Projected Depth Chart: Eagles’ Offense

We went over the defense yesterday.

Here is the projected depth chart for the Eagles’ offense, based on what we saw during spring practices. Explanations below.

 
First Team
Second Team
Third Team
QBMichael Vick/Nick FolesMichael Vick/Nick FolesMatt Barkley
RBLeSean McCoyBryce BrownChris Polk
LTJason PetersDennis KellyEd Wang
LGEvan MathisDanny WatkinsNate Menkin
CJason KelceDallas ReynoldsMatt Tennant
RGTodd HerremansAllen BarbreMatt Kopa
RTLane JohnsonDennis KellyMatt Tobin
TEBrent CelekZach ErtzJames Casey
WRDeSean JacksonDamaris JohnsonGreg Salas
WRJeremy MaclinRiley CooperIfeanyi Momah
WRJason AvantArrelious BennRussell Shepard

Quarterback: You can view it as a cop-out, but really this is the most accurate way to rank them. Vick and Foles split first-team reps at every practice I attended. I know some people charted overall reps, but that can be a bit deceiving. For example, if a quarterback throws a 50-yard touchdown on the first play of a drill, he generally comes off. That’s only one rep, but it’s a successful one. The same thing happens if the quarterback throws an interception.

Expect Vick and Foles to continue the back-and-forth well into the preseason. Chip Kelly wants to see how each guy responds when faced with the possibility of getting crushed by an opposing defensive player. He has plenty of tape to go off of, but Kelly needs to see how each quarterback handles the new concepts he and his coaching staff have implemented.

Barkley appears to be a clear No. 3 at this point, but I’m not ready to rule anything out.

Kelly has said consistently that the competition will play itself out on the field, and the best performer will be named the starter. His track record at Oregon suggests that’s one of his core beliefs and not just lip service.

Settle in. I wouldn’t expect a winner to be announced until close to that Week 1 matchup against the Redskins.

Running back: McCoy and Brown both figure to see plenty of action in this offense.

Behind them, Polk, Felix Jones and undrafted free agent Matthew Tucker will be competing for roster spots. Polk has dropped weight from a year ago and seemed to be ahead of the other two during spring practices.

Jones provides versatility and could have a leg up if he can be effective as a returner and stay healthy.

Since the Eagles don’t have a fullback on the roster, they could potentially keep four running backs.

Wide receiver: This was a tough one. You’ll notice that the depth chart I’m using features “11″ personnel, or one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers.

Avant is a difficult player to evaluate in this scheme. He doesn’t have exceptional size or speed, but he catches anything near him and is the toughest receiver on the roster. Avant is also someone who can set an example for younger players. He’s already taken Sheppard under his wing this offseason.

Benn is not exclusively a slot receiver, even though I put him behind Avant. He was a disappointment in Tampa, but has a versatile skill set. Benn’s chance to prove himself will come in the summer when the pads are on. He’s probably the best blocker among this group.

Cooper and Johnson return from last year’s squad and will have to earn spots. Johnson improved throughout the course of his rookie season and showed the ability to make plays after the catch. He’s also in the mix as a return man. Cooper didn’t do much when given the opportunity to start last year, but he has good measurables and is only 25.

Sheppard looked good during the spring, and Momah’s size (6-foot-7) is intriguing.

This is a crowded position with players with different skill sets. We’ll find out a lot about what Kelly is looking for from his wide receivers after the roster is trimmed down to 53.

Tight end: The depth chart here is a bit misleading. By all accounts, the Eagles are expected to use a lot of two tight-end sets under Kelly. I still think Celek will play the most snaps this season, but he could be on the field with Ertz or Casey quite a bit.

Ertz missed spring practices because of the NCAA graduation rule. And Casey spent several practices on the bike, following arthroscopic knee surgery .

Left tackle/right tackle: Peters has drawn glowing reviews from coaches and teammates, and Johnson has taken over as the starting right tackle.

Kelly looks to be the favorite to be the first backup at both spots (which is why he’s listed twice). He doesn’t appear to have a lot of competition.

Left guard/right guard: Mathis missed time with an ankle injury, but returned last week. Herremans makes the switch to right guard from right tackle.

In terms of depth, Barbre and Watkins are vying for the first backup guard spot.

