Philly’s 10 Best Pro Athletes on Twitter

References to the Almighty God. Mentions of Jesus Christ. Bible verse citations. Heads up about heading into practice. Vague references to “grinding” and/or “putting in work.” Thanking Uber for the ride. The Twitter lives of many Philadelphia professional athletes can be pretty banal.

But that doesn’t mean all of them are social media dullards. Here, in no particular order, are the 10 Philly jocks who make it a point to bring their best game on Twitter — follow-worthy, all of them.

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Vandervelde Undergoes Back Surgery

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Julian Vandervelde underwent back surgery on Thursday, per multiple sources.

While timetables for recovery are difficult to predict, particularly when it comes to back injuries, his rehab time is expected to be similar to Dennis Kelly‘s. Kelly had back surgery to repair an L2 disc last August. He was cleared to participate in all football activities in September and had targeted Week 4 for his return. Kelly did not play last season, though, at least in part because the offensive line remained generally healthy last year.

“He’s going to need a little bit of patience because you do start over. You have to start from square one once you get cleared,” said Kelly. “It was tough going through the season because you’re just trying to get your strength back. I’d like to say [I reached 100 percent health] during the season but more realistically [it was] during the spring.”

Since Vandervelde has already practiced, he is not eligible for the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Read more »

Maclin To Play Vs. Chicago

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

CHICAGO – Jeremy Maclin, who sat out parts of practice this week, will suit up and play tonight in the Eagles’ preseason opener against the Chicago Bears.

This will be Maclin’s first game action since the 2012 season finale. He tore his ACL last July during training camp and was sidelined for the year.

The following Eagles are out: nose tackle Bennie Logan (hamstring), cornerback Nolan Carroll II, wide receiver Riley Cooper (foot), inside linebacker Jake Knott (hamstring), wide receiver Jeff Maehl (ankle), running back Chris Polk (hamstring) and center Julian Vandervelde (back). Read more »

Eagles Depth Chart: Offense

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Chip Kelly likes to say that the Eagles only have a seating chart, not a depth chart, this time of year.

Luckily, here at Birds 24/7, we don’t have to abide by the same rules. So now that we’ve seen all of the spring practices and have our eyes on the start of training camp (July 25), here’s our stab at what the offensive depth chart looks like (we’ll do the defense tomorrow). I tried to make this as useful as possible, so there are explanations below. Read more »

Wolff Questionable For Saturday

Eagles Safety Earl Wolff defends against Chargers

Eagles safety Earl Wolff is listed as questionable for the team’s Saturday night playoff matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

Wolff told Birds 24/7 Thursday that his knee was improving.

“I just know that it felt a lot better today than it did before. They kind of recorded me moving around a little bit, doing some functional stuff, and it didn’t bother me,” he said.

“It was football activity, basically like what I would go through in a game, and it didn’t really bother me. Of course I felt it a little bit –I’m going to feel it a little bit — but it’s nothing that’s going to hold me back.” Read more »

Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders

The following Eagles are inactive for tonight’s game against the Cowboys: QB Matt Barkley, safety Earl Wolff, safety Colt Anderson, CB Curtis Marsh, RB Matthew Tucker, guard/center Julian Vandervelde and OT Dennis Kelly.

Wolff had missed four games in a row before returning last week briefly against the Bears. But his knee issue re-surfaced, and he won’t go. Nate Allen and Patrick Chung will start at safety. Kurt Coleman (hamstring) will be the first backup. He missed last week’s game. The Eagles also have Keelan Johnson as a backup. Read more »

Ten Eagles On the Roster Bubble

Danny WatkinsBy 6 p.m. Saturday, the Eagles have to cut 22 players and get their roster down to 53. Many of the bubble guys will get a chance to make one final impression Thursday night, as Chip Kelly acknowledged there’s still “a lot up in the air.”

New offensive scheme, new defensive scheme, new coaching staff and new personnel. Kelly’s moves this weekend will tell us a lot about his roster-building philosophy. Keeping that in mind, here are 10 players whose future with the franchise hangs in the balance as we approach cut-down day.

