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.



Eagles Waive Lindley, Add OL Menkin

The Eagles have waived cornerback Trevard Lindley and added offensive lineman Nate Menkin off waivers from the Texans, the team announced.

Menkin (6-4, 296) is listed as a tackle/guard. He signed with Houston in May as an undrafted free agent. Menkin played his college ball at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas.

A couple of Texans writers seem to think the Eagles got a pretty good player. From Lance Zierlein of TheSidelineView.com:

I feel the same way about Texans UFA rookie tackle Nathan Menkin that I felt about Mike Brisiel the first time I saw him. He has a future

There is no way that teams who watch the tape of Texans/Vikings won’t notice #77 (Menkin) and his ability to get to 2nd level.

And from Stephanie Stradley of The Houston Chronicle:

Nice size, movement combo. Good get. Developmental.

The Eagles now have nine offensive linemen on their roster: King Dunlap, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny WatkinsTodd Herremans, Dennis Kelly, Demetress Bell, Dallas Reynolds and Menkin.

Lindley, meanwhile, initially made the 53-man roster yesterday when the Birds made cuts. A fourth-round pick in 2010, he was let go last summer and didn’t play in the league. But Lindley impressed the coaching staff this summer during training camp and in the preseason. Looks like there’s not a spot for him right now though.

Some other notes:

* Julian Vandervelde, whom the Eagles cut after acquiring safety David Sims from the Browns yesterday, Tweeted that he’s going to Tampa Bay to join the Bucs. Vandervelde, who could have been a practice-squad candidate, was a fifth-round pick in 2011.

* Tight end Brett Brackett, who also could have been a practice-squad candidate, has been claimed by the Jaguars, according to Jeff McLane.

* Linebacker Keenan Clayton has been claimed by the Raiders.

* Mike Kafka has cleared waivers, according to various reports. Tim reported earlier that four teams have expressed interest in Kafka. He’s now a free agent and can choose his next team.

* D.J. Jones, who the Eagles cut, has been claimed by the Giants, according to various reports.

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

Eagles Wake-Up Call: After Cuts, More Work For Roseman

Teams have until Friday night at 9 p.m. to trim their rosters down to 53.

For now, coaches and general managers are focused on making sure they keep the right guys. They’re exploring potential trades (as Andy Reid explained yesterday) and probably making practice-squad projections.

But they’re also looking at what’s going on around the league. With 31 other teams forced to let go of 22 guys each, Reid and Howie Roseman will need to have opinions formed on a new pool of about 682 players.

Last year, for example, the Eagles claimed guard Kyle DeVan off waivers exactly one week before he was inserted into the starting lineup against the Rams. Where might the Eagles look to upgrade this year?

Safety is one area. We know Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman are the starters, but if the Eagles can add a player to bolster their depth, expect them to make a move. Neither Jaiquawn Jarrett nor Oshiomogho Atogwe is guaranteed a spot.

The Eagles could address offensive line depth as well, specifically at guard/center. The guess here is that Julian Vandervelde and Steve Vallos make the team initially as backups. But if an upgrade is available, the Eagles will take a look.

And finally, fullback. Stanley Havili has the job for now, but that could change.

We’re more than a week away from the opener, but look for Reid and Roseman to be active in shaping the roster in the next four or five days.


Linked this one above, but Reid says the phones are “very active” this time of year, as teams discuss trades.

Reid also said Nick Foles is the No. 2 quarterback – for now.

T-Mac had the scoop on Vick’s rib padding a couple days ago. Yesterday, Vick talked a little more about what the new protection will provide.

According to one analyst, the Eagles have only one offensive player who ranks among the top 10 at his position.

And here are 10 players currently on the roster bubble.


Is Reid a Hall of Fame-worthy coach? Not yet, writes ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano:

As for Reid, you know I have nothing but respect for the job he’s done with the Eagles and his abilities as a coach and a personnel man. I think his record holds up against that of anyone currently coaching. He’s 136-90 and has nine playoff appearances in 14 years. In the salary cap era, what he’s done in Philly is remarkable. However — and Reid himself knows this — he’s not getting a sniff in that Hall of Fame voting room if he doesn’t end up with a Super Bowl title on his resume. May not be fair, but that’s the way these things work.

SI.com’s Don Banks is having Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe flashbacks when he watches Foles:

Hate to list Foles as a winner every week, but is anyone else here starting to think Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe, circa 2001? Sounds implausible, I know, but so did the idea of a sixth-round pick supplanting the franchise in New England not quite 11 years ago. Foles has looked poised and promising in his three chunks of preseason action for Philadelphia, and starter Michael Vick can’t seem to stay healthy enough to see a third drive in any game he plays. And hey, at least Foles was taken in the draft’s third round. So it’s not like he went 199th overall and we’ll be hearing about all the other quarterbacks (“The Foles Six?”) who were taken ahead of him.

