Five Leftovers From Eagles-Bengals

Here are five leftovers from the locker room after the Eagles lost to the Bengals last night, 34-13.

1. As we’ve discussed on multiple occasions, this team has some major decisions to make in the secondary this offseason. Nnamdi Asomugha, who would be owed $4M if released, was asked if he thinks some of the players (presumably on defense) have shown in the past two weeks that they deserve to be back.

“Here’s the thing that I know. Everybody wants to be back,” Asomugha said. “We don’t know how it’s going to shake out, but I can tell you everybody believes in this team and knows the direction that we’re going. We think it’s up. So I know everybody wants to be back.”

I understand what Asomugha was saying. He’s pointing out that the defense has improved the past two weeks. And I know the players in the locker room have to try to stay confident. But to say the direction is pointing up after the ninth loss in 10 games just seems a little off to me.

2. The other starting corner, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, is a free agent after the season. He shadowed A.J. Green all game and won his share of battles. Green finished with six catches for 57 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. After the game, Rodgers-Cromartie was asked about playing for a contract.

“I ain’t playing for money. That’s going to come. I’m not worried about that. My main thing is I’m just trying to go out and finish strong,” he said.

“I know what I have in me. I know what kind of player I am. If nobody can see it, then that’s just them.”

Evaluating Rodgers-Cromartie is going to be one of the most difficult things this front office has to do. He’s got talent, he plays well in stretches and by all accounts is a good teammate. He holds himself accountable and is only 26. There’s no question that Rodgers-Cromartie has a (multiple) Pro Bowl ceiling.

But there’s a reason why he could be on his third different team before he turns 27. He’s incredibly inconsistent, often shies away from contact and is a terrible tackler. That’s why whoever’s coaching this team in 2013 has to be the one who decides whether or not Rodgers-Cromartie is worth keeping around.

3. And then there’s the guy coaching Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie: Todd Bowles. If there’s one person who has a lot to gain from the final two games, it’s him. Remember, this is someone who was considered to be on a path towards being an NFL head coach before the season. In six weeks with Bowles as defensive coordinator and Jim Washburn as defensive line coach, the Eagles allowed opponents to complete 76.3 percent of their passes. In the past two weeks, without Washburn, that number is 44.3 percent.

With a strong finish, it’ll be pretty easy to sell the Washburn was the problem narrative. Of course, there’s no telling where he’ll be coaching next. Bowles’ name has been mentioned in connection with the Temple head coaching job.

“It was good. It’s my alma mater.,” Bowles said of his conversation with the Owls. “We had a good talk. We had a good conversation. … We’ll see how it goes.”

4. I still need to re-watch the game, but Andy Reid and Nick Foles seemed to offer different explanations for the third-quarter interception.

“He’s got a real strong arm,” Reid said. “You can put his arm up against anybody in this league. You just have to make sure that he’s taking time to look people off, and you have to make sure you don’t spend too much time doing that. You have to make sure you get your feet around and that you have enough momentum to get your body and legs into the throw.”

Reid’s explanation makes sense. He also indicated the issue was one of mechanics. Foles had an issue of staring down receivers in his first couple of starts. We pointed out last week how he did a better job of looking safeties off against Tampa.

But Foles seemed to just think he threw a bad ball.

“I just made a horrible throw,” he said. “The ball came out bad and it had a little bit of wobble to it. You really have to cut it and I didn’t do that. I just have to spin it and it started fluttering towards the end. I underthrew Jeremy and the guy came back and made a play. So it’s a bad throw. It’s one that I can’t have. But it happened, and I just have to, next time it happens, just really throw it out there.”

According to STATS, Inc., Foles is just 3-for-16 on balls that have traveled more than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage. That’s certainly one area for improvement.

5. As for some of the other mistakes, Reid said Marvin McNutt was where he was supposed to be on the punt block. Ryan Rau was supposed to be in, but Clay Harbor made a heads-up play and filled in for him. That had nothing to do with the block though. McNutt just got manhandled.

Cedric Thornton took responsibility for the fumbled kickoff return. It’s funny. I remember at training camp watching some of the offensive linemen and defensive linemen fielding kicks and wondering: Why are they wasting their time with this? Now, I understand.

