Eagles, CB Hughes Agree To Contract Extension

The Eagles and cornerback Brandon Hughes have agreed to a one-year contract extension, according to Adam Caplan of The Sideline View.

Hughes is third on the team in special-teams points, and he’s been the first man down in coverage six times this season, most on the team. He also provides versatility at cornerback, with the ability to play inside and outside. Hughes has played 16 defensive snaps in the first two games. He played 91 snaps last year, starting one game against the New England Patriots.

According to Caplan, Hughes gets a raise from $490,000 to $540,000 this season and will earn $630,000 in base salary in 2013.

Originally a fifth-round pick of the Chargers back in 2009, Hughes spent part of the 2010 season on the Giants’ practice squad before the Eagles signed him. He is 26-years-old.

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

Eagles Snap Counts: Forget About the LB Rotation

Here’s a look at snap counts for the Eagles during their Week 2 win over the Ravens. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
LeSean McCoy6986%
Bryce Brown810%
Stanley Havili1721%

Why these are so useful: During the game, I would have bet that the Eagles spelled LeSean McCoy quite a bit. It sure seemed that way, especially early. But really, he played the same percentage of snaps as always. Last year, McCoy was on the field for 86.1 percent of the snaps. Against the Ravens? Also 86 percent. When he came out, Bryce Brown replaced him, but Brown only played eight snaps. He had three carries for 7 yards and fumbled one exchange from Michael Vick.

Meanwhile, fullback Stanley Havili played 21 percent of the snaps. That’s slightly more than he played last week (19 percent) and more than Owen Schmitt played last year (15.8 percent).

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeSean Jackson7290%
Jason Avant5670%
Jeremy Maclin4354%
Damaris Johnson2228%
Brent Celek7695%
Clay Harbor3645%

DeSean Jackson rarely came off the field, playing 72 snaps or 90 percent of the game. Jackson had seven catches for 114 yards. Vick only threw incomplete once when throwing in Jackson’s direction. Maclin, meanwhile, battled the hip pointer and played 54 percent of the snaps. He had just one catch, but it was a big one – the 23-yard touchdown in the third. Jason Avant filled in, playing 70 percent of the snaps. And Damaris Johnson played 22 snaps, or 28 percent of the game. That was an increase from last week (14 percent). He had one catch for 13 yards.

Brent Celek took some big hits, but they didn’t faze him, as the tight end played 76 snaps (95 percent). He was Vick’s go-to target, catching eight balls for 157 yards. The Eagles played with two tight ends quite a bit as Clay Harbor was on the field for 36 snaps (45 percent). Taking away Week 17 of the 2010 season when the Eagles sat their starters, this was the second-highest percentage of snaps for Harbor in his career. He had one catch on two targets for 19 yards.

On the offensive line, center Dallas Reynolds played 37 snaps (46 percent) after coming in for Jason Kelce. Demetress Bell played 35 snaps (44 percent) filling in for King Dunlap.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole4869%
Jason Babin4463%
Fletcher Cox5173%
Derek Landri3753%
Cullen Jenkins3246%
Cedric Thornton2231%
Darryl Tapp2231%
Phillip Hunt1521%
Brandon Graham913%

Fletcher Cox played more snaps than any other defensive lineman, although I believe Cullen Jenkins got banged-up in the second half, leaving the Eagles a bit thin at DT. Cox finished with five tackles, including one for loss. Cole and Babin (69 percent and 63 percent, respectively) played defensive end with the first group. As I’ll probably point out every week, while Juan Castillo says the team has eight starters, some defensive linemen will play more than others. Brandon Graham played nine snaps after playing just four in Week 1. To his credit, he looked very active when he got a chance. Phillip Hunt saw just six more snaps than Graham.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans70100%
Mychal Kendricks70100%
Akeem Jordan3753%

Did someone say three-down linebackers? Forget about the rotation – for now. DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are playing too well. Neither came off the field Sunday against the Ravens – at all. They both played all 70 snaps. Akeem Jordan, meanwhile, played 37 snaps (53 percent). The Eagles were in their base defense much more than Week 1 when Jordan played 32 percent of the snaps.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Nnamdi Asomugha70100%
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie6491%
Brandon Boykin3347%
Brandon Hughes69%
Nate Allen70100%
Kurt Coleman70100%

Nnamdi Asomugha, Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman all played the entire game. I remember giving McManus a nudge when Rodgers-Cromartie came off the field. I’m not sure what the reason was, but Brandon Hughes replaced him on six snaps. Brandon Boykin came up big on the final drive. He played 33 snaps (47 percent), down from 63 percent in Week 1, as the Ravens used fewer three-receiver sets.