NFL.com experts are making their season predictions. Ian Rapoport pegs Vick for MVP, and Akbar Gbajabiamila thinks Reid will be Coach of the Year.


No practice today, but Brian Westbrook, who will retire as an Eagle, will meet with the media. We’ll have that covered, along with much more, including a final 53-man roster projection.

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

Ten Eagles On the Roster Bubble

Philadelphia Eagles running back Chris Polk.The Eagles have until 9 p.m. Friday to cut their roster down to 53.

That means 22 players currently on the squad will be told not to show up next week.

Keeping that in mind, here are 10 players who are sitting squarely on the roster bubble.

Chris Polk – He’s had an OK preseason, carrying 13 times for 51 yards (3.9 YPC) and catching five balls for 42 yards. Polk has shown his versatility and is probably the Eagles’ best back in pass protection, but there might not be a spot for him. At this point, LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis and Bryce Brown are clearly ahead of him. Polk’s best chance at a roster spot is if the Eagles decide to keep a fourth running back.

Chad Hall – Amazingly, he’s still eligible for the practice squad. Hall was active for seven games last year and eight in 2010. He can do a lot of different things – run the ball, catch the ball, return kicks, return punts – but the question is whether he does any of them at a high enough level to warrant a roster spot. Hall has 14 catches for 135 yards and 12 carries for 42 yards in his career. It seems that undrafted free agent Damaris Johnson has a similar skill set, and the rookie is definitely going to make the team, which could make Hall expendable. Then again, with Riley Cooper likely to miss time early in the season, the Eagles could look to keep six receivers, and no one’s snatched that final spot just yet.

Marvin McNutt – Speaking of which… McNutt also has a chance for that last wide receiver spot. Taken in the sixth round of April’s draft, he has not shown much in the preseason, with just one catch for 13 yards. Based on what we’ve seen so far, McNutt is not going to contribute as a rookie. But if the Eagles like his potential, they could hang onto McNutt. The practice squad is also an option for him.

Darryl Tapp – The veteran is not going quietly. He’s had a strong preseason, beating Browns left tackle Joe Thomas for a sack and forced fumble on Friday night. Keep in mind that Tapp is only 27-years-old. He’s in the final year of his contract and is scheduled to make $2.575M. Perhaps another team would offer up a late-round pick for his services. If not, the Eagles could go heavy on the defensive line and hang onto Tapp.

Antonio Dixon – His chances of making the team increased when Andy Reid announced earlier this week that Mike Patterson might miss the entire season. Back in 2010, Dixon was one of the Eagles’ best defensive players, consistently making plays in the run game. But the Eagles hired Jim Washburn last offseason, and Dixon hasn’t been much of a factor since. He played four games in 2011 before suffering a season-ending triceps injury. The writing may have been on the wall this offseason when the Eagles re-signed Derek Landri, re-structured Cullen Jenkins’ contract and drafted Fletcher Cox in the first round. Those three players are clearly ahead of Dixon, and Cedric Thornton probably is also. If the Eagles keep five defensive tackles, he’s on. If not, he’s probably off.

Keenan Clayton – For much of the summer, we’ve been writing about how he’s battling with Akeem Jordan for a roster spot. Well, for now, Jordan is a starter, taking over the WILL spot from Brian Rolle. The Eagles like Clayton’s cover skills, as they kept him on the field as the lone linebacker in dime packages at the end of last season. Juan Castillo hinted yesterday that the Eagles could use their linebackers in specialized roles again this season. I don’t see Clayton knocking another linebacker, like Rolle or Casey Matthews, off the roster. Rolle appears fit for a backup spot, and the guess here is the coaches think Matthews has more upside than Clayton. If they keep seven linebackers, Clayton hangs on. If not, he’s likely out.

Brandon Hughes – He was active for 13 games last year and played 91 snaps on defense (per PFF), most of which came as a starter against the Patriots. The Eagles have decisions to make at the backup cornerback spots. Second-year player Curtis Marsh is a lock, and we know rookie Brandon Boykin will make the team. But beyond that, it gets interesting. We know Joselio Hanson can only play inside. And if Boykin beats Hanson out for the first-team nickel spot, Hanson probably doesn’t make the team. That would increase Hughes’ chances. Two things working in Hughes’ favor: He can play outside, and among defensive backs, he was the Eagles’ most productive special teams player in 2011.

Jaiquawn Jarrett – His status was one of the team’s biggest mysteries when camp started in Lehigh in late July. And in many ways, it remains that way as we approach final cuts. Jarrett had his moments at camp. There were glimpses of the player the Eagles described when they drafted him in the second round of the 2011 draft. But in a starting role against the Steelers in the first preseason game, he suffered miscue after miscue. The truth is, even if Jarrett lasts through the initial cut-down deadline, he shouldn’t get too comfortable. The Eagles could add a safety or two after other teams get down to 53.