“Definitely should have been a fair catch,” Thornton said. “That was my fault. I was running, looking to make a big play and should have fair caught it. That was my fault. Next time I will be more focused and I will call a fair catch.”

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Eagles Snap Counts: Dion Lewis Sees a Bump

Here’s a look at Eagles snap counts from Sunday’s win over the Bucs. We’ll go position-by-position.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Bryce Brown5066%
Dion Lewis2634%
Stanley Havili1114%

Dion Lewis had been inactive for six of the Eagles’ first 12 games. But with LeSean McCoy sidelined, he’s been called on to complement starter Bryce Brown. Entering Sunday’s game, Lewis had played a total of 16 snaps all season, according to Pro Football Focus. But against Tampa, he was on the field for a career-high 26 snaps. Lewis only touched the ball twice – once on a carry that lost 4 yards and again on a swing pass that picked up 28. I’m still going through my game review, but Brown had some issues in pass protection early. That could be a reason why Lewis saw an expanded role.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Jeremy Maclin7599%
Jason Avant7193%
Riley Cooper7193%
Damaris Johnson1925%
Marvin McNutt57%
Clay Harbor5167%
Brent Celek11%

With Brent Celek knocked out on the first play from scrimmage, everyone else was called on to pick up the slack. Clay Harbor played 51 snaps – the second-highest total of his career.

Jeremy Maclin sat out only one play and was Nick Foles’ most-targeted (13) receiver. Jason Avant and Riley Cooper only sat out five snaps apiece, as the Eagles stuck with three-receiver sets for much of the game. Damaris Johnson had the muffed punt and played 19 snaps on offense. Rookie Marvin McNutt was active for the first time in his career and played five snaps.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Trent Cole5374%
Fletcher Cox5069%
Cullen Jenkins5069%
Brandon Graham4765%
Cedric Thornton2535%
Derek Landri2535%
Vinny Curry1622%
Darryl Tapp1521%
Phillip Hunt1318%

Even with Jim Washburn gone, the Eagles went with a rotation along the defensive line, playing all nine guys who were active. Brandon Graham played 47 snaps, his highest number since 2010. Fletcher Cox played 69 percent of the snaps, his second-highest percentage of the season.

Vinny Curry only played 16 snaps, his lowest total in the last three games. You’d think that at some point, Curry would steal away Darryl Tapp’s snaps. But there are only three games left.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
DeMeco Ryans72100%
Mychal Kendricks7199%
Jamar Chaney3346%
Casey Matthews46%
Akeem Jordan23%

The Eagles shook up their linebacker situation. Mychal Kendricks replaced Akeem Jordan at WILL. And Jamar Chaney took over for Kendricks at SAM. As you can see from the snap counts, Kendricks stayed on the field in nickel situations.

 
Overall Snaps
Snap %
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie6489%
Nnamdi Asomugha5881%
Brandon Boykin3549%
Curtis Marsh1825%
Brandon Hughes11%
Colt Anderson7097%
Nate Allen7097%

Nnamdi Asomugha left the game briefly and was replaced by Curtis Marsh. Colt Anderson replaced Kurt Coleman at safety.

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Maclin’s Hip Injury Leaves Eagles Thin At WR

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy MaclinEagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has a hip injury, Andy Reid said today. And it’s unclear whether he’ll be healthy enough to play Sunday in the home opener against the Ravens.

Officially, Reid called it a hip flexor strain and a hip pointer.

“As you know with hip pointers, they hurt you a lot more the next couple of days than they do when the thing actually happens,” Reid said. “But he battled through it. You’ve got to give him credit for that. He battled through it and got himself through the game, but he’s awful tender today.”

Maclin played 79 of the team’s 95 snaps and finished as the game’s leading receiver with seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.

The Eagles only kept four wide receivers active yesterday as Riley Cooper continues to rehab from a fractured collarbone. Reid already ruled Cooper out for Sunday’s game. Yesterday, undrafted free agent Damaris Johnson filled in, playing 13 snaps. He had a third-down catch for 10 yards.

The Eagles’ only other wide receivers on the active roster are DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant. Avant suffered a wrist contusion yesterday. Reid said the veteran slot receiver is sore but should be better in the next couple of days.