Center: Kelly has praised Kelce for being in the building rehabbing all offseason. The third-year center is coming off of ACL surgery, but participated in team drills for the first time last week. He’s expected to be fully cleared by training camp.

The backup spot is up for grabs. Reynolds and Tennant are both in the mix.

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Polk: ‘I Didn’t Come To This League To Be a Cheerleader’

Philadelphia Eagles running back Chris Polk.When Chris Polk watched tape last year, he didn’t like what he saw.

“I saw myself on film, like man I don’t look too good, especially with those tight-fitting jerseys,” Polk said. “I’ve got to shed a few pounds.”

And so he did.

Polk said he has dropped 15 pounds this offseason and is currently practicing at 215.

“That’s where I want to be at, especially with this high-paced offense,” Polk said. “You’ve got to make people miss and run in space, catch it. You’ve got to have your wind. So it was the best thing to really fit this scheme, get down lighter, be faster, get your wind up.

“I was on that kind of diet where whatever you could find, eat,” Polk said. “But now, definitely more vegetables. I’ve got a meal plan with the strength coaches, working harder with the shakes and taking care of my body, taking my vitamins and doing what’s necessary.”

In his first season, Polk was active for seven games, but only played on special teams. Zero carries, zero receptions, zero offensive snaps for a player who averaged more than 22 touches per game during his final three seasons at Washington.

Asked what goals he has set for himself in 2013, Polk didn’t hesitate with his response.

“Play,” he said. “I don’t want to sit down no more. I didn’t come to this league to be a cheerleader, so I’ve just got to take care of my body. I just want to play.”

Chip Kelly’s offense is expected to rely on a heavy dose of the running game. Last year’s Oregon squad featured four different players who had at least 80 carries, and six different Ducks were credited with at least one rushing touchdown.

But Polk knows he has a difficult road ahead. The Eagles have LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown atop the depth chart. They also signed Felix Jones and added undrafted free agent Matthew Tucker out of TCU.

Polk got an up-close look at Kelly’s offense in college. His Washington teams went 0-4 against Oregon and were outscored, 174-62. Polk averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in four games against the Ducks.

“They would run all over us,” he said. “We weren’t ever able to keep up with them.”

Even at the lighter weight, Polk is still probably the most physical running back on the roster. His strengths are versatility (pass protection, catching the football) and the ability to run over defenders. While Polk feels faster, he knows he’s not McCoy or Brown. And he doesn’t think he’ll have to change his style to fit into Kelly’s’ scheme.

“The most important thing about a running back is stay true to your identity,” Polk said. “If you’re a ground and pound guy or a real shifty guy, you can’t try to run like someone else because doing what you do is what got you here. Doing what you do is what’s going to keep you here.”

Because of a shoulder injury, Polk went undrafted last year. But the Eagles signed him as a free agent, and Polk impressed the coaching staff during training camp and the preseason. He said he didn’t have any shoulder procedures in the offseason and is still confident he can play with the injury.

When Polk got a phone call from running backs coach Duce Staley last summer, he thought he was getting cut. But instead, Staley congratulated him on making the team. This year, he’s hoping not only to stick, but to get on the field.

“It’s very exciting to have an offense that features the running back, being that we run this high pace,” Polk said. “We’re going to have to rotate in guys because we can run like six plays in less than a minute. So I’m just really excited to put on the pads and see how this year ends up.”

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Eagles Depth Chart Outlook: Running Back

This is the sixth in a series. Click here for the earlier posts on the defensive positions.

Chip Kelly’s Oregon team averaged more than 52 rushing attempts per game in 2012, sixth-most in the nation.

Part of that was because they ran so many plays overall. Part of that was because they often held big leads. And part of that was, well, because it’s what Kelly liked to do.

Going into the 2013 offseason, the one area where the Eagles did not need much of a makeover was at running back. LeSean McCoy didn’t match his 2011 performance, but at 24, is still a key component of the team’s future. Seventh-round pick Bryce Brown had fumbling issues, but still captured the imagination of fans with back-to-back 178- and 169-yard performances in Weeks 11 and 12.

