACHING STAFF

Kelly officially announced that former Eagles left tackle Tra Thomas will join his staff as an offensive assistant. Thomas has been with the team all offseason as part of the Bill Walsh minority program. And he’s impressed Kelly enough to warrant a full-time role.

“One thing about Tra, when you sit there and watch film with him is just how much he studied tape on his own and what he learned about the game,” Kelly said. “And I think he’s imparted that to a lot of the young linemen that we have. Part of being really good up front is developing that talent. I think having someone like Tra around here will help us really develop those young guys. But I think he’s got a bright future coaching and we’re excited.”

SCHEDULE CHANGE

The Eagles will no longer get Tuesdays off during the regular season.

“Our players’ day off will be Monday after the game,” Kelly said. “And then we’ll practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and play.”

We’ll try to chat with some players after practice and get their opinions of the new schedule.

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Teammates Endorse Vick: ‘He Can Be So Deadly’

Michael VickThere seems to be no question in the Eagles’ locker room that Chip Kelly made the right decision in naming Michael Vick the starter.

Many of Vick’s teammates saw him go through a magical stretch in 2010, a spell of mediocrity in 2011 and an outright disaster in 2012.

Now he’s in a new offense, playing for a new coach. And even though Vick is 33, his teammates believe Kelly’s scheme is tailor-made for the veteran QB to succeed.

“The biggest thing with Michael Vick is, when you say his name, when you see him in the lineup, when you prepare for him, is the running ability that he has,” said LeSean McCoy. “In this offense, we do tons of running, as far as the quarterback and the running back, so you never know who has the ball. And we’re going at such a high tempo/pace in the offense that Mike can throw it, he can run it.

“This offense, it fits him so well. He can be so deadly. There’s times where we watch tape and he hands the ball off to me and then he’s going around with his fake and he’s taking two guys with him until they realize that he doesn’t have the ball. When that happens, you take less defenders out of the box where you don’t have to block ‘em.”

There’s no doubt that Vick’s running ability will benefit McCoy. The Eagles ran plenty of read-option plays against Carolina. When Vick hands the ball off, the unblocked edge defender has to freeze and respect his ability to take off.

There are also the run-pass options that we’ve written about extensively.

“With the reads and all those types of things, Mike is a very dynamic player with the ball in his hands,” said Jason Avant.

“Having the opportunity to do things that we haven’t done in the past in this offense as far as just normal football player natural things that we do since little kids. In the old systems, in traditional systems, it’s by the book. Here, it gives the football player the autonomy at times. And that’s gonna bring out the best in all football players.”

Added Evan Mathis: “There’s just a lot of opportunities for the quarterback to show their athleticism in this kind of offense. There’s a lot of choices for the quarterback. There’s some plays we run that are options, and if you have a quarterback with the speed that Michael Vick has, then some of those plays can end up being pretty dangerous.”

Vick skeptics will point out that having the ball in his hands the past two years hasn’t worked out great. He’s thrown 24 interceptions and fumbled 21 times in his last 23 games. If those issues aren’t addressed, it won’t matter how dynamic Vick is.

“I think this offense, we try to make it easier for the quarterbacks, running enough and passing to stay balanced,” McCoy said, arguing that the scheme would help the turnover issue. “As you can see, the last couple preseason games, we showed balance. I think that doesn’t put so much pressure on the quarterback to throw the ball as much, which causes turnovers. So I think we’ll have enough balance, running the ball and throwing the ball, that minimizes the chances of having turnovers.”

Another factor to consider is Vick’s standing in the locker room. Mathis described him as “a natural born leader” and said “all the guys look up to him.”

DeSean Jackson agreed.

“He honestly teaches us a lot of things on and off the field, things he’s gone through,” Jackson said. “I’ve been saying that since Day One. It’s almost like a big brother figure in that locker room. Just really motivates us and tells us things that the average teammate or the average older brother probably wouldn’t tell us. But he cares [about] us and he sees the future bright for our careers here in Philadelphia.”

There have numerous stories written in the last decade about Vick changing his methods, on and off the field. Some have proven to be true; others have not.

Jackson, however, said he’s definitely noticed differences this offseason.

“Oh man, he’s eating better, he’s eating healthy, he’s eating salads,” Jackson said with a laugh. “I can go on and on. He’s staying after practice. He’s staying in the meeting rooms. He’s one of the first guys in the building, one of the last players to leave the field and things like that. He’s really, from Day One when Chip Kelly came in this offense, he’s really grasped an understanding of what it is that he’s gonna have to do as far as reads… things like that to really be able to throw defenses off-guard.

“With him having a year left on his contract… he kind of always just stressed that, like, ‘I’m gonna do what I can on this last year. What happens is gonna happen, but I think it’s gonna be a great shot.’ He wants everybody to know he still can play this game at a high level.”