Depending on the status of Maclin and Avant, the Eagles might need to make a roster move. They currently have sixth-round pick Marvin McNutt on the practice squad, along with B.J. Cunningham, who was a sixth-round pick of the Dolphins before Miami let him go.

As for other injuries, safety Jaiquawn Jarrett has a shoulder strain, and cornerback Curtis Marsh has a hamstring strain. Reid said he’d just see how they both do the next couple of days.

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Eagles Sign Seven To Practice Squad

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Marvin McNuttThe Eagles have signed the following six players to the practice squad.

B.J. Cunningham, WR – The Dolphins took him in the sixth round of April’s draft, but decided to let Cunningham (6-1, 211) go. Cunningham played four years at Michigan State and was very productive as a senior, with 79 catches for 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns. He finished as the Spartans’ all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards. Cunningham’s agent tells the Detroit Free Press that the Eagles were very interested in drafting the wide receiver.

Marvin McNutt, WR – The Eagles drafted him in the sixth round of April’s draft, but he did not make an impact in training camp and had just one catch for 13 yards in the preseason. McNutt (6-3, 216) had 82 catches for 1,315 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior at Iowa.

Ryan Rau, LB – An undrafted free agent out of Portland State, Rau (6-1, 230) had a strong preseason. He played middle linebacker with the second team when Casey Matthews was injured.

Chase Ford, TE – With Brett Brackett headed to Jacksonville, Ford became the obvious choice for the practice-squad tight end. Ford (6-6, 245) had four catches for 40 yards in the preseason.

Emil Igwenagu, FB – Signed as an undrafted free agent, Igwenagu (6-2, 245) lost out to Stanley Havili for the first-team fullback spot. The Eagles signed him as an undrafted free agent out of UMass earlier this offseason. Igwenagu also spent some time at tight end during training camp.

Chase Beeler, C – He spent last season with the 49ers practice squad after signing with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent. Beeler (6-3, 285) played his college ball at Stanford.

Frank Trotter, DT – Trotter (6-2, 275) signed with the Birds back in June after being released by the Jaguars. He had 36.5 tackles for loss during his college career at Memphis.

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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.

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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.

Take 3: Projecting the Eagles’ 53-Man Roster

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Darryl TappEight days from now, the Eagles will have to trim their roster to 53 players.

The official date and time is Friday, Aug. 31 at 9 p.m.

That means this is the final trial run for me and McManus. Next week, we’ll have to submit our final projections. Here’s what I’ve got as of Thursday morning. T-Mac will reveal his projections on Friday.

And to switch things up. I’ve provided my confidence level for each group. Nothing scientific here – just a 1-10 ranking, with 1 signifying I am completely guessing here and 10 meaning Mark it down. These are locks.

Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles.
Confidence level: 9

This one is pretty much set in stone. While quarterback is a question mark – with Vick suffering injuries in each of the Eagles’ first two preseason games – these will be the three guys on the 53-man roster. If Trent Edwards was going to be given a real shot, I think it would have happened by now.

The question is: Can Foles beat out Kafka for the backup job? As I wrote yesterday, it seems quite possible. But as Paul Domowitch of the Daily News pointed out today, the Eagles could keep all three quarterbacks active on gamedays and not designate a backup. I can just see it now: Andy Reid answering a hypothetical question about who would potentially go in for an injured Vick with, “Well, we’ll just see there.”

I took a look, and last year, the Eagles had three quarterbacks active in eight of 16 games. Some of that had to do with injuries to Vick and Vince Young though.

Running backs (4): LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, Stanley Havili.
Confidence level: 9

Havili made a move in the last preseason game with a nice 14-yard run, a decent lead block on McCoy’s touchdown and an outstanding special-teams tackle. The Eagles could still add a fullback once teams cut down their rosters, but Havili has the edge for now.

Brown flashed big-time vs. the Patriots with a 27-yard run up the middle. He’s shown upside, and the Eagles won’t be willing to let other teams have a shot at him. Brown can play special teams as a rookie, hone his skills and work to be a contributor down the road.

