It is never pleasant to call in a young man who has given his all to the cause for the last several months, who has dedicated his life to the purpose of making the 53-man roster. It's a cruel experience, all around.
But as we know, rosters are to be narrowed from 90 to 75 and then to 53 within the next week and even after that there is always some fiddle faddling with the numbers and the names.
The Eagles stand now at 80 players after releasing 10 on Saturday. I can't say there were any surprises, there are bound to be with five more players still to be released prior to Monday's 4 p.m. deadline and then another 22 players to be cut by Friday at 9 p.m.
Big names? No, not really. Kevin Thomas was acquired in the trade with the Colts that sent linebackers Moise Fokou and Greg Lloyd, Jr. there, and the Eagles knew all along that the real prize of the deal was a condiitional seventh-round draft pick that has yet to be made official. Tiger Jones was a superstar in the Arena Football League and had already played 16 games this year, and his legs certainly had taken a pounding. Thomas Welch was with the Rams last season for a spell and hoped to add some depth along the offensive line, particularly at right tackle, but rookie Dennis Kelly's emergence left no room for Welch.
Tom Nelson joined the Eagles last year after Colt Anderson was injured and wasn't the stopper on special teams that Anderson was. Nelson, though, flashed in training camp and was pushing to impress at safety, but he missed Friday's game with an ankle sprain and didn't project here.
There are still five names to get added to the list, and who knows what general manager Howie Roseman has going on behind the scenes? The phones are ringing, I'm sure. Roseman and Andy Reid are setting up scenarios for now and for in the next week or so. The Eagles are going to be active because, well, they are always active.
There are probably still too many wide receivers here and offensive linemen here and maybe even cornerbacks. The roster bubble is going to burst for some good, young football players in the next few days.
As talented as this roster appears to be, there are questions to be asked. Who backs up starting safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman? Are the linebackers good enough? Who starts at left tackle and who are reliable backups along the offensive line?
I'm not sure where the Eagles would add to the roster, but they have some depth to wheel and deal. How do the Eagles keep all of these defensive linemen on the 53-man roster? The wide receivers look pretty darn good, don't they? Is it possible to keep four halfbacks on the roster?
And, of course, the quarterback question looms. Reid said on Friday night that the Eagles will keep three on the roster, so either Mike Kafka or Trent Edwards isn't going to be here in a week's time. I think Kafka is going to try to play on Thursday night in the preseason finale, so it's likely that Nick Foles, Kafka and Edwards will see time. Foles and Edwards, of course, have played very well in the preseason. Kafka has hardly played at all.
It's a very fluid period of time. The roster, it feels, is largely set. I can name 49 or so of the 53 men the Eagles are going to keep. The exciting part is knowing that the Eagles are healthy, that they are potent and that they have questions, like every team.
A 90-man roster has been narrowed to 80, and that will be reduced further very quickly. The Eagles, 3-0 in the preseason and as interesting a team as they have ever been, are young and strong and on the rise. Some talented young men were let go on Saturday, told to stay in shape and that they are on the Eagles' short list.
A 53-man roster becomes nearer to reality as the Eagles enter the last week of the preseason, with games that count just around the corner ...