Maclin Won’t Practice, But Isn’t Ruled Out Yet

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy MaclinJeremy Maclin’s status for Sunday’s home opener against the Ravens is up in the air, but he won’t practice today, Andy Reid said.

“He’s actually made progress here over the last couple days so that’s a good thing,” Reid said. “He’s feeling better. I wouldn’t list him as out today. That’s now how I’d list him, but he’s not going to practice.”

The Eagles are thin at wide receiver. Aside from Maclin, Riley Cooper continues to rehab from a fractured collarbone and won’t play. That leaves the Eagles with DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, undrafted free agent Damaris Johnson and Mardy Gilyard.

Gilyard spent training camp with the Eagles. He’s been active for 11 NFL games, but those were all back in 2010 with the Rams. He played on special teams and has zero catches to his name. Johnson, meanwhile, played 13 snaps last week and had one reception for 10 yards.

Avant suffered a wrist contusion against the Browns, but appears to be fine.

Another area where the Eagles are thin is safety. They released Jaiquawn Jarrett to make room for Gilyard. Behind starters Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, they’ve got David Sims, who was acquired from the Browns in a trade 12 days ago, and Colt Anderson, who tore his ACL in Week 13 of the 2011 season.

Anderson was inactive in Week 1, but appears ready to suit up.

“Colt’s ready to play. He’s there. He’s done everything that he can do to get himself ready to play in a game,” Reid said. “He’s gone through practice, he’s practiced fast, he didn’t have any setbacks, no swelling, soreness, any of that. The knee felt tight. So now he has an opportunity to possibly get in the game and contribute. That’s what he wants, and that’s what we want.”

Anderson is one of the best special-teams players in the league, but counting on him to provide safety depth is taking a bit of a leap. Remember, last year, before he got injured, he played zero defensive snaps.

And Sims has never played a snap of any kind in the NFL.

But if Coleman or Allen go down Sunday, the Eagles will count on one of them to step in.

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Eagles Snapshot: Safety Preview

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 safeties.

The roster: Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Jaiquawn Jarrett, David Sims, Colt Anderson.

The Eagles shuffled up their safety situation on cut-down day. They let go of Oshiomogho Atogwe, who couldn’t stay healthy, and acquired Sims from the Browns. The Eagles also placed Anderson on the 53-man roster, instead of the PUP list, which would have forced him to miss the first six weeks of the season.

Player in the spotlight: Jaiquawn Jarrett

Even though the season is just three days away, it’s unclear exactly what Jarrett’s role is going to be in 2012.

As a rookie, he started two games and played significant snaps in two more. Safety was a problem area for the Eagles all season, but at no point did the team look to Jarrett as an answer. He couldn’t get onto the field until the team’s starters were sidelined with injuries in the second half of the season.

At the end of 2011, the expectation was that Jarrett would push Coleman for a starting spot after having a full offseason under his belt, but that hasn’t happened. Instead, he had to fight for a roster spot after a disastrous preseason game against the Steelers in early August. Jarrett took bad angles to the ball and missed multiple tackles in that game; at practice, Tom Nelson started to rotate in with him on the second team.

To his credit, Jarrett bounced back later in the preseason, but he needs to show a lot more to raise his ceiling from backup/special teams player to quality starter. He was also helped by the fact that Nelson suffered a high ankle sprain and Atogwe couldn’t get his hamstring right.

In Week 1, Jarrett will be counted on as the Eagles’ first backup behind Coleman and Allen. Chances are, at some point this season, he’ll get on the field and be given a chance to prove that the Eagles didn’t waste a pick on him in the second round of the 2011 draft.

You should also know that…

* Allen is the most talented of the group and finished 2011 strong. A second-round pick in 2010, he needs to show he can be healthy and productive in 2012.

* Missed tackles are only part of the equation, but Allen had trouble in that area last season. According to Football Outsiders, he missed 10 overall, or 17.9 percent of his tackling attempts.

* Sims has a great story. After high school, he worked a series of odd jobs, including one in waste management. He went to junior college, switched from running back to safety, transferred to Iowa State and has bounced around from the Giants to the Bucs to the Browns to the Eagles. He’s hoping to not only contribute on special teams, but push for playing time on defense also.

* Anderson was second on the team with 12 special-teams tackles last season, and keep in mind that he only played in 12 games after suffering a torn ACL against the Seahawks. He was also the first man down in coverage 18 times. No other Eagle did that more than nine times. Anderson will be inactive in Week 1, but it looks like he’ll be back making plays for Bobby April sooner rather than later.

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Cooper, Anderson Ruled Out Vs. Browns

Philadelphia Eagles undrafted free agent Damaris Johnson.The only two players who have been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Browns are wide receiver Riley Cooper and safety Colt Anderson.

Cooper fractured his collarbone at training camp, had surgery and continues to rehab. He could return in Week 2 against the Ravens.

Anderson tore his ACL last December against the Seahawks, but the Eagles were confident enough in his recovery to put him on the 53-man roster and not the PUP list.

The injuries create opportunities for others to step in and play right away in the opener. One of those guys is undrafted free agent Damaris Johnson. Johnson had a strong preseason with 12 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown. According to the Football Outsiders Almanac, the Eagles went with four wide receivers 9 percent of the time last year, fifth-most in the league. Johnson will be the man in those packages on Sunday.

“I’m excited,” Johnson said “I think they have a lot of confidence in me. That’s why they kept me. So I’m just trying to go out and prove them right, just to show them that they made a good choice.”

Johnson will also be called on should DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin get injured. In the preseason, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg talked about Johnson needing to reach a certain level of consistency.