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

Cheat Sheet: Eagles Defense Vs. Ravens Offense

Here are 10 things to know about the matchup between the Eagles’ defense and the Ravens’ offense Sunday afternoon. We’ll go over the Eagles’ offense and Baltimore’s D on Friday.

1. The Ravens are looking to unleash Joe Flacco this year. The South Jersey product has one of the biggest arms in the league, and Baltimore takes advantage of it. Last year, according to Pro Football Focus, 14.6 percent of Flacco’s passes traveled at least 20 yards from the line of scrimmage – sixth-most in the league, just ahead of Michael Vick. Flacco averaged 10.3 yards per attempt in Week 1, third-highest in the league, and hit on five completions of 20+ yards. The Eagles, of course, allowed just 111 yards passing and two completions of 20+ yards in Week 1, while intercepting Brandon Weeden four times.

2. Flacco will spread the ball around to everyone – wide receivers, tight ends and running backs. Last year, Anquan Boldin led the Ravens with 105 targets. He caught 57 balls for 887 yards and led the team with 15 catches for 20+ yards. Boldin will line up inside and outside. Twenty-three of those catches, and 354 of those yards last year came from the slot, per PFF. The Eagles will have a decision to make when Boldin lines up inside: Let rookie Brandon Boykin handle him, or move Nnamdi Asomugha inside, and get Curtis Marsh on the field. A couple things to note here. Number one, Asomugha played zero snaps in the slot in Week 1. And number two, Marsh has a hamstring injury, so his status for Sunday is uncertain. If Marsh is out and the Eagles still want to use Asomugha inside, Brandon Hughes could see some snaps outside. If not, Boykin, who played great in Week 1, gets the assignment. In Week 1, a third of Boldin’s snaps came in the slot. And that’s where he was lined up when he caught a 34-yard touchdown.

3. The Ravens’ vertical threat is Torrey Smith. The second-year player had 50 catches for 841 yards and seven touchdowns in an impressive rookie campaign. On the first play from scrimmage Monday night, he caught a 52-yard bomb from Flacco. Overall, he had two catches for 57 yards, but the numbers are better when you consider he drew a 20-yard pass interference penalty in the end zone that set up a Ravens touchdown. Given Smith’s speed, the Eagles could look to match up Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie against him. But Smith will line up on both sides of the formation, and against the Bengals, he even saw some snaps in the slot. The third wide receiver to keep an eye on is Jacoby Jones, who signed with Baltimore after spending his first five seasons with the Texans.

4. How did I make it this far without writing about Ray Rice? Other than LeSean McCoy, no back was on the field for more snaps in 2011. Rice set a career-high with 1,364 yards in 2011 and has a healthy 4.6 career YPC average. But it’s not just running the football. Rice stays on the field because he can do it all. He was targeted 104 times last season – second-most on the team – and had 76 catches for 704 yards. Rice has averaged 8.9 yards per catch in his career – that’s the same number as Eagles all-time great Brian Westbrook. In Week 1, Rice had just 10 carries, but he totaled 68 yards and a pair of scores. He also had three catches for 25 yards. And Rice will line up everywhere. On one play, he was out wide to the left of the formation and took a quick screen 18 yards. The Eagles will have to constantly account for No. 27.

5. The Ravens had a lot of moving parts on the offensive line in the preseason, but the group that started last week is a blend of youth and experience. Rookie Kelechi Osemele, a second-round pick out of Iowa State, is the starting right tackle. He’ll go up against Jason Babin, who was probably the Eagles’ best defensive lineman in the opener, notching a sack and six hurries. And Ramon Harewood made his first career start at left guard last week. Harewood, a native of Barbados, didn’t start playing football until college. He’ll likely go up against Derek Landri and Cedric Thornton.

6. At the other three spots, the Ravens have Michael Oher at left tackle, Matt Birk at center and Marshal Yanda at right guard. Oher has flip-flopped between right and left tackle in his first three seasons. Trent Cole had to go up against All-Pro Joe Thomas in Week 1, but still had four hurries. His sack was negated by a Babin penalty, and he should have an advantage against Oher. Birk is 36 and in his 14th NFL season. There were a couple plays last week where he got beaten badly. On one, the defensive tackle steamrolled him to the ground, hit Flacco and nearly forced an interception. On another, the right defensive end looped inside, crushed Birk and sacked Flacco. If the Eagles defensive line is as good as advertised, Jim Washburn’s group should be able to pressure Flacco in this one.

