Take 3: Projecting the Eagles’ 53-Man Roster

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Darryl TappEight days from now, the Eagles will have to trim their roster to 53 players.

The official date and time is Friday, Aug. 31 at 9 p.m.

That means this is the final trial run for me and McManus. Next week, we’ll have to submit our final projections. Here’s what I’ve got as of Thursday morning. T-Mac will reveal his projections on Friday.

And to switch things up. I’ve provided my confidence level for each group. Nothing scientific here – just a 1-10 ranking, with 1 signifying I am completely guessing here and 10 meaning Mark it down. These are locks.

Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles.
Confidence level: 9

This one is pretty much set in stone. While quarterback is a question mark – with Vick suffering injuries in each of the Eagles’ first two preseason games – these will be the three guys on the 53-man roster. If Trent Edwards was going to be given a real shot, I think it would have happened by now.

The question is: Can Foles beat out Kafka for the backup job? As I wrote yesterday, it seems quite possible. But as Paul Domowitch of the Daily News pointed out today, the Eagles could keep all three quarterbacks active on gamedays and not designate a backup. I can just see it now: Andy Reid answering a hypothetical question about who would potentially go in for an injured Vick with, “Well, we’ll just see there.”

I took a look, and last year, the Eagles had three quarterbacks active in eight of 16 games. Some of that had to do with injuries to Vick and Vince Young though.

Running backs (4): LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, Stanley Havili.
Confidence level: 9

Havili made a move in the last preseason game with a nice 14-yard run, a decent lead block on McCoy’s touchdown and an outstanding special-teams tackle. The Eagles could still add a fullback once teams cut down their rosters, but Havili has the edge for now.

Brown flashed big-time vs. the Patriots with a 27-yard run up the middle. He’s shown upside, and the Eagles won’t be willing to let other teams have a shot at him. Brown can play special teams as a rookie, hone his skills and work to be a contributor down the road.

Lewis is still the favorite to spell McCoy or fill in if he gets injured. He knows the offense and has looked capable in blitz pick-up during the preseason.

I’m not seeing a spot for Polk. Brown has a clear edge over him as a runner at this point. The Eagles have some roster flexibility, and if they really like Polk, they could probably find a way to keep him. He could land on IR or the practice squad (only if another team doesn’t sign him).

Wide receivers (6): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson, Marvin McNutt.
Confidence level: 6

The first four names above are locks. After that, there’s some indecision.

I still am confident that Johnson makes it, but he’s dropped passes in each of the first two preseason games and fumbled a punt against New England. The Eagles need him to be reliable on special teams.

McNutt is a bit of a wild card. He’s shown nothing as a receiver in the first two preseason games, and it doesn’t look like he’d be able to contribute if the Eagles needed him offensively.

Then again, that sixth wide receiver is likely to be inactive on gamedays. If the Eagles saw enough potential in McNutt to draft him in April, the guess here is that they’ll hold on to him for now.

As for Chad Hall, friend of the blog Sam Lynch pointed out over at Iggles Blitz that he’s still practice-squad eligible. If Cooper isn’t ready to go in Week 1 (recovering from surgery for a fractured collarbone), perhaps Hall would get the nod over McNutt. But I don’t think he gives you enough as a fourth wide receiver to justify that spot.

Tight ends (2): Brent Celek, Clay Harbor.
Confidence level: 10

I don’t see it going any other way. The Eagles have no need for a third tight end, and neither Brett Brackett nor Chase Ford has stood out this summer.

Harbor, on the other hand, had a great camp, caught all six balls thrown his way Monday night and got in the end zone twice. He could see a bump in playing time in the regular season.

Offensive linemen (9): King Dunlap, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans, Demetress Bell, Julian Vandervelde, Dennis Kelly, Steve Vallos.
Confidence level: 4

Pretty much every day at training camp, Bo Wulf of PhiladelphiaEagles.com would come up to me and make some type of Steve Vallos reference. “Look at that snap!” or “Great block by Vallos!” he’d say. Why? Because Wulf and Vallos share a bond as Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and apparently Bo has a lot of school pride.

