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Roseman Details The Tough Decisions

Posted Aug 30, 2014

Ever since the Eagles began the process of whittling down the roster from 90 players to 75 before getting to the 53-player limit on Saturday, the team knew that there were going to be tough decisions at nearly every position group. General manager Howie Roseman explained on Saturday that being forced to make difficult cuts is a positive sign that the overall depth of the roster is improving.

"I think as you get better, as you improve the talent level, it gets harder," Roseman said. "We had some tough cuts, but as (head coach Chip Kelly) goes through what he's looking for in each position, what he's looking for in backups, some of those things become clearer to us.

"When we look at our team and the work ethic and the determination that they put forward with our coaching staff, it’s exciting going into the season. I can’t wait."

The work doesn't end here for Roseman and the rest of his personnel staff. Teams can begin to claim players who were released by other teams on Sunday as well as form their 10-player practice squads. Roseman said that the Eagles formulate a list in June of players who could be potentially cut based on depth charts and draft status. The Eagles grade those players and assemble a board, very much to the one they construct for the draft. According to Roseman, 90 percent of that work is complete and over the next 16 hours the coaches will be presented with players who could either help upgrade the current roster or provide value on the practice squad.

Here are Roseman's comments on some of the decisions made Saturday:

Eagles Keep Three Running Backs

The Eagles kept running back Chris Polk, who missed the preseason with a hamstring injury, but is expected to contribute very soon. Polk is the only running back the Eagles kept after LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles. Roseman noted that the Eagles opened with just three running backs on the roster last season.

"Chris Polk certainly has a body of work. When you talk about backup spots, I know Chip has talked a lot about looking for special teams contributions," Roseman said. "He's done a really good job for us on special teams, another guy who has a different skill set.

"For us, it was looking at that body of work and how hard Chris worked here in the offseason."

Polk made the team over Kenjon Barner, Henry Josey and Matthew Tucker. The question now is whether he'll be ready to play next Sunday when the Eagles open the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Our training staff is doing a good job with Chris on rehabbing so we can go with the information that we have," said Roseman. "Chris is a really hard worker and he’s a talented guy. We feel comfortable with that decision."

Cody Parkey Wins The Job At Kicker

Kicker Cody Parkey was on the Eagles' radar before the team acquired him in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts 10 days ago. Roseman said that special teams coordinator Dave Fipp worked out Parkey, who led the nation with 69 touchbacks last season, at Auburn.

"You can see he's got a strong leg," Roseman said. "He had an approach to it where he looked very comfortable.

"He’s kicked in big games, he’s got a tremendous leg … He was the number one kicker out of high school … He’s been a big-time kicker for a long time."

Parkey hit two field goals from over 50 yards in the preseason finale against the Jets, but Roseman added that the training sessions factored into the decision as well.

"I think when you look at it, it was all the information that we could gather," Roseman said. "When you’re in practice, you get an opportunity to watch those guys kick in live settings. They get a practice period with the special teams coach where he’s tracking them on kickoffs and the field goals. I think it was a compilation of all the information like any other position.

Roseman was also asked whether he regretted the fourth-round pick spent on Henery during the 2011 NFL Draft, from which only two of 11 players remain (Jason Kelce and Casey Mathews).

"I think that we’ve talked about it a lot, if you don’t learn from what we did in those couple of drafts and trying to figure out the answers of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, then you’re not in the right business," said Roseman. "I think as you look at that and look at where kickers have gone and what it is to take the value of a kicker, you have to learn from it. Alex was highly decorated, he had a heck of a career at a tough place to kick. And really when you look at his numbers, it was a successful three years here. An 86 percent field goal kicker. But I think we’ve talked about the 2011 draft, spending a lot of time figuring it out and making some substantial changes in our process to learn from that. It’s hard for me to answer that question just about Alex because when I think about that draft I think about that draft in a broad scope way."

Trey Burton Adds Even More Depth At Tight End

The Eagles already had a strong 1-2-3 punch at tight end with Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and James Casey. Rookie free agent Trey Burton, who had nine catches on nine targets in the preseason, also made the team.

