Eagles Cut to 53: Vick 'Exempt'
The Philadelphia Daily News - Eagletarian
Eagles Cut to 53: Vick 'Exempt'
Les Bowen, Daily News Staff Writer
The Eagles made their roster cuts down to the regular-season limit of 53 Saturday, and the biggest surprise might have been that they placed quarterback Michael Vick on the "exempt" list, meaning he doesn't count against the roster but cannot practice during the two weeks he is suspended. Perhaps because of that exemption, A.J. Feeley remains with the team for now.
Vick had said following Thursday's preseason finale that it would be "very, very important" for him to be able to practice during his suspension, but Eagles coach Andy Reid obviously felt differently.
Another surprise was that because the team kept 7 wide receivers, at least for now, Reggie Brown remains an Eagle. Clearly, the Birds wanted to show potential trade partners that they did not have to release Feeley or Brown. Just as clearly, they aren't keeping 4 QBs or 7 wideouts long term.
The Eagles waived CB Trae Williams, CB Jack Ikegwuonu, DE Bryan Smith, DE Josh Gaines, LB Tank Daniels, FS Reshard Langford, WR Danny Amendola, RB Lorenzo Booker, C Dallas Reynolds, G Paul Fanaika, G Mike Gibson, TE Rob Myers, FB Marcus Mailei and FB Kyle Eckel. These players are now subject to waivers.
The Eagles released DT Dan Klecko, LB Matt Wilhelm and TE Matt Schobel. These players are now unrestricted free agents.
The team placed OT Fenuki Tupou on injured reserve.
In a conference call with reporters, general manager Tom Heckert pointed out that Vick won't necessarily be on the exempt list throughout his two-week suspension. Translation: if somebody steps up to the plate to trade for Feeley this week or next week, the Birds probably will go ahead and place Vick on the roster, ahead of his reinstatement.
"Obviously, he does need some more work," Heckert said. He emphasized that though Vick can't practice, he can attend practice and all meetings, and he is free to throw passes on the side, he just can't scrimmage with the rest of the team.
The cuts did not reflect well on the Eagles' 2008 draft. Getting DeSean Jackson in the second round will probably forever keep it from being a bad year, but the team said goodbye to 2008 third (Smith) and fourth-round picks (Ikegwuonu, who could be coming back to the practice squad), plus a guy the Eagles traded a fourth-round pick to acquire on that draft day (Booker).
"We had big expectations for both those guys," Heckert said of Ikegwuonu and Smith, an undersized end. He indicated Ikegwuonu is still working back to total confidence in his rebuilt knee. Smith, Heckert said, was just outplayed at defensive end by late pickup Jason Babin.
Asked about the glut of wideouts, Heckert said: "We like all those guys," but he acknowledged that "things could change at any time."
With Brent Celek and newcomer Tony Curtis as the only tight ends on the roster, you'd think there might be a move there once the cutdown dust settles across the league. Heckert said the Eagles only activated two for most of 2008 and aren't desperate to add a third right now. "As long as we keep a guy on the practice squad, we should be OK," he said.
The signing of Leonard Weaver in the offseason probably doomed Eckel's roster bid, and anybody who watched the preseason knows that former San Diego Charger Eldra Buckley decisvely outplayed Booker.
"That's a great story," Heckert said of Buckley, who had never been asked to catch the ball much before he came here, and looked extremely awkward at it in OTAs. "He played very well." Heckert lauded Buckley's special teams play. "He really did a lot to impress us," Heckert said.
It might have been a bit of a surprise that Dimitri Patterson, a former Redskin and Chief, made it as a fifth corner, given that rookie safety Macho Harris can also play corner. Patterson had a strong preseason.
The numbers just didn't add up for defensive tackle Dan Klecko, with the Birds keeping just three players at that position -- starters Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley and reserve Trevor Laws. Of course, DE Darren Howard usually plays inside on passing downs, and other DEs are capable of doing so.
Heckert called Klecko, whom the Eagles switched from fullback to defensive tackle and back again last season, "one of our favorite guys."
The Eagles can establish a practice squad Sunday.