Oshiomogho Atogwe – He’s been around all summer, but it’s difficult to get a feel on how Atogwe fits in. He battled hamstring, knee and toe injuries last season and is 31-years-old. Atogwe has missed the last two preseason games because of hamstring trouble. At practice, he’s running with the second team. With the Eagles lacking safety depth, Atogwe could make the team by default. But if he can’t get healthy, the Eagles could just let him go.

Julian Vandervelde – Offensive line depth is a concern. Vandervelde, a fifth-round pick in 2011, probably has the inside track on a spot, but he’s no lock. If the Eagles only keep one interior lineman active on gamedays, that player needs to be able to play guard and center. Vandervelde has been learning center on the fly this summer, but in the last preseason game, he botched one snap, resulting in a fumble, and let another go early, before Trent Edwards was ready for it. With Mike Gibson on IR, Vandervelde is competing with Steve Vallos and Dallas Reynolds for now. But the Eagles could add offensive line help from elsewhere once teams make cuts.

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

Offense Game Review: Bell Still Struggling

Here’s a player-by-player look at how the Eagles’ offense performed Friday night against the Browns, after having re-watched the game.

Nick Foles – He finished 12-for-19 for 146 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. You’ll have a very difficult time right now finding anyone who thinks he doesn’t deserve the backup job. As Andy Reid said, Foles got greedy on the interception. It’s fine to take that shot if DeSean Jackson has one-on-one coverage, but not a smart throw with the safety there also. On the first touchdown, he waited as long as he could before seeing Brent Celek release and lofting a pass for the 7-yard TD. Foles once again showed the ability to fit the ball into tight spaces on the 2-yard score to Dion Lewis. And he connected with Damaris Johnson on a 45-yard bomb. Foles has been the story this preseason for the Eagles. Be sure to check out T-Mac’s story on him from this morning.

Trent Edwards – The numbers look great: 14-for-17 for 127 yards. But Edwards was doing a lot of dinking-and-dunking, and was going up against backups in the second half, so let’s not get carried away. Good patience and good throw to Brett Brackett for a 20-yard completion in the third. Don’t know what Edwards was thinking on the pick-six that was called back for roughing the passer. I guess he was throwing the ball away? Still don’t see him making the roster.

LeSean McCoy – Got a couple touches early on before heading to the sideline. McCoy took a screen 11 yards and had one carry that resulted in a 4-yard loss. Now is the time for rest. Things aren’t going to come as easy for him with Jason Peters no longer at left tackle.

Stanley Havili – Ran with the first team. Havili ran into a brick wall on his only carry, picking up a yard in the red zone. It’ll either be him or someone not currently on the roster as the first-team fullback in Week 1.

Dion Lewis – On the touchdown catch, he started out in the backfield to Foles’ left before motioning out wide to the right. Lewis was matched up against the safety, started towards the corner of the end zone, then changed direction to the middle of the field for the score. The throw was perfect, but give Lewis credit. He had a safety on his back and a linebacker closing in, but held on. Later, he took a screen 22 yards. Lewis did that a lot at Lehigh. Could be a nice option during the regular season. As a runner, he had just 4 yards on five carries, but didn’t get very good blocking with the second-team offensive line. As a blocker, it wasn’t a fair fight, but he did nothing to slow down Juqua Parker with his chip on the play where the former Eagles defensive end slammed Foles to the ground.

Bryce Brown – Seven carries for 18 yards. Brown made a defender miss in the backfield and picked up 4. And later, he had a nice 7-yard cutback run. He leaped over the pile at the goal line, but had the ball slapped out of his hands. I’m surprised that doesn’t happen more often on those plays. As a blocker, he missed his man on the Edwards INT that was called back. Feeling strongly that he makes the final roster.

Chris Polk – Six carries for 39 yards, 20 of which came on one run late in the fourth quarter when the Eagles were running clock. Polk has been an excellent blocker all summer, but he missed a blitz pickup in the fourth. He’s on the bubble, with the likelihood being he doesn’t make it.

Emil Igwenagu – Had one carry for no gain and a pair of catches for 17 yards. Can’t see him making the roster.

DeSean Jackson – Foles took a shot to him deep in the first that was intercepted. Didn’t play much. That was his only target.

Jeremy Maclin – Had an 8-yard grab in the red zone to set up the Eagles’ first touchdown. Caught a screen on the next play that was blown up for no gain.

Jason Avant – No catches, no targets.

