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Critical Week For The Eagles

Posted Aug 25, 2013

It looms as one of the most important of the season for the Eagles, a week in which the 53-man roster is organized and eyes start pointing, in unison, to September 9 and Washington ...

In short order, the Eagles must pare the roster to 75 (it stands at 76 now), then play the New York Jets in the final preseason game on a short week and then trim the roster another 23 players to reach the NFL-mandated maximum of 53 players by 4 p.m. on Saturday.

And then the fun starts as the waiver wires are scoured, trades are announced and a practice squad is put in place.

Oh, and then we're into Back To Football mode, with a Monday Night Football date at the Redskins in the direct line of fire.

What fun! We've waited for this a long, long time ...

  • The first order of business is to discuss the moves the Eagles made on Sunday, when they released 12 players. Veterans Jamar Chaney and Kenny Phillips were the headline names, but neither projected to make the 53-man roster after sizing up what the Eagles brought to training camp. Chaney has moved all over the place in his time with the Eagles, which probably didn't help his development. He was, not that long ago, the starting middle linebacker here and drawing strong reviews. But Chaney just did not take the next step, especially after the Eagles started moving him around. Phillips just did not have enough time on the field to earn a spot. The Eagles knew Phillips' history when they signed him to a low-risk deal, and they made sure to cover themselves in case Phillips wasn't able to practice every day in Training Camp. He wasn't, and so Phillips is no longer here.

  • I don't know if he's going to make the team, but Emil Igwenagu remains on the roster and that is somewhat remarkable. He's a converted fullback and he's not even close to being as flashy or as fast as any of the tight ends on this roster. But Igwenagu is a tough guy, a hard worker and a fast learner, and he's still around as the Eagles released Derek Carrier and Will Shaw from the position.

  • There are 13 linebackers on the roster. How many will the Eagles keep? Do they go with seven? Eight? And after Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham, who makes the 53-man roster? Phillip Hunt is recovering from a knee injury, so he's in a tough spot. Travis Long showed up on Saturday night with a late-game sack. Everette Brown has made some plays and offered some pass rush. Casey Matthews had a strong performance against Jacksonville. Emmanuel Ocho has flashed in coverage with his long arms. Adrian Robinson figures to play on Thursday after the Eagles acquired him last week from Pittsburgh. Jake Knott and Chris McCoy are still here. What a fascinating numbers game with this group.

  • Brad Wing had his moments during his time here, and he's got a future, but in the end it was an easy choice for the Eagles to go with Donnie Jones as the punter. Jones has a 48.3-yard gross punting average in the preseason and his net average is a fantastic 43.3 yards. Wing has a future if he stays disciplined and works at improving his craft.

  • The Eagles have two cornerbacks injured (Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes), so will the Eagles have to go heavy at cornerback as they construct the 53-man roster? Some of these young cornerbacks have a chance to make their cases extended playing time on Thursday against the Jets.

  • Maybe it's me, but I think that Greg Salas has been solid enough to make this team. The question is: How many wide receivers will the Eagles keep? It goes hand in hand with tight ends and backs. Could the offense keep as many as five tight ends? How would that impact the wide receivers? Do they keep four or five or even six?

  • Bryce Brown is an extraordinary talent who has to keep the football high and tight. He and Chris Polk have had successful preseason performances and they are productive players behind LeSean McCoy. Brown's working at it every day, trying to keep the ball tucked in, and it's something that will be an issue with him until he solves his fumbling.

  • The Eagles are averaginig 75 plays per game on offense in three preseason games. Now, once they have their starters out on the field for every snap, the number should increase if the sticks keep moving. That's going to require a tremendous level of conditioning, something the Eagles need to keep throughout the entire season.

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