Sunday, February 14, 2016

Who Makes the Roster: Running Backs

The Eagles need to get from 90 players to 53 on their roster by 6 p.m. Aug. 31. They’ll get to 75 by Aug. 27. Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman still have a lot of work left to do as they whittle their roster down. The Inquirer’s Eagles beat reporters will spend the next two weeks predicting who stay and who goes. Here’s the lineup:

Who Makes the Roster: Running Backs

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Eagles running backs Matthew Tucker, left, LeSean McCoy, center, Bryce Brown, right. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Eagles running backs Matthew Tucker, left, LeSean McCoy, center, Bryce Brown, right. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

The Eagles need to get from 90 players to 53 on their roster by 6 p.m. Aug. 31. They’ll get to 75 by Aug. 27. Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman still have a lot of work left to do as they whittle their roster down. The Inquirer’s Eagles beat reporters will spend the next two weeks predicting who stay and who goes. Here’s the lineup:

Wed, Aug. 14: Defensive linemen
Thur., Aug. 15: Offensive linemen
Fri., Aug. 16: Quarterbacks / Specialists
Mon., Aug. 19: Outside linebackers
Tues., Aug. 20: Running backs
Wed., Aug. 21: Inside linebackers
Thur., Aug. 22: Wide receivers
Fri., Aug. 23: Cornerbacks
Mon., Aug. 26: Tight ends
Tues., Aug. 27: Safeties

RUNNING BACKS

LIKELY TO KEEP: 3.

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WHO STAYS: LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk.

The first three are set in stone. The more pressing question is whether Chip Kelly decides to keep four. If he’s inclined to go that route, I can’t see him choosing either Felix Jones or Matthew Tucker. We’ll get to their faults in a moment, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles pick up another running back after teams trim their rosters to 53.

Kelly can probably get away with just LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk on game days. His offense involves using all three, through, and he may want to have another option if someone gets injured. The fourth man will have to play special teams.

All that being said I think Kelly keeps just three. The empty spot will allow him to keep four tight ends on the roster.

McCoy could have a monster season in Kelly’s offense. He gave a sneak preview against the Panthers. Kelly’s spread offense and the offensive line’s zone blocking scheme should create enough space for McCoy to do this thing.

Brown and Polk are going to make a strong 1-2 backup option to McCoy. Brown sat out the Panthers game, but he had a solid start on the ground and catching balls against the Patriots. There is still the concern that he hasn’t rectified ball security issues from last season. But the man has talent.

Polk has impressed this summer. He came into camp lighter and ripped off a number of long runs in practice. He was silenced against the Pats, but showed some tough, inside-the-tackles running against Carolina. He fumbled once, though, a worrisome sign in light of Brown’s past problems.

WHO GOES: Felix Jones, Matthew Tucker.

The Eagles signed Jones in the offseason. If he was brought in to push the younger guys then consider it a job well done. If the Eagles acquired him believing that he could help out on offense and in the run game, then he has failed. The former Cowboy just hasn’t looked anywhere near explosive as he did for spurts in Dallas. He’s also had a number of drops in the both practice and the games. Tucker has 15 carries for 59 yards (3.9 avg.) in two preseason games. The rookie hasn’t stood out, but not many would next to the top three on the Eagles depth chart. Tucker looks destined to land on the practice squad.

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Staff Writer
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