'Tis the season for rumors – cuts, trades, and DEALS, DEALS, DEALS! – and that's why Howie Roseman is the man with the plan. We're in the midst of the most frantic few days of the NFL's preseason during which every team is looking for ways to maximize every one of its 53 active roster spots and 10 practice squad positions.
So, yeah, it's a little bit crazy. The teams that plan the best are the ones that will head into the regular season most prepared to win. With that in mind, here are some things to look forward to between now and 4 p.m. Saturday when the roster is reduced …
1. We've got a preseason game to play against the Jets, and no matter your thoughts on the meaning of the fourth preseason game, it certainly matters to every team in the league and every player taking the field. Jobs are on the line. How many? That's a good question, but there is no doubt that, in the Eagles' case, the 53-man roster is not set. In fact, I'm not sure you can look at any position and say, "These are the players we're going to keep, set in stone." Head coach Doug Pederson wants to see some of his young players in this "urgent" fourth-game situation and see how they respond.
2. Who, for example, is the fifth wide receiver here? It looks like Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside are going to make the team. After that, the wideouts are pushing, not only for the 53 but for the practice squad.
3. The deepest position on the roster is running back, where the Eagles have really put together a lot of versatility and talent. Can't wait to see how the Eagles treat running back when the roster is reduced to 53 players. Do they keep four or five or … exactly, how are the Eagles going to finish off a running back room headlined by Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, and Darren Sproles? Very interesting.
4. If you're going with the idea that Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Vinny Curry – who honestly looks better to me than he was an Eagle the first time around – are the top three defensive ends, who is number four? Who is number five? Could the Eagles possibly keep six ends? The spotlight throughout the preseason has been on Daeshon Hall, Shareef Miller, and Josh Sweat. That spotlight continues through Thursday night.
5. OK, I know many of you have already put together your "Eagles 53," and I applaud you for the gumption. I'd love to see what you have at linebacker, because that position, more than any other with this team, is hard to figure from this perspective. How do the Eagles treat the injuries to Nigel Bradham (returning from a toe injury) and Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee) as they put together the initial 53-man roster? This is where the collaboration between the coaching staff, the medical staff, and the personnel department is so critical. Should be really interesting to see.
6. Let's talk about some of the players the Eagles acquired in the offseason and the way they've fit into the big picture. Curry has been terrific in every way. Jackson has been an A-plus since the moment he returned to the NovaCare Complex. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson is a leader, a great presence in the locker room, and he's got a lot of football in his tank. He should be the perfect complement to Fletcher Cox, but we just haven't seen the two of them together given Cox's recovery from the foot injury he suffered in the playoff loss at New Orleans. How long will it take for those two to coordinate? Andrew Sendejo looks like a great fit as the third safety. L.J. Fort is going to fit very nicely as an all-purpose linebacker and a core member of the special teams. Howard is going to be part of a dynamic offensive backfield. He's more explosive than the reputation that preceded his arrival. Zach Brown has come a long way in the defensive system and appears to have won a job as a starting linebacker. And Josh McCown, well, amazing, right? A tremendous execution of the offseason plan, the ability to stay flexible and strike quickly, has given the Eagles a position of power with the cutdown day near.
7. As far as the rumors – and you know the one(s) I'm talking about – I always take the approach that I just enjoy seeing how things play out. We're going to hear quite a bit of names flying around through Saturday. I only care about the final results. The rest of it is just fluff and fun to keep us all occupied until the action becomes reality.
Let the madness begin! The start of the offseason – the days leading up to and including free agency – was a blast and the Eagles were prepared to strike. They're prepared now, so I think we're all going to like the look of the initial 53-man roster very much. Then, of course, it's subject to change, and it will because it always does.