1. Danny Watkins, OG – The 2011 first-round pick got a fresh start with new offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, but it doesn’t seem like he’s made a strong impression. Watkins is currently a backup guard and has been passed on the depth chart by veteran Allen Barbre. Kelly wants versatility in his backups, but so far, Watkins has only played guard. As T-Mac reported yesterday, Watkins is due $1.1M in guaranteed money. But with Barbre looking like a keeper and the team needing a backup center, Watkins, who turns 29 in November, could still be out of a spot.

2. Michael Bamiro, OT – The Eagles had to compete with other teams to sign Bamiro earlier this summer. Some reports suggested he would have been a mid-round pick had he entered the draft. The question the Birds have to weigh is whether or not they’d be safe stashing Bamiro on the practice squad. The Eagles have some tackle depth. Barbre can play out there, and Todd Herremans could slide over in a pinch. The team also expects Dennis Kelly to return from back surgery at some point. Bamiro might be a nice option for the bottom of the roster. He would likely be a weekly inactive, but has plenty of upside for down the road.

3. Julian Vandervelde, G/C – It’s been a bumpy journey for the 2011 fifth-round pick. He spent his rookie season on the active roster, was cut last summer, spent a couple days with the Tampa Bay Bucs and then returned to the Eagles. He entered the league as a guard, but has been learning the center position the past two years. If the preseason is any indication, he has a good shot of sticking around as Jason Kelce’s backup. The Eagles’ other options for that spot are Dallas Reynolds and Matt Tennant.

4. Greg Salas, WR - The Eagles didn’t make any moves to add receivers after Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Benn went down with season-ending ACL injuries. Salas had an excellent camp and flashed during the first two preseason games. He could be competing with Russell Shepard for the fifth receiver spot. Or the Eagles could decide to keep them both.

5. Russell Shepard, WR – He showed some good YAC ability during last week’s game, catching two balls for 38 yards. With Shepard, there is once again the practice squad question. There’s no doubt that the Eagles like his talent, but he went undrafted and could probably use some seasoning before he’s ready to contribute. Special teams is a factor here too. Shepard looks like a willing contributor and made a nice tackle in coverage against Carolina.

6. Clay Harbor, TE/WR - Kelly has been trying to find a spot for the fourth-year tight end. He’s been getting reps at wide receiver and has played there each of the last two preseason games. The truth is, when then Eagles spread it out in Kelly’s offense, there’s often not much of a difference between a wide receiver and a tight end. Kelly prides himself on being prepared for every situation. Harbor’s versatility could be enough to make him stick.

7. Chris McCoy, OLB – The CFL product started off the preseason well, but was not good last week against the Jaguars. The Eagles are somewhat thin at the position. Kelly said ideally, the team would keep four outside linebackers. They’ve got Connor Barwin, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham as virtual locks. This one will likely come down to who else is available. McCoy could be an initial keeper, but if the Eagles see an outside linebacker they like cut from another team, he could be released.

8. Casey Matthews, ILB – Kelly said he’d like to keep four inside linebackers also. The starters are in place with DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. Matthews, Jake Knott and Emmanuel Acho are competing for spots. Knott is probably the favorite among that group. What we wrote about McCoy could apply here too. The Eagles could add an inside linebacker from another team’s cut list. But Matthews’ special-teams production (14 tackles last year) could help him earn a spot.

9. Clifton Geathers/Damion Square, DL – I cheated a bit here and included these two together. And really, they could both end up making it. The plan for the Eagles on gamedays seems to be to rotate six players on the defensive line. Right now, the five most likely are: Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan and Vinny Curry. The sixth could be either Geathers or Square, with the other as a potential inactive. Square drew praise early in the preseason, but did not play well last week. Geathers had his best performance against Jacksonville. Both have played nose tackle, along with defensive end.

