Inside Voices: Eagles Getting Stronger

Philadelphia Eagles left guard Evan Mathis.The idea that a football team would be getting physically stronger as the season goes along seems counter-intuitive. The Eagles are 13 games into their campaign. Add training camp into the equation, and the grind has been going on for more than four months now. You would think the body would start wearing down right about now. Yet some players believe the opposite is happening in Year One under Chip Kelly.

“You can tell just from the reps that we do. I’m not saying that I’m just jumping up crazy, but what used to be hard to me is starting to become a lot easier towards the end,” said Brandon Graham. “Like the other day I put 405 on the bench [and did three sets of three] and it was pretty easy, and I feel like next week I want to go up a little more because that’s how good I feel right now.” Read more »

Eagles Re-Sign Colt Anderson, Jon Dorenbos

The Eagles made a couple moves that will affect their special teams today, re-signing safety Colt Anderson and long-snapper Jon Dorenbos.

“We are excited Jon and Colt will remain members of our team,” said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman in a statement. “These are two players who bring not only ability but a great amount of character to their respective positions. We anticipate they’ll both continue to have a strong impact as leaders on special teams. Coach [Chip] Kelly and I spoke about both players throughout the past several weeks and we both thought it was important for our club moving forward that we get a deal done with Jon and Colt before they hit the free agent market.”

Anderson is the Birds’ best special-teams player. He led the Eagles with 166 special-teams points (tracked by coaches), even though he missed a pair of games as he recovered from a torn ACL suffered late in the 2011 season. He was the first man down on coverage 34 times, second on the team to only Brandon Hughes.

Anderson also started four games at safety and had some nice moments, especially against the run. He showed he was capable of filling in as a backup when necessary The 27-year-old inked a one-year deal.

Dorenbos, meanwhile, signed a four-year deal. He joined the team in 2006 and has appeared in 101 games for the Eagles. Prior to landing in Philadelphia, Dorenbos had stops in Buffalo and Tennessee. He turns 33 in July.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Which Eagles Free Agents Will Be Back?

Philadelphia Eagles LB Akeem JordanWe’ve started to preview free agency in the past few days with breakdowns of the cornerbacks and the safeties.

And we’ll continue to look at other positions the rest of the week. But for now, here’s a peek at the Eagles’ own pending free agents, with some thoughts on who could be back.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – As you know by now, the Eagles chose to not franchise Rodgers-Cromartie. He has size, speed and a Pro Bowl under his belt, yet Rodgers-Cromartie seems destined to be on his third team in four years. Given the cornerback depth in free agency, it’ll be interesting to see what the demand is like for DRC. There could be a slim chance that the Eagles consider a short-term deal after letting him test the market. But more likely, another team will see his age and talent and take a shot on him.

Jake Scott – He was out of the league until the Eagles’ ninth game of the season in 2012. But Scott got seven starts at right guard, taking over for Danny Watkins. While he wouldn’t be a bad option for depth/competition, my guess is the Eagles will go with a younger option. Scott turns 32 next month.

Derek Landri - He was really good in 2011, but that production did not carry over to last season. Landri was part of the defensive tackle rotation (46.1 percent of the snaps, per Pro Football Focus), but didn’t have a sack all year. Even though he had seven tackles for loss, Landri struggled against the run also. I would be surprised if the Eagles brought the 29-year-old back.

King Dunlap – I’ve seen arguments by people who think he deserves a legitimate shot to start somewhere, and I have to disagree. Dunlap, a seventh-round pick in 2008, deserves credit for having stayed in the league this long. He’s a complete non-factor as a run blocker and had nine penalties, tied for the most among Eagles offensive players. Dunlap demonstrated competency as a pass blocker on occasion, but it’s highly unlikely that his body could hold up as a 16-game starter. The 27-year-old will look to find a roster spot elsewhere.

Akeem Jordan – It seems like the Eagles try to get rid of him every year, and he just keeps finding his way back on to the 53-man roster at the end of training camp. Jordan has played in 82 games the past six seasons for the Eagles. Last year, he ranked third in special-teams points and led the Birds with 15 special-teams tackles. Jordan played 36.6 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last year, per PFF. Even though it feels like Jordan has been around for awhile, he’s only 27. Right now, the Eagles only have two linebacker spots nailed down with DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. The likelihood is that Jordan will be gone, but depending on what the Eagles do in free agency and the draft, perhaps he could get another look as a depth/special teams option.

Darryl Tapp – I think we can safely say the Seahawks got the better of this trade. The Eagles sent Chris Clemons and a fourth-round pick to Seattle for Tapp back in 2010. Tapp has had six sacks in 39 games with the Eagles as a rotational defensive end. Clemons has 33.5 sacks in 48 games as a key member of the Seahawks’ defense. Tapp played 28.5 percent of the Eagles’ snaps, per PFF, but managed just half-a-sack and eight hurries. At 28, he’ll try to catch on elsewhere.