Dallas Reynolds is still listed as the second-team center, but Vallos played there on Monday night and has started eight NFL games in his career. Right now, he gets the nod.

Given everything else that’s happened this preseason, the issue of offensive line depth has been largely ignored. I’m convinced the Eagles are going to make some moves here after teams cut their rosters to 53. We’ll get a look at Kelly Friday night, but if Bell isn’t good enough to start, chances are he’s not going to be reliable as a backup either.

Depth at guard and center is a major concern, especially considering that Kelce is taking on more responsibility this year with line calls. Reynolds and Mike Gibson are still in the mix, but my guess is those spots get filled with guys not currently on the roster.

By the way, if I had to wager right now on who the left tackle would be Week 1, my money’s on Dunlap.

Defensive linemen (11): Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Phillip Hunt, Vinny Curry, Cedric Thornton, Antonio Dixon.
Confidence level: 6

I strongly considered bumping Tapp and Dixon this week. Hunt is really coming on, and with Jenkins seeing snaps outside, Tapp is probably expendable. Dixon, meanwhile, just looks like a bad fit for Jim Washburn’s style and is showing very little as a pass rusher.

The problem? I didn’t really see anyone else on the roster worth keeping over either one of those guys. If the Eagles can get some kind of conditional pick in a trade for either Tapp or Dixon, I think they pull the trigger. If not, beef up the defensive line and cover yourself in case of injury. What are the odds all the defensive linemen in the rotation stay healthy from until Week 3 or 4? Not high.

Mike Patterson on PUP looks likely at this point. Reuben Frank of CSN Philly is reporting that Patterson’s already been ruled out for Week 1.

As for the rotation, the way things are currently constructed, Curry and either Dixon or Thornton would likely be inactive on gameday to start the season.

Linebackers (6): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Akeem Jordan.
Confidence level: 7

Good sign for the Eagles linebackers: The way Kendricks is playing, it seems likely that he and Ryans will stay on the field in nickel situations to start the season. That should lead to less shuffling of personnel and less confusion, specifically when opposing offenses go no-huddle.

As we’ve discussed, Jordan and Keenan Clayton are battling for the final spot. Jordan gets the nod because of special teams. If the Eagles really like Clayton (and there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest they do), he could make the team as a seventh linebacker, and they could keep one fewer defensive lineman.

Cornerbacks (5): Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Boykin, Joselio Hanson.
Confidence level: 5

This is a tough one. Boykin is pushing Hanson for that nickel job. But can he do enough in the next eight days to snatch it away? Important game for him coming up on Friday.

If Boykin wins the job, I see no need to keep Hanson, considering he’s not a factor on the outside.

Brandon Hughes has a shot to sneak on if the Eagles want experience on the outside. As for Cliff Harris, not sure if he’s healthy. Don’t think he played at all vs. the Patriots. Unless the Eagles want to give him the 53rd spot and concede that he won’t play as a rookie, but could contribute down the line, I think he’ll be cut.

Safeties (4): Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Jaiquawn Jarrett.
Confidence level: 5

This is another area where the Eagles very well could add a player off another team’s roster before the season starts.

I kept Jarrett off last week, but now Tom Nelson has a high ankle sprain, so the former second-round pick gets back on by default. Atogwe, meanwhile, didn’t play in Monday’s preseason game because of a hamstring injury. I have no clue at this point how effective he’d be if he had to go into a game. But again, not seeing other options here right now. Colt Anderson is not practicing yet and is still recovering from a torn ACL.

At the end of last season, I thought Coleman would have to hold off competition to remain a starter, but that hasn’t been the case. He and Allen, who played well vs. the Patriots, are clearly the first-team safeties.

Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Mat McBriar, Jon Dorenbos.
Confidence level: 8

Both McBriar and Chas Henry punted better Monday night. Still think it’s McBriar’s job to lose though.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

DL Review: Hunt Shines Once Again

Philadelphia Eagles DE Phillip HuntHere’s a player-by-player breakdown of how the Eagles defensive linemen performed Monday night after having re-watched the game. Check out the linebacker review here, and look for write-ups of the rest of the positional groups on Tuesday and Wednesday. By the way, yes, I’m aware that Tom Brady and other starters did not play.