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Nick Foles: ‘I Want To Be Here’

Nick FolesIt didn’t take Nick Foles long to get over the fact that Chip Kelly had chosen Michael Vick as his starter.

“Maybe less than a tenth of a second, I was ready to go,” Foles said. “I’m ready to go back to work, so I wasn’t moping around about it. Had practice today. Was excited to go out there and work.”

The second-year quarterback obviously has to feel some sense of disappointment. As a rookie, he got a chance to play, starting six games and appearing in seven. Now, he’s unsure what the future holds.

“The competitor in me, you always want to be the one on the field playing, but at the same time, I love Mike and we’ve gone about it the right way,” Foles said. “We’ve kept a great friendship and we’ve pushed each other. And I’m proud of him. I’ll do anything I can to help him become the best quarterback possible. I’m excited for him. Nothing changes in my preparation. I’m still gonna prepare the same way.”

Kelly has emphasized from the moment he got the job that teams need two quarterbacks to be successful. That’s especially the case here, given Vick’s injury history. In all likelihood, Foles will be called on to take the field at some point in 2013.

But what about beyond that? Not only did the Eagles bring Vick back on a one-year deal during the offseason, they also spent a fourth-round pick on Matt Barkley. Given some of the shaky QB situations around the league, perhaps Foles would have better luck elsewhere?

“I want to be here,” he said, when asked about the possibility of a trade. “I want to be here with my team. I want to be here. I’ve been with these guys. I feel like we have a really good thing going and I love this team. I love the coaches and everything about it, the city. So I want to be here. I want to be in Philadelphia.”

Does he think he’ll eventually have a chance to be the starter here?

“You never know what happens,” Foles said. “I’m gonna continue to work towards that. That’s my goal. I’m not just gonna sit here and want to sit here. I’m gonna continue to want to get better and hopefully someday, something will happen and I’ll be in that situation.”

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Eagles Acquire WR Maehl From Texans

The Eagles added a wide receiver today, acquiring Jeff Maehl from the Houston Texans in exchange for offensive lineman Nate Menkin.

Maehl (6-1, 190), played his college ball at Oregon for Chip Kelly. The Texans signed him as an undrafted free agent two summers ago. Maehl spent most of 2011 and all of 2012 on the practice squad. He was active for three games in 2011 and played nine snaps in the team’s regular-season finale, according to Pro Football Focus.

As a college senior, Maehl caught 77 balls for 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns. He totaled 24 touchdowns in four seasons with the Ducks.

Maehl is not a burner. He ran a 4.62 at the Combine back in 2011. But as Twitter follower @writelikemike pointed out, he showed short-area quicks in a number of tests.

As for the Eagles’ wide receiving corps, Riley Cooper has been lining up opposite DeSean Jackson with the first team. Jason Avant seems poised to get the bulk of opportunities in the slot.

Damaris Johnson looks like a good bet to make the roster, and Greg Salas has been moving up the depth chart. Russell Shepard is on the bubble, and Ifeanyi Momah is a longshot.

Clay Harbor has been practicing with the wide receivers the past two days.

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Tackling Woes For Eagles ‘D’ In Opener

The defense had two primary objectives heading into Friday’s game.

“We talked about coming in here that our effort to the ball was going to improve and our tackling was going to improve,” said defensive coordinator Billy Davis. “The effort to the ball was there and the tackling wasn’t where it needs to be yet.”

The tackling left plenty to be desired, as the the running back duo of  LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley romped for a combined 193 yards and three touchdowns on just 19 carries. That’s north of 10 yards per clip. Part of that has to do with players abandoning their gaps; part of it is growing pains as the team adjusts to a new scheme. But the poor tackling was a big factor as well.

Chip Kelly has not run a particularly physical training camp. And while there has been some occasional tackling to the ground during individual drills,  typically the players are asked to thud — or simulate tackling without bringing the ball carrier down.

Is it tough to just flip the switch?

“It’s a totally different mindset,” said Kurt Coleman. “We’ve gone wrap-up and it is what it is, it gives you good form but when you go live and it’s a totally different beast. And you saw guys — I remember Mychal [Kendricks] came down and smacked the running back [Blount] and kind of bounced off him, that’s the kind of stuff you can’t prepare for when you just thud it up.”

“It’s the first preseason game and this was really the first time we were actually live tackling, but there are no excuses for anything,” added Nate Allen, who had his share of struggles Friday. “We just have a lot to get better on.”

This is not a new issue for this defense. The Eagles missed a tackle on 8.5 percent of their plays in 2012, the highest mark in the league according to Football Outsiders.

It needs to be kept in mind that this was only the first exhibition game and drawing sweeping conclusions based off preseason play is never a good idea. But there is definitely a lot of work that lies ahead for this unit.

“That’s what the preseason is about — seeing who we are and where we are and how far we have to go,” said Davis. “And we’ve got a ways to go right now.”

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