The Eagles dealt Dion Lewis to the Browns in the offseason and signed veteran Felix Jones. They also added TCU’s Matthew Tucker as an undrafted free agent and still have second-year player Chris Polk.

Here’s a look at all the running backs:

 
Height
Weight
Age
Years/Starts
Bryce Brown6-0223221/4
Felix Jones5-10215265/23
LeSean McCoy5-11208244/44
Chris Polk5-11222231/0
Matthew Tucker6-1227210/0

Pencil ‘em in: McCoy, Brown.

McCoy has had a couple off-the-field transgressions this offseason, but on the field, he should be as excited as anyone about the hiring of Kelly.

“There’s definitely a difference,” McCoy said, when I asked him to compare the new scheme to the old one. “Just being in shotgun all the time, for one.

“And two, being able to run the ball a lot more. I mean, look at his track record. A lot of his backs touched the ball quite a bit, so that’s the other different point that you’ve got to look at. And just the ability to get the guys in the open field. Our defensive guys can get so mixed up from trying to follow their keys, and there’s so much misdirection, going here, going there, the bootlegs, going deep, then running it. There’s so much you have to look at where sometimes a big hole might just happen from guys being out of place. The backs we have here, you don’t even need that much room to get going.”

McCoy’s numbers were down across the board last year (4.2 YPC, two rushing touchdowns), but he was playing behind a depleted offensive line that offered very little help. According to Football Outsiders, he broke at least one tackle on 44 plays, a league-high. McCoy should have the opportunity for plenty of big plays in Kelly’s offense.

And Brown too. The second-year back averaged 4.9 yards per carry as a rookie, totaling 564 yards on the ground. Brown’s issue was holding onto the football. He fumbled four times, or once every 28.75 attempts, way too high of a rate. If he can get that problem fixed, he should see plenty of touches in 2013.

Fighting for spots: Polk, Jones, Tucker.

The Eagles will likely keep one or two players from this group.

Polk was active for seven games, but did not play an offensive snap and was a non-factor on special teams. For what it’s worth, in college, he didn’t have much success against Oregon, running for 280 yards on 73 attempts (3.8 YPC) in four games.

Jones has a skill set that appeals to Kelly and is only 26, but when a free agent who’s not asking for a lot of money can’t find a team until May, there’s usually a reason. Jones will have to show he’s healthy and can be productive to stick.

Tucker was a rotational player in college and will have to beat out one (or both) of the players listed above.

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Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

The following players are inactive for the Eagles’ NFC East matchup against the Cowboys: Trent Edwards, Mardy Gilyard, Chris Polk, Danny Watkins, Nate Menkin, Vinny Curry and Phillip Hunt.

Hunt, who had a great preseason, is a healthy scratch and inactive for the first time all season. Curry, a second-round pick, still has not dressed for a game. The Eagles have five defensive tackles active: Fletcher Cox, Cullen Jenkins, Derek LandriMike Patterson and Cedric Thornton.

Watkins is out for the third consecutive game with an ankle injury. Rookie Dennis Kelly was solid against the Falcons, but really struggled last week vs. the Saints.

King Dunlap, who turned in his worst performance of the season against New Orleans, moves from left tackle to right tackle. Demetress Bell, who has struggled all season, will take over at left tackle and see a healthy dose of DeMarcus Ware.

After forcing a fumble on special teams last week, Polk sits against the Cowboys because of a toe injury. Dion Lewis is active for the third time all season. LeSean McCoy, who was probable, is active and will start.

With Gilyard out, Damaris Johnson is expected to once again handle punt returns.

The Eagles have two backup offensive linemen - Matt Tennant and Julian Vandervelde. Should a tackle get injured, Kelly would likely swing out.

Be sure to join me and Tim for a live chat. Kickoff is set for 4:25.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Trade Deadline Approaches

Philadelphia Eagles running back Dion Lewis.The NFL trade deadline will likely come and go today at 4 p.m. (EST) without much of a splash.

What are the chances the Eagles make a deal?

The answer is probably slim, but don’t rule out the possibility altogether. Scanning the roster, you can certainly find areas where the Birds could use some help. Offensive line and safety depth are the two that come to mind. A good special-teams player, regardless of position, would be helpful also. The problem is teams are unlikely to unload quality players who can contribute right away at this point in the season.

