Who Makes the Roster: Tight ends

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 Tuesday. 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



WHO STAYS: Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Clay Harbor.

The only question of consequence with the Eagles tight ends is whether Kelly will keep three or four. In light of Jeremy Maclin’s season-ending injury and the lack of depth at wide receiver, I think Kelly will retain four tight ends. Clay Harbor has been practicing with the receivers for the last week. Kelly’s tight ends and receivers are interchangeable, so it isn’t much a stretch to keep four. And there’s always his affinity for tight ends.

Harbor is probably the fastest of the group. He can create some mismatches. We’ve already seen Kelly use four tight end sets in the preseason. If he’s spent enough time working on a number of plays with four-tight end formations it’s a safe bet he’ll want to use them in the regular season. So Harbor stays.

Brent Celek has played the most snaps with the first team through three preseason games. There was some hubbub about the veteran’s roster spot being at risk, but that isn’t the case. Celek is the best blocker of the group and has shown that he can still get tough yards after the catch. Zach Ertz has flashed the abilities that intrigued the Eagles enough to draft him in the second round, but he is a limited blocker right now. His blocking will improve. More important, he needs to cut out the drops. He had a number during camp and has had two in the preseason.

We haven’t seen much of James Casey in the preseason, well, at least with the first team. I imagine that will change over time. He’s a valuable weapon to have because he can line up almost anywhere and is a solid blocker. I’m not sure how many catches he’ll have with so many other options, but Kelly likely has a little subfolder labeled “Casey” that he’s got tucked away until the regular season.

WHO GOES: Emil Igwenagu, Derek Carrier, Will Shaw.

Emil Igwenagu is the lone tight end left of this group. Derek Carrier and Will Shaw were released on Sunday before rosters need to be trimmed to 75. Carrier has some ability and should catch on elsewhere. Shaw was an undrafted rookie that needs some work. Igwenagu played a lot of fullback last season, but when Kelly made it clear that the position wasn’t in his plans, the second-year player’s days were numbered. Igwenagu still has practice squad eligibility.