The Eagles clearly have some decisions to make in the coming days about the roster on both offense and defense. Here we take a look at the defensive situation:
Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson provided a bit of a surprise when he announced Monday that Dan Klecko would make the 53-man roster as the fourth defensive tackle. Klecko and rookie Trevor Laws will be the backups to starters Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley. That makes for a pretty interesting group when you consider Patterson and Bunkley are first-round draft picks and Laws was taken high in the second this year. Klecko is now entering his sixth year in the league as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Temple and has three Super Bowl rings. John Smallwood has more on Klecko in today's Daily News.
At defensive end, the Eagles have seven candidates for six spots, it seems. Starters Trent Cole and Juqua Parker obviously are locks. So is Victor Abiamiri, whose surgically repaired wrist appears to be healing well enough to keep him off injured reserve. Darren Howard probably will make the team because of his ability to play both end positions as well as move inside in Johnson's nickel package. Rookie third-round pick Bryan Smith likely will make the final 53-man roster since it would be too risky to put a pick that high on the practice squad.
That leaves free agent Chris Clemons and Jerome McDougle battling for that sixth defensive-end spot. McDougle, the former first-round pick who appeared to have no shot of making the team when training camp opened, has had a strong camp and preseason. Most important, he has stayed healthy, unlike Clemons, who has been on the shelf for nearly 2 weeks with a calf strain. He didn't practice yesterday and wasn't even on the field with the team during its 2-hour workout.
"We want him to be out there," Johnson said before practice. "It is important to Chris. We'll have to see day by day. I don't know how hard he can go, but he needs to get out there and he needs to practice."