Damaris Johnson – He was the Eagles’ leading receiver with two catches for 58 yards. Johnson got the ball in space on a shallow cross in the second and made defenders miss for a 13-yard pickup. Good-looking play. He deserves more credit than Foles on the 45-yard completion – great adjustment and concentration. Johnson delivered a nice effort on the 23-yard touchdown that was called back. He and Foles have developed a nice chemistry.

Chad Hall – Squarely on the roster bubble. Had one catch for 10 yards. Foles targeted him on another play and tried to fit one in between three Browns defenders, but the linebacker got his hand on the ball.

Marvin McNutt – Also on the bubble. Targeted on a slant, but the ball went right through his hands. Later, McNutt ran an identical pattern on the other side of the field for 13 yards. Certainly doesn’t look like a contributor as a rookie, but has a chance to sneak onto the roster.

Brent Celek – He was helping Dennis Kelly as a blocker, but then released at the last second, just in time for Foles to find him for a 7-yard touchdown. Celek broke a tackle around the 2. He had another grab for 8 yards.

Clay Harbor – No targets, no catches. Limited playing time.

Brett Brackett – Three catches for 34 yards and a touchdown. His 20-yard catch got the Eagles in the red zone in the third, and Brackett delivered a great effort on the 4-yard touchdown. As a blocker, he did a good job on Lewis’ 22-yard screen, but a poor job in pass protection on the Edwards INT that was called back. Longshot to make the team, although I’m not ready to rule it out completely.

Chase Ford – Two catches for 16 yards.

King Dunlap – I thought he played pretty well. Dunlap started the game and then rotated with Demetress Bell. He did a nice job in pass protection on Foles’ 13-yard completion to Johnson. Dunlap had a little bit of an issue around the edge on the Foles TD to Johnson that was called back. And he couldn’t hold his block on a Lewis run that lost 2 yards in the second. If the goal is to keep Michael Vick upright, Dunlap is clearly a better option than Bell at this point. Not sure he gives you much in the run game, but that’s probably secondary right now.

Demetress Bell – I don’t mean to be harsh, but he just looks really uncomfortable and is constantly chasing pass rushers from behind as they rush the quarterback. A Browns defensive lineman blew right past him on a backside block, dropping McCoy for a 4-yard loss. Keep in mind, that was a play that was not even run to Bell’s side. He got beat by an inside move on third down, forcing Foles to escape the pocket. He had trouble with the defensive end going around the edge on the Foles touchdown pass to Lewis. He got beat inside on a Foles incompletion to Hall. And he missed his block on a linebacker as Igwenagu got stuffed for no gain in the third. If you want a bright spot, Bell gave good effort on a block that helped spring Brackett for the 4-yard TD. I just can’t see the Eagles putting him out there to start the season unless a light bulb suddenly goes on in the next two weeks.

Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins – Including these guys together because they each just played eight snaps. Seven of those were pass plays, and they held up well in protection.

Dennis Kelly – He got the start at right tackle for Todd Herremans, who missed the game because of a death in the family. Kelly had ups and downs, but did not look overmatched. He had some trouble with the bull rush of Jabaal Sheard, getting pushed back into the pocket in the first. And Kelly had some trouble late in the first half as Foles escaped and threw incomplete to Hall. Good job one-on-one in pass protection on Foles’ deep attempt to Hall. In the run game, it looked like he did a decent job on Lewis’ 4-yard run to the right. Later, he had trouble with Parker on Lewis’ run that picked up 1. There’s a chance he’s active on gamedays as the first reserve tackle – at least early in the season.

Julian Vandervelde – He played with the second group at guard and then gave center a shot. At guard, he did a good job in pass protection on Foles’ touchdown pass to Lewis. Vandervelde also had a nice block on Brown’s 7-yard run. It looked like either he or Steve Vallos should have picked up the DE, who looped inside and rushed Edwards untouched on the TD to Brackett. At center, he had issues. Vandervelde had a bad snap/fumble in the fourth that Polk recovered. And later, on third down in the red zone, he snapped the ball before Edwards was ready. Don’t think the Eagles will be comfortable with him as the backup center to start the season.

Steve Vallos – He played center with the second team, and I think right now has a good shot to make the 53-man roster. The defensive tackle got past him and Vandervelde in the second on Foles’ 13-yard completion to Johnson. But later, Vallos did a good job of picking up a blitzer on the 45-yard completion to Johnson. He also made a nice block on Brown’s 7-yard run in the third.

Dallas Reynolds – He played right guard with the second team and delivered possibly the best pancake block we’ve seen out of an Eagles offensive lineman this preseason. Reynolds just crushed linebacker Craig Robertson on Lewis’ 22-yard screen. Earlier, the defensive tackle beat him to the inside and hit Foles in the second. And Reynolds was slow to get to Parker on the play where he slammed Foles to the ground. Squarely on the roster bubble right now.