Cullen Jenkins – To read more about the dust-up with Andy Reid, click here and here. Most of Jenkins’ snaps came at the left defensive end spot for Jason Babin, and he wasn’t particularly effective. Jenkins had one tackle, and I didn’t notice him getting much pressure on the quarterback. On third downs, he often shifted inside to right defensive tackle, and Phillip Hunt took over on the outside. Reid said he likes Jenkins’ size against the run at defensive end, but I’m not sure we’re going to see him out there a lot when Babin gets healthy.

Fletcher Cox – The rookie got the start at left defensive tackle, alongside Derek Landri. As you’d expect, he was up and down, but has flashed the athleticism we saw in college.

Against the run, Cox stopped Shane Vereen after a 3-yard gain on a play where the Patriots were whistled for holding. Cox (2 tackles, 2 solo) later wrapped up Vereen, but not until the running back picked up 5 yards. He had a chance to bring down Brandon Bolden near the line of scrimmage, but couldn’t make the play, and the running back picked up 7. Cox did a nice job bringing Stevan Ridley down after a 2-yard run in the third.

As a pass rusher, Cox beat a double team and pressured Ryan Mallett, but was whistled for a costly roughing the passer penalty that negated a Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie interception. It looked like Cox tried to hold up, but it’s the kind of call we see flagged all the time. He did a good job to hit Brian Hoyer, throwing off the timing of a screen in the second. The only time Cox lined up outside was when the Eagles showed the look where the tackles shift out and the defensive ends stand up between them to rush the passer.

Derek Landri – Pretty quiet game for Landri (2 tackles, 1 solo), who ran with the first team. He got into the backfield a couple times but couldn’t get to the ballcarrier. Landri dropped Bolden after a 1-yard gain late in the first half.

Trent Cole – He had some good moments (3 tackles, 1 solo), even though Cole did not notch a sack. He hit Mallett as the QB got rid of the ball for an 8-yard gain in the first. He beat left tackle Nate Solder, pressuring Mallett and forcing him to rush his throw on an incompletion in the first. Cole would have had a third-down sack if not for Nnamdi Asomugha’s holding penalty. He knocked Solder to the ground with a bull-rush and forced Mallett out of the pocket in the red zone in the second. And Cole showed his trademark hustle, bringing Ridley down after a 2-yard gain in the third.

Phillip Hunt – He’s been outstanding in the first two preseason games. Hunt (4 tackles, 2 solo) played with the first team on third down, taking over at left defensive end as Jenkins moved inside and Landri came off the field. He got a hand in Mallett’s face on an early incompletion. He stopped Danny Woodhead after a 2-yard gain on 3rd-and-15 and hit Mallett, forcing an incompletion in the second. Hunt twisted inside from the LDE spot and hit Mallett on third down, but not before the QB completed a pass to Deion Branch for 20 yards.

Great hustle play: Hunt lined up as a rush linebacker, got all the way to the Patriots’ 35 (the line of scrimmage was the 28), then ran back after a completed screen, tackling Vereen at the 8. He beat Marcus Cannon around the edge and stripped Hoyer in the second. Later, he forced Hoyer out of the pocket, but the QB still completed a third-down pass to Donte’ Stallworth late in the first half. In the third, Hunt even lined up at right defensive tackle on one play.

Hunt will be on the roster, and the way he’s playing, he’ll have to be active on gamedays.

Brandon Graham – He played left defensive end with the second unit and was OK. Graham caused disruption, getting into the backfield on a Vereen run that was stopped after 2 yards. As a pass-rusher, he was matched up one-on-one against Cannon, but couldn’t get any pressure on Mallett on the second-quarter touchdown throw. On a different play, Graham got good pressure off the edge in the red zone, helping to force a rushed Hoyer throw and incompletion. He also got some pressure off the edge, forcing Hoyer to step up into a Thornton sack late in the second. And Graham was called for offsides in the first half too.

