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.

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

Twitter Mailbag: Dion Lewis On the Move?

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @hense83: How do you see the Eagles DB’s plan on covering CJ?

As I wrote about here, the Eagles will be using plenty of double teams if history is any indicator. Nnamdi Asomugha gave some further insight on Thursday when talking about the defense’s approach to Calvin Johnson. If you remember, the original plan heading into the Arizona game was to have Asomugha shadow Larry Fitzgerald, but they ultimately decided to have the corners just play their respective sides instead. Fitzgerald ended up with nine grabs for 114 yards and a touchdown.

“I think we learned from that a little bit,” said Asomugha. “There will be different things that we do. It’s not going to be a generic gameplan. You’re talking about one of the best receivers out there. Whatever we didn’t do against Larry, I think we’ve learned from that.”

I wouldn’t expect too much Brandon Boykin on Johnson. Then it’s a matter of whether Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie draws the assignment, or if they split the duties.

From @MrJustinPowell: The RB play throughout the league is weak, why don’t the Eagles consider moving Polk for something? An OL perhaps?

I think your head is in the right place, but maybe focused on the wrong guy. LeSean McCoy is never off the field for long and the Eagles aren’t exactly a ground-and-pound offense, so it was always a bit unnatural to carry four running backs and a fullback on the roster. The problem was, the Eagles saw talent at the running back position and wanted to keep the best players, so they held onto Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. Brown has since jumped over Lewis on the depth chart and Polk is a rookie with some upside that can play special teams.

Where does that leave Lewis, exactly?  The Pitt product did not fare well as a kick returner last season and otherwise doesn’t play special teams. He was inactive for the first four games and was unspectacular in limited play against the Steelers.

I am not sure you can find a trade partner, but if you can get a low pick for Lewis and free up a roster spot in the process, why not do it? The trade deadline is October 30.

@riggitty: can we just call Brandon Graham Jerome McDougle already?

Riggity, this is the exact wrong time to try and bury Graham. He made the most out of his limited opportunities early in the season, and has jumped Phillip Hunt in the rotation as a result. Graham was the most efficient defensive lineman against the Steelers. As Sheil lays out here, he had 11 pass-rushing opportunities on Sunday and generated a QB hurry on five of those for a rate of 45.4 percent. Consider that Trent Cole and Jason Babin were in a combined 102 plays  and had just three hurries between  them. Graham was on the field for just 18 snaps.

He will be a bigger factor moving forward, and he’s earned it.

From @KobeThe Boat:  is castillo at least discussing more of a blitzing style to create more pressure?

I expect Castillo to dial up a few more blitzes but I wouldn’t anticipate any significant changes. In one respect, they feel like they are at a strategic advantage with opponents keeping in extra guys just to deal with their four-man rush. Maybe the sack totals go down, but they win the numbers game in coverage as a result.

The overall philosophy is somewhat conservative on defense. They want to keep everything in front of them and seem willing to sacrifice making a big play in order to prevent the offense from getting one on them.

“The important thing is that you want to keep the score down,” said Castillo Thursday. “Last year [during] the last four games, we were giving up less than two touchdowns. That’s what we’re trying to get back to. Really, if you can do that, it might not guarantee a win, but you have a chance.”

 

RB, WR, TE Review: How the Eagles Used Celek

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek.Here’s a player-by-player review of how the Eagles running backs, wide receivers and tight ends performed Sunday against the Steelers.

LeSean McCoy – Numbers don’t come close to telling the whole story. McCoy had 16 carries for 53 yards (3.3 YPC) and four catches for 27 yards. Those stats don’t jump off the page, but he was outstanding. McCoy picked up 8 on a 2nd-and-1 run in the first and had a nice carry around the left edge for 6 yards. He came up huge on the fourth-quarter scoring drive. On the Eagles’ first fourth-and-one, it looked like he had nowhere to go, but McCoy picked up a first down with a great second effort. If he doesn’t make that play, the Steelers’ offense takes over at the Eagles’ 30 with 13:05, up 13-7. McCoy later converted a second fourth-and-one on the drive. He also had made safety Ryan Mundy look silly with a 6-yard run in the fourth. Great design and execution on the touchdown catch in the third. McCoy let Jason Worllds rush Michael Vick unblocked, but turned around quickly, caught the ball in the flat, put a great move on Larry Foote and got in the end zone. As a blocker, McCoy had ups and downs. He was asked to pick up Lawrence Timmons (a tough assignment) and got blown up in the first as Michael Vick threw the ball away.  McCoy whiffed on his block on the QB draw to Vick that lost 1 yard in the second. LaMarr Woodley squeezed past him and Danny Watkins in the first, hitting Vick as he completed a 12-yard strike to Jason Avant. He did a great job taking James Harrison out on the Vick pass to DeSean Jackson that picked up 25 yards in the second. Overall, a really strong performance.

