Eagles Wake-Up Call: 53-Man Roster Projection
An updated 53-man roster prediction now that we’ve seen this team compete in pads a bit:
Quarterbacks (3): Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Carson Wentz.
It’s been an up-and-down camp for Wentz, as you’d expect. He’s blessed with the physical gifts and has made a number of really nice throws, but there have been enough bumps in the road to remind us that he still has ways to go. It will likely be Bradford’s show to start with Daniel waiting in the wings just in case.
Running backs (4): Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner, Wendell Smallwood.
Doug Pederson will have to find a way to piece this together. Injuries to Mathews and Smallwood serve as a reminder that the Eagles may very well need all hands on deck this season. Barner has gotten multiple endorsements from coaches and management in recent weeks. I’ve changed course and will now say he sticks. Byron Marshall has had some nice moments, but we’ll project him for the practice squad.
Wide receivers (5): Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Rueben Randle, Josh Huff, Chris Givens.
Agholor has had a solid camp but we haven’t seen much in the way of dominant performances. Right now there’s Matthews and then there’s the rest of the wideouts in a tier below. Guys like Cayleb Jones and Marcus Johnson have had their moments and there’s a little buzz around Paul Turner (“PT!”) but not sure anyone has pulled ahead of, say, Huff, even if the Oregon product has struggled at times.
Tight end (4): Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton, Chris Pantale.
Pantale made an impression this spring and Pederson talks about him as if he’ll not only make the team but be active on game day to fill a fullback/special teams/backup role. His performance as a receiver has fallen off this summer, but that’s not his primary purpose on this team, anyway. Burton has been great. He might end up being a contributor this year.
Offensive line (10): Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Stefen Wisniewski, Isaac Seumalo, Matt Tobin, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Dennis Kelly.
Going to stick with my original group here. There’s been some chatter surrounding LSU guard Dillon Gordon but I’m not sure you can justify putting him in over one of the players above. The preseason could change that thinking. Same for guys like Darrell Greene. For now, we’ll stand pat. Wisniewski has done a serviceable job filling in for the injured Brooks. He’ll continue to fight for that LG spot.
Defensive line (9): Vinny Curry, Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Beau Allen, Mike Martin, Marcus Smith, Bryan Braman.
I originally had Taylor Hart making it over Allen but I’ve changed my tune after watching padded practices for the past week. It’s given me more confidence that Allen can adapt to this scheme. Not sure about Hart. Martin has been pretty effective and appears to have earned a roster spot. Curious to see if DTs like Destiny Vaeao and Aziz Shittu stand out in preseason games. Alex McCalister does not look ready.
Linebackers (5): Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham, Najee Goode, Joe Walker.
Walker appears to have some fans internally. It would be a boost for this club should he quickly evolve into a decent option at MIKE in the event Hicks go down. Linebacker still feels like a spot the Eagles will look to bolster around cutdown time.
Cornerbacks (6): Leodis McKelvin, Eric Rowe, Nolan Carroll, Ron Brooks, Jalen Mills, JaCorey Shepherd.
Jaylen Watkins has been working at safety. If the Eagles feel he could be a versatile piece for them, perhaps he sneaks on depending on his play this preseason. Former CFL-er Aaron Grymes has a had a nice camp, but more tests are ahead.
Safeties (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Blake Countess, Chris Maragos.
Jim Schwartz recently talked about having four, maybe five safeties on the roster “with special teams and stuff like that.” That’s Maragos’ calling card and I’d guess it earns him a slot. If they only end up carrying four, that could leave Ed Reynolds on the outside looking in. Reynolds might be a little more advanced than Countess right now, but if the Eagles feel like they can’t stash Countess on the practice squad, the move is probably to go with the rookie.
Specialists (3): Caleb Sturgis, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos.
Sturgis has been more accurate than Cody Parkey. Assuming that continues, it seems Sturgis will have earned the gig even though Parkey arguably has more upside.
WHAT YOU MISSED
A long practice and another day in pads. Yesterday’s Practice Observations.
“You saw what happened today: we’d make a play, give up a play; make a play, give up a play. That’s not a way to play defense. That’s not a way to play football.” Jim Schwartz‘s sense of urgency is increasing with the first preseason game a week away.
“That’s just a bad business decision from the Philadelphia Eagles.” What They’re Saying.
Malcolm Jenkins and Jason Peters left practice early with hamstring and quad problems respectively.
“I don’t want to say a surprise. That’s why we signed him. But he’s met and exceeded expectations.” Stefen Wisniewski is making a very good impression filling in for Brandon Brooks so far in Training Camp.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The Eagles made a roster move yesterday.
#Eagles have waived/injured DT Connor Wujciak.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) August 4, 2016
If Malcolm Jenkins is out for a long period of time, who’s up next? Les Bowen of the Daily News ponders that question.
The Eagles boast what should be one of the league’s top safety tandems in Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. But should one of them go down, they have Reynolds, a 2014 fifth-round pick who has been waived and signed back to the practice squad twice; special-teams ace Chris Maragos, who is entering his seventh NFL season, with two career starts under his belt; Jaylen Watkins, drafted in the fourth round two years ago as a corner and cut last year, before returning in late November from Buffalo’s practice squad; Nick Perry, formerly of the Ravens’ practice squad; and Blake Countess, a sixth-round rookie from Auburn.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox might be the most dominant force on coordinator Jim Schwartz’s unit, but Jenkins is the defense’s emotional leader. He and middle linebacker Jordan Hicks bring order out of chaos.
“We need those guys behind (Jenkins and McLeod) to step up. We need to find out who’s going to be our third and fourth (safety), and maybe even a potential fifth, with special teams and stuff like that,” Schwartz said Thursday. Jenkins was to get an MRI, as was left tackle Jason Peters, who suffered a quad strain. Both injuries seemed relatively minor, pending the tests.
After catching one of his elbow sleeves during one of his games in 2004, Connor Barwin finally got to meet former Eagles tight end Chad Lewis at practice yesterday. Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com has more of the encounter.
On Thursday, Lewis and his wife Michele and their kids were at the NovaCare visiting Eagles practice — Lewis and head coach Doug Pederson were teammates in 1999. And a dozen years after his first “meeting” with Barwin, the two got to meet for real.
“I’ve heard so much about him and it was so great to actually meet him,” Lewis said. “He’s an unbelievable player and then you hear about all the work he does in the community, how he rides his bike to work, all the charity events he does – he’s just a great guy and really a tremendous representative of the Eagles.”
Just like Lewis was.
“I always threw my elbow sleeves and my gloves up to kids in the stands after every game,” Lewis said. “It’s so cool that he caught one of them when he was a kid. I love that. It means a lot that it’s a guy who became an Eagle and plays the game the way he does and represents the city the way he does.”
Barwin was 17 when he caught Lewis’s elbow sleeve, and 12 years later he finds himself practicing on the same fields that Lewis practiced on during his Eagles career.
“It was really cool to meet him and talk to him,” Barwin said. “That was my first NFL game and so to actually catch something from an NFL player, that was something you never forget.”
Another 8:05 start. Pederson will speak afterwards.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.