We’re getting to the nitty gritty in our series on who makes the Eagles 53-man roster. I may have to use all of my prognostication skills to weed out which players at linebacker and defensive back make the team and which don't. We’ll do the linebackers today and d-backs manana.
The Eagles’ starting threesome at linebacker – Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims and Akeem Jordan -- is completely different than the one that finished last season. That, in case you don’t already know, is a good thing.
Middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter was not re-signed and has drifted back into something of a forced retirement. (Unless, of course the Eagles plan on bringing Trot back for a fourth go-around. Don't count on it.) Weak-side linebacker Will Witherspoon was released and landed in Tennessee. And strong-side linebacker Moise Fokou began training camp as the only leftover, but has since lost his spot to Jordan and is now a man without a definitive position.
That’s never a good thing. He’s currently listed as the backup SAM, but has also been logging time at defensive end and playing a little “Joker.” It’s happened before, but I find it hard to believe that Fokou can go from starter to off the team in a matter of weeks. He’s an OK special teamer when he’s not taking silly penalties and he’s really the only option at strong-side should something happen to Jordan.
The Eagles say Omar Gaither can play all three linebacker spots, and so, too, does Gaither. He’s never really played SAM, but Gaither is a competent backup in the middle and at WIL and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott loves him some versatile linebackers. So Gaither’s in.
Rookie Keenan Clayton has done enough in the first three preseason games to assure his place on the roster. He was enigma during camp, but has obvious talent and being a fourth-round pick won’t hurt.
The Eagles’ other rookie, Jamar Chaney, is the third stringer at middle linebacker. But he’s gotten a decent amount of looks with the backups in the last two preseason games and the Eagles really like the guy. They’re probably afraid they’ll lose Chaney if they keep him on the practice squad, so I think he makes the 53.
I guess that wasn't as hard as I first thought. The Eagles keep seven linebackers even though it's one or two more than they normally keep.
Keeps the playbook: Bradley, Sims, Jordan, Gaither and Clayton.
On the bubble: Fokou, Chaney and Tracy White.
Already called his agent: Simoni Lawrence.
Tomorrow: Defensive backs.