Lewis is still the favorite to spell McCoy or fill in if he gets injured. He knows the offense and has looked capable in blitz pick-up during the preseason.

I’m not seeing a spot for Polk. Brown has a clear edge over him as a runner at this point. The Eagles have some roster flexibility, and if they really like Polk, they could probably find a way to keep him. He could land on IR or the practice squad (only if another team doesn’t sign him).

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

The first four names above are locks. After that, there’s some indecision.

I still am confident that Johnson makes it, but he’s dropped passes in each of the first two preseason games and fumbled a punt against New England. The Eagles need him to be reliable on special teams.

McNutt is a bit of a wild card. He’s shown nothing as a receiver in the first two preseason games, and it doesn’t look like he’d be able to contribute if the Eagles needed him offensively.

Then again, that sixth wide receiver is likely to be inactive on gamedays. If the Eagles saw enough potential in McNutt to draft him in April, the guess here is that they’ll hold on to him for now.

As for Chad Hall, friend of the blog Sam Lynch pointed out over at Iggles Blitz that he’s still practice-squad eligible. If Cooper isn’t ready to go in Week 1 (recovering from surgery for a fractured collarbone), perhaps Hall would get the nod over McNutt. But I don’t think he gives you enough as a fourth wide receiver to justify that spot.

Tight ends (2): Brent Celek, Clay Harbor.
Confidence level: 10

I don’t see it going any other way. The Eagles have no need for a third tight end, and neither Brett Brackett nor Chase Ford has stood out this summer.

Harbor, on the other hand, had a great camp, caught all six balls thrown his way Monday night and got in the end zone twice. He could see a bump in playing time in the regular season.

Offensive linemen (9): King Dunlap, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans, Demetress Bell, Julian Vandervelde, Dennis Kelly, Steve Vallos.
Confidence level: 4

Pretty much every day at training camp, Bo Wulf of PhiladelphiaEagles.com would come up to me and make some type of Steve Vallos reference. “Look at that snap!” or “Great block by Vallos!” he’d say. Why? Because Wulf and Vallos share a bond as Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and apparently Bo has a lot of school pride.

Dallas Reynolds is still listed as the second-team center, but Vallos played there on Monday night and has started eight NFL games in his career. Right now, he gets the nod.

Given everything else that’s happened this preseason, the issue of offensive line depth has been largely ignored. I’m convinced the Eagles are going to make some moves here after teams cut their rosters to 53. We’ll get a look at Kelly Friday night, but if Bell isn’t good enough to start, chances are he’s not going to be reliable as a backup either.

Depth at guard and center is a major concern, especially considering that Kelce is taking on more responsibility this year with line calls. Reynolds and Mike Gibson are still in the mix, but my guess is those spots get filled with guys not currently on the roster.

By the way, if I had to wager right now on who the left tackle would be Week 1, my money’s on Dunlap.

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.
Confidence level: 6

I strongly considered bumping Tapp and Dixon this week. Hunt is really coming on, and with Jenkins seeing snaps outside, Tapp is probably expendable. Dixon, meanwhile, just looks like a bad fit for Jim Washburn’s style and is showing very little as a pass rusher.

The problem? I didn’t really see anyone else on the roster worth keeping over either one of those guys. If the Eagles can get some kind of conditional pick in a trade for either Tapp or Dixon, I think they pull the trigger. If not, beef up the defensive line and cover yourself in case of injury. What are the odds all the defensive linemen in the rotation stay healthy from until Week 3 or 4? Not high.

Mike Patterson on PUP looks likely at this point. Reuben Frank of CSN Philly is reporting that Patterson’s already been ruled out for Week 1.

As for the rotation, the way things are currently constructed, Curry and either Dixon or Thornton would likely be inactive on gameday to start the season.

Linebackers (6): DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Brian Rolle, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Akeem Jordan.
Confidence level: 7

Good sign for the Eagles linebackers: The way Kendricks is playing, it seems likely that he and Ryans will stay on the field in nickel situations to start the season. That should lead to less shuffling of personnel and less confusion, specifically when opposing offenses go no-huddle.

As we’ve discussed, Jordan and Keenan Clayton are battling for the final spot. Jordan gets the nod because of special teams. If the Eagles really like Clayton (and there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest they do), he could make the team as a seventh linebacker, and they could keep one fewer defensive lineman.