Overall, an ok performance. He will be on the roster and penciled into the defensive rotation.

Cedric Thornton – He continues to play himself onto the roster. Thornton (4 tackles, 2 solo) played left defensive tackle with the second group and forced Vereen to cut back on a 3-yard run in the first. He burst through the backfield and dropped Bolden for a loss of 1 in the second. And Thornton stopped Ridley for no gain in the third. As a pass rusher, he broke through up the middle against an initial double team and sacked Hoyer.

Antonio Dixon – Just not seeing it with him. Dixon had a pair of tackles (0 solo), but he’s not a factor as a pass rusher. I might have to leave him off my 53-man roster projection this week.

Darryl Tapp – Playing right defensive end with the second group, the veteran picked up a pair of personal foul penalties in the first half. Early on, center Ryan Wendell and Thornton had their hands in each others’ facemasks after the whistle. Wendell was on top of Thornton, and Tapp came over to shove him, drawing a peanlty. Later, he was called for a pretty obvious roughing the passer penalty. He also recovered the Hoyer fumble in the second after Hunt stripped the quarterback. Tapp sits squarely on the roster bubble.

Vinny Curry – The second-round pick didn’t enter the game until the final drive of the third quarter, playing right defensive end. I’d expect him to get more playing time in the last two preseason games.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Asomugha Returns to Practice, Has Trouble Speaking

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi AsomughaNnamdi Asomugha was a full participant in practice Friday afternoon for the first time since a violent mid-air collision with Nate Allen on Monday.

Asomugha suffered a lip laceration and a sore neck. On Tuesday, Andy Reid said the cornerback had “whiplash-type symptoms.”

Yesterday, Asomugha began practice, but did not finish because of discomfort in his neck. He said today that he couldn’t talk much because his lip is still recovering. Asomugha added that his neck is fine.

“It feels good to be back, get the wind back.” he said. “I just can’t really talk.”

Asked about what was going through his head right after the collision, Asomugha said, “I didn’t know what was going on, just the initial pain down my spine. Besides that, it’s fine.”

Players were in full pads yesterday, but today, it was just helmets and shells.

Meanwhile, Joselio Hanson, Antonio Dixon and Curtis Marsh all returned to practice and participated fully.

Hanson suffered a dislocated right pinky finger yesterday. It was heavily wrapped today. Dixon left yesterday because of a left triceps spasm, but he returned. And Marsh has been dealing with a hamstring injury. He said he “definitely” expects to play Monday vs. the Patriots.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Dixon, Asomugha And Hanson Leave Practice

Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Antonio Dixon.Nnamdi Asomugha, Antonio Dixon and Joselio Hanson all started practice Thursday afternoon at the Novacare Complex, but none of them finished.

Asomugha gave it a go, but headed back inside. He’s recovering from a sore neck and what Andy Reid called “whiplash-type symptoms” after a violent collision with Nate Allen on Monday at Lehigh.

Dixon, meanwhile, left practice because of a left triceps spasm. Last year, Dixon tore his left triceps in Week 4 against the 49ers and missed the rest of the season.

And finally, Hanson dislocated the pinky finger on his right hand.

In terms of reinforcements, the Eagles have Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri and Cedric Thornton at defensive tackle. As I wrote earlier, Dixon sits squarely on the roster bubble.

Hanson, meanwhile, has fought off Brandon Boykin for the first-team nickel corner job. If he misses time, though, the rookie will likely get some reps there.

As for Asomugha, the Eagles aren’t particularly deep at cornerback. Curtis Marsh continues to recover from a hamstring injury. Brandon Hughes will likely be the next man up if both Asomugha and Marsh miss time.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Kapadia’s Take: Projecting the 53-Man Roster

The battle continues.

Yesterday, T-Mac provided us with a good laugh with his latest 53-man roster projection.

Now it’s my turn. I’ve got some changes from last week. Here goes nothing.

Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles.

It took exactly six preseason snaps for Vick to have his first injury scare. While he suffered just a thumb contusion, Vick said he initially thought he broke his thumb when he banged it against Jason Kelce’s helmet against the Steelers.

Here’s a stat for you: 24.1 percent of Vick’s pass attempts last year traveled more than 15 yards downfield. That was the sixth-highest percentage in the league among quarterbacks.

As I’ve written before, the Eagles’ passing game relies on big plays downfield. That’s why I have serious concerns about Kafka being able to come in and execute without Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid having to make significant adjustments to the offense. With Kafka sidelined, Foles will get a chance to make his mark. And while Trent Edwards hasn’t shown much in practice, maybe we shouldn’t count him out completely just yet.

Running backs (4): LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, Stanley Havili.

I still think Brown has the edge over Chris Polk, but there’s no way the Eagles can put Brown in a pass-blocking situation in a regular-season game right now. He has a long way to go in that department, and it’s just too risky. Keeping Brown is a long-term decision. He may not even touch the ball as a rookie, but can contribute on special teams, pick up the offense and look to do more down the road.

I feel pretty confident that the Eagles are going to keep a fullback. And right now, Havili has the edge over Emil Igwenagu. It’d be nice to see the Birds get each guy involved a little more Monday night so that we can see what they’re capable of in game situations. I asked Clay Harbor earlier this week if he anticipates playing more fullback in 2012, and he said flat-out no, noting that the team has really been impressed with Havili.

Wide receivers (6): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson, Marvin McNutt.

As Tim noted, my Damaris Johnson love has probably spiraled out of control. But why slow the train down now? I think he’s a lock to make the team, and if the season started today, he’d be their fourth wide receiver on gamedays.

Not much to say about Jackson, Maclin or Avant. On Twitter, a few of you have asked me why they’re keeping Cooper. It’s pretty simple. He averaged 80 yards receiving in three starts last year and was an effective special-teams player. That’s pretty much what you want out of a backup wide receiver Assuming he’s ready to go in the first week or two of the season, following surgery on his collarbone, Cooper’s making the 53-man roster.

McNutt is a bit of a wild card. He had his moments during camp, but doesn’t look like someone who’s ready to contribute as a rookie. There’s a chance the Eagles could go with five wide receivers or one of the unheralded guys bumps McNutt off the roster, but I think he takes one of the final spots and is a weekly inactive.

As for Chad Hall, I’m not sure what he gives this team that Johnson does not. He’s off.

Tight ends (2): Brent Celek, Clay Harbor.

I may be the only person in town who thinks Harbor can be an effective player for this offense.

His snaps increased from 28.6 percent as a rookie to 33.6 percent last year. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how rookies had a difficult time last year because of the shortened offseason. But that applies to players going from Year 1 to Year 2 also. Especially someone like Harbor who was learning how to block on the fly.

He was up and down in that aspect, but has shown the ability to be a good blocker. As a receiver, he had a high catch rate (68.4 percent), catching 13 of the 19 balls thrown his way. And while everyone was up in arms about Harbor’s drops during the spring, he had just one drop last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

I think he’s going to be on the field as much as, if not more, than last season. And the Eagles would be wise to replace Jackson with Harbor in the red zone, where he can help as a blocker and a receiver.

As for Brett Brackett and Chase Ford, I don’t see the Eagles keeping a third tight end.

Offensive linemen (9): Demetress Bell, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans, King Dunlap, Julian Vandervelde, Dennis Kelly, Dallas Reynolds.

Last week, I wrote that the starters were pretty much “set in stone.”

Whoops.

Dunlap has replaced Bell at left tackle – for now. I still think the Eagles want Bell to win the job, but they’re not going to put him out there if he looks shaky. Is there a chance Herremans could move over to that side? I’m not ready to rule anything out at this point.

The first preseason game further enforced the notion that the Eagles have giant question marks with O-Line depth. I had been operating under the assumption that Vandervelde would be the first man up should the Eagles suffer an injury at guard or center. It was only one preseason game, but he looks like he’s got a long way to go.