Bryce Brown – He only played four snaps and battled a shoulder injury. Brown had a nice 4-yard run on 2nd-and-1 in the second. He did a poor job in blitz pickup against Timmons on a deep attempt to Jeremy Maclin in the second.

Dion Lewis – He was active for the first time all season and played three snaps (no touches). Tough to say for sure, but it looked like Lewis was late picking up Brett Kiesel as he forced Vick out of the pocket on a third-down incompletion in the third. Later, Lewis blocked no one as Timmons came untouched through the A-Gap and hit Vick on a fourth-quarter throw.

Stanley Havili – He once again was on the field more, playing 37 percent of the snaps. And Havili performed well. Just one touch – a nice 5-yard run in the first. But Havili delivered a good lead block on McCoy’s 8-yard run. And he had the linebacker pushed back in the end zone on Vick’s QB draw down near the goal line.

DeSean Jackson – Official stats have him down for eight targets, but if you remove the balls that should be considered throw-aways, that number is really six. Jackson finished with four catches for 58 yards. He picked up yards after the catch on a shallow crossing route that gained 25. And Jackson got open for a 24-yard completion on 3rd-and-10 during the final drive. I have to see the All-22, but it looked like he might have had a step deep on the early bomb that went Maclin’s way. Pass interference definitely could have been called on the bomb to Jackson in the second that fell incomplete. I really thought he had the first down on the Eagles’ 17-play drive. Reid challenged it, but the original call was upheld, costing the team a timeout it could have used later. Overall, solid game. He still does not have a drop this season.

Jeremy Maclin – He was the Eagles’ most-targeted receiver with nine balls thrown his way. Maclin finished with five catches for 39 yards, but keep in mind he also drew a 31-yard pass interference penalty in the first. He had a 10-yard grab in the red zone in the first, but couldn’t stay in bounds or he would have had a touchdown. Vick fumbled on the very next play.

Jason Avant – Finished with three catches for 34 yards. Nice 12-yard grab on 3rd-and-10 on the first drive. Nice job blocking on the McCoy 15-yard touchdown in the third. Good, tough catch over the middle for 12 yards on the 17-play drive. Interesting blocking assignment in the fourth: He and Celek double-teamed Worllds on the 24-yard completion to Jackson.

Damaris Johnson - He played four snaps but was not targeted.

Brent Celek – I was surprised he wasn’t a bigger factor in the passing game. Celek finished with three catches for 9 yards on four targets, including the 2-yard touchdown in the fourth. Part of the problem was that he stayed in to block about 34.3 percent of the time on pass plays, according to Pro Football Focus. Previously, that number was 28.1 percent (in the first four games). As a blocker, I thought Celek was outstanding. Good job on McCoy’s 8-yard run in the first. Great job in protection one-on-one vs. James Harrison on the 10-yard completion to Maclin in the red zone in the first. Great job on Harrison on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the first. And good block on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the fourth.

Clay Harbor – He played 22 snaps (39 percent) and caught the only ball thrown his way – an inside screen that picked up 8 yards, setting up the Eagles’ second touchdown. As a blocker, nice job one-on-one in pass protection against Harrison on an early bomb attempt to Maclin. And good block on McCoy’s 10-yard run in the first. Harbor was called for a false start in the first.

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

Eagles Snap Counts: Havili Earns More Playing Time

Here’s a look at snap counts for the Eagles during their Week 5 loss against the Steelers. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
LeSean McCoy4681%
Stanley Havili2137%
Bryce Brown47%
Dion Lewis35%

For the first time all season, the Eagles activated Dion Lewis, but the second-year back only played three snaps and did not have a touch. He may not have seen the field at all, but Bryce Brown suffered a shoulder injury during the game. Brown had one carry for 4 yards.