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

This is a tough one. Boykin is pushing Hanson for that nickel job. But can he do enough in the next eight days to snatch it away? Important game for him coming up on Friday.

If Boykin wins the job, I see no need to keep Hanson, considering he’s not a factor on the outside.

Brandon Hughes has a shot to sneak on if the Eagles want experience on the outside. As for Cliff Harris, not sure if he’s healthy. Don’t think he played at all vs. the Patriots. Unless the Eagles want to give him the 53rd spot and concede that he won’t play as a rookie, but could contribute down the line, I think he’ll be cut.

Safeties (4): Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Oshiomogho Atogwe, Jaiquawn Jarrett.
Confidence level: 5

This is another area where the Eagles very well could add a player off another team’s roster before the season starts.

I kept Jarrett off last week, but now Tom Nelson has a high ankle sprain, so the former second-round pick gets back on by default. Atogwe, meanwhile, didn’t play in Monday’s preseason game because of a hamstring injury. I have no clue at this point how effective he’d be if he had to go into a game. But again, not seeing other options here right now. Colt Anderson is not practicing yet and is still recovering from a torn ACL.

At the end of last season, I thought Coleman would have to hold off competition to remain a starter, but that hasn’t been the case. He and Allen, who played well vs. the Patriots, are clearly the first-team safeties.

Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Mat McBriar, Jon Dorenbos.
Confidence level: 8

Both McBriar and Chas Henry punted better Monday night. Still think it’s McBriar’s job to lose though.

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

On McNutt, Cooper And Plaxico

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Marvin McNuttAfter Riley Cooper went down yesterday with a fractured collarbone (details here from McManus), I received quite a few questions on Twitter about what the injury means for the Eagles’ personnel at wide receiver. So let’s tackle ‘em here, starting first with Cooper’s projected role.

The 2010 fifth-round pick was penciled in as the Eagles’ fourth receiver. On the surface, that’s not a huge deal. Per Football Outsiders, the Eagles went with four wide receivers on 9 percent of their offensive snaps last year. That was fifth-most in the league, but not a particularly high number.

However, the bigger factor here is depth. In three games as a starter last season, Cooper averaged 80 yards receiving, and he caught the game-winning touchdown from Vince Young in the second game against the Giants. He had his share of issues (four drops, per Pro Football Focus), but was relatively productive. If he’s out for a significant period of time, the major question is one of depth: Who steps in as a starter should DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin go down?

The other concern here is special teams. Cooper was a blocker on the return units, and he was the first man down in coverage seven times, third-most on the team behind only Colt Anderson and Akeem Jordan.

As for where the Eagles go from here, assuming Jackson, Maclin and Jason Avant stay healthy, they really don’t have to do a lot from an offensive standpoint. They can just go with four wide receivers even less and stick with their popular 1 RB-3WR-1 TE personnel grouping. Or they can get a second tight end like Clay Harbor on the field more if they want to.

The two players people are asking about are sixth-round pick Marvin McNutt and free agent Plaxico Burress. Cooper and McNutt are both listed at 6-3 and had almost identical 40 times coming out of college. McNutt was productive at Iowa, catching 82 balls for 1,315 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. Fifteen of his 28 college touchdowns were in the red zone. I don’t expect him to play a big role as a rookie, but he has a chance to earn some playing time with a strong camp and preseason.

Burress, meanwhile, continues to search for a team. While his better days are behind him, he still had 45 catches for 612 yards and eight touchdowns last season. His 10 red-zone catches were tied for sixth-most among wide receivers. There’s no indication that the Eagles are looking at the veteran wide receiver right now, but it’s certainly not an option to rule out completely. Remember, the Birds put in a waiver claim earlier this week for wide receiver Dez Briscoe, who eventually went to the Redskins.

As I wrote yesterday, undrafted free agent Damaris Johnson is making an impression at camp and already had a decent chance to make the team. Those chances go up even more if Cooper is unavailable to start the season.

Update: Andy Reid said after the walk-through that Cooper will be out for six weeks and that the team has no plans to add a wide receiver right now.

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