Not too confident on the Reynolds pick either. Mike Gibson or Steve Vallos could potentially steal a spot. This is an area where the Eagles could add someone who gets cut in the coming weeks from another team.

Defensive linemen (11): Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Phillip Hunt, Vinny Curry, Cedric Thornton, Antonio Dixon.

I’m sticking to my guns here. I realize 11 is a big number, but everything the Eagles do defensively starts with the line. Typically, eight guys play on gameday, although that number could be nine this season if they use someone like Hunt as a situational pass-rusher.

I gave strong consideration to leaving Dixon off. Since last season, he really hasn’t seemed like a good fit for Jim Washburn’s style of play. But cutting him leaves the Eagles thin at defensive tackle. What happens if Cox, Jenkins, Landri or Thornton goes down? They would need to find someone to play significant snaps right away. Of course, a lot depends on Mike Patterson, whose status is up in the air.

I’ve still got six defensive ends making it. In a recent post, I explained why Phillip Hunt isn’t going anywhere. He’s young, under team control for three more seasons and seems to be coming into his own as a pass rusher.

Darryl Tapp is the player to watch. I still think the Eagles value him as a well-rounded defensive end who can effectively spell Cole. There’s a chance the Eagles look to trade Tapp, but for now, he stays on. The other X-Factor is Curry. He could be good enough to play right defensive end with the second group behind Cole. If Curry impresses the next couple of games, Tapp could be left off.

Linebackers (6): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Akeem Jordan.

No changes here from last week. Keenan Clayton doesn’t make the cut. While his strength is coverage, Clayton isn’t so good in that aspect that it will earn him a spot. And he really doesn’t give anything at all against the run.

DeMeco Ryans has been the lone linebacker on the field in the Eagles’ dime package, but Kendricks could get a shot there at some point.

Cornerbacks (5): Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Boykin, Joselio Hanson.

Change from last week: Hanson’s in, and Brandon Hughes is out.

Since the Eagles drafted Boykin, I’ve been expecting him to take the nickel corner job from Hanson, but it hasn’t happened yet. And until it does, I’ve decided to keep the veteran on the team. The Eagles’ secondary looked confused on many occasions in 2011. Perhaps that explains why they’re reluctant to go with a rookie in the slot, where he’d be expected to play roughly 50 percent of the snaps.

As for Hughes, the only real scenario where you’d need him would be if both Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie were to get injured. Marsh will be the first backup if one of them goes down, and Boykin could also get a shot on the outside. In other words, Hughes is expendable.

Cliff Harris still has a shot. He got off to a strong start, but then suffered an ankle injury. If he impresses the next couple weeks, the Eagles could easily keep him and cut a defensive lineman or even a linebacker.

Still don’t have much of an opinion on Kevin Thomas, the corner the Eagles acquired from the Colts. Someone to keep an eye on Monday night.

Safeties (4): Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Tom Nelson.

I’ve got Jaiquawn Jarrett missing the cut. Let’s review the facts:

* Jarrett couldn’t get onto the field as a rookie. The Eagles even thought Jarrad Page was a better option than him.

* Despite lackluster play from the safety position in 2011, Jarrett showed no signs of competing for a starting spot with Kurt Coleman this offseason.

* The Eagles showed interest in veteran safety Yeremiah Bell and then ended up signing Atogwe after OTAs.

* Jarrett had a chance to make his mark in the first preseason game and turned in a dud.

* Nelson mixed in with Jarrett on the second team earlier this week at practice.

Now that all of that is out of the way, let me say that Jarrett still has a chance to make the roster. I’m sure the coaches want nothing more than to see him bounce back. He’ll be given every opportunity to stick around, considering he was a second-round pick in 2011. But at some point, you just admit the guy can’t play and move on.

My problem with Jarrett is that he looks bad doing the things that are supposed to be his strength. On Thursday night, he took bad angles to the ball and missed tackles. We know that pass coverage is not his strength. And he didn’t stand out on special teams last year. Those are all bad signs.