Meanwhile, Stanley Havili continues to see the field more. He performed well against the Giants, playing about 38.9 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. And against the Steelers, he played about 37 percent. Expect Havili to have a role going forward.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Jeremy Maclin5393%
DeSean Jackson4986%
Jason Avant2951%
Damaris Johnson47%
Brent Celek5495%
Clay Harbor2239%

Riley Cooper was a bit of a surprise inactive after the Eagles listed him as probable on the injury report. However, this was not a game where the Eagles used many 4-WR sets. With an increased emphasis on pass protection, I’m not sure we’re going to see those 4-WR sets much the rest of the season. Damaris Johnson only played four snaps.

Clay Harbor, meanwhile, played 39 percent of the snaps, his highest percentage since Week 2. The Eagles only played Harbor for 11 snaps against Arizona, but clearly thought he’d be more useful against Pittsburgh.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole5170%
Jason Babin5170%
Fletcher Cox4562%
Cullen Jenkins4156%
Derek Landri3142%
Cedric Thornton2940%
Darryl Tapp2332%
Brandon Graham1926%
Phillip Hunt68%

On the defensive side of the ball, it’s clear that Fletcher Cox is a backup in name only. He consistently plays more snaps than Cullen Jenkins and Derek Landri, who line up at defensive tackle with the first team.  Trent Cole and Jason Babin played a lot of snaps. Brandon Graham and Phillip Hunt continue to rotate behind Babin. This time around, Graham played 19 snaps; Hunt just six.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans7096%
Mychal Kendricks7096%
Jamar Chaney3649%
Casey Matthews34%

DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks came off the field for just three snaps each. Jamar Chaney got the start at WILL for an injured Akeem Jordan and played 49 percent of the snaps. Casey Matthews filled in for Kendricks, who left briefly with an injury. Matthews stayed on the field in nickel too, playing three snaps overall.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Nnamdi Asomugha73100%
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie73100%
Brandon Boykin3548%
Brandon Hughes11%
Nate Allen73100%
Kurt Coleman73100%

No surprises in the secondary. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asomugha, Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman all played every snap. Brandon Boykin was on the field in nickel 48 percent of the time.

During training camp, it looked like Curtis Marsh might have more of a role on this defense, but he’s played just two snaps all 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 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.

Eagles Wake-Up Call: A Look At the 2011 Draft Class

General consensus seems to be that you should wait at least three years before evaluating a draft class.

But considering the Eagles released their 2011 second-round pick, Jaiquawn Jarrett, yesterday, now seems like a good time to at least assess how each of the team’s 11 picks is doing.

Danny Watkins (1st round, 23rd overall): It took him awhile to get on the field as a rookie. The Eagles started journeyman Kyle DeVan over Watkins for four games last season. When he did get on the field, Watkins produced mixed results and probably had more struggles in pass protection than any of the four other linemen. The offseason was supposed to really help him, but Watkins had issues in the opener. It was only one game, but the expectation is for him to at least develop into a reliable, above-average starter in 2012.

Jaiquawn Jarrett (2nd round, 54th overall): As I mentioned yesterday, most draft analysts thought Jarrett was a good prospect coming out of Temple. Last year, at one point, the Eagles thought Jarrad Page was a better option at safety. Jarrett didn’t get onto the field until the starters ahead of him went down with injuries. This offseason, the coaches never publicly voiced that Jarrett was showing great improvement. At no point was he in contention for a starting job, and Jarrett had a terrible first preseason game, filling in for Nate Allen. Think about this: The team has decided that David Sims – someone whom the Browns were ready to release, and someone who has never played an NFL snap – is a better option right now than Jarrett, who has been working with Eagles coaches for the past 14 months. In other words, if they saw any signs that Jarrett was getting it, they would have kept him. Instead, he is gone.

Curtis Marsh (3rd round, 90th overall): He’s largely an unknown, but the potential appears to be there with Marsh. When healthy, he’ll be the team’s primary backup at left and right cornerback. Marsh had a strong preseason, and if either Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or Nnamdi Asomugha isn’t back with the team in 2013, he’ll get a chance to start. If both guys are back, Marsh will continue to get a chance to be the first backup.

Casey Matthews (4th round, 116th overall): Given that the Eagles didn’t feel like Watkins or Jarrett were ready to start last season, I’m not sure why they decided Matthews would be just fine as the team’s middle linebacker. We all know how that experiment turned out. On the flip side, Matthews kept working, and by the end of the season, he was flashing his potential in sub packages. He’s battled injuries this summer and was only used on special teams in Week 1, but Matthews could see a more prominent role at some point in 2012.

Alex Henery (4th round, 120th overall): Not sure exactly what to make of Henery at this point. Let’s just see how this season shakes out.