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

Kapadia’s Take: Projecting the 53-Man Roster

The battle continues.

Yesterday, T-Mac provided us with a good laugh with his latest 53-man roster projection.

Now it’s my turn. I’ve got some changes from last week. Here goes nothing.

Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles.

It took exactly six preseason snaps for Vick to have his first injury scare. While he suffered just a thumb contusion, Vick said he initially thought he broke his thumb when he banged it against Jason Kelce’s helmet against the Steelers.

Here’s a stat for you: 24.1 percent of Vick’s pass attempts last year traveled more than 15 yards downfield. That was the sixth-highest percentage in the league among quarterbacks.

As I’ve written before, the Eagles’ passing game relies on big plays downfield. That’s why I have serious concerns about Kafka being able to come in and execute without Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid having to make significant adjustments to the offense. With Kafka sidelined, Foles will get a chance to make his mark. And while Trent Edwards hasn’t shown much in practice, maybe we shouldn’t count him out completely just yet.

Running backs (4): LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, Stanley Havili.

I still think Brown has the edge over Chris Polk, but there’s no way the Eagles can put Brown in a pass-blocking situation in a regular-season game right now. He has a long way to go in that department, and it’s just too risky. Keeping Brown is a long-term decision. He may not even touch the ball as a rookie, but can contribute on special teams, pick up the offense and look to do more down the road.

I feel pretty confident that the Eagles are going to keep a fullback. And right now, Havili has the edge over Emil Igwenagu. It’d be nice to see the Birds get each guy involved a little more Monday night so that we can see what they’re capable of in game situations. I asked Clay Harbor earlier this week if he anticipates playing more fullback in 2012, and he said flat-out no, noting that the team has really been impressed with Havili.

Wide receivers (6): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson, Marvin McNutt.

As Tim noted, my Damaris Johnson love has probably spiraled out of control. But why slow the train down now? I think he’s a lock to make the team, and if the season started today, he’d be their fourth wide receiver on gamedays.

Not much to say about Jackson, Maclin or Avant. On Twitter, a few of you have asked me why they’re keeping Cooper. It’s pretty simple. He averaged 80 yards receiving in three starts last year and was an effective special-teams player. That’s pretty much what you want out of a backup wide receiver Assuming he’s ready to go in the first week or two of the season, following surgery on his collarbone, Cooper’s making the 53-man roster.

McNutt is a bit of a wild card. He had his moments during camp, but doesn’t look like someone who’s ready to contribute as a rookie. There’s a chance the Eagles could go with five wide receivers or one of the unheralded guys bumps McNutt off the roster, but I think he takes one of the final spots and is a weekly inactive.

As for Chad Hall, I’m not sure what he gives this team that Johnson does not. He’s off.

Tight ends (2): Brent Celek, Clay Harbor.

I may be the only person in town who thinks Harbor can be an effective player for this offense.

His snaps increased from 28.6 percent as a rookie to 33.6 percent last year. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how rookies had a difficult time last year because of the shortened offseason. But that applies to players going from Year 1 to Year 2 also. Especially someone like Harbor who was learning how to block on the fly.

He was up and down in that aspect, but has shown the ability to be a good blocker. As a receiver, he had a high catch rate (68.4 percent), catching 13 of the 19 balls thrown his way. And while everyone was up in arms about Harbor’s drops during the spring, he had just one drop last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

I think he’s going to be on the field as much as, if not more, than last season. And the Eagles would be wise to replace Jackson with Harbor in the red zone, where he can help as a blocker and a receiver.

As for Brett Brackett and Chase Ford, I don’t see the Eagles keeping a third tight end.

Offensive linemen (9): Demetress Bell, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans, King Dunlap, Julian Vandervelde, Dennis Kelly, Dallas Reynolds.

Last week, I wrote that the starters were pretty much “set in stone.”


Dunlap has replaced Bell at left tackle – for now. I still think the Eagles want Bell to win the job, but they’re not going to put him out there if he looks shaky. Is there a chance Herremans could move over to that side? I’m not ready to rule anything out at this point.

The first preseason game further enforced the notion that the Eagles have giant question marks with O-Line depth. I had been operating under the assumption that Vandervelde would be the first man up should the Eagles suffer an injury at guard or center. It was only one preseason game, but he looks like he’s got a long way to go.

Not too confident on the Reynolds pick either. Mike Gibson or Steve Vallos could potentially steal a spot. This is an area where the Eagles could add someone who gets cut in the coming weeks from another team.

Defensive linemen (11): Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Phillip Hunt, Vinny Curry, Cedric Thornton, Antonio Dixon.

I’m sticking to my guns here. I realize 11 is a big number, but everything the Eagles do defensively starts with the line. Typically, eight guys play on gameday, although that number could be nine this season if they use someone like Hunt as a situational pass-rusher.