7. The one Ravens offensive lineman to keep an eye on is Yanda (No. 73). The sixth-year player is coming off a Pro Bowl season at right guard, and it’s going to be fun to see him match up against Fletcher Cox and Cullen Jenkins. Last week, Yanda threw some devastating blocks in the run game. Rice ran right behind him on his 7-yard touchdown run, as Yanda threw the linebacker to the ground. He also made a nice trap block on Rice’s 16-yard scamper. The Eagles limited Trent Richardson to 2.1 yards per carry in Week 1, but this is going to be a much stiffer challenge.

8. The Ravens feature two tight ends in their passing game, but they’re not always on the field together. Last week, Dennis Pitta led the team with nine targets, five catches and 73 yards, including a touchdown. He played 44 snaps. Four of Pitta’s five catches were between the numbers. That means DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks will get tested in coverage. Same goes for safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman. Meanwhile, Ed Dickson had 54 catches for 528 yards and five touchdowns last season. He was targeted more than Pitta – 89 to 56 – in 2011. Dickson had a pair of catches for 22 yards on three targets in Week 1. The Ravens used two tight-end sets on 17 of 62 plays last week, or 27.4 percent of the time.

9. The linebackers will also have to deal with fullback Vonta Leach, who’s made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons. In 2011, the Ravens went with 21 personnel (two running backs, one tight end, two wide receivers) more than any other team in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. Just 41 percent of their runs came from single-back formations, dead-last in the NFL. While the Ravens may open things up this season, Leach is still a good player who will get on the field. In Week 1, he played 22 of 62 snaps and made an impact. He threw a great lead block on Rice’s 7-yard touchdown. Leach crushed a linebacker on a 13-yard Rice run. And he had three catches for 18 yards.

10. The no-huddle is part of the Ravens’ attack this season. According to The Baltimore Sun, they used it on 21 of 58 plays last week. Ryans’ role as the quarterback of the defense will be tested this Sunday as the defense will need to communicate and limit confusion. The Eagles’ conditioning will be put to the test too. If Flacco goes no-huddle, defensive linemen, who are usually shuffled in and out, could be asked to play more snaps in a row.

Extra point 1: Flacco threw just 12 interceptions in 542 attempts last season. He was outstanding against the Bengals (21-for-29, 299 yards, 2 TDs), but I counted three near-picks on his eight incompletions. He was also sacked three times. The key for the Eagles will be to limit big plays, pressure Flacco and take advantage when he does misfire.

Extra point 2: The Ravens ran two end arounds and one reverse against Cincinnati in the first half. Don’t be surprised if you see a few of those on Sunday.

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

DB Review: How the Eagles Used Asomugha

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi AsomughaHere’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles defensive backs performed Sunday against the Browns, after having re-watched the game. Click here for the review of the offensive line. And here for the review of the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.

Nnamdi Asomugha – By my count, he got targeted four times and gave up one completion – the 24-yard slant to Mohamed Massaquoi early on. Asomugha played almost exclusively at right cornerback. The only exceptions were a few snaps where the Browns went with 1-WR sets. On those plays, if the receiver was to the left side of the defensive formation, Asomugha simply acted like a safety or linebacker. On one occasion, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie went with the receiver to the right side of the defensive formation, and Asomugha moved over to the other side. Again, those were only a few snaps. Good, physical play by Asomugha, getting his hands on Josh Gordon at the line of scrimmage and breaking up a slant in the second. He made the same play again in the third. Brandon Weeden tried to fit one in between him and Kurt Coleman down the left sideline, but it was incomplete. Nice read and hit on Brandon Jackson in the flat, forcing an incompletion on third down in the fourth. And good hustle to bring Travis Benjamin down after a 35-yard gain on the reverse in the first. Really strong game for Asomugha. And check out Tim’s story on him and Rodgers-Cromartie from after the game.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – Rodgers-Cromartie was targeted seven times and allowed just one completion for 12 yards. He had the two interceptions, both on plays where Weeden looked for Benjami. Benjamin, a rookie from Miami, ran a 4.36 at the combine, but Rodgers-Cromartie had no trouble keeping up with him, running step-for-step with the receiver and making nice plays on the ball. He broke up a slant to Benjamin on third down in the first and had another breakup in the third. Rodgers-Cromartie got beat on a 12-yard slant in the second, but made the tackle right away and limited YAC. He got beat by Massaquoi in the first, but Weeden overthrew the receiver in the end zone. Rodgers-Cromartie nearly had a third pick in the end zone on a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. I’m guessing Weeden was targeting Massaquoi (who Rodgers-Cromartie was covering) on the game-ending interception. He missed four snaps because of a shoulder issue, but came back in. Really good game for Rodgers-Cromartie.

