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Completions this season by Carson Wentz and Eli Manning

With the Grateful Dead celebrating their 50th anniversary with concerts featuring all four surviving core members playing together on the same stage for the final time, Eric Fisher puts together a set list featuring Dead songs with a Philly sports theme.

Eric Fisher’s weekly column about a variety of topics. This week Eric serves up opinions on the Soul trying to repeat as Arena Football League champions, the Mayweather-McGregor fight and a ridiculous decision by ESPN.

Gordon Glantz lists seven Eagles whose performance could make the difference between a 6-10 and 10-6 record.

Archive for August, 2016

Roster at a Glantz

Posted by Eric Fisher On August - 31 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

We all have a sixth sense.

Some have it for bargains, some have it for assembling items without instructions.

Me? Nothing that practical.

I have it for Howie Roseman, the Eagles’ curiously derided general manager.

I can sense it coming on draft day, when he lines up that extra fourth-round pick on the basis that it is the first round of Day 3 of the Draft.

And I can sense it at times like the present, when his wheels are spinning over the final roster. It’s fairly safe to assume that he will at least try to upgrade the roster for first-year head coach Doug Pederson and his staff by closely monitoring the final cuts of other teams or by offering a player the Eagles plan to put on the street for one in the same spot from another squad (the-two-nickels-for-a-dime trade).

That’s how he rolls.

Given this reality, we can lay out a probable 53-man roster based on what the Eagles can currently control – their own personnel.

As it stands now, and in the wake of some bold cuts to get to 75, it looks like the King Solomon split of 25 players on each side of the ball – plus three specialists – will hold true to form.

So pencil it in, folks. Your 2016 Philadelphia Eagles will look something like the following:

(starters in bold, rookies in italics)

OFFENSE

Quarterback (3): Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel, Carson Wentz

Notes: Wentz only had one preseason outing due to a rib injury. Bradford seems to have a good feel for the offense, and Daniel looks OK as a viable backup.

Running Back (4): Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Kenjon Barner, Wendell Smallwood

Notes: Smallwood had a hard time staying healthy in the preseason and may not begin the season active on game days, but he could work his way into the offense following the bye week (after three games).

Wide Receiver (5): Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff, Dorial Green-Beckham, Paul Turner

Notes: Looked like a quandary for a bit, but the situation was cleared up when both Chris Givens and Rueben Randle were cut. Turner, an unheralded undrafted rookie free agent out of Louisiana Tech, earned his spot fair and square.

Tight End (4): Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton, Chris Pantale

Notes: No telling how the Eagles will start each game – two tight ends, with a fullback (Pantale) or three wide receivers (Huff) – but rest assured that four tight ends are being kept, and will suit up on Sundays to fill a void on midsized bodies on special teams.

Tackle (3): Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Halapoulivaati Vaitai

Guard (4): Stefen Wisniewski, Brandon Brooks, Matt Tobin, Isaac Seumalo

Center (2): Jason Kelce, Barrett Jones

Notes: Lane Johnson will miss 10 games and likely begins the season on the suspended list. Don’t expect much when he comes back anyway, especially if the unit is upright and clicking. Wisniewski seems the clear choice at left guard, with Barbre moving to right tackle to replace Johnson. That opened the door for Barrett Jones, who is versatile enough to play guard and even tackle in a pinch, to edge out Josh Andrews and undrafted rookie Darrell Greene, who is strictly a guard. While only nine are being kept, Tobin can play guard or tackle, as can Seumalo. Vaitai is raw, but it is too risky to cut the fifth-round pick and try to sneak him back onto the practice squad.

DEFENSE

Defensive End (6): Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Steven Means, Bryan Braman, Marcus Smith

Defensive Tackle (4): Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao

Notes: Seems like a lot of defensive ends, but Braman is mostly a special-teams guy. Both he and Smith, who showed enough of a pulse for another go-round, can fill in at linebacker – as can Barwin – to make up for the lack of manpower there (see below). Cox is picking up where he left off last season and looks like a beast in this system, which opens up opportunity for Logan and the ends to live in the backfield. Curry will rotate with Barwin and Graham outside and can also slide inside on passing downs, meaning he will likely be second only to Cox in snaps. As a nose tackle in a 3-4 and an undrafted rookie, respectively, Allen and Vaeao bucked the odds by outplaying the likes of Taylor Hart (although the former fifth-round pick could stick ahead of Smith, or possibly be swapped in a minor deal).

Linebacker (5): Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, Stephen Tulloch, Najee Goode

Notes: Keeping any undrafted rookie active would be a reach, although two or three could land on the practice squad (see below projection).

