With the fourth preseason game in the books, it's time to unveil the annual 53-man roster projection.
The Eagles will announce cuts by Saturday at 6 p.m. Here's who I see making it.
Quarterbacks (3): Michael Vick, Vince Young, Mike Kafka
This one was easy. Young looked comfortable Thursday night, completing 15 of 23 passes for 193 yards. We'll see how serious the hamstring injury is, but I've felt all along his talent and experience made him the reasonable choice to back up Vick. If Young had to play early in the season, it would be up to Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg to mold the offense to his strengths.
Running backs (4): LeSean McCoy, Ronnie Brown, Owen Schmitt, Dion Lewis
This one is fairly straightforward also. I don't see Eldra Buckley stealing a spot just for special teams. Seeing the recent report that the Eagles put in a waiver claim for fullback Jerome Felton made me re-think Schmitt's job security. He was OK last year, but did not particularly stand out. Seventh-round pick Stanley Havili hasn't done much to warrant a roster spot. Lewis looked very good again Thursday night.
Wide receivers (5): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Steve Smith, Riley Cooper
I don't think there's room for Chad Hall, Sinorice Moss or Johnnie Lee Higgins. Hall has looked much more comfortable in the offense this summer, but I don't see how he'd get on the field with the other weapons this team has. If the Eagles wanted to keep a sixth receiver to be a return man, Moss might have the edge. If they have questions about Maclin being ready or Smith's progress, a sixth receiver could sneak onto the roster, but I don't see it.
Tight ends (2): Brent Celek, Clay Harbor
The Eagles rarely go with two-TE sets so it doesn't make sense to keep Donald Lee. The veteran had some nice moments Thursday against the Jets, but he didn't do enough in the last month to steal a spot from Harbor.
Offensive linemen (10): Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson, King Dunlap, Reggie Wells, Julian Vandervelde, Winston Justice
Given the recent shakeup, this was a difficult one. I'm not sure the Eagles really need to keep 10 linemen. Reid has been saying for weeks that Justice is close to returning, but he still hasn't practiced. Does that mean the PUP list is still a possibility? If that happens, it would open up a spot elsewhere. After serving as the team's starting center a year ago, Mike McGlynn has not looked good at guard and is gone. And considering he just had surgery last week, Ryan Harris is off too.
Defensive linemen (10): Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Juqua Parker, Darryl Tapp, Antonio Dixon, Mike Patterson, Trevor Laws, Cullen Jenkins, Anthony Hargrove, Philip Hunt
This was by far the most difficult group to decide on. At defensive end, I gave Hunt the edge over Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. He's just played better during camp and in the preseason. The Eagles have to be excited about giving Jim Washburn more time to work with Hunt. Te'o-Nesheim is really only a difficult decision because he was a third-round pick in 2010, but that still needs to factor in. Parker could get cut, but I felt he was too productive a player to let go. I'm also assuming here that Brandon Graham starts the season on PUP.
At defensive tackle, it really came down to Hargrove and Derek Landri, the two new guys added earlier this offseason. I don't think Laws' spot came down to how he played against the Jets. He's been in the Eagles' organization for three years and showed ability as an interior pass rusher last year. Landri would probably be my 54th man if there were an extra spot. I'm sure the coaches love his motor, but I just couldn't find a way to keep him on the roster. Hargrove played defensive tackle with the first team ahead of Landri earlier this preseason when Patterson was out, and Hargrove can play end also. That gave him the edge.
Linebackers (5): Casey Matthews, Jamar Chaney, Moise Fokou, Brian Rolle, Keenan Clayton
I'm throwing a curveball here and have the Birds going light. I don't think the Eagles will start the season with only five linebackers, but I have Akeem Jordan getting cut initially. Jordan can play all three linebacker positions, but he hasn't played any of them really well in awhile. His value is on special teams. If Matthews were to go down, the Eagles could go with Chaney in the middle. And I wouldn't be surprised if they scanned the waiver wire for a linebacker before Week 1. But, for now, Jordan is off.
Cornerbacks (6): Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Brandon Hughes, Curtis Marsh, Trevard Lindley
I'm operating under the assumption that Joselio Hanson gets traded. That leaves room for Hughes, Marsh and Lindley. The Eagles spent draft picks on Lindley and Marsh the past two seasons. I don't think they want to part ways with either. And Hughes might be the best equipped of the three to play right now. He's had some good moments on special teams in punt coverage too.
Safeties (5): Kurt Coleman, Nate Allen, Jarrad Page, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Colt Anderson
The four spots are clear-cut, and I think Anderson sneaks on the roster. If it's between keeping Anderson, Jordan or a sixth receiver, I think Anderson wins out. He's going to have an impact on the game every week on special teams. Keeping five safeties probably seems like too many, but I look at Anderson as a specialist. It's true that there will be fewer kickoff returns, but they won't be gone completely, and there are punt returns also. The Eagles can't ignore that part of the game, and they can't ignore the impact Anderson had last season.
Specialists (3): Alex Henery, Chas Henry, Jon Dorenbos
Nothing to add here.
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