Our eight-day look at who makes the Eagles’ 53-man roster comes to a conclusion today with a look at defensive tackle (Click on the following -- defensive end, offensive line, running back, cornerback, linebacker, wide receivers/tight ends and safeties -- to view the first seven positional reviews).
The Eagles have carried as few as three defensive tackles – when their defensive ends played more in the middle -- but there’s a chance they could take as many as five into this regular season. Four is a more realistic number. A lot could depend on Trevor Laws’s hip, Antonio Dixon’s back and Mike Patterson’s head, and could force the Eagles to carry an extra body on the team.
Teams must pare rosters down to 80 by Tuesday. Final cuts are on Sept. 3.
I’ll have my final cut predictions in Thursday’s Inquirer and online at philly.com.
Likely to keep: 4-5.
Locks: Of the top four tackles on the depth chart, Cullen Jenkins is the only one that has remained healthy throughout the preseason. That may surprise some in Green Bay who believed he had become brittle. But Jenkins has injected some pass rush presence into the interior and should play the majority of snaps when the Eagles are in either the nickel or dime. Dixon appeared poised to take another step toward fulfilling on his promise, and he may still, but he’s been in the tub for weeks now with back spasms. He’s assured a spot on the roster, but his durability bears watching. The Eagles need his wide body in the middle with the extra space derived from the ends splitting out wide. Patterson’s return from a seizure and an arteriovenous malformation diagnosis (AVM) has been remarkable. He’s been given clearance to hold off treatment until after the season, but will be medicated. Patterson’s production has steadily decreased over the last four seasons but his durability is needed.
Bubble: Laws was in the near lock category a few weeks ago, but a hip flexor injury that has kept him out of the lineup for a month has the fourth-year tackle on the bubble. The question with Laws – if he’s out for another week or so – is has he done enough in the past to warrant a pass? Probably not, but a lot will depend on how the Eagles rate Derek Landri and Anthony Hargrove. Landri is a serviceable reserve. He had moments against the Ravens and Browns in the preseason, but was quieted by the Steelers’ offensive line. Hargrove can play some end and has already taken on a leadership role, but he isn't very big (6-foot-3, 287 pounds) for a tackle and the Eagles need space eaters.
Gone: Cedric Thornton has potential, so the Eagles will likely try to sneak him onto their practice squad. Marlon Favorite was released on Friday.