Jon Dorenbos – I’ll admit to not knowing the intricacies of the long-snapper market these days. Dorenbos turns 33 in July and has appeared in 101 games in seven years for the Eagles.

Colt Anderson – He’s the only restricted free agent in this group, meaning the Eagles can match other teams’ offers. Of the eight players listed, Anderson is the most likely to be back. He battled back from a torn ACL, led the team in special teams points and was OK in four starts at safety towards the end of the year. If Chip Kelly is making special teams a priority, he’ll hold on to Anderson as the team’s fourth safety.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7
on Facebook.

Hakeem Nicks Doubtful With Swollen Knee

For all the hype surrounding Victor Cruz‘s return to Lincoln Financial Field, it’s another Giants receiver who has been garnering the most attention inside the NovaCare walls.

“The first thing that Coach [Todd Bowles] said was, they’ve got a good pass attack but he pointed out [Hakeem] Nicks as being their complete receiver, or their number one receiver,” said Nnamdi Asomugha. “That’s what he kept saying: ‘This is the guy we’ve got to watch.’ Obviously in the slot when they come out and spread it, Victor starts to get more of the looks. But when they’re just playing base football? It’s a little more Nicks.”

Now it looks like their primary concern might not even take the field.

Nicks is listed as doubtful on the Giants injury report with a swollen knee. The 6-1 Nicks, coming off offseason foot surgery, was sidelined last Thursday against the Panthers. He practiced Thursday before this new injury cropped up.

Asomugha was given the news during a session with reporters Friday.

“Hmm,” he said. “I don’t know. That’s happened so many times. We’ll see.”

The rest of the Giants injury report looks like this:

Linebacker Keith Rivers, (hamstring), cornerback Jayron Hosley (hamstring) and right tackle David Diehl (knee) are all out. Cornerback Michael Coe (hamstring) and safety Antrel Rolle (knee) are questionable; running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), wide receiver Domenik Hixon (concussion), cornerback Corey Webster (hand) and defensive end Adewale Ojomo (hamstring) are all listed as probable for Sunday.

For the Eagles, King Dunlap and Akeem Jordan are out. That means Demetress Bell will get the nod once again at left tackle, and Jamar Chaney is expected to start at weakside linebacker. Riley Cooper suggested to reporters after practice that he will not play Sunday.

Jon Dorenbos (ankle) did practice, according to Andy Reid. His status is up in the air.

“I can’t tell you either way. He’s 50-50. He practiced today, though, and moved around pretty good,” said Reid.

Long-snapper Kyle Nelson was signed to the practice squad in case Dorenbos can’t go against the Giants.

Cooper, Dorenbos and Colt Anderson (knee) are all officially listed as questionable.

Jeremy Maclin (hip) is “ready to go,” Reid said.

Maclin Returns To Practice; Cox Sidelined

Jeremy Maclin returned to the practice field Monday after missing last week’s game against the Cardinals with a hip injury.

Maclin’s absence was very much felt in the 27-6 loss in Arizona. Michael Vick, under constant pressure and struggling with his reads, could have used a safety blanket like Maclin on the outside. It appears the receiving corps is on the mend. Riley Cooper also practiced Wednesday. Cooper, who is recovering from a fractured collarbone, said last week that he was targeting the Giants game for his return.

As Andy Reid stated, King Dunlap (hamstring), Akeem Jordan (hamstring), Jon Dorenbos (ankle) and Colt Anderson (knee) did not suit up Wednesday. One name not mentioned by the coach earlier in the day was Fletcher Cox, who was also sidelined. Cox missed part of Sunday’s game because of a migraine and hasn’t fully shaken it.

“I woke up this morning and felt better. I came in and went to lift weights and I guess from the strain it flared it back up a bit,” said Cox. “I’ll be able to play Sunday, I’ll be healthy. That’s the good part about it.”

Cox said the migraines started last year in college and he dealt with it for the first two months.

“It may last a couple days, you never know. Once it goes away it’s gone,” said Cox. “Sometimes it comes back and kills you, but it’s no big deal.”

Long-snapper Kyle Nelson was signed to the practice squad in case Dorenbos can’t go against the Giants.

With Jordan ailing, Brian Rolle and Jamar Chaney are splitting reps at weakside linebacker.

As for New York: receiver Hakeem Nicks (foot), tackle David Diehl (knee), cornerback Michael Coe (hamstring), cornerback Jayron Hosley (hamstring)and linebacker Keith Rivers (hamstring) all missed practice Wednesday.  Safety Antrel Rolle (knee) was a limited participant.