Foles’ Ascension Could Give Edwards the Leg Up

The dynamic has shifted, and that could mean a spot on this team for Trent Edwards.

Coming into the preseason, each quarterback had his defined role. Michael Vick would be the starter; Mike Kafka the developmental backup with a couple years in the system; and Nick Foles the rookie unknown who would watch and learn and hopefully show some promise. Edwards, struggling to complete balls to unguarded receivers in practice, was an afterthought.

What no one accounted for was how well Foles would perform. He has become the story of the preseason and has earned the No. 2 spot behind Vick. The 6-6 slinger has stolen not just the backup spot from the injured Kafka, but also the title of the primary developmental quarterback in the system. If the goal is now to not just serve as a viable emergency option but help shepherd Foles along, then Edwards  might be the better choice.

Edwards and Foles share a similar backstory. Both were highly-acclaimed high school quarterbacks that played behind leaky offensive lines on the collegiate level and went through their share of trials and team disappointment as a result. Edwards, like Foles, was a third-round selection, taken by the Bills in 2007 out of Stanford. He quickly made his way up the depth chart and ended up making nine starts as a rookie because of injury.

The two got to know each other through a mutual friend prior to their time with the Eagles.

“I’ve been in his shoes, I’ve been there before. I know what he’s going through,” said Edwards. “We’ve spent pretty much 24 hours a day together. We’re roommates at the hotel, we’re roommates on the road. I’m just trying to be a positive presence to him and just trying to tell him some things that I went through that might benefit him come game time, and hopefully I’m rubbing off on him a little bit.”

The five-year veteran has done pretty well for himself in exhibition play. Through three preseason games he has completed 67 percent of his throws for 292 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a 96.9 quarterback rating. It is a surprise to those who watched him throw during OTA’s. Turns out, he was working through several mechanical changes. (A couple examples: The Eagles like their quarterbacks to be moving up in the pocket after their dropback; Edwards was accustomed to being stationary. This staff is also sticklers about footwork. There are specific methods for each throw, and Edwards was essentially tripping over himself early.)

“I feel like I have progressed,” said Edwards. “I feel like I know where guys are going, I know what I’m supposed to be doing with the football.

“This is a great offensive system to be in. That’s kind of the reason I came here, was to be coached by these guys and play with these guys in the locker room.”

The 6-4, 230-pounder spent four up-and-down years in Buffalo, had a short stint in Jacksonville and was picked up and then waived by the Raiders last year. According to a source, Edwards tried out for the Dolphins near the middle of the season last season but turned them down, as he was looking for a landing spot that could put his career back on a positive trajectory.

He’ll suit up at least one more time in an Eagles uniform, as he is scheduled to play the final three quarters against the Jets in the preseason finale Thursday. Then, Andy Reid and Howie Roseman will have to decide whether to go with Edwards or Kafka. Perhaps that game will help influence the decision, but more than likely the decision has been made.

At the very least, it’s an opportunity to put some more quality film out there for other coaches to see. Does Edwards, a reporter asked, have that in the back of his mind?

“Not at all,” he said. “I want to be here, that’s my goal, that’s the reason I came here. I want to be here.”

The shift in circumstance may give him his wish.

Reid Says Trade Phones Are ‘Very Active’

It’s that time of  year when teams are actively molding their rosters in search of that perfect blend of potency and balance. The Eagles just so happen to have an excess of talent at a couple key positions. It is a perfect case of supply and demand, and the calls are coming in fast and furious.

“They’re very active. Howie [Roseman] is constantly on the phone,” said Andy Reid. “That’s how it works.”

Clubs have until Friday at 9 p.m. to trim their rosters down to 53. The Eagles, given their defensive line situation primarily, will have to get creative to figure out how it will all come together. The object is to keep the best players. But can you have 20 percent of your roster made up of D-linemen?

“I would tell you that there will be some tough decisions. That means the quality is up and the talent is up,” said Reid. “I would tell you I think Howie has done a phenomenal job bringing people in here, both the pro and the college department, creating this intense competition for some spots here that is healthy and good for your football team.”

Darryl Tapp‘s name has come up quite a bit in trade speculation. He is making a base of $2.6 million this season and is a free agent in 2013. There are teams that could use a productive veteran at defensive end, and there might be some appeal to getting value and a little financial relief in return if you’re stacked up at that position like the Eagles are.

“I don’t know how I would feel about it. I’ve been through that situation before, being traded,” said Tapp, who was dealt from Seattle to Philadelphia for Chris Clemons and a fourth-rounder. “It’s different because I really enjoy being here, the coaching staff and the group of guys I’m with. We’ll see what happens when it happens.”

Tapp added, “A lot of guys here would do a very good job and probably start on a lot of different teams.”

With some intriguing prospects behind LeSean McCoy in Bryce Brown, Dion Lewis and Chris Polk, the Eagles could theoretically get something in return for one of their reserve running backs. And the sudden fight for the remaining quarterback spot gives the Eagles a couple potential options. Both Trent Edwards and Mike Kafka both might be able to fetch you at least a little something on the open market.

“The phones are ringing, so everybody’s talking all the time here. That’s the best way I can put it,” said Reid, when asked specifically about the quarterbacks. “Every position you’re talking about things; that’s just how it works right now. But to pick a specific position, I can’t do that. But just know that there are calls that are being made, and calls taken.”

Follow Tim on Twitter and email him at tmcmanus@phillymag.com.

Kafka Cleared For Snaps; Edwards Receives Praise

 

Mike Kafka has been cleared to take snaps, Marty Mornhinweg revealed Monday. There is a growing chance that his broken left hand will be healed enough to play in the Eagles’ preseason finale Thursday against the Jets.

Kafka has seen only nine snaps this preseason, and it would probably help all parties involved if the signal-caller out of Northwestern put some more on tape.

“Players at every position typically are either better or worse in a game. You want those guys that are better in a game – the gamers, you know,” said Mornhinweg on the importance of preseason play in making evaluations. He was asked if Trent Edwards fall into the category of a “gamer.”

“I think he’s a gamer,” said Mornhinweg. “There’s no question he has some natural instincts. I think his experience has shown as well.

“He understood his role, that he was going to get very few reps, and then I expected him to go into a game and perform at a high level. And he’s done that. He’s done just a beautiful…just as I expected him to do.”

Edwards really struggled his first few weeks as an Eagle as he learned a new system and worked through mechanical changes. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would be left off the roster. With Michael Vick and Kafka lost to injury, though, Edwards joined Nick Foles in making the most of his opportunity. In three preseason games, Edwards has completed 67 percent of his throws for 292 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Mornhinweg  has followed Edwards’ career because of their Bay Area connection, from high school through Stanford and eventually the NFL. Safe to say the offensive coordinator sounds like an Edwards supporter, for whatever that’s worth.

“You can understand why he started for a long period of time because he’s got some of those natural instincts and he does things the right way. Not many surprises with him. He is quite disciplined and has some natural ability and natural instincts,” he said.

* In other QB news, Mornhinweg said that Vick is real close to 100 percent and is ready to “rock and roll.”

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