Jorrick Calvin has to make a good first impression, because in this high-stakes game of managing an NFL roster, there won't be time for a second look. That's the way it is in the league, and that is why Howie Roseman fits in so well. He is willing to make moves, take chances and work the phones at all hours of the night. We are in the final week of the first go-round of the Making of the 53-man roster, with another chance to see how Roseman operates.
He opened his first draft week as the team's General Manager by trading for linebacker Ernie Sims, who stepped right into the Eagles' starting lineup at WILL linebacker and who has been part of an impressive collective performance on that side of the ball in the preseason. Roseman then proceeded to turn the draft weekend into a trade frenzy, bouncing the Eagles' draft picks around like a ping-pong ball, eventually landing 13 players and continuing an Eagles' draft mentality of taking leaps and making hard decisions very quickly to work the draft as well as any team in the league.
Roseman has now opened the final week of the preseason by trading one of those draft picks, Charles Scott, to the Arizona Cardinals for Calvin, also a sixth-round selection. There are certainly no guarantees that Calvin will make this team. He is, at this point, not a player who is going to come right in and make a difference. The deal on Monday is not, from this perspective, anywhere close to the scale of the Sims deal.
Scott was clearly not going to make this team. He is a great kid and a fine player, but the Eagles moved him from halfback, where he starred at LSU, to fullback here. Leonard Weaver is the fullback. That isn't going to change. The Eagles, if history holds true, will carry one fullback on the roster. So that meant that Scott was expendable, and why not bring in a player the Eagles wanted to get a close-up look at?
Whether Calvin survives the weekend is not the big story. The big story is that just when you think the Eagles are slowing down on the player-personnel moves, they strike again.
Are the Eagles planning more? Just how busy are the telephones at this time of the year? What do the Eagles *really *think of their cornerbacks?
And this: What is Roseman's grand plan here?
"We like what we have," he said, "but if we have a chance to improve the 53-man roster, we will. We'll do whatever it takes."
This is a wonderful time of the year. The practices are intense as players look to make the roster. At the same time, there is a certain sense of preparation for the September 12 opener against Green Bay, and the 15 games after that. On Monday, the Eagles practiced under an intense South Philadelphia sun and the pace was fast. There was Jamaal Jackson, taking the reps with the starters on the offensive line and looking very much like he was on course to be ready to play against the Packers. There were the injured players working out on the side, knowing their injuries were none too serious and that they, too, would be ready for Green Bay.
There were two dozen players who understood that they are on the roster "bubble" and that they are auditioning not just for the Eagles, but for 31 other teams as well.
It is a particularly riveting time, then, and a very, very critical time. Roseman, with Andy Reid, have a chance to make the roster better with a deal or two, or a smart waiver-wire add over the weekend. The Eagles have had success at this time in recent years, including last summer's claim of defensive tackle Antonio Dixon from Washington. He was an unheard-of player then, but the Eagles liked his size and his raw ability, and they added him to the roster and he aided the cause in 2009. Dixon could be an even bigger part of things now.
Rest assured that Roseman and Reid are working it hard behind the scenes. This Extreme Roster Makeover is not finished, not by a long shot. This is the time of the year when the pro scouting is so vital, and when teams rely on their college grades on some players they might want to bring to the roster. This is the time of the year when one team's trash is another team's treasure.
So what happens next? No way the Eagles could be as active over the weekend as they were in April, right? The team has 75 players on the roster, and must cut down to 53 by 6 p.m. on Saturday. Jobs are on the line. Wins and losses, too.
For all of us, it's great fun to watch the juggling and finagling that goes on. Roseman and the Eagles are in the game, and the game is always on. Doesn't matter the time or the day. You want to make a deal, the Eagles will listen.
So while there is a great deal of excitement about Thursday night and the preseason finale and what it means to the roster, keep in mind there is another game beyond the field and that is one of the important times of the year to update and improve the roster and maybe, just maybe, add a player who can make a difference.