"He's really athletic. When you talk about guys who are backups, his contributions on teams, his ability to contribute on special teams, is important," Roseman said. "Those guys are hard to find, big bodies who can run and catch, so he was an interesting guy for us."

Pardon The Pun: Eagles Go Heavy At Offensive Line

Roseman acknowledged that the team kept more offensive linemen than the team initially anticipated. In addition to the five starters, tackle Andrew Gardner, guards Dennis Kelly and Matt Tobin and center David Molk earned roster spots.

"That's a great credit to those offensive linemen and what they did," Roseman said.

The Production Vs. Potential Debate

Every year, the Eagles have to determine whether to hold out and hope a player reaches his potential or go with a player who is more proven at the present time. Roseman said that the team has to find the right "balance."

"You're always worried about letting go a young guy who has potential, but by that same token you have to win games. You have to put yourself in position to have the best 53 guys," Roseman said. "Coach and our coaching staff deserve that. We're in the business of trying to win games right now, at the same time continuing to get better and build our roster."

Travis Long Lost For The Season

Perhaps the most disappointing news of the day came on the injury front, where emerging linebacker Travis Long was placed on injured reserve with a torn left ACL (not the knee he injured in college).

"It’s disappointing," Roseman said. "You feel for him first of all because he’s been a tremendous worker since we’ve got him in getting back and you see it on the field, the potential that he has. He’s a really interesting guy. He’s physical, he’s athletic, he can play both spots, he can contribute on special teams. Certainly it’s a blow, and those are going to happen. You’re going to lose players, it’s just a matter of who. First and foremost you feel for him because of how hard he worked, but at the same token, you know that he’ll be back and get an opportunity to come back and have a full offseason and hopefully pick up where he was."

Presence Of Ducks Merited

Roseman was also asked about the five former Oregon players who made the Eagles' 53-man roster.

"(Kelly) gets hit on some of this stuff when the guys who we’re keeping, we’re keeping because they’re good players and they can contribute to our football team," Roseman said. "He wants the best players. He wants to win games. He’s very selfish in that regard. I don’t think it’s fair that he gets accused of anything other than that … the question to me is, ‘Does coach want anything more than to win football games and to have the best players on the team?’ I think there’s no question that anyone who around him knows that’s his sole function and his sole desire.

"I think that when we talk about guys, it’s an easier projection when you talk about how they fit in a system. So when you’re taking a guy who’s a 4-3 defensive end and you’re trying to project him to a 3-4 outside linebacker, there’s a lot of hypotheticals in there. When you’re taking a guy who’s played in a 3-4 system that your defense plays in, you see his attributes or you see how they run routes or you see how they run the ball in ia similar scheme. It takes some of the guesswork out because it’s hard. It’s hard to predict what 21-, 22-year-olds are going to do in the National Football League. It’s an inexact science. We’ll see with cuts over the next 24 hours a lot of guys who were highly touted."

Reynolds Only Draft Pick Not To Make Cut

Finally, Roseman touched on the reasons why safety Ed Reynolds, a fifth-round draft pick in April's NFL Draft, did not make the initial roster. Reynolds is the only member of the draft class who did not make the team.

"I think it’s a numbers game when you look at it, where you’re going to go light, where you’re going to go heavy," said Roseman. "For us, we had to make some sacrifices somewhere. We went a little heavier than maybe we have in the last year on the offensive and defensive line, but those are priorities. Those are hard to find. As we looked around the league, and what people were talking to us about and asking us about, it was those kind of positions and they’re hard to find. Not that it’s not hard to find a safety, as we’ve talked about, and obviously Ed kind of missing the whole offseason and then coming in here, it’s hard for a guy like that. You have to catch up. We just wanted to go with the guys that we thought were the best 53 for our football team and some of those are hard decisions."

Roseman added that the difficulty of the roster decisions this year spoke well to the overall growth of the Eagles roster.

"We needed to get better," said Roseman. "We needed to get better all over our roster and be in situations where we felt very fortunate about the injury situation last year but certainly you don’t want to count on that either. You want to improve your depth, you want to improve the back end of your roster. Some of the opportunities that we had in free agency we thought would do that. From a year ago, I do think we have improved depth throughout the roster."

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