Saturday, February 13, 2016

Davis: Real hard roster decisions await

Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis didn't want to talk specifics of how many players he envisions keeping at each position, when Davis spoke with reporters Sunday. But Davis noted that the Eagles' improved depth will make getting down to the regular-season roster limit of 53 difficult.

Davis: Real hard roster decisions await


Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis didn't want to talk specifics of how many players he envisions keeping at each position, when Davis spoke with reporters Sunday. But Davis noted that the Eagles' improved depth will involve hard choices, getting down to the regular-season roster limit of 53.

"We'll just pick the best 53 that we can pick. How those numbers pan out will be dictated by this preseason game (the finale Thursday against the Jets) and the rest of practice ... we'll have even harder cuts next week (than the 14 made Saturday), which is a great feeling, they're real hard decisions, you're agonized over which way you'll go, and that means that the roster is growing and we're getting stronger and stronger ... It's harder on us, but it's a positive for the organization," Davis said.

Other topics Davis touched upon:

*Brandon Bair, the nearly-30-year-old DE who has made a significant step forward after spending last season on the Eagles' practice squad, "is really good at holding the point," Davis noted. 'Very hard worker, very intelligent guy."

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*Nate Allen "has the lead" at the safety position alongside Malcolm Jenkins, Davis said, but the competition with Earl Wolff isn't over. (Actually, it is; Allen's had a great camp, but until it's time to announce the final depth chart, Davis and Chip Kelly don't want to say much of anything definitive.) Davis reiterated that Allen's growing familiarity with Davis's system has helped him make a leap forward in effectiveness.

*By the same token, Davis refused to say Bradley Fletcher will start ahead of Nolan Carroll at corner, but he kept talking about Carroll's effectiveness in dime coverage, not about his viability as a starter. And he stuck up for Fletcher, RE penalties in the preseason. Carroll might be a better option than Fletcher, but it seems doubtful that will be how the Eagles go into the season.

*We'll see more wrinkles from Davis's defense, now that he's had a full year here. "You can't put it all in and have it all in Year 1," Davis said. "That's the hardest part of Year 1, is that you have to just have a foundation, your foundation (needs to be) really strong, really sturdy, so you can start stacking these other things on top of it in Year 2. We're slowly starting to stack some more defensive tools."

*Davis said the Eagles will prepare for both Jacksonville quarterbacks, Chad Henne and rookie Blake Bortles, in advance of the Sept. 7 season opener.


Malcolm Jenkins and Connor Barwin did not seem to be practicing during the brief interval reporters were allowed to observe. No word on injuries, but they aren't playing until Sept. 7. Ditto LeSean McCoy, who was one-handing catches early in practice Sunday, following the right thumb sprain he suffered in Thursday's preseason victory over Pittsburgh.

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