As for the Eagles, running back and defensive line are a couple areas where they could look to deal someone. Dion Lewis, for example, has been inactive for six of seven games, as Bryce Brown continues to serve as the team’s backup running back. Chris Polk has played special teams only and has not produced there for Bobby April. My guess is either guy could probably be had, but would a team give something up for Lewis or Polk? I’m not so sure.

On the defensive line, one name to keep an eye on is Darryl Tapp. Tapp has filled in for Trent Cole at right defensive end and has played 31.6 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus. But Jim Washburn could give those snaps to Brandon Graham, Phillip Hunt or second-round pick Vinny Curry, who has yet to dress for a game this season.

Also keep in mind that the Eagles currently have 10 defensive linemen on their 53-man roster. They could very well add Mike Patterson (returned to practice last week) soon. Eleven would be a lot to keep, so you could see a preemptive move here.

The Eagles have made a trade (or tried to make a trade) near the deadline in each of the past three seasons. Last year, they tried to trade Ronnie Brown to the Lions for Jerome Harrison, but Harrison was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the deal didn’t go through. In 2010, they traded Mike Bell to Cleveland for Harrison. And in 2009, they sent a draft pick and wide receiver Brandon Gibson to the Rams in exchange for linebacker Will Witherspoon.

So don’t rule out the possibility of the Eagles making a move today.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Tim and I went All-22 crazy yesterday. He broke down Nnamdi Asomugha’s performance from last week, and I took a look at why the Eagles’ offense was a mess.

Andy Reid announced that Michael Vick will start Monday night against the Saints.

Here’s the weekly roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles.

And finally, Tim wonders whether Jeffrey Lurie was listening to the fans at the Linc last week.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Don Banks of SI.com has the Eagles 16th in his power rankings:

The Eagles’ problems at offensive line create so many ripple effects, but one of them is a passing game that doesn’t seem to challenge anyone vertically any more. Most of what Michael Vick has time to complete is underneath these days, and that means it takes Philly going on long and methodical drives to score. And given Vick’s penchant for mistakes in the season’s first seven games, long, methodical drives are in short supply.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, a former scout for the Eagles, thinks it might be time to give Nick Foles a shot:

Vick played soundly in the final four games of the 2011 season. He made quick decisions, protected the football and took what the defense gave him. He utilized tight end Brent Celek and took advantage of opposing safeties lining up extremely deep. I thought that I would see that version of Michael Vick this season, but that hasn’t been the case. In 2012, Vick hasn’t been getting the ball out on time. He’s forcing too many throws into coverage and failing to protect the ball as a runner.

There has been a lot of speculation that Eagles coach Andy Reid could make a change at quarterback in the very near future. Rookie signal-caller Nick Foles played well during the preseason; now might be the right time to see what he can do in a regular-season setting.

COMING UP

The Eagles are back at Novacare preparing for the Saints. We’ll hear from Andy Reid and the players, so be sure to check back early and often.

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Eagles Rookie Progress Report

Today seems like a good day to check in on the progress of the Eagles’ rookie class. Here’s a player-by-player rundown:

Fletcher Cox – At this point in the season, he looks like the team’s best defensive tackle. Cox is a handful for opposing offenses against the run, and he leads all Eagles linemen with 23 tackles (15 solo). As a pass-rusher, he’s been far less consistent, but Cox has still shown flashes (14 hurries overall) – specifically against the Giants (five hurries) and Ravens (four hurries). Cox’s lone sack came in the opener. The same production was not there against the Steelers, and Cox got thrown out of the Lions game for throwing a punch on a special-teams play. No one was expecting him to be perfect from Day 1, but Cox appears to have a Pro Bowl ceiling. He isn’t a starter, but Cox plays more snaps than Derek Landri every week. The key in the final 10 will be consistency as an interior pass-rusher, something the Eagles have not had in the past few games.