Brandon Boykin – Excellent start for the rookie. He was targeted five times and allowed one completion for 13 yards. Boykin was targeted in the second, but had good coverage on Greg Little on the incompleiton. Good, athletic play on third down in the third. Boykin was covering Massaquoi in the slot when Weeden escaped pressure and rolled to his right. Massaquoi started back to that side, and Boykin stuck with him, diving and breaking up the pass with two hands, while forcing a Browns punt in the process. He broke up a pass for Massaquoi on third down in the third. Boykin was targeted in the fourth, but again had good coverage, forcing an incompletion. The only yards he allowed came on a 13-yard completion in the third. The Eagles were in nickel with Boykin on the field for 63 percent of their snaps. He got banged-up on the final Eagles’ kickoff, but looks to be OK.

Brandon Hughes – He played 12 snaps. Some were in dime as the fourth cornerback. Others were at left cornerback when Rodgers-Cromartie came out. And one was in nickel for Boykin on the final play of the game. I’m surprised the Browns didn’t go after Hughes when he was on the field. He was not targeted at all. Curtis Marsh played one snap but suffered a hamstring injury.

Nate Allen – Strong game. Great read, great tackle on the tight end screen in the first, dropping Alex Smith for a 1-yard loss. Great timing on the first interception in the red zone. Allen hit Little as soon as the ball got to him, breaking up the pass and allowing Coleman to make the pick. The Eagles only blitzed a defensive back once. That was Allen in the first quarter. He finished last year strong and is off to a good start in 2012.

Kurt Coleman – Good game for Coleman too. He came down with the interception in the red zone in the first and of course had the second one to end the game. Coleman made a good tackle on Gordon after a 12-yard completion. And it should be noted that his helmet was loose from a block before Trent Richardson knocked it off in the second. Coleman and Allen played all 62 snaps.

Note: The target numbers above are from re-watching the game on TV. I’ll revise if necessary after taking a look at the All-22 when it’s released on Wednesday.

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

Eagles Snap Count Notes: Limited Action For Graham

The league is releasing snap count data this year, which is very helpful when reviewing games. Here are some notes from yesterday.

OFFENSE

* Clay Harbor was on the field for 36 percent of the snaps. That’s just slightly more than his number last year (33.6 percent, per PFF). Part of that had to do with the Eagles using two tight-end sets. But Harbor was also needed since the team had just four active wide receivers, and Jeremy Maclin went out on two separate occasions with injuries.

* Speaking of Maclin, he played 83 percent of the snaps. DeSean Jackson only came out on four plays. And Brent Celek only came out on six plays.

* The Eagles used fullback Stanley Havili on 18 plays (19 percent). Last year, they used a fullback 15.8 percent of the time, so just a slight increase. Rookie wide receiver Damaris Johnson played 13 snaps (14 percent). Those included 4-WR sets and also when he filled in for Maclin.

* With Dion Lewis inactive due to a hamstring injury, Bryce Brown was the backup running back, which meant he played eight snaps. The Eagles have talked about spelling LeSean McCoy a bit more this season, but yesterday was not the time to do that. He played 85 percent of the snaps (81 overall). Last year, he played 86.1 percent of the snaps.

DEFENSE

* Juan Castillo likes to point out that the Eagles have eight or nine “starting” defensive linemen since they all rotate in and out. But as I’ve pointed out before, that’s not really the case. Going back to last year, the starters play more. Below is a chart that details the snaps of the defensive linemen.

PLAYER
SNAPS
Cullen Jenkins43
Trent Cole42
Jason Babin41
Derek Landri34
Fletcher Cox29
Cedric Thornton20
Darryl Tapp20
Brandon Graham4

* As you can see, Graham was the odd man out, playing just four snaps. The Eagles had five defensive ends active, and clearly, Graham ranks behind the other four on the depth chart (for Week 1, at least). Phillip Hunt played 15 snaps (24 percent). Cullen Jenkins, Trent Cole and Jason Babin saw the most playing time. That will likely be the case during most weeks.

* Three-down player? DeMeco Ryans played 60 of 62 snaps. Mychal Kendricks 55 of 62. Akeem Jordan 20. Brian Rolle 2. And Jamar Chaney 1.