I gave strong consideration to leaving Dixon off. Since last season, he really hasn’t seemed like a good fit for Jim Washburn’s style of play. But cutting him leaves the Eagles thin at defensive tackle. What happens if Cox, Jenkins, Landri or Thornton goes down? They would need to find someone to play significant snaps right away. Of course, a lot depends on Mike Patterson, whose status is up in the air.

I’ve still got six defensive ends making it. In a recent post, I explained why Phillip Hunt isn’t going anywhere. He’s young, under team control for three more seasons and seems to be coming into his own as a pass rusher.

Darryl Tapp is the player to watch. I still think the Eagles value him as a well-rounded defensive end who can effectively spell Cole. There’s a chance the Eagles look to trade Tapp, but for now, he stays on. The other X-Factor is Curry. He could be good enough to play right defensive end with the second group behind Cole. If Curry impresses the next couple of games, Tapp could be left off.

Linebackers (6): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Akeem Jordan.

No changes here from last week. Keenan Clayton doesn’t make the cut. While his strength is coverage, Clayton isn’t so good in that aspect that it will earn him a spot. And he really doesn’t give anything at all against the run.

DeMeco Ryans has been the lone linebacker on the field in the Eagles’ dime package, but Kendricks could get a shot there at some point.

Cornerbacks (5): Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Boykin, Joselio Hanson.

Change from last week: Hanson’s in, and Brandon Hughes is out.

Since the Eagles drafted Boykin, I’ve been expecting him to take the nickel corner job from Hanson, but it hasn’t happened yet. And until it does, I’ve decided to keep the veteran on the team. The Eagles’ secondary looked confused on many occasions in 2011. Perhaps that explains why they’re reluctant to go with a rookie in the slot, where he’d be expected to play roughly 50 percent of the snaps.

As for Hughes, the only real scenario where you’d need him would be if both Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie were to get injured. Marsh will be the first backup if one of them goes down, and Boykin could also get a shot on the outside. In other words, Hughes is expendable.

Cliff Harris still has a shot. He got off to a strong start, but then suffered an ankle injury. If he impresses the next couple weeks, the Eagles could easily keep him and cut a defensive lineman or even a linebacker.

Still don’t have much of an opinion on Kevin Thomas, the corner the Eagles acquired from the Colts. Someone to keep an eye on Monday night.

Safeties (4): Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Tom Nelson.

I’ve got Jaiquawn Jarrett missing the cut. Let’s review the facts:

* Jarrett couldn’t get onto the field as a rookie. The Eagles even thought Jarrad Page was a better option than him.

* Despite lackluster play from the safety position in 2011, Jarrett showed no signs of competing for a starting spot with Kurt Coleman this offseason.

* The Eagles showed interest in veteran safety Yeremiah Bell and then ended up signing Atogwe after OTAs.

* Jarrett had a chance to make his mark in the first preseason game and turned in a dud.

* Nelson mixed in with Jarrett on the second team earlier this week at practice.

Now that all of that is out of the way, let me say that Jarrett still has a chance to make the roster. I’m sure the coaches want nothing more than to see him bounce back. He’ll be given every opportunity to stick around, considering he was a second-round pick in 2011. But at some point, you just admit the guy can’t play and move on.

My problem with Jarrett is that he looks bad doing the things that are supposed to be his strength. On Thursday night, he took bad angles to the ball and missed tackles. We know that pass coverage is not his strength. And he didn’t stand out on special teams last year. Those are all bad signs.

As for Nelson, consider him more of a place-holder. If Colt Anderson is ready to go, he could take that spot. Or perhaps more likely, the Eagles could sign a safety after teams trim their rosters down. I will say this though: Even though he was active for only four games last season, Nelson had five special-teams tackles and ranked ahead of Jarrett (active for 12 games) in special-teams points that are kept by the team.

In terms of depth, it looks like Atogwe will be the first man in should Allen or Coleman go down. It seems clear that the Eagles probably should have done more with their personnel here in the offseason.

Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Mat McBriar, Jon Dorenbos.

Neither McBriar nor Chas Henery was impressive in the first preseason game. But I still think it’s McBriar’s job to lose.

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

Game Review: Evaluating the Eagles’ Offense

Philadelphia Eagles running back Bryce BrownHere’s a player-by-player look at the Eagles’ offense after having re-watched Thursday night’s preseason game against the Steelers. If a player is not listed, it’s probably because he has no chance of making the team, or I didn’t notice anything about him one way or another.

Michael Vick – Third down on the first series was ugly. Vick first had to use a timeout. Then the Steelers showed blitz, but only rushed four. Pittsburgh got some pressure off the edge, but Vick walked right into a sack. He went 3-for-4 for 6 yards and suffered a thumb contusion. The Eagles’ offense went three-and-out twice. Things can only go up from here, right?