As for Nelson, consider him more of a place-holder. If Colt Anderson is ready to go, he could take that spot. Or perhaps more likely, the Eagles could sign a safety after teams trim their rosters down. I will say this though: Even though he was active for only four games last season, Nelson had five special-teams tackles and ranked ahead of Jarrett (active for 12 games) in special-teams points that are kept by the team.

In terms of depth, it looks like Atogwe will be the first man in should Allen or Coleman go down. It seems clear that the Eagles probably should have done more with their personnel here in the offseason.

Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Mat McBriar, Jon Dorenbos.

Neither McBriar nor Chas Henery was impressive in the first preseason game. But I still think it’s McBriar’s job to lose.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Practice Observations: Eagles’ Red-Zone Struggles

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy MaclinJeremy Maclin lined up to Michael Vick’s left at the 10-yard-line.

He ran a slant to the 5, stopped, changed direction and headed to the back left corner of the end zone. Vick let go of the ball, Maclin made the catch and kept his feet in-bounds for the touchdown.

But wide receivers coach David Culley saw something he didn’t like. He wanted Maclin to make sure he sold the slant with his final inside steps. Maclin did it again a few plays later, and this time, Culley approved.

Maclin has been the Eagles’ best red-zone receiver for the past two seasons. In 2011, he had eight red-zone catches, including four touchdowns. The year before, 11 and seven.

“Execution,” he said earlier this camp, when I asked him what the key was inside the opponents’ 20. “Be precise in everything you do. In the red zone, everything happens a little faster, so timing is key.”

The Eagles’ offense finished 14th in red-zone efficiency last season, scoring touchdowns 51.52 percent of the time.

Later in practice, when the first teams were matched up, the defense, which finished 29th in the red zone last year, got the better of the offense.

“I didn’t think we were too bad in a lot of areas,” Coleman said of the defense’s red-zone struggles last year. “It’s just limiting the passing lanes. We’ve been working a lot on our red-zone defense, and we were giving the offense fits today. That’s what we have to do. We have to limit the passing lanes, get after the QB, because you know the D-Line is coming. If we can hold our coverage for at least two, three seconds, they’ll get there.”

As for the offense, Maclin (hamstring) didn’t participate in the portion of practice against the defense. And the results were not good for Michael Vick and company. Vick held the ball quite a bit, unable to find open receivers. He fumbled on play-action once. Antonio Dixon knocked Jason Kelce into Vick for a sack. And on another play, Kelce’s snap came before Vick was ready and floated right past him.

Sloppy performance all around for the offense.

Other practice observations:

* Fight! Clay Harbor caught a shovel pass and rumbled into the end zone. That’s where he and Derek Landri got tangled up. Landri threw a punch, ripped Harbor’s helmet off and threw it in his direction. Harbor tossed the ball at Landri. I think it’s a good thing training camp’s almost over.

* If Howard Mudd’s decision to start King Dunlap over Demetress Bell was supposed to light a fire under Bell, I don’t think it worked. Bell got beat by Darryl Tapp for sacks on at least two occasions today.

* Jamar Chaney returned to practice, but did not participate fully. That means your first-team nickel linebackers were still DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. Kendricks blitzed Vick on one play, forcing him to roll to his right and throw the ball away.

* Brian Rolle and Akeem Jordan ran with the second-team nickel.

* Things seem to just keep getting worse for Jaiquawn Jarrett. Tom Nelson rotated in with Oshiomogho Atogwe on the second team today. T-Mac has some details.

* Phillip Hunt continues to get first-team reps at left defensive end in place of Jason Babin.

* Brandon Graham went right around rookie Dennis Kelly to sack Nick Foles.

* At one point, Dixon was lined up at defensive tackle, but his laugh could be heard from the sidelines before the snap. The next second, Jim Washburn was yelling at Dixon to get going on the upcoming play. And the next second, Dixon was laying on the ground in apparent pain. It took him a few seconds to get up, but he returned to practice, and the team did not list him on the injury report.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

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