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PRESEASON OVER (PHEW!) AND SO IT BEGINS…2010

Posted By Christopher Rowe On Sep 5 2010 @ 1:30 pm In Philadelphia Eagles | 6 Comments

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Is there anyone out there who disagrees that preseason NFL is simply unwatchable? According to the owners and Commissioner, they are benevolently investigating a way to cut the NFL preseason from 4 to 2 games, while expanding to an 18-game regular season. While this would be beneficial for season ticket holders it is merely what is best for the league’s bottom line. However, I will admit that I’d rather have 2 more weeks of games that count than 4 preseason games. Didn’t it used to be SIX preseason games just about 30 years ago? What a “snoozefest” that was!  NFL Network tries to pass off the preseason as some gift and all 32 NFL stadiums still charge full price for tickets but any self-respecting fan merely accepts that as the NFL’s marketing effort, right? Nobody really wants to see the Eagles third stringers square off against the Jets fourth-stringers. Today’s Preseason Game 4 players are usually parking cars or working the concessions by Opening Day – but now that the Arena League and United Football League are up and running, there is always hope!!! Now that we have dispensed with “Flight Night” (another NFL marketing ploy to wheedle fans out of their hard-earned money while providing very little worthwhile product on the field) and “Fright Month” (the NFL Preseason, see previous description) we can finally focus on what is important leading up to the Opening Kickoff – NFL Roster Cut-downs!!! [2]

The Eagles had a flurry of activity trying to get down to the 53-man roster, needing to actually cut down to 52 (cut OL Max Jean-Giles) prior to swinging a deal 6 minutes after the deadline had passed. The Eagles traded Andrews on Saturday to the Seattle Seahawks, where he is expected to get his wish and move back to tackle. The Eagles, who had Andrews at guard, will receive a late 2011 draft pick in return.

[3]“Seattle had inquired about Stacy and his situation and I think it’s a great opportunity for Stacy to go and play a position that he’s probably more comfortable with and that’s right tackle,” Eagles GM Howie Roseman said. Andrews’ one-year tenure couldn’t have been any more wasteful for the Eagles. It ended Saturday with just two starts and over $10 million in the former Bengal’s bank account.

One day after being cut by the Eagles, veteran offensive lineman Max Jean-Gilles re-signed with the team, as expected. The Birds’ roster now stands at the maximum of 53. Jean-Gilles, who signed a one-year restricted free agent tender this offseason for $1.176 million and was re-signed for the same price, was released because the Eagles could not complete the Stacy Andrews trade before Saturday’s 6 p.m. roster cut deadline. MJG’s intention was always to re-sign with the team on Sunday. But that was not all. Other deals were needed in order to reach the magic number of 53 while filling some gaping holes.

The fine-tuning continued early Saturday and will likely continue through the holiday weekend.  In what was a busy day as rosters had to be cut to 53 by 6 p.m., the Eagles got an early start on some of their last-minute maneuvering when they traded for Ravens DE/LB Antwan Barnes.  One day after adding depth to their offensive line by acquiring offensive lineman Reggie Wells (from Arizona for a 6th round pick), the Eagles strengthened their defensive line, sending a draft pick to Baltimore in exchange for the three-year veteran Barnes. Sources indicate it will be a seventh-round pick.  Barnes (6-foot-1, 251 pounds) will play defensive end and possibly the joker position on passing downs in the Eagles’ defensive system. His job will be almost exclusively to rush the quarterback. A fourth-round pick out of Florida International in 2007, the 25-year-old Barnes had five sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in his three seasons with the Ravens. Barnes had three sacks and a forced fumble in 11 games last year. He’s a player the Eagles always seemed to watch closely, liking his rare speed and consistent QB pressure.

It is too early to tell whether or not these moves will pan out, but they certainly add much-needed talent at weak positions. Speaking of which, has anyone noticed the list of players who did NOT make the 53-man roster? It took cutting Max Jean-Gilles, recalling a waiver request (undisclosed at press time), the aforementioned deals AND making a trade (LB Tracy White to New England for a conditional 2012 draft pick) just to get to the actual roster cut-down. So when it happened, some players were VERY surprised to find themselves without roster spots. These final 10 players cut were WR Chad Hall, WR Kelley Washington, WR Jordan Norwood, TE Cornelius Ingram, C A.Q. Shipley, OL, Max Jean-Gilles (resigned 24 hours later), OL Dallas Reynolds, OL Fenuki Tupou, DE Eric Moncur, DT Jeff Owens, DB Macho Harris, S Quintin Demps.  Harris and Demps were starters on Opening Day 2009. Among the bubble players to survive were newly acquired CB Jorrick Calvin, WRs Hank Baskett & Riley Cooper and LBs Jamar Chaney and Moise Fokou.   Ten of the Eagles’ 13 draft picks are on the final roster and an 11th – Ricky Sapp – is on injured reserve. A 12th could be added to the practice squad soon too.

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So, until something else changes, here’s your 2010 Eagles roster:

Offense
Quarterbacks (three)
Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick and Mike Kafka
No drama here. The Eagles were straightforward about this one since the offseason. Vick was going to be their backup. And he is. Rookie Mike Kafka will run the scout team and wait to be groomed for #2QB.