10. Kurt Coleman, S – The fourth-year player’s chances of making the roster increased when the Eagles released Kenny Phillips. But he’s still no lock to make it. Coleman hasn’t rotated in with the starters much, and the decision on whether to keep him or not will likely depend on if Kelly is comfortable keeping five safeties. Patrick Chung, Nate Allen and rookie Earl Wolff seem like locks. Colt Anderson has an excellent shot of sticking because of his special-teams ability. That means Coleman could be the odd man out.

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

Brian Rolle got a call from an unknown “215”  number this morning, and immediately took it as a bad sign.

“I thought, I guess I’m getting released. If its a ‘215’ number and I don’t have it, that can’t be good,” Rolle told Birds 24/7.

The call was from head coach Andy Reid, telling Rolle that he had in fact  been cut.

“I’m surprised to say the least,” said Rolle. “I felt like there’s been tension the last couple weeks there anyway. I’m at a loss for words. It’s crazy but I know I’ll get an opportunity somewhere else. I know I did everything in my power and played hard, and obviously it was not enough. Wherever I end up, there’s going to be hell.”

Taking Rolle’s place on the roster is linebacker Adrian Moten, the 24-year-old out of Maryland who was with the team during training camp. The Eagles also signed offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde back to the practice squad and released longsnapper Kyle Nelson.

Rolle, a sixth-round pick in 2011, started 13 games in his rookie campaign and ended with 42 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble return for a touchdown. The linebacker position got bolstered in the offseason with the additions of  DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. Rolle was in the mix for the starting weakside linebacker spot but that job ultimately went to Akeem Jordan. With Jordan sidelined against the Giants because of a hamstring injury, Jamar Chaney got the call at WILL.

Rolle said he felt under-appreciated this season.

“I felt like I didn’t get the chance. People saw how productive I was last year. Why I am I not in there this year?” he said.

“I was one of the most productive guys last year. Wherever I get an opportunity I’m going to prove to them that I should have stayed there. I’m not going to bad talk the organization, it is a wonderful organization. At the end of the day it’s football and I can’t let it get to me.”

According to a source, special teams play was a big factor in this decision. Reid was clearly irked by the shoddy kick return coverage against New York.

“Special teams-wise, we’ve got some work to do on the kickoff coverage and kickoff return units. There’s no reason we should be playing like we are in those spots,” said Reid. “Had an opportunity to go through that with [special teams coordinator] Bobby [April] [Monday] morning and we’ve just got to straighten a few things up there. So, we’ll go about working on that this week.”

 

 

With Kelce Down, A Look At the Eagles’ Options

It’s not yet determined whether Jason Kelce is lost for the season, but the Eagles will be without their center for at least a month while his torn MCL heals. While Dallas Reynolds will take over in the interim, it makes sense that a move would be made to add depth.

Here is a list of the top available free agent centers, via Adam Caplan at The Sideline View.

Jason Brown 
Casey Wiegmann
Steve Vallos 
Jamaal Jackson
Matt Tennant
Andre Gurode 
Chris Morris 
Chris White
Brett Romberg
Bryan Mattison 

Lots of Eagles fans have asked about Jackson for obvious reasons. He was a quality player for the Eagles before injury and a scheme change altered his path. Offensive line coach Howard Mudd never seemed to be a big fan of Jackson, and it’s hard to envision the Eagles bringing the 32-year-old back at this stage. As of Monday morning, there had been no contact between Jackson and the Eagles.

The same goes for Wiegmann, who had started in 160 straight games for the Broncos and Chiefs heading into this season but has yet to find  a home. The 39-year old has 16 season of NFL experience.

The most likely candidates out of this group are the ones that have recent history with the Eagles: Vallos and Vandervelde.

Vallos is the guess here for who the Eagles will go after. Originally drafted in the seventh round by the Seahawks back in 2007, the 6-3, 310-pounder bounced from the Seahwaks to the Browns before signing a one-year deal with the Eagles this offseason. He was left off the final roster, but seemed to have a decent camp.

Vandervelde is currently on the Bucs’ practice squad. He was a fifth-round pick of the Eagles last season and was a casualty on cut-down day.

 

 

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