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 stays 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
LIKELY TO KEEP: 7-8.
WHO STAYS: Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Clifton Geathers, Bennie Logan, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Damion Square.
The Eagles spent much of the offseason remaking their defensive line to suit the needs of the switch to a 3-4 front. Of the 12 linemen, only three are holdovers from last year. Fletcher Cox will, of course, make the team and start at one of the defensive end spots. He’s going through some growing pains transitioning from a 4-3 defensive tackle to a 3-4 end, but that was to be expected. Still, you have to wonder if defensive coordinator Bill Davis will try to find a way to fee up Cox, who has above average inside pass rushing skills. It would be a waste to have the Eagles’ 2012 top pick spend most of his playing time clogging up run lanes. Cedric Thornton has spent most of camp running with the first team opposite Cox at end, but he isn’t assured a starting spot. Once labeled a project, Thornton has the size to be a space filler. He’s been pushed by rookie Bennie Logan, who could contribute right away. Logan has played both defensive end and nose tackle. His versatility assures him playing time this season. And judging by the power he’s shown in the trenches, it could earn him a starting spot.
Vinny Curry had perhaps the best performance on defense in the preseason opener. There was concern that Curry couldn’t develop into 3-4 end, and I’ll be the first to admit I had doubts, but the 15 pounds he added hasn’t appeared to have slowed him down a bit. Curry got into the Patriots’ backfield on multiple occasions, and could be a valuable piece on passing downs. Clifton Geathers has great height (6-foot-8) and long arms (40 inches) and good size for a two-gap end. He hasn’t exactly stood out thus far – aside from in the physical sense. If he doesn’t produce in the final three preseason games and one of the younger guys does, he could end up on the “Who goes” list. Isaac Sopoaga will anchor the line at nose tackle on base downs. He's entering his tenth season, but should have enough in the tank to help with the run defense. An undrafted rookie out of Alabama, Damion Square has benefitted from Antonio Dixon’s absence because of injury. He can play all three spots on the line. He doesn’t blow you away with his athleticism, but always seems to be around the ball. Coaches love guys like that.
WHO GOES: Antonio Dixon, David King, Joe Kruger, Isaac Remington, Daryell Walker.
Dixon is the third leftover from last season, although he spent most of the season on the street after the Eagles cut him prior to the season. I’m not counting Dixon out, although his inclusion on this list suggests otherwise. He just hasn’t put enough on film to gauge where he stands. He appeared to come into camp in his best shape in years. If he can flash some of the 2010 Dixon over the next three games, he could sneak onto the roster. Joe Kruger and David King are the aforementioned young guys. Both have ideal size (Kruger is 6-6, 269 and King is 6-4, 281) to play end in a 3-4. King has also seen some time at nose. Neither seemed overwhelmed in their first NFL action on Friday night, but both will likely be developmental pieces that the Eagles should be able to stow away on the practice squad. Isaac Remington, an undrafted rookie out of Oregon, and Daryell Walker, who made team after a rookie tryout, will have a hard time hanging on.