* In the secondary, Brandon Boykin was on the field for 63 percent of the snaps (39 overall) and played well. Curtis Marsh played one snap and suffered an injury. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a shoulder issue and missed four snaps. Brandon Hughes was called on to play 12 snaps. Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman and Nnamdi Asomugha all played 100 percent of the snaps.

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

Eagles Snapshot: CB Preview

Philadelphia Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha.Throughout the course of the week, we’ll be providing position-by-position previews of the entire Eagles roster. Click here to get to all of them. Today, we cover the cornerbacks.

The roster: Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Brandon Boykin, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes.

Player in the spotlight: Nnamdi Asomugha

Nationally, some are pushing the idea that Juan Castillo and the defensive coaches realized the error in their ways last season and will simply line Asomugha up on the right side and let him play man coverage all game.

But those of you who are regular readers of Birds 24/7 know that’s not the case.

Yes, the Eagles have made adjustments from last year’s defense. They have taken out certain coverage schemes that caused confusion in the secondary or were just generally ineffective. But Asomugha is still going to be used in a variety of ways. He’ll play some man coverage and press at the line of scrimmage. He’ll play some zone. He might switch sides with Rodgers-Cromartie at times. And he’ll move inside to shadow tight ends on certain weeks.

The question that we don’t have an answer to is this: At 31, does Asomugha still possess the same physical skills that made him an elite corner with the Raiders? If the answer is yes, then it’s perfectly reasonable to argue that the Eagles should use him the same way Oakland did. But if the answer is no, then they need to find the best way to utilize his current skill set after signing Asomugha to a five-year, $60M contract with $25M guaranteed.

With tight ends becoming such a big part of the NFL passing game, using Asomugha against the likes of Jimmy Graham and Jason Witten on certain weeks could make sense. He had success in that role last season.

Looking at Football Outsiders charting numbers, Asomugha was targeted 38 times last year, which translates to 9.7 percent of the team’s overall targets. That was an increase from his previous two seasons in Oakland (31 targets/7.9 percent in 2010 and 25 targets/6.5 percent in 2009). But quarterbacks still much preferred throwing at Asante Samuel on the other side. Samuel was targeted 62 times, which translates to 18.1 percent of the team’s overall targets.

The key for Asomugha in 2012 will be making plays on the ball when he is targeted. There has been a lot of talk about how the Eagles can part ways with Michael Vick after the season if he doesn’t produce. The same can be said for Asomugha, who’s due $15M in 2013.

You should also know that…

* Rodgers-Cromartie is in the final year of his contract. The 26-year-old has all the physical tools to be an elite corner, but he was a poor fit in the slot last season. Rodgers-Cromartie improved when he moved to the outside late in the season, although his tackling skills aren’t much better than Samuel’s. Given the target numbers I mentioned above, Rodgers-Cromartie can expect to see plenty of action this season. He could parlay a strong start into a contract extension.

* One player the Eagles need to find out about is Curtis Marsh. A third-round pick in 2011, Marsh will be the first cornerback in should Asomugha or Rodgers-Cromartie go down. He’ll also play on the right side if and when Asomugha gets moved inside. With a strong showing, Marsh could put himself in place to start in 2013, should the Eagles cut ties with Asomugha or let Rodgers-Cromartie walk.

* Brandon Boykin won the starting nickel corner job. That means he’ll likely be on the field for about half of the team’s defensive snaps. Boykin played inside in college and has outstanding athleticism. He’ll endure some growing pains but should be a solid contributor right away.

* Brandon Hughes provides depth and versatility. He can play inside or outside and will also contribute on special teams.

* The players have had nothing but great things to say about new secondary coach Todd Bowles. If this unit matches or exceeds expectations in 2012, Bowles will deserve a lot of credit.

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

Life On The Bubble: Behind the Scenes Of Cut-down Day

Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Antonio Dixon.Moments after the 9 o’clock deadline had passed Friday night, Howie Roseman sat at the head of a long conference-room table on the first floor of the NovaCare complex, and reflected on the player he just cut.

The day had been dedicated to trimming the roster down to 53 players. Antonio Dixon was the last to go. Dixon is a remarkable story. He spent much of his childhood in and out of homeless shelters, went to about 10 different middle schools, battled dyslexia and a major stammer, and still fought his way through college and into the NFL. He was claimed by the Eagles in September of 2009 after being cut by the Redskins, and had been with the team ever since.