Dion Lewis (5th round, 149th overall): Didn’t get much of a chance to play as a rookie. And now when he gets healthy, he’ll have to hold off Bryce Brown as LeSean McCoy’s backup. Chris Polk is on the roster too. Lewis had a good summer and looked like he could be a playmaker in the screen game. If the coaches are serious about getting McCoy some rest this season, Lewis will get a shot to prove himself.

Julian Vandervelde (5th round, 161st overall): He had a poor preseason, was let go and landed on the Bucs’ practice squad. The Eagles are thin at guard/center, and it says something that they went with perennial practice-squad guy Dallas Reynolds over Vandervelde. Reynolds’ comfort level at center clearly gave him the edge to be Jason Kelce’s backup.

Jason Kelce (6th round, 191st overall): Right now, you’d have to say he’s the best of this class. Kelce started from Week 1 last year and showed steady improvement as a rookie. He’s been given more responsibility in terms of pre-snap calls this season and was excellent as a run blocker against the Browns. He still needs to improve, but has flashed potential. The expectation is for Kelce to be the team’s center for years to come.

Brian Rolle (6th round, 193rd overall): He played WILL as a rookie, and while Rolle made mistakes and missed tackles, he also looked like a playmaker. But a couple weeks ago, he lost the starting job to Akeem Jordan and was a special-teams player in Week 1. Chances are the Eagles will shuffle up the linebacker situation at some point in the coming weeks and months, so look for Rolle to get another chance for playing time.

Greg Lloyd (7th round, 237th overall): He was dealt to the Colts during training camp.

Stanley Havili (7th round, 240th overall): He’s probably the sleeper of the group. Havili spent 2011 on the practice squad, but had a strong summer and won the fullback job. The question with Havili has been whether he can hold up as a lead blocker, but he looked pretty good in that aspect Sunday. His ceiling is definitely higher now than it was a month ago.

WHAT YOU MISSED

As I mentioned above, the Eagles let Jarrett go and signed wide receiver Mardy Gilyard. T-Mac’s got details.

Back when Jarrett was drafted, most analysts thought he was a good prospect.

I knocked out a series of game reviews. The first focused on how the Eagles used Nnamdi Asomugha and the defensive backs. The second detailed strong outings from DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. And the third was about the defensive line, which was led by Jason Babin. For all the Eagles game reviews from Week 1, click here.

And finally, in case you missed the debut of Birds 24/7 Radio on 97.5 The Fanatic, it’s available for download on iTunes.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

The Ravens took care of the Bengals Monday night. Some interesting notes on their performance from Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun:

The Ravens went no-huddle on 21 of 58 snaps, an indicator it’s no passing fancy. They were in the shotgun 15 times. Tight end Dennis Pitta, who had a career-high 73 receiving yards, was on the field for 44 plays while Ed Dickson played 39 snaps. Often in double-tight-end formations and three-wide-receiver looks. Left guard Ramon Harewood and rookie right tackle Kelechi Osemele never left the field and held up solidly in starting debuts.

The no-huddle note is of particular interest, considering how the Eagles like to rotate defensive linemen in and out of the game.

Good job by DeSean Jackson spending 9/11 at Fort Dix and donating $50,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project. CSNPhilly.com has video detailing Jackson’s off day.

Tommy Lawlor’s detailed game review over on IgglesBlitz.com is always worth a read. On Michael Vick:

My biggest issue with him is that he made poor decisions and/or played slow. Guys would come open, Vick would see them, and then he’d throw the ball. By that time, defenders would either have the player covered or would be on the way. If this was 2009, I’d understand. Vick started 25 games over the last 2 years. He is a veteran QB. You must anticipate plays and throw the ball when the player is about to be open or is just coming open. You cannot wait until he is wide open and then throw. That’s too late.

And finally, Tim wrote yesterday about Vick being mic’d up Sunday. The footage he mentioned is now on YouTube so I embedded it below.

COMING UP

The Eagles are back at Novacare to get ready for Sunday’s home opener against the Ravens. Andy Reid meets with the media, and we’ll also hear from players. By the way, the Eagles are 3-point favorites in this matchup. The game will be broadcast on CBS at 1 p.m. Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf have the call.

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 Wake-Up Call: Counting On Brown?

Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce BrownThis little piece of news kind of slipped through the cracks with everything else going on the last few days: Andy Reid said he didn’t play Dion Lewis against the Jets because of injury Thursday.

“Dion, I don’t think Dion’s really 100 percent yet,” said Reid.  ”That’s why I held him and [LB Jamar] Chaney out. I just didn’t feel comfortable playing them.”

With the regular season officially upon us, this is something to pay attention to. Lewis, who was not listed on the injury report by Reid heading into the game, has been dealing with a hamstring injury on and off this preseason.

We’ll see what this week brings. If hobbled, Bryce Brown and/or Chris Polk could see some action in the opener against Cleveland.

Brown rushed for 122 yards, averaged 4.4 yards per carry and scored once this preseason. Polk finished with 112 yards and a touchdown. Lewis rushed the ball just 12 times for 35 yards.

WHAT YOU MISSED

A behind-the-scenes look at cutdown day for the Eagles. Howie Roseman, bubble players give us a good feel for all that goes into it, and  just how emotional it can be.

Jon Gruden is bullish on the Eagles. He believes Reid’s group is New Orleans bound.

David Sims, from garbage man to NFL player.

The Eagles finalized their practice squad roster.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jason Witten will have a scan of his spleen done Tuesday to see if he is healed enough to play in the opener against New York.

 “I mean, I wouldn’t say optimistic, just because as of right now, it’s been a tough challenge to get to that point. So I wouldn’t say I was optimistic. Optimistic would be if it was in my hands and my control.

The Cowboys tight end suffered a lacerated spleen just over three weeks ago.

Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks sat out practice Sunday, but vows he’s playing.

Dan Graziano continues his countdown of the best players in the NFC East. Trent Cole came in at No. 4. Third on the list is LeSean McCoy. 
Amid the quarterbacks and pass-rushers who dominate the top part of our list we find a running back — the best in the division and one who may be on the verge of becoming the best in the entire league.
Other Eagles represented on the list are Jason Babin (9), Michael Vick (12), DeSean Jackson (17) and Evan Mathis (19).

COMING UP 

The Eagles practice at 11:45. They will get into their regular-season practice schedule beginning Wednesday.

Could Eagles Look To Trade an RB?

Philadelphia Eagles running back Dion Lewis.Andy Reid said as recently as two days ago that the phones are “very active” this time of year as teams try to shape their rosters before the deadline to get down to 53 Friday night.

The Eagles’ most likely trade chip is probably a defensive lineman – perhaps Darryl Tapp or Antonio Dixon. The Birds currently have 11 defensive linemen worthy of being on an NFL roster. That might be too man to keep.

But according to one analyst, the team could look to deal a running back. Daniel Jeremiah served as the west coast scout for the Eagles from 2010 to 2012, so his opinion holds some added weight. Below are a couple Tweets he sent out last night.

As of now, Dion Lewis figures to be the backup behind LeSean McCoy. A fifth-round pick in 2011, Lewis played sparingly as a rookie. If you take away Week 17 against the Redskins when McCoy was sidelined, Lewis played an average of less than two snaps per game.

But his blitz pickup has looked good this summer, and Lewis could be a nice option in the screen game. In three preseason games, playing with a suspect second-team offensive line, he’s carried 12 times for 35 yards. Lewis also has two catches for 24 yards, including a 22-yarder on a screen last week and a touchdown in the red zone from Nick Foles.

The Eagles need to make sure they have a reliable backup this season. McCoy played more snaps than any other running back in 2011 and averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in the final five games.

The Birds’ other backs are Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. Brown has had a strong preseason, flashing on several occasions and carrying 19 times for 102 yards. Polk, meanwhile, has picked up 51 yards on 13 carries and has five catches for 42 yards.

Looking at the group as a whole, the notion of trading Lewis seems extremely risky. It would leave Brown as the first man up should McCoy suffer an injury. While Brown has shown upside as a runner, Reid and Marty Mornhinweg simply cannot trust him as a pass blocker right now. If the primary goal of the offense is to keep Michael Vick upright, that is a big deal.

Polk, meanwhile, probably doesn’t give the Eagles enough as a runner right now to play significant snaps on offense.

Could the Eagles trade Brown or Polk? It seems unlikely. Brown was a seventh-round pick in April and Polk was undrafted.

The guess here is that the Eagles keep McCoy, Lewis and Brown and let Polk go. I’d say the second-most likely scenario is that they keep all four.

A trade would surprise me, but it’s another position to keep an eye on as Reid and Howie Roseman shape the roster in the next few days.

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

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