First Cuts No Surprise

     The Eagles only waited a matter of hours after Friday's preseason win at New England to announce their first roster trims. Veteran fullback Luke Lawton, rookie free agent wideout Frantz Hardy and former Rutgers guard Cameron Stephenson were released. The Eagles must cut two more players to get to 75 by Tuesday. The next trim after that is down to the regular-season limit of 53.

      Lawton's abrupt departure might have been a mild surprise a week ago, before the team announced Tony Hunt was moving to fullback. It was obvious then that the Eagles didn't feel they had the guy they needed at that position. Lawton looked like the favorite to win the spot when the Birds traded for him from Indianapolis in June, but he was slow to pick up the offense, seemed smaller than his listed 6-0, 240, and made little impression in camp.

     Hardy, a spindly 6-0, 180, was nagged by injuries. Stepehenson, who spent last season on the Packers' practice squad, was the guy the Eagles brought in when Shawn Andrews didn't show for camp last month; he showed up at quite a disadvantage in learning the scheme.