Cornerback (5): Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll, Ron Brooks, Eric Rowe, Jalen Mills

Safety (5): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Jaylen Watkins, Ed Reynolds

Notes: The plus side of only keeping five linebackers, at least until maybe the bye week, is that the Eagles could go heavy here to make up for the special teams void of not having linebackers for kick coverage. The toughest cut was rookie free agent C.J. Smith, Wentz’s teammate at North Dakota State, but he should clear waivers and land on the practice squad. The same can be said for Aaron Grymes, who was having a good camp before injuring his shoulder. Reynolds gets the nod as the fifth safety, largely on experience, but he could be the first to go if Roseman finds a linebacker elsewhere.

SPECIALISTS

Kicker: Caleb Sturgis

Punter: Donnie Jones

Long Snapper: Jon Dorenbos

Notes: Sturgis out-booted Cody Parkey for the placekicker job. Sproles will field punts. Look for some combination of Huff, Barner and Smallwood on kickoffs.

PRACTICE SQUAD

Offense (4): Byron Marshall (RB/WR), Dillon Gordon (OL), Darrell Greene (OG), David Watford (WR)

Defense (4): Aziz Shittu (DL), Don Cherry (LB), Aaron Grymes (CB), C.J. Smith (CB)

Notes: I know, I know. That’s only eight and 10 are allowed (and guys like WR Cayleb Jones, DB Blake Countess and LBs like Myke Tavarres and/or Quentin Gause are other candidates). But, if only for the sake of doing it, Roseman will likely add two players cut from other teams. I can sense it. For better or worse, that’s how he rolls.

 

Eagles-Jets: Questions remain unanswered

Posted by Eric Fisher On August - 30 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

There is only one preseason game remaining for the Eagles, but plenty of questions remain unanswered.

The starters, with the likely exception of linebacker Mychal Kendricks, will not take the field Thursday (7 p.m.) for the Eagles’ preseason game against the visiting Jets. There are, however, plenty of questions remaining on both sides of the ball.

The final preseason game would be much more interesting if Carson Wentz started at quarterback. With the second overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft recovering from bruised ribs, Chase Daniel will start on Thursday against the Jets. McLeod Bethel-Thompson will be the backup.

Even without Wentz, there will plenty to watch for Thursday. The Eagles must reduce their roster to 53 by Saturday (4 p.m.). We won’t provide our customary 10 questions to prepare you for Thursday’s preseason game (7 p.m.) against the Jets at Lincoln Financial Field. Nine should be sufficient.

When will we see Carson Wentz play again?

Wentz might not play until 2017. Unless Howie Roseman is secretly planning to trade Sam Bradford or Chase Daniel to teams searching for starting quarterbacks – the Broncos, Cowboys and possibly the Vikings come to mind – Wentz will be inactive during the regular season. That means that unless Bradford and Daniel get injured, the only game action for Wentz as a rookie would have come during his first preseason game.

Why will we see Mychal Kendricks play against the Jets?

Head coach Doug Pederson says Kendricks needs playing time. The message to Kendricks may be that he has to compete for a starting spot. Kendricks has missed a lot of time due to injuries, including the first two games of this year’s preseason, during his Eagles career. Is Kendricks’ starting role truly in jeopardy? We’ll find out soon.

Why isn’t Nelson Agholor playing Thursday?

Agholor, the 20th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, has followed up a disappointing rookie season with a poor preseason. He missed catchable balls while running crossing patterns during the past two preseason games, with a drop Saturday against the Colts turning into an interception .

Which young linebacker will make the 53-man roster?

The top five linebackers are Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham, Steven Tulloch and Najee Goode. That leaves Quentin Gause, Mike Tavarres and Don Cherry to battle for what could be the final linebacker spot.

Will Myke Tavarres stand for the National Anthem?

Tavarres said Monday that he would follow 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s lead by refusing to stand for the National Anthem due to a perceived oppression of African-Americans. But someone quickly, and wisely, convinced Tavarres that players battling for a roster spot probably shouldn’t rock the boat.

Which cornerbacks will make the final roster?

Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll and Ron Brooks are the Eagles’ top three corners. Behind them are Jalen Mills, Eric Rowe, C.J. Smith and JaCorey Shepherd. Smith, signed as an undrafted rookie free agent, took some snaps with the starters Saturday against the Colts. If Smith makes the team, it’s likely that Mills, Rowe or Shepherd, or two of that bunch, won’t be an Eagles beyond Saturday.

Will Steven Means or Marcus Smith play better at defensive end?

Based on his pedigree, Smith, a first-round draft pick in 2014, probably has the inside track as the fourth defensive end. But, if Means outplays Smith on Thursday, can the Eagles afford to keep an unproductive player around?

Will we products of local college teams on the Jets?

Penn State product Christian Hackenberg will likely play for the Jets. One of his targets may be rookie receiver Robby Anderson, a Temple product.

Will the Eagles finish the preseason undefeated?

It’s possible. But does it matter?

 

 

R.I.P. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan