Philadelphia Eagles News

And Now, We Wait To See Roster Shape Up

One player, maybe two. A draft pick, if you're really, really good. This is the window of opportunity for a team's pro scouting department, and this is the time when general manager Tom Heckert and his staff predict players who will be cut from the other 31 teams and which of those players could help the Eagles in 2009.

After all that has happened since the draft, as the Eagles have tweaked and manipulated the roster heavily, the time between now and the end of the day Sunday are vitally important. The first task for head coach Andy Reid and his coaching staff, along with Heckert and his staff, is to make sure the Eagles keep the best 53 players on their roster. Along with that, they are, no doubt, calling teams and taking calls and looking for opportunities to move a player or two or to acquire someone, anyone, who can provide an upgrade to what is already here.

As much as this is an exhilarating time for a team, and for the fans, it is a difficult time, too. Telling a player who has given it his all for the last four months of his life that he isn't good enough is very tough. There is a personal side to this business that makes times like this bittersweet.

And at the same time, the weekend ahead is one that greatly enhances a front office's chances of improving a team by making a shrewd trade, or picking up a player off of waivers.

Maybe there is a player who can come in and be a situational help, a third-down running back or a run-stopping defensive tackle or an ace on special teams. This isn't the time to add a difference-making player; it is the time to add a player who can help make a difference.

In the meantime, we wait. Reid and Heckert and the brain trust have hunkered down at the NovaCare Complex looking at every possible scenario. They're asking the same questions we are asking: Is Tony Curtis now the backup tight end? Is Eldra Buckley the third halfback? Has Dan Klecko done enough to earn a spot at defensive tackle?

And so on and so on. I can guesstimate on about 52 of the roster spots. I still haven't figured out the reserve situation along the offensive line. I'm not exactly sure if the Eagles will keep four defensive tackles, or if they will go with two or three tight ends. And there is that lingering quarterback question and what to do with the picture now that the Eagles know they won't have Michael Vick for the first two games of the season.

So there are some unknowns here. And, in fact, there are probably more unknowns than I have considered. A lot is happening behind the scenes. When the Eagles unveil the 53-man roster on Saturday afternoon -- Heckert has a scheduled conference call for 6:15 p.m. on Saturday -- they will still attempt to work some moves to add a player or two from waivers. That's the way it works. The roster won't truly be final, final until Monday, and even then it is subject to change.

The preseason is behind us. Congratulations to all of the players who worked harder than they have ever worked for the recent four months. A roster is taking shape behind closed doors, a time when front offices make their bones and subtly change the roster just enough to help during the long, long season ahead.

PARTING SHOTS FROM PRESEASON FINALE

  • Funny to read the accounts of Vick's performance as a quarterback against the Jets, as if people think Vick is going to be a traditional quarterback with this team this season. Now you understand why Kevin Kolb is the No. 2 quarterback. Vick is a long, long away from running a game as a quarterback. He has shown he can come in and make a huge, huge difference in spot duty as a shotgun quarterback running the option, throwing a shovel pass, running the football or finding an open receiver, but he has two seasons of inactivity as a quarterback and that lack of work isn't going to go away after a few throws in a preseason games. When Vick returns, he will be used, I think, as a Slash-type player and he will be very, very effective.
  • I guess I'm concerned with the deep, deep reserves along the offensive line. I think the Eagles have five starters who can be dominating -- there is still a lot of work to be done, however -- and they have backups Nick Cole (now a starter at left guard with Todd Herremans out) and Max Jean-Gilles. Beyond that? Yeah, there is some concern here.
  • What makes Macho Harris such an impressive rookie is the fact that he is playing in a complicated defense as a safety after starring at cornerback in college. He has a bright future. Needs to add some strength and gain experience, but Harris is always right there. He nearly got his hands on a touchdown pass against the Jets, and was buzzing around the ball all night.
  • I think we have seen only a smidgen of what Sean McDermott has planned for the regular season. Blitzes? Aggressive play? I think so.
  • The Panthers say that middle linebacker Jon Beason and running back Jonathan Stewart will play in the opener. No surprises. This is, as the players said when they exited Giants Stadium late on Thursday night, "when the games count!" And it's a whole different world ahead.
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