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5 Things To Know Today: August 23

Posted Aug 23, 2014

The Eagles return to the practice field later this morning. With the Pittsburgh game in the rear-view mirror, this is an interesting time for the team. For the starters, the regular season opener against Jacksonville starts to come into focus. However, there are a lot of roster spots still up for grabs and the players fighting for those get another week of training and one more preseason game to state their case. Head coach Chip Kelly reviews the tape when he meets with the media at 11:35 AM. Until then, here are the 5 Things To Know Today for August 23 ...

1. How Will The Eagles Get To 53?

The Eagles have until Tuesday at 4 PM to trim the roster from 90 to 75. A week from today, teams have to get to the league-mandated 53-man roster limit. Head coach Chip Kelly said that the goal is to find the "right 53 and the best 53" and has an open mind when it comes to how many players at each position. "The one good thing I think for all of us that excites us about this group is there are a lot of decisions that still have to be made and that means there is competition going on there," Kelly said. "It's not like, 'Hey, I can count up 47, and I don't even know who the last couple are going to be.' I think there are going to be some good battles as we continue this. That is a credit to the guys we have. We have more depth so we'll have to figure it out."

2. Trent Cole Believes In Brandon Graham

Linebacker Brandon Graham has contributed two of the team's five sacks this preseason. On Thursday, Graham had a strip sack of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Graham has shown that he can bring heat off the edge which isn't a surprise to one of his position mates. "He's a great player. He's always been a great player to me. I always thought that he was going to be a great player when he first came in because he has the hunger and the drive," Cole said. "He's very talented. He's strong, athletic and he has a knack for getting to the QB."

3. Has Nate Allen Locked Up The Starting Job?

Kelly would not say if Nate Allen is going to be the starting safety alongside Malcolm Jenkins when the regular season starts. Allen was the starter Thursday night and Kelly did say that the fifth-year player had "an outstanding camp." For Allen, who re-signed with the team on a one-year deal this offseason, the competition doesn't end even if he wins the job.

"We have the same conversation every year. You're still competing," Allen said. "That's the way it's going to be forever. You're always going to be competing. There's going to be young guys coming in, newer bodies and fresh bodies. You just got to come out every day and play ball and be on top of your A-game."

4. Uh Oh, He's No Longer A Secret

Married with three daughters, defensive end Brandon Bair isn't a fit-the-mold player. He has extensive interests beyond the game, including the world of business. Bair owns a training facility in Idaho, rehabs houses and turns some of them into rental properties and owns a used car dealership. Bair has a life plan, and he hopes the Eagles are part of the picture for the foreseeable future.

It sure looks like it could turn out that way after three preseason games. Bair has been a tower of strength at end, getting his hands up to clog a quarterback's passing lane and knocking down a couple of passes. He's been a disruptive player, particularly against the running game after spending all of last season - the Eagles signed him one day after he was cut by Oakland - on Philadelphia's practice squad.

"I feel like I'm playing the best football I've ever played, and it's largely because I stayed here throughout the offseason and got myself in the best shape of my life," said Bair, a former standout at Oregon who completed a two-year Mormon mission immediately after high school. "I'm stronger and I think I'm moving better. I understand what the coaches are asking us to do and I just think it's all coming together for me."

5. Mychal Kendricks: Unleash The Beast

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks became one of three players in franchise history to have four sacks and three interceptions in a single season last year. Kendricks flashed that playmaking ability in Thursday night's win with a blitz up the middle that forced an errant pass that was intercepted by cornerback Nolan Carroll II. Kelly is looking for Kendricks to take his game to another level this year.

"If you see him off the field, him and DeMeco (Ryans) are inseparable, they work extremely well together. They're always talking football and always involved in terms of what's going on," Kelly said. "We want him to make that jump from year one to year two. It should be a big improvement just because of the understanding of what's going on. I can see it on the field. As he continues to develop, we're really excited about him in there."

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