Mike Kafka – He played most of the second quarter and went 5-for-9 for 31 yards. Kafka was pressured on the interception, but has to be smarter with the football. While on the move, he made a good throw to Chad Hall for 11 yards on 3rd-and-6. I’ve had my concerns about Kafka being the backup all offseason, but nine preseason passes shouldn’t change anyone’s mind one way or another. He’s still the No. 2 guy – for now.

Nick Foles – One of the few bright spots offensively, Foles went 6-for-10 for 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He did a nice job of keeping his eyes downfield on the 70-yard TD to Damaris Johnson. The big arm was on display as the ball traveled about 43 yards in the air, and Foles delivered it on the move. He showed nice touch on the 43-yard touchdown to Mardy Gilyard. He’s still the No. 3 quarterback, but showed why the Eagles like him.

Trent Edwards – He was 12-for-20 for 106 yards and a score. Edwards’ focus right now is on putting good play on tape so that he can try to find another home when the Eagles cut him.

LeSean McCoy – One carry for -2 yards and one catch for -3 yards. Anyone ready to panic? Didn’t think so. A bright spot with McCoy was an excellent blitz pickup on the play where Vick injured his thumb. Not sure he needs to be on the field much this preseason.

Dion Lewis – He looked good, carrying four times for 22 yards. Lewis shook a tackle and picked up 8 yards on his first carry. He had a good, tough run for 3 yards on 2nd-and-2, and also picked up 12 on a second-quarter run. Perhaps more importantly, Lewis picked up the blitz nicely on Kafka’s incomplete throw for Marvin McNutt. And later, he chipped a linebacker and put him on the ground before going out into his route. Lewis suffered a hamstring injury, though. We should know more about the severity on Saturday.

Bryce Brown – The highlight was a 33-yard scamper where Brown broke a pair of tackles and rumbled down the left sideline. He also picked up some YAC on a 16-yard reception from Foles. Good hustle to tackle Al Woods after the Kafka interception. As for the whole blocking thing, Brown pretty much whiffed on a blitz pickup in the third. He’s still in good position to make the team.

Chris Polk – I don’t know if he’s going to make the team, but the Eagles should have Polk spend five minutes each practice showing the rest of the running backs how to pick up the blitz. I counted at least three plays where Polk was charged with protecting the quarterback, and he got the job done every time. He had three carries for 1 yard and three catches for 28 yards.

Stanley Havili – He got on the field in the first half and actually had a nice lead block on a Lewis run that lost 1 yard. Still needs to prove himself in the coming weeks.

Clay Harbor – With Brent Celek sidelined, he got the start and was targeted on the play where Vick sailed the throw and injured his thumb.

Brett Brackett – He had two catches for 9 yards, but also had a pass go right through his hands in the third. Don’t see him making the team.

Demetress Bell – By my count, the Eagles gave him help on three of five pass plays. Linebacker Chris Carter went right around Bell on Vick’s completion to McCoy in the flat. Carter went around him again, forcing Vick to step up on the play where he hit his thumb on Kelce’s helmet. Small sample size, but unimpressive debut for Bell.

Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans – They all started and were fine. Again, only talking about six plays here.

King Dunlap – He played left tackle with the second team and was fine. The Eagles know what they have in Dunlap.

Julian Vandervelde – Disappointing game for the second-year player. He started out at left guard with the twos. It looked like Vandervelde was slow to pick up a blitzer on Kafka’s incompletion intended for McNutt. Later, the Eagles had him pull to sell the play-fake, but Vandervelde was slow to get to the edge, and Carter forced Kafka to scramble. He was also called for holding on the play. Vandervelde played center in the third and got beat by Alameda Ta’amu, who pressured Foles.

Dallas Reynolds – He started out at center with the twos and then moved to guard. On one play, Reynolds got beat by McLendon, who dropped Lewis for a 1-yard loss.

Mike Gibson – He played right guard with the twos. Very nice block by Gibson, taking a Steelers linebacker to the ground on Lewis’ 3-yard run.

Dennis Kelly – He started out at right tackle but also played some right guard. Kelly was slow to pick up a blitzing linebacker, who got in Kafka’s face and helped cause the interception. Later, he failed to pick up a blitzing linebacker on third down in the second. Kelly looks very much like a project. Don’t expect the rookie to get on the field much in his first season.

DeSean Jackson – He was targeted once and made a 5-yard grab. Great moment between Jackson and Andy Reid at the end of the game.

Damaris JohnsonI wrote about him yesterday. Johnson got the start in Jeremy Maclin’s place and finished as the game’s leading receiver with four catches for 85 yards. He put a great move on the linebacker on a crossing pattern for a first down in the second. Johnson also made a great move on the 70-yard TD to get wide open. Earlier, he dropped a good pass from Kafka on a slant. But overall, strong game.