“I remember the first time I saw Antonio Dixon,” said Roseman. “He was a senior and I actually went to see him at a practice where he had a heat stroke, and they took him out in an ambulance at the University of Miami. I remember telling him that story when we got him here. He’s a tremendous individual, he’s a tremendous personality for our football team. I think he has a bright future ahead of him.

“It’s like the question, ‘Who’s your favorite child?’ It’s the same way when picking players. At some point we picked every man on this roster because they have some trait  we want them to bring to the Philadelphia Eagles. When you let them go, you’re letting go someone you have chosen.”

For bubble players, cut-down day is all about the phone call. If you go the whole day without one, you have made the 53-man roster. If the phone rings and the incoming call starts with a “215” area code, chances are you are being summoned to gather your things and drop off your playbook.

Just imagine how slowly time ticks by. Or how your stress level shoots through the roof when  your cell phone buzzes because a friend or family member is unaware of the circumstances.

“You go about your day. If they call you they call you, if they don’t they don’t,” said cornerback Brandon Hughes. “You get an unknown number, that’s probably them calling you. I can’t be sitting by the phone all day hoping the Philadelphia Eagles don’t call me.”

“It’s just trying to relax, hang out with the family. You’ve got the day off, so you try and go do something to keep your mind occupied and see if you get a phone call or not,” said reserve offensive lineman Dallas Reynolds late last week. “I’ve gotten a phone call every year so far.”

The NFL is the definition of a competitive marketplace. Your grip on a roster spot is never tight. Roseman said that before the team goes to training camp with their 90 assembled men, they put together a list of all the players on other teams that have been drafted in rounds 4-7 over the past two years, along with those who have graded out in that area. They then take a look at teams who have an excess of talent at certain positions to try and gauge who may become available. That adds up to some 500-600 players that they are evaluating during the preseason to potentially claim somebody’s roster spot.

“By the time it got to [Friday], we had a targeted list of about 150 guys that we thought might get cut and we had good grades on,” said Roseman.

“We sit in our draft room. We have a board, by position. We grade the guys. We’re able to pick guys off, make playtime tapes of them, watch them and discuss them.”

One of the players they scouted who shook out was former Texans offensive lineman Nathan Menkin. He was put on waivers and the Eagles snatched him up. To make room, they had to part with cornerback Trevard Lindley, who had just survived the cutdown to 53 the day before.

“You can’t think about it,” said Lindley right before the Jets game. “Just go out there every game and play your hardest. Hopefully some team likes you and if they don’t, just hope another team will pick you up.”

Roseman makes it a point to try and call every player that is released, though he conceded with the flurry of activity leading up to Friday at 9 p.m., he needed some assistance from other members of the personnel department.

“They’re human,” said Roseman. “They had a dream, an ambition to play on this football team, to play in the National Football League. We just want to be as honest as possible. We want to tell them their strengths and weaknesses, we want to tell them how we can help them.”

As of Sunday morning, Dixon has yet to be picked up by another team. Same for Lindley. Reynolds finally avoided that phone call and is currently listed as the Eagles backup center and guard. Hughes also made the team and is a reserve behind Nnamdi Asomugha at right corner.

An odd part of the lead-up to the cutdowns was that Jeffrey Lurie was throwing  a barbecue at his house that Friday afternoon from 12-4. Attendance was mandatory for Eagles players. The thing is, there was a host of guys that had no idea if they would still be Eagles players at that time.

“Hopefully they have all their decisions made by 12 o’clock,” said Hughes Thursday night. “ But if they don’t, hey, I guess you get some good food out of it. And then if they call you, you can thank them for the opportunity, and the hamburger.”

Follow Tim on Twitter and email him at tmcmanus@phillymag.com.

Ten Eagles On the Roster Bubble

Philadelphia Eagles running back Chris Polk.The Eagles have until 9 p.m. Friday to cut their roster down to 53.

That means 22 players currently on the squad will be told not to show up next week.

Keeping that in mind, here are 10 players who are sitting squarely on the roster bubble.

Chris Polk – He’s had an OK preseason, carrying 13 times for 51 yards (3.9 YPC) and catching five balls for 42 yards. Polk has shown his versatility and is probably the Eagles’ best back in pass protection, but there might not be a spot for him. At this point, LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis and Bryce Brown are clearly ahead of him. Polk’s best chance at a roster spot is if the Eagles decide to keep a fourth running back.

