Howie Roseman spoke with the media Saturday evening after the roster was cut down to 53 players. After expressing his appreciation to his staff and the entire organization for a successful Training Camp, he explained the decisions that resulted in the initial roster.
1. Roseman; Time to see how talent jells as a team
"I think we have a lot of talent. The question is how we come together as a football team," Roseman said. "We started here and we had an opportunity to talk to the team first day of Training Camp and we talked about that there was talent in this room, but we need to come together as a team and that comes through experiences through the course of the season. That comes from dealing with adversity through the course of the season. We think that we have the right character and right leadership on this team, on the coaching staff, and on the field to do that. But now we have to go show that."
2. Will Fletcher Cox play in the season opener?
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has not practiced all summer due to a foot injury suffered in January's Divisional Round loss to New Orleans. The Eagles kept four defensive tackles, a typical amount, on the 53-player roster. Roseman said that it "would be fair" to correlate Cox's availability for the regular-season opener next Sunday against Washington with the number of players kept at the position.
3. Were the Eagles involved in talks for DE Jadeveon Clowney?
The Eagles were reportedly one of the teams that the Houston Texans talked to regarding a trade for defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The Seahawks pulled off the deal Saturday moving a third-round pick and two players for the former No. 1 overall pick. Roseman did not divulge details of any trade negotiations, starting simply that "anyone who is available at any level, whether they're available on the waiver wire, or they're available via trade, I promise we look into."
4. Roseman: Don't ignore practice squad, waiver wire when looking at tight ends
The Eagles kept two tight ends on the roster. Two-time Pro-Bowl selection Zach Ertz holds one of those spots as one of the most consistently successful offensive players on this team. Dallas Goedert earned the other spot after an impressive rookie campaign last year, leading first-year tight ends in receiving touchdowns. While these two are skilled and well suited for the position they are in, history would suggest that an additional tight end could be added to the practice squad.
"We look at the roster as a 63-man roster (including practice squad)," Roseman said. "We look at the 63-man and how many numbers we are going to keep there and how many on the 46 (gameday roster). Just because we have two on the 53 doesn't mean that we will end up having two to practice or we'll end up having two when we go play. We'll see what happens in the next day or so."
5. Roseman 'really excited' about quarterback group
With an interesting summer for the quarterback room coming to a close, the Eagles landed with the trio of Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, and Josh McCown. After signing McCown a few weeks ago, he has been able to prove that his veteran presence can help this room flourish. In his only preseason action against the Baltimore Ravens, McCown threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Roseman explains how McCown was able to find a spot on this team.
"We look back at the situation we've been in the past few years in that quarterback room and just how Josh would fit in," Roseman said. "Sometimes we forget that Carson is 26 years old and Nate is a young player and having that veteran in there with those guys, you see the chemistry developing already. Really excited about that quarterback room. We've got to do what's best for our football team and build our team the way we see fit."
6. Roseman raves about the youth, experience along offensive line
Roseman also addressed a skillful offensive line and the balance of experienced players and young talent. Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, and Jason Peters provide a combined total of 60 years of experience along the offensive line. The other six guys on the roster: Andre Dillard, Nate Herbig, Jordan Mailata, Matt Pryor, Isaac Seumalo, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai, range from rookies to four years of NFL experience. Roseman believes this blend of new and old will allow both groups to maximize their abilities.
"We're really excited about our starting group," Roseman said. "You talk about someone like Big V (Vaitai) who shows tremendous ability not only at tackle, started left tackle in the Super Bowl, but now comes in and plays guard and shows his value there and does a tremendous job for us. Now our first-round pick (Dillard) is not starting for us. He is a guy we have a lot of confidence in. Then, you look at the backups we have after that and they all have versatility. What we're excited about is that we have a good mix of veteran players on the offensive line and also youth that we think we can develop into good players."
7. Veteran additions fortify safety position
The Eagles went deep at safety with five players: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Andrew Sendejo, Johnathan Cyprien, and Rudy Ford. Roseman has been impressed with how Sendejo and Cyprien have fit into the locker room in Philadelphia.
"Since the day he walked in this building, sometimes you get guys and they are even different than you thought. You know, sometimes in bad ways, sometimes in good ways. Until you kind of live with them, you don't know. And he's been really one of the biggest surprises for us the whole offseason and really Training Camp and just the kind of player he is, how he presents himself every day, how he works, how he studies, his athleticism. So for us and with him, and the things that he can do for the defense, it's been exciting," Roseman said of Sendejo.
"And then bringing in Cyp, we talked about here just about transitioning, and transitioning from collecting talent to having roles and responsibilities, and for Cyp, this is a different role for him. He's started every game that he's played and he was hurt last year, and now in that fourth safety role, we need something different from him. We need him to be really a leader on special teams and really good on special teams, and we've had that conversation with him, and he embraces it. He wants to win and so that's kind of where you have Cyp's role and we know he can come in and play on defense if we need that."
8. Daeshon Hall's preseason was simply too good to ignore
Roseman has said over the years that he will ensure that there is quality depth along the defensive line to rotate players and keep them fresh throughout the course of the season. 2019 is certainly no exception thanks to the emergence of some young players in Training Camp and the preseason.
"We look at that defensive end group and I know Coach Schwartz Jim Schwartz has talked a lot about how excited he is about Derek Barnett, and Derek Barnett we think is a really good football player and he's going to get an opportunity here to start. We all know about Brandon Graham, and what he can add," Roseman said.
"Vinny (Curry) looks better than he did two years ago. Vinny is a guy who has come back with a renewed focus and a renewed energy. His leadership and his energy on the practice field has been great.
"And then we are excited about our young group. If you were scouting and looking around and saying what young defensive end had the best preseason, I don't know that there's a better young defensive end in football than Daeshon Hall this preseason. He deserves a tremendous amount of credit. He went and worked on his body in the offseason. He came back 30 pounds heavier, and then he proved it on the field."
9. Miles Sanders has the best chance to contribute among the rookies
Four of the five members of the Eagles' draft class made the 53-player roster and two more undrafted free agents (T.J. Edwards and Nate Herbig) are on the team as well. Of the first-year players, Roseman said that second-round running back Miles Sanders has the best opportunity to make an impact this season.
"Miles has a chance to really contribute to this football team this year," Roseman said. "He has a great combination of feet and power. I think that one of the things that maybe it's hard to realize until you see Miles in pads is how much power he plays with. He's not afraid of lowering his shoulder, and really, he has some thump to him and so he's a guy that's going to get an opportunity to play here and contribute right away, and I think that's exciting."
10. Eagles make 'seamless' transition to Andy Weidl
Roseman's right-hand man was Joe Douglas until he was hired to become the Jets' new general manager in June. Andy Weidl was promoted to vice president of player personnel and Roseman praised the longtime executive's work in his new position.
"Andy deserves a lot of credit for stepping into that role and having a seamless process," Roseman said. "His scouts have done a great job. The building together as a whole, this building – we have a great building. We have a lot of good people in this building and there's not a day that goes by that I don't walk in and that someone doesn't make me laugh usually for the right reasons, and we have fun, but we also work hard. I think that tone is really set by Jeffrey (Lurie) and Coach (Doug) Pederson and we just try to uphold that chemistry."