Jerome McDougle was asked about the numbers, again and again this summer, and McDougle repeated, over and over, that he was trusting in God, the coaches and hard work, that it would all work out for him, somewhere, if not here.
Now it will have to be "somewhere." Saturday afternoon, McDougle was the highest-profile casualty of the Eagles' final roster cutdown to 53. General manager Tom Heckert said McDougle "has done a great job for us this preseason, he's made a lot of plays, he's shown that he can still rush the passer," leading the team with 2.5 preseason sacks. But the Birds had six other defensive ends, and unless someone went down for the season, there was never much chance that the team's 2003 first-round draft pick was going to stick this time. McDougle fought through years of injury and misfortune, including losing the 2005 season to a gunshot wound, to have his best training camp, at the point where the team finally seemed to have built enough DE depth to not really need him.
Heckert said McDougle "won't have any trouble finding work" and you can rest assured agent Drew Rosenhaus already is hard at work on that score. Heckert indicated DE Chris Clemons (calf) could be ready for the season opener, and that DE Victor Abiamiri (wrist) will be ready within several weeks.
Probably the biggest pleasant surprise in the final cutdown, given the way he left the field in Thursday's preseason finale, was that reserve guard Max Jean-Gilles did not end up on IR. Jean-Gilles, injured with 3:37 left in the loss to the Jets, couldn't put any weight on what Andy Reid later called a sprained left knee. But by keeping Jean-Gilles on the active roster, the team must think he will be OK within several weeks, at the most That was Heckert's assertion Saturday, anyway..
Keeping Jean-Gilles meant cutting veteran guard Scott Young. The Eagles also IR'd seventh-round rookie offensive tackle King Dunlap, who has a longstanding ankle problem and is a project, along with sixth-round rookie guard Mike Gibson. Fourth-round rookie guard Mike McGlynn, who did not set the world on fire in camp, made the team, at least for now.
Also, second-year player Tony Hunt did not talk his way out of the fullback job this week after all, when Hunt kept emphasizing how difficult the late-camp transition from running back was.
"I think he improved from the first game to the second game ... he showed the ability to be a fullback. Obviously, we know he does need to improve a little bit, but after 2 weeks, he showed that he has a chance to be a pretty good fullback," Heckert said. Heckert said Hunt said nothing to him or the coaches that indicated any cold feet or trepidation.
Here is a full list of the cuts, with a comment on each. Don't be surprised if a couple of changes are made before the team starts practice on Monday for the opener against the Rams, a week from Sunday:
CB Kyle Arrington: Rookie free agent had a good camp, would seem a practice squad lock if he isn't claimed. The practice squad can't be named before noon Sunday.
FB Jed Collins: Rookie free agent, potential practice-squadder.
FB Jason Davis: After a year on IR and a practice-squad year, it might be time to say farewell.
WR Michael Gasperson: He has run out of practice squad eligibility, having been there since the Reagan administration. A good guy and a great worker who could surface somewhere else.
DT Mike Marquardt : A late pickup who was brought in as a body but actually looked pretty good.
WR Shaheer McBride: Big, not very fast, decent hands, local, could be practice squadable
DE Jerome McDougle: Just his luck, to finally show up strong and solid when there was no spot.
DT Montae Reagor: Knee injury ended already slim chances.
LB Justin Roland: Rookie free agent, practice squadable.
LB Andy Studebaker: Sixth round rookie making difficult transition from DE and D-III, a lock for the practice squad.
TE Kris Wilson: Huge disappointment as a free-agent signing. Was going to be more athletic than Matt Schobel and a bigger help on special teams. Early weeks at Lehigh, he looked like a setter for the Olympic volleyball team whenever someone threw him a pass. He got better, but not fast enough.
G Scott Young: When you're a reserve and you fail to show for minicamp, you'd better arrive at training camp with an "S" on your chest and a cape. Young didn't. Note that the Eagles waited as long as they could to grant him his release, which apparently was what he was looking for back in June.