Chad Hall – Amazingly, he’s still eligible for the practice squad. Hall was active for seven games last year and eight in 2010. He can do a lot of different things – run the ball, catch the ball, return kicks, return punts – but the question is whether he does any of them at a high enough level to warrant a roster spot. Hall has 14 catches for 135 yards and 12 carries for 42 yards in his career. It seems that undrafted free agent Damaris Johnson has a similar skill set, and the rookie is definitely going to make the team, which could make Hall expendable. Then again, with Riley Cooper likely to miss time early in the season, the Eagles could look to keep six receivers, and no one’s snatched that final spot just yet.

Marvin McNutt – Speaking of which… McNutt also has a chance for that last wide receiver spot. Taken in the sixth round of April’s draft, he has not shown much in the preseason, with just one catch for 13 yards. Based on what we’ve seen so far, McNutt is not going to contribute as a rookie. But if the Eagles like his potential, they could hang onto McNutt. The practice squad is also an option for him.

Darryl Tapp – The veteran is not going quietly. He’s had a strong preseason, beating Browns left tackle Joe Thomas for a sack and forced fumble on Friday night. Keep in mind that Tapp is only 27-years-old. He’s in the final year of his contract and is scheduled to make $2.575M. Perhaps another team would offer up a late-round pick for his services. If not, the Eagles could go heavy on the defensive line and hang onto Tapp.

Antonio Dixon – His chances of making the team increased when Andy Reid announced earlier this week that Mike Patterson might miss the entire season. Back in 2010, Dixon was one of the Eagles’ best defensive players, consistently making plays in the run game. But the Eagles hired Jim Washburn last offseason, and Dixon hasn’t been much of a factor since. He played four games in 2011 before suffering a season-ending triceps injury. The writing may have been on the wall this offseason when the Eagles re-signed Derek Landri, re-structured Cullen Jenkins’ contract and drafted Fletcher Cox in the first round. Those three players are clearly ahead of Dixon, and Cedric Thornton probably is also. If the Eagles keep five defensive tackles, he’s on. If not, he’s probably off.

Keenan Clayton – For much of the summer, we’ve been writing about how he’s battling with Akeem Jordan for a roster spot. Well, for now, Jordan is a starter, taking over the WILL spot from Brian Rolle. The Eagles like Clayton’s cover skills, as they kept him on the field as the lone linebacker in dime packages at the end of last season. Juan Castillo hinted yesterday that the Eagles could use their linebackers in specialized roles again this season. I don’t see Clayton knocking another linebacker, like Rolle or Casey Matthews, off the roster. Rolle appears fit for a backup spot, and the guess here is the coaches think Matthews has more upside than Clayton. If they keep seven linebackers, Clayton hangs on. If not, he’s likely out.

Brandon Hughes – He was active for 13 games last year and played 91 snaps on defense (per PFF), most of which came as a starter against the Patriots. The Eagles have decisions to make at the backup cornerback spots. Second-year player Curtis Marsh is a lock, and we know rookie Brandon Boykin will make the team. But beyond that, it gets interesting. We know Joselio Hanson can only play inside. And if Boykin beats Hanson out for the first-team nickel spot, Hanson probably doesn’t make the team. That would increase Hughes’ chances. Two things working in Hughes’ favor: He can play outside, and among defensive backs, he was the Eagles’ most productive special teams player in 2011.

Jaiquawn Jarrett – His status was one of the team’s biggest mysteries when camp started in Lehigh in late July. And in many ways, it remains that way as we approach final cuts. Jarrett had his moments at camp. There were glimpses of the player the Eagles described when they drafted him in the second round of the 2011 draft. But in a starting role against the Steelers in the first preseason game, he suffered miscue after miscue. The truth is, even if Jarrett lasts through the initial cut-down deadline, he shouldn’t get too comfortable. The Eagles could add a safety or two after other teams get down to 53.

Oshiomogho Atogwe – He’s been around all summer, but it’s difficult to get a feel on how Atogwe fits in. He battled hamstring, knee and toe injuries last season and is 31-years-old. Atogwe has missed the last two preseason games because of hamstring trouble. At practice, he’s running with the second team. With the Eagles lacking safety depth, Atogwe could make the team by default. But if he can’t get healthy, the Eagles could just let him go.

Julian Vandervelde – Offensive line depth is a concern. Vandervelde, a fifth-round pick in 2011, probably has the inside track on a spot, but he’s no lock. If the Eagles only keep one interior lineman active on gamedays, that player needs to be able to play guard and center. Vandervelde has been learning center on the fly this summer, but in the last preseason game, he botched one snap, resulting in a fumble, and let another go early, before Trent Edwards was ready for it. With Mike Gibson on IR, Vandervelde is competing with Steve Vallos and Dallas Reynolds for now. But the Eagles could add offensive line help from elsewhere once teams make cuts.