Mychal Kendricks – He’s had a few miscues here and there, but overall, Kendricks has lived up to expectations and provided an upgrade at the SAM linebacker spot. He rarely comes off the field (93.2 percent of the snaps, per Pro Football Focus) and has 32 tackles (24 solo) on the season. The Eagles are eighth in the league at covering opposing tight ends, per Football Outsiders. And they are seventh against opposing running backs, after finishing 29th last year. The upgrade at linebacker has a lot to do with that. Going forward, Kendricks can continue to hone his coverage skills, specifically as a zone defender. Against the run, he’s had some issues getting off blocks in the last couple games. But overall, Kendricks looks like a player who should only get better, especially if he keeps hanging around DeMeco Ryans.

Vinny Curry - The second-round pick had a pretty good preseason but has not been active for a single game yet. We knew the defensive line was the deepest part of the team entering the season, but considering Jim Washburn’s group has underperformed, Curry could see some snaps in the coming weeks.

Brandon Boykin – Because the Eagles have Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the outside, opposing quarterbacks have targeted Boykin quite a bit when he’s in the game. He’s had some rookie growing pains, but overall, has played well. As others have pointed out, he needs to improve his feel for where to be when the Eagles are in zone (analysis here by Tim). Boykin had been playing exclusively inside until last week when he saw some snaps outside as the Lions moved Calvin Johnson to the slot. We’ll see how much he can improve in the final 10 games working with Todd Bowles. Overall, Boykin has played 55.7 percent of the team’s snaps.

Nick Foles – He had a great preseason, but has not seen the field yet through six games. Of course, last week Andy Reid refused initially to commit to Michael Vick as the team’s starting quarterback. Foles is a great unknown, but if Vick continues to turn the ball over at the current rate, the rookie could get a chance in the coming weeks.

Dennis Kelly – The coaching staff seems to like him, but Kelly has only played three snaps this season. He’s been active for five games. In the preseason, he played both tackle and guard. Considering the offensive line’s struggles through six games, don’t be shocked if Kelly gets a shot to start at some point.

Bryce Brown – The coaches clearly like his potential as they rewarded Brown with the No. 2 running back spot at the beginning of the season. He’s played 13.7 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, but has not made much of an impact. Brown has 51 yards on 19 carries (2.7 YPC) and one catch for 8 yards. He’s also probably the team’s worst pass-blocker. The Eagles will have to decide what they want to do with Dion Lewis. Considering Brown only played in three college games after 2009, the guess is we might be a year away from knowing what kind of player he’s going to be. For now, he’s still listed as the team’s No. 2 back.

Chris Polk – The Eagles kept him on the roster after training camp, but Polk hasn’t done much so far. He has not been on the field for any offensive snaps, and as Sam Lynch pointed out recently, he has not been a productive special-teams player either. Polk has been active for five of six games. I’m not sure both he and Lewis will stay on the roster the entire season.

Damaris Johnson - Through five games, he served as the team’s fourth wide receiver and No. 1 punt returner. Johnson was fine as a receiver (8 catches for 124 yards), but has given up that role to Riley Cooper, who was active last week for the first time. Cooper provides size at wide-out, something the Eagles don’t have elsewhere on the roster. Johnson’s role as a punt returner is up in the air. He fielded a steady dose of fair catches and failed to produce a return longer than 13 yards. Last week, Mardy Gilyard took over return duties with an assist from DeSean Jackson.

Nate Menkin – The Eagles signed him off waivers from the Houston Texans, but Menkin has not been active for a game yet. It appears he’s more of a developmental project at guard/tackle, and it’s unlikely he gets on the field this season.

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

Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

The following Eagles are inactive for today’s 1 p.m. game against the Lions: Trent Edwards, Damaris Johnson, Dion Lewis, Jamar Chaney, Steve Vallos, Nate Menkin and Vinny Curry.

Johnson’s out, and Riley Cooper will be active for the first time all season. Cooper suffered a fractured collarbone during training camp. He’ll be the team’s fourth wide receiver and contribute on special teams.

The other notable part about Johnson sitting is that it opens up the punt returner spot. It seems likely that DeSean Jackson would be back there, something that Bobby April talked about earlier this weekMardy Gilard could get a shot too. Johnson had fielded nine fair catches and failed to notch a return longer than 13 yards in the first five games.

At running back, Lewis is inactive after dressing for the first time all year against the Steelers. Taking his place on the gameday roster will be Chris Polk, who was active for the first four games before sitting against Pittsburgh.

On the offensive line, Vallos is once again inactive, meaning Evan Mathis is your backup center should Dallas Reynolds go down. Dennis Kelly and King Dunlap are the team’s backup linemen. Both are tackles, but each has played guard in the past.

On the defensive side of the ball, Chaney is inactive for the first time in two seasons. Chaney started the last two games for Akeem Jordan, but Jordan returns today at the WILL spot. Jason Williams, whom the team signed during the week to play special teams, is active.

No other surprises on the defensive side of the ball. Curry, a second-round pick, has yet to dress this season.

As for the Lions, they’ll get safety Louis Delmas back for the first time all season. Defensive end Cliff Avril, who was listed as questionable, will also dress.

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Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

The following Eagles are inactive for today’s 1 p.m. game against the Steelers: Trent Edwards, Riley Cooper, Chris Polk, Akeem Jordan, Steve Vallos, Nate Menkin and Vinny Curry.

Of note offensively, Dion Lewis is active for the first time all season. Lewis had a good training camp, but battled a hamstring injury in the early part of the season. He was eventually replaced by Bryce Brown as LeSean McCoy’s backup. Brown saw his most action of the season last week, playing 15 snaps against the Giants. Through four games he has played 13.1 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps, per Pro Football Focus.

Polk had been playing special teams. He’s yet to see an offensive snap.

On the offensive line, the Eagles have two backups active: King Dunlap and Dennis Kelly. Neither is a prototypical guard, but Dunlap played there last season, and Kelly played there in the preseason. Demetress Bell gets the start at left tackle. If Dallas Reynolds were to go down, the Eagles would have to figure out who to plug in at center. Evan Mathis might be the leading candidate.

At wide receiver, Cooper was listed as probable on Friday’s injury report, but he’s inactive. Cooper has yet to dress this season as he recovers from a collarbone injury sustained during training camp. The Eagles have five active wide receivers: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson and Mardy Gilyard.

Defensively, Curry, a second-round pick, is inactive again. He hasn’t dressed this season. The Eagles go with their usual nine defensive linemen.

At linebacker, Jordan is out with a hamstring injury, and Jamar Chaney gets the start. Adrian Moten, who was signed in favor of Brian Rolle, is active.

Colt Anderson and Derek Landri were both listed as questionable on Friday, but both will play.

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

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Brown, Graham Move Up Depth Chart

Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce BrownHeading into Week 4′s matchup against the New York Giants, the Eagles have made a couple slight adjustments to their depth chart.

During the summer, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk competed for spots behind LeSean McCoy. McCoy played more snaps than any other running back in the league last year and averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in the final five games. Part of the reason for that was his backup, Ronnie Brown, gave the Eagles nothing.

Back in August, it appeared that Lewis was poised for a bigger role in his second season. But now, it’s difficult to find a reason why the Eagles are keeping him on the roster at all. For the first time, Brown is officially listed as the No. 2 running back. Through three games, he’s played 26 snaps and carried nine times for 38 yards (4.2 YPC). Last week, Brown ran four times for 28 yards and had a good-looking 17-yard scamper.

As for Lewis, he’s battled a hamstring injury, but was a healthy scratch last week. Perhaps the Eagles are holding on to him in case McCoy suffers a longer-term injury? If the team has to make a roster move, Lewis, who had a good training camp and was a fifth-round pick in 2011, could be let go.

Polk has been active for all three games and served a special-teams role.

If you’re wondering about McCoy, he’s playing slightly fewer snaps than last season. Through three games, he’s been on the field 83.8 percent of the time, per Pro Football Focus. Last year, it was 86.1 percent.

There’s been some depth chart movement on the defensive line as well. Brandon Graham is now listed as the backup left defensive end behind Jason Babin, a spot previously occupied by Phillip Hunt. Graham’s snaps have gone from four to nine to 17 in three weeks. Hunt’s, meanwhile, have gone from 15 to 15 to 12. In other words, the two defensive ends are pretty much splitting time (keep in mind that Graham was on the field for the end-of-game kneel-downs last week).

On the season, Graham has 0.5 sacks and five hurries. Hunt has no sacks and one hurry, but he was excellent in the preseason. The guess here is that the Eagles will continue to play nine defensive linemen and five defensive ends. Both Graham and Hunt will be counted on to get to Eli Manning on Sunday night.

WHAT YOU MISSED

McCoy went on national TV and said his beef with Osi Umenyiora is real. “I don’t like Osi,” McCoy said.

The Eagles decided they’d seen enough of Chas Henry, releasing the second-year punter and signing veteran Mat McBriar.

We posted a series of game reviews. DeMeco Ryans provided a bright spot. The defensive line had trouble getting to Kevin Kolb. And a player-by-player evaluation of the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.

Could the Eagles learn any lessons from Kolb? T-Mac thinks so. He explains here.

And finally, if you didn’t tune in to Birds 24/7 Radio on 97.5 The Fanatic, the podcasts are available for download. Click here for iTunes and here to listen online. Tim and I broadcast live from 360 at Parx Casino in Bensalem every Monday from 6 to 7 p.m.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Over at Grantland, Chris Brown shows how Larry Fitzgerald set up the Eagles on the 37-yard touchdown:

The key defenders here are cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha — lined up just outside Fitzgerald — and safety Coleman, responsible for playing Fitzgerald to the inside. The problem for Philadelphia is that as he sees the run action, Coleman immediately buzzes to the line. This essentially leaves Asomugha in one-on-one coverage on Fitzgerald.

Thinking he has inside help, Asomugha plays Fitzgerald with outside leverage. But with the benefit of noticing that Coleman is out of position, the crafty Fitzgerald immediately begins setting up for the big play. Fitzgerald releases immediately to the inside, where, without help, Asomugha is effectively already beaten.

Dan Graziano of ESPN.com examines Andy Reid’s comments about the Eagles’ quarterback situation:

It’s possible that Reid was just answering a news conference question as blandly and honestly as possible. It’s more likely he knew the comments would be broadcast everywhere, parsed for meaning and heard by Vick himself, and that he’s trying to light a fire under his quarterback. Nothing wrong with that, and there’s nothing wrong with evaluating as he goes. Vick has to protect the ball better, or the Eagles will have to consider making a change. But I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Reid’s first waver on this topic came after the Eagles’ first loss. If they’re 3-1 after Sunday night’s game against the Giants, I imagine he’ll go right back to full-support mode no matter how Vick played. But if they’re 2-2 and Vick lays another egg, “evaluate as we go” might be about the nicest thing Reid’s willing to say about his quarterback situation.

COMING UP

The Eagles return to Novacare today. We’ll hear from Reid and the players as they prepare to take on the Giants. Also be on the lookout for some All-22 goodness.

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

Polk Thought He Was a Goner

Philadelphia Eagles running back Chris Polk.When Chris Polk saw the number on his phone, he figured his time in Philadelphia was up.

The Eagles running back sat around and waited Friday. He couldn’t eat. He couldn’t sleep. He made sure he had his ringer on loud.

About 16 hours earlier, Polk was in the end zone, celebrating a 3-yard touchdown in the Eagles’ final preseason game against the Jets. Now, he was waiting to find out if it was time to turn in his playbook.

“It didn’t ring until Coach Duce [Staley] called me from his office phone, which I didn’t have stored,” Polk said. “It’s a 2-1-5 number, so I was like ‘Oh man, I’m cut.’ I waited until the last ring to actually answer it.”

The two exchanged greetings, but Polk didn’t sound right, and Staley could tell. He asked him what was wrong.

“I’m like ‘You’re about to cut me, huh?’” Polk said. “He’s like ‘No, man, I just called to tell you good job and congratulations.’”

A weight was lifted off his shoulders – momentarily. But because of something his teammate, Cedric Thornton told him, Polk wasn’t ready to celebrate just yet. Last year, Thornton initially made the 53-man roster, but was cut the next day when the team added offensive lineman Kyle DeVan.

So Polk attended the team barbecue, but he waited until the 9 p.m. deadline passed to call his mom. That’s when everything started to sink in.

For now, he’s behind LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis and Bryce Brown on the depth chart, but Polk’s best chance to contribute as a rookie might be special teams.

“Before you can lead, you have to follow,” he said. “In having those great running backs in front of me, to also go along with great coaches, I have all the information in front of me. All you have to do is just ask questions and pay attention.”

And, of course, answer the phone.

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

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