Our eight-day look at who makes the Eagles’ 53-man roster continues today with a look at the backfield.
There isn’t as much change here as at other positions – the starting lineup should be the same as last season, though the Eagles may have found a keeper in the draft.
First cuts come next Tuesday when the 90-man roster is pared down to 80. Final cuts are on Sept. 3. Earlier we looked at the offensive line and defensive ends.
We’ll split today’s take into running backs and fullbacks.
How important is it for the Eagles to play well against the Browns on Thursday night?
Likely to keep: 3
Locks: LeSean McCoy – Shady had a breakout 2010 as the Eagles full-time starter and early on looks like he may be even better this season. We knew he had speed and versatility. He proved his durability last season by fighting through rib and shoulder injuries and is aiming for a Pro Bowl spot this time around. Ronnie Brown – Brown is a capable, experienced backup in case McCoy gets hurt and should also be able to handle the ball a few times a game. He might even provide a Wildcat option (though if you’re looking for a run/pass threat, I’m not sure why anyone would take the ball out of Mike Vick’s hands).
Near lock: Dion Lewis looks like a find, a mini-McCoy in many respects. The fellow Pitt product can catch the ball, is elusive in the open field and can burst by defenders. Like many college backs, though, he needs to work on his pass protection. He also has to improve his ball security – a fumble against the Steelers marred an otherwise fine performance. He could also factor in as a kick returner. With the potential he’s shown so far, the Eagles will have to give Lewis a roster spot if they want to keep him. No chance he slips through to the practice squad. The only danger for Lewis is if the team decides McCoy and Brown give them enough skill backs and they choose to keep a punt and kick coverage guy instead.
Bubble: Eldra Buckley – Buck gives you everything he’s got, but with Brown and Lewis in town, his days appear numbered. He’s another one of those players hurt by the kickoff rule that has increased touchbacks and might mean less emphasis on special teams, uh, specialists. He’s got to show something in these final two preseason games to stay in Philly.
Gone: Graig Cooper, Derrick Locke
Likely to keep: 1
Near lock: Owen Schmitt appears to have this spot won by virtue of his rugged blocking. He’s not a big threat as a playmaker, but the Eagles already have an embarrassment of riches in that category. Schmitt’s job will be to help keep Mike Vick upright and clear the way for McCoy. He does that well enough to warrant another year at the Linc.
Bubble: Stanley Havili - The seventh-rounder hasn’t stood out and has work to do when it comes to blocking. He might slip onto the practice squad if the team believes he can develop.