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

DB Review: Boykin Or Hanson?

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin.Here’s a review of how the Eagles defensive backs performed against the Browns after having re-watched Friday night’s game. Click here for the linebacker review, here for the defensive line and here for the review of the offense.

Nnamdi Asomugha – He was all over Josh Gordon, but the wide receiver made a 28-yard catch on a nice throw from Brandon Weeden on the first play from scrimmage. Asomugha also gave up a 6-yard completion to Mohamed Massaquoi in the red zone. Weeden went after him on a deep ball later in the quarter, but Asomugha had good coverage. Don’t expect quarterbacks to target him a lot this season, but one key to improvement will be Asomugha making plays on balls that are thrown his way.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – He jumped in front of Massaquoi, but couldn’t get a hand on the ball, giving up a 12-yard completion. Like the rest of the starters in the back seven, Rodgers-Cromartie came out after two series. He’s had a good summer and will try to carry momentum over to the regular season as he enters the final year of his contract.

Curtis Marsh – He played left cornerback with the second team. Nice one-on-one tackle, stopping Greg Little after a 3-yard gain. Gordon got free for a 10-yard reception between Marsh and Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second. He’s in place to be the first backup should Asomugha or Rodgers-Cromartie go down. And Marsh will see the field in the Eagles’ special nickel package where Asomugha moves inside.

Joselio Hanson – Played with the first-team in nickel and didn’t get targeted. Trying to hold off the rookie (below).

Brandon Boykin – He came in with the second team and played well. You can see Boykin’s athleticism throughout the course of a game. He broke up a pass intended for Little on third down in the first. And Boykin broke up a third-down pass intended for Massaquoi near the sideline. He had good coverage, but gave up a 19-yard completion to Jordan Norwood in the second. Weeden had a lot of time on the play.

Brandon Hughes – He stepped in for Asomugha, playing right cornerback with the second team. Hughes got beat by Gordon for a 12-yard slant on 3rd-and-10 with Cleveland backed up inside its own 5. Not sure there’s going to be room for Hughes on the final roster, but he’s got a shot.

Trevard Lindley – The 2010 fourth-round pick saw extended action. His hit forced an incompletion in the flat in the second. Lindley was challenged on a deep ball; it looked like he got beat initially, but rookie Travis Benjamin couldn’t make the catch. Joshua Cribbs beat Lindley on a 13-yard completion in the third.

Kevin Thomas – He came in and played right cornerback in the third. Thomas was cut yesterday. The Eagles acquired him during training camp in a trade with the Colts in exchange for linebackers Moise Fokou and Greg Lloyd.

Cliff Harris – He was cut this morning. Harris had an interception on Friday off a deflected pass. He impressed early in camp, but suffered an ankle injury. As Jimmy Kempski over at Blogging the Beast pointed out, Harris was No. 15 on Mel Kiper’s Big Board just 15 months ago. But apparently, the Eagles didn’t see enough potential in the undrafted free agent to hold on to him.

Nate Allen – Started, but played limited snaps. Has had a good camp and finished last season strong. The Eagles will need him to take the leap in his third season.

Kurt Coleman – Made a couple nice plays against the run. He and Mychal Kendricks combined to bring Montario Hardesty down after a 6-yard gain in the first. Coleman played up in the box and stopped Hardesty after a 1-yard gain. He has not been challenged by the other safeties on the roster and will start in Week 1 alongside Allen.

Jaiquawn Jarrett – With Tom Nelson cut yesterday, Jarrett looks like he’ll make the roster, although the Eagles could add safety help once other teams trim down to 53. Jarrett had good coverage on Little, helping to force an incompletion in the first. Later though, Cleveland’s Rod Windsor got behind him and in front of Thomas for a 24-yard completion. Jarrett and Boykin brought Brandon Jackson down after a 9-yard run.

Phillip Thomas – All summer, it’s looked like pretty much any safety on the roster would have a chance to survive cuts. Thomas is a longshot, but played well Friday, filling in with the second team alongside Jarrett. He broke up a pass intended for the tight end in the first and had another pass breakup in the end zone in the second. Good job of helping Hughes on the slant and go in the second; Thomas nearly had an interception on the play. Thomas made a good tackle on Norwood after a 4-yard completion in the second. And he came on a blitz, forcing Seneca Wallace out of the pocket in the fourth. On the 3-yard touchdown, Thomas tripped and fell in coverage against tight end Evan Moore.

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

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.

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