Jason Avant – Played, but was not targeted.

Marvin McNutt – No catches, but nice effort as a downfield blocker on Brown’s 33-yard run.

Chad Hall – Made an 11-yard grab on 3rd-and-6. Not sure what he provides that Johnson doesn’t, other than experience with the offense.

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

Eagles Practice Observations: Who’s Behind Kelce?

Philadelphia Eagles center Jason KelceAs Jason Kelce and Julian Vandervelde walked off the field, the Eagles’ starting center had some advice for the man who could potentially be his backup.

“He was sliding, using his hands, but not using his feet,” Kelce explained, adding that Vandervelde has all the physical tools to be a good center. “At center, you have to move your feet more, rather than really be that physical. …Just a couple times, he went up against our best defensive tackle, or hardest at least for me to block, Derek Landri, he got him a couple times.”

Pretty much every discussion about the 2012 Eagles involves a mention about Michael Vick’s ability to stay healthy and Mike Kafka’s ability to back him up. Some will also throw in LeSean McCoy’s heavy 2011 workload and the competition between Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk to back him up.

But what about the offensive line? We know Demetress Bell will fill in for Jason Peters. And if Bell is adequate, this unit has a chance to be really good. Depth, however, is a concern. It was on full display today as Evan Mathis missed practice due to illness and Todd Herremans was out with a shoulder injury.

That left rookie fifth-round pick Dennis Kelly protecting Vick’s blind side and practice squad regular Dallas Reynolds lining up at left guard for Mathis. Of course, this was just practice. In the real games, it’s expected that King Dunlap would be the first man up should Herremans or Bell go down. The interior, however, is a different story.

It might not sound like much of a concern, but it’s something that should at least be mentioned. Given Kelce’s added responsibilities this year at the line of scrimmage, the Eagles need someone who knows what he’s doing at the backup spot. The options right now are Vandervelde, Reynolds and veteran Steve Vallos.

Vandervelde, who said there is no official backup center listed right now, is perhaps the most interesting name, considering he was actually taken before Kelce in the fifth round of last year’s draft. But he’s never played center before this offseason. So how comfortable is with the preseason only a week away?

“Medium, on the terror scale, it’s like a yellow,” Vandervelde joked. “It’s a new thing for me. …It’s a lot more cerebral. You would think that the transition from guard to center wouldn’t be that hard, but it’s a whole new world for me. I’m having a lot of fun learning it. I’m having a little different focus everyday.”

Vandervelde believes every interior lineman who makes the 53-man roster will have to be comfortable at guard and center.

“Jason is absolutely integral to our offense right now,” he said. “All of us who are going to be in a position to back him up have got to be ready at a moment’s notice to go in there and take up that spot seamlessly.

“As long as I’m here, I’ve got to be able to play guard and center. It was enough to play guard last year. It’s not going to be enough anymore though.”

More practice observations:

* With the injuries on the defensive line, your first unit looked like this: Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri and Darryl Tapp. The second team was Phillip Hunt, Cedric Thornton, Antonio Dixon and Vinny Curry.

* DeSean Jackson dropped nine passes last year. Considering how deep his targets usually are, that’s way too high of a number. Each drop means a missed opportunity for a big play. Today, during one-on-one wide receiver/cornerback drills, he let a Nick Foles pass go right through his hands, and it was picked off by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

* The Eagles ran through one of my favorite drills today: running backs and tight ends charged with going one-on-one against blitzing linebackers. On one play, McCoy did a decent job on Brian Rolle, but it wasn’t good enough. The pair lined up again. This time, Rolle clubbed McCoy to the ground, before helping him up and apparently realizing the Eagles need that guy to go anywhere this season. Dion Lewis, meanwhile, had some trouble with Mychal Kendricks.

* During the red-zone portion of practice, Vick ran for a touchdown. In 2011, he ran for one red-zone score all year. In 2010, that number was nine.

* For a few plays, we had a flashback to last year with Casey Matthews in the middle. DeMeco Ryans went on and off the field, but would not say what was bothering him after practice, simply nothing that he was fine.

* With Jamar Chaney also leaving practice with a hamstring injury, there were a couple different nickel combinations: Matthews and Kendricks, along with Rolle and Keenan Clayton.

* Lewis continues to look quick and shifty as a receiver. Today, he made Curtis Marsh look silly on one play.

* Bryce Brown had a big run, scurrying away from Nate Allen in the open field. Running backs coach Ted Williams has talked about Brown’s second gear. That might have been as close to it as we’ve seen so far.

* There was one skirmish/fight. I don’t know who was involved on the defensive side, but Danny Watkins played a role on the offense. He seems to be in the middle of those quite a bit.

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

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