Running backs (three)
LeSean McCoy, Mike Bell and Eldra Buckley
Again, no drama. Bell is finally healthy (we think) and can now do what the Eagles signed him to do. Buckley is a solid special teams player and never faced any stiff competition this summer.

Fullback (one)
Leonard Weaver
There’s a surprise! I’m going to have a heart attack and died from that surprise! The Eagles didn’t even have another fullback on the 75-man roster earlier this week.

Wide receivers (five)
DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper and Hank Baskett
Hank Baskett edged out Kelley Washington for one of the very last likely spots. The Eagles actually made 11 cuts at 5:30 p.m. (strangely White was one of them and then later traded) and Washington (who could have been a good special teams contributor) was not among them. Washington’s release was the last one announced by the team.  Baskett likely won out because he’s the better receiver of the two and a more familiar face. In most years, the Eagles likely would have kept Baskett and Washington. Last year, they actually had seven receivers on the final roster. This year, they have just five with a lot of rookies filling out this Eagles roster. That could be promising or ominous. We’ll have to see.  
Tight ends (two)
Brent Celek and Clay Harbor…no Cornelius Ingram
Cornelius Ingram didn’t make the cut. Injuries and insufficient blocking doomed the talented second-year tight end. Ingram, who missed the last two years for ACL surgery, struggled most of training camp as he dealt with knee and calf problems. Finally, though, he’d appears healthy after having a Baker’s cyst drained. Ingram, if he makes it through waivers, should be on the Eagles’ practice squad. They want him there but they had to set him free and determine how to bring him back (cue Sting on this one).

Offensive lineman (nine)
Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson, Nick Cole, Winston Justice, Reggie Wells, Mike McGlynn, Austin Howard and King Dunlap
The Eagles, as usual, will go heavy on the offensive line. They have 10 linemen now that MJG re-signed as expected. Of the 10 linemen, only King Dunlap was even questionable. Austin Howard won his way onto the team with strong minicamp and training camp performances. Depth at offensive line is a luxury in the NFL. This will benefit the Eagles over the long season.

Defense
Defensive ends (six)
Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Juqua Parker, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Darryl Tapp and Antwan Barnes
The Eagles placed a strong emphasis on improving their ability to get to the quarterback this offseason. It’s obvious with this new-look group of DEs. Four of the six ends are new faces, with Barnes joining the team just hours before the final cuts. Brandon Graham is slated to start opposite Cole and this could be a very deep and talented group if all play up to their potential.

Defensive tackles (four)
Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, Trevor Laws and Antonio Dixon
Owens, a seventh-round pick out of Georgia, was excluded from the list. But he “thinks” he’ll earn a position on the practice squad, leaving every draft pick (aside from the recently traded Charles Scott) with some spot in the organization.

Linebackers (seven)
Ernie Sims, Stewart Bradley, Akeem Jordan, Omar Gaither, Keenan Clayton, Moise Fokou & Jamar Chaney
There was some question about whether Fokou would survive, but he played exceptionally well Thursday night against the Jets (10 tackles) and was never really in doubt. Overall, the linebacking corps is much better. With Bradley fully recovered from a serious knee injury and Ernie Sims unleashing his inner beast all over training camp, the Eagles have solid veteran starters supported by young, athletic backups.  Truly this group could be ferocious when let loose against the enemy in games that count!

Cornerbacks (six)
Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Joselio Hanson, Dimitri Patterson, Trevard Lindley and Jorrick Calvin
Hanson survived despite a rough preseason where he was continually beat deep. The Eagles still like what he brings as the nickel corner but don’t think there is not concern. Calvin is a surprise considering he joined the team earlier in the week. Apparently, he impressed on Thursday night but one preseason game is not a wide body of work. Jury is still out on this one.

Safeties (three)
Quintin Mikell, Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman
Harris, the Eagles’ opening day starter at free safety last year, was released. So was Demps, the originally planned successor to Brian Dawkins. That leaves the Eagles with just one safety who has taken a snap in the NFL. Demps fell out of favor last year and never recovered, despite being a strong kickoff returner and having a seemingly strong training camp. Both Harris and Demps will get new jobs. Harris didn’t have much of a chance this summer because of a serious hamstring injury.  Someone else will get an opportunity with the Eagles. Likely a cornerback could be shifted to safety, probably as an insurance policy. Patterson appears the most likely candidate. As for what the Eagles thought of Demps as a safety, he “has been a heck of a kick returner…” Damn, who turned up the AC to the “Arctic” setting?

Special Teams (three)
Kicker: David Akers     Punter: Sav Rocca   Long snapper: Jon Dorenbos
An aging but still effective crew. What time is kickoff?

The Eagles kickoff Sunday September 12 @ 4:15 vs. Green Bay Packers. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Eagles last championship, the Eagles will once again wear the familiar Kelly green uniforms. They’ll be donning the throwbacks against the Green Bay Packers on opening day, a game which will also feature a half time tribute to the championship team and it’s surviving members.

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