“Just going through training camp and OTAs, I had a lot of mistakes,” Johnson said. “But just getting settled, just feeling comfortable with the offense, guys taking me under their wing, just staying after, working on different things, I think it helped out, and right now my mind is focused.”

The Eagles could look to use more two tight-end sets, instead of going four-wide against Cleveland. Clay Harbor has had an outstanding summer and caught a pair of touchdowns in the preseason.

Meanwhile, Anderson’s loss will be felt mostly on special teams. At safety, should Nate Allen or Kurt Coleman go down, it’ll be second-year player Jaiquawn Jarrett filling in. The only other option the Eagles have is David Sims, who was acquired Friday from the Browns. Sims could be a factor on special teams right away.

Other injuries: The following players were listed on the injury report, but participated fully in today’s practice: Safety Nate Allen (hamstring), defensive end Jason Babin (calf), linebacker Jamar Chaney (hamstring), running back Dion Lewis (hamstring), linebacker Casey Matthews (ankle), offensive lineman Nate Menkin (shoulder), defensive tackle Cedric Thornton (knee).

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After Wild Journey, Sims Happy To Land in Philly

David Sims‘ phone rang early last summer.

The new Eagles safety had spent training camp with the New York Giants. But around 8 a.m. on cut-down day, he found out the team was letting him go.

Sims had a short stint with the Bucs during the season before eventually signing onto the Browns’ practice squad.

“When I was with the Giants and I got cut, it put heartache on me because they made me doubt my ability to play,” Sims said. “So I had to go back to the drawing board and work 10 times harder than I already was doing so I wouldn’t be put in a situation like that again if I had the opportunity. It made me open my eyes, made me want to work harder than I already was working.”

But for much of this past Friday, despite a strong preseason, it looked like Sims’ hard work wasn’t enough. This time, the call came later, but it still came.

Browns general manager Tom Heckert contacted Sims around 1 p.m., telling him they were letting him go. It was a numbers game, Sims was told. The team was going with players who had more experience.

“I was shocked that I got released at first,” he said. “And then for eight, nine hours, I was stuck, wondering how? How’d I get cut when I had a preseason like I did?

“I was sitting at home just watching TV in a blank stare, and everyone calling me was like, ‘That’s B.S. I don’t know what else you could have done.’”

Sims even went to the team’s facility to sign the paperwork, but the transaction was never completed, and just after 9 p.m., Heckert called again, telling him he had been traded to the Eagles.

“It’s been a long time coming since 2005,” Sims said. “This is my dream, but I feel like my work isn’t over yet. Just making the team isn’t everything. I would like to produce for the team and be a starter.”

A long time coming indeed. As a high school player in Gainesville, Fla., Sims suffered a knee injury and wasn’t offered a scholarship. He didn’t know what to do. But his mom made one thing clear: He wasn’t going to just sit around at home and do nothing.

So he looked for a job. Sims spent a couple months working waste management and later spent time in the laundry room at the University of Florida.

“At first, I was just working with garbage,” Sims said. “I had to go house to house and lift the garbage truck and dump the trash. And then I went on to do the yard trash, like sticks and leaves, stuff like that.

“It makes you think, ‘I’m not going to do this for the rest of my life. I’ve got to have a change.’”

The turning point came in April 2006. Sims was working at a Sam’s Club and decided it was time to give junior college a try, enrolling at Butte Junior College in California.

“Every guy doesn’t have the mindset that I had coming up, the last six, seven years,” Sims said. “I was determined to get here. You’ve got to have that strong mindset, because junior college is a struggle. It’s a grind. There’s no one on you to get your grades like it is in the university. …You’ve got to have that strong mindset.”

Junior college led to Iowa State, and Sims has been trying to find a home in the NFL ever since.

He’s got a couple connections with the Eagles. Danny Watkins blocked for Sims when he played tailback at Butte. And he knows Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from when Iowa State played a bowl game in Arizona.

Sims said his strength is that he’s a solid tackler and always around the football. His weaknesses are technique and footwork.

The Eagles currently have starting safeties in place with Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman. Behind them are Jaiquawn Jarrett, Colt Anderson and Sims.

Sims thinks he can be a good special-teams player, but he also wants to compete for playing time at safety. As he continues his journey for survival in the NFL, he’ll never forget the times when he thought his playing days were over.

“I think about it everyday,” he said. “I’m very thankful to be in the position that I am in now.”

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Eagles Acquire Safety David Sims

The Eagles acquired safety David Sims from the Browns late Friday evening for a conditional draft pick. To make room on their newly-sculpted 53-man roster, they released Julian Vandervelde.

“Solid tackler, can play on special team,” said general manager Howie Roseman. “He’s a guy that we’ve been following throughout the course of this preseason.”

The 5-9, 204-pound Iowa State product was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent last season before bouncing to Tampa Bay and eventually Cleveland. This preseason he came up with a pair of interceptions and made 14 tackles.

Roseman did not label him as either a free or strong safety, noting that the positions are somewhat interchangeable in the Eagles’ system. The safety corps is currently made up of Sims, Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson and Jaiquawn Jarrett. Roseman also mentioned Trevard Lindley as someone who might be able to slide over to safety as well.

“We’ll get him in here, we’ll see where he’s most comfortable, where the coaches feel he’s most comfortable and go from there,” said Roseman. “He can do a little bit of everything.”

By releasing Vandervelde, the Eagles currently have just eight offensive linemen on the roster. Roseman indicated that the team will be on the lookout for depth in the coming days, whether that be from the practice squad or on the open market.

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