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Roster Set, Eagles Ready To Go

Posted Jun 21, 2012

This is not a guarantee that Howie Roseman and Andy Reid are finished tinkering with their roster, because history says a move can come at any time. The sense here, though, is that done is done is done ...

The Eagles have their 90-man roster in place. They added a finishing piece -- maybe not the finishing piece, but we'll see about that -- when they added safety O.J. Atogwe on Wednesday.

Are they done? Again, with Roseman and Reid you never know. But there is no indication that, for example, they are going to pull a Plaxico Burress out of their sleeves between now and the start of training camp. Or that they have a veteran punter waiting to sign to come in and challenge Chas Henry. Or that they've had the behind-the-scenes conversations that could someday soon lead to a significant trade.

What they have, apparently, is what they are going with up to Lehigh University when rookies and selected veterans report on -- gulp -- July 22. Let's take stock of some of what they have added and the impact those players could have in 2012.

  • DeMeco Ryans, linebacker: The biggest piece, obviously. He's worked his way into the defense very quickly and is going to start at middle linebacker, is going to be a three-down player and has every player in his corner. Ryans has been a hard-working guy who knows how to run a defense. He moved great in practices in the spring. He's ready to be a Pro Bowl linebacker again.
  • O.J. Atogwe, safety: Initially, Atogwe comes in to offer competition and challenge for a starting job. His perception and his goals are high. Atogwe says he is healthy and that he understands the "concepts" of the defense, having once played for Steve Spagnuolo in St. Louis. Learning the defense should not be a problem for the NFL veteran. If healthy, and that's a big if after three years of battling injuries, Atogwe can add depth and experience to the defense.
  • Trent Edwards, quarterback: Through the spring drills, Edwards ran fourth string at quarterback and didn't appear as comfortable throwing the football as he wanted. Is his shoulder injury still an issue? I don't know that answer. Edwards has to beat out Mike Kafka for a job here. Rookie Nick Foles isn't going anywhere. Edwards is going to have a tough time making this roster. The Eagles aren't likely to keep four quarterbacks.
  • Mardy Gilyard, wide receiver: He certainly has some skill and is going to have to make a major move at training camp to earn a spot as a wide receiver. Gilyard is also going to get a long look in the return game as the Eagles hope to make that phase of the team more explosive.
  • Demetress Bell, offensive tackle: It is hard to evaluate Bell from his work in the spring given the absence of live drills and real engagement with defensive linemen. He spent his hours on the practice field learning new technique and a new way of approaching the game at left tackle. The Eagles seem very pleased with his progress. Line coach Howard Mudd loves Bell's athleticism and always seems to have success with athletes up front. This should be a very good fit with Bell replacing injured Pro Bowl player Jason Peters.
  • Fletcher Cox, defensive tackle: I guess I would be surprised if Cox became more than a rotational player as a rookie. This is not at all a knock on him. I think he's going to be an excellent NFL defensive tackle. He's a great athlete, loves the game, works hard and has been very productive in college. I just think the Eagles have a lot of talent at tackle in place and I don't see Cox necessarily leaping over Derek Landri, Antonio Dixon and Mike Patterson for a starting job next to Cullen Jenkins. Will Cox play? It would be disappointing if he didn't get more than a handful of snaps each week during the season. He seems like a natural fit with what Jim Washburn wants up front.
  • Mychal Kendricks, linebacker: Kendricks is in position to make an instant impact. He lined up with the starters at SAM linebacker from the first practice to the end in the spring and did very well. Kendricks has lofty goals, a lot of confidence and this moment is not too big for him. He knows the challenges he faces. Wouldn't it be something special to see both Ryans and Kendricks come in and play outstanding football and maybe, just maybe, provide some continuity to a linebacker group that has long been as unsettled as any in the league?
  • Vinny Curry, defensive end: As talented as Curry is, it's just very difficult seeing him break through the talented group of ends already in place. Does Curry walk in and replace Trent Cole or Jason Babin as a starter? That's a long, long shot, for sure. Can he nudge past Brandon Graham to get some snaps every week? Yeah, that's possible, but Graham is in the best shape of his life and knows that if he doesn't make it happen this year, it just might not happen. The Eagles are loaded at defensive end. There is no other way to look at the bookends on defense.
  • Brandon Boykin, cornerback: The young man from Georgia impressed in the spring and his battle with Joselio Hanson for the nickel cornerback job may just be the most heated of training camp. Boykin is a strong kid, extremely athletic and dynamic. He stood out in the spring. Boykin will also get his shot in the return game.

There are others to consider. The Eagles have a handful of veterans like Mike Gibson, Steve Vallos, D.J. Jones and Thomas Welch vying for a backup spot or three along the offensive line. The rest of the draft class is going to be counted on to contribute. Other rookies added, like wide receiver Damaris Johnson and fullback Emil Igwenagu have already opened eyes.

The Eagles focused in the offseason on roster continuity and added pieces from the outside to make a difference. They appear to have accomplished their goals. Now they have 90 players on the roster, ready to go, with training camp on the other side of the hill.

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