In the end, it really was a fascinating roster the Eagles put together. Ten of their draft picks made the team. Two more rookies, undrafted offensive tackle Austin Howard and newly-acquired cornerback Jorrick Calvin are on the team, too. The Eagles made moves until the very end, and then some, and now we try to figure out what kind of team this will be in 2010.
From the very start of the off-season until the week before the opener against Green Bay, the emphasis was on the line of scrimmage, particularly on the defensive side. The Eagles are starting a rookie, Brandon Graham, at left end. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim figures in the mix somewhere, although it will be interesting to see where. Antwan Barnes, acquired in a trade on Saturday, could help rush the quarterback. Veteran Darryl Tapp is a solid player at both end spots.
The offensive line is a work in progress, for sure. General Manager Howie Roseman said Saturday night that Nick Cole is the starting right guard, so the Eagles expect to line up Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson, Cole and Winston Justice against the Packers this week. New Eagle Reggie Wells will push Cole.
Anything else? Oh, yeah, many things ...
I think the inclusion of Calvin on this roster is very, very interesting. The Eagles have young prospects at cornerback and they have one of the premier return men in the league in Ellis Hobbs handling kickoffs. I really wonder if the plan is to have Hobbs on kickoff return duty. Calvin averaged 28 yards on two kickoff returns and averaged 12 yards on punt returns, so maybe the Eagles see him as a viable guy in the return game. Can he cover on special teams? I'd like to see how the Eagles could dress Calvin on game days if he is only going to return kicks. Anyway, anybody who says the preseason games are meaningless needs to think again. Calvin won a job in the fourth preseason game.
- Credit goes to Max Jean-Gilles for working out with the Eagles whatever he worked out to submit to being cut on Saturday, and then to re-sign on Sunday. Whatever the deal is, however it worked out, credit both to Jean-Gilles and to the Eagles for having that kind of relationship with him to make it work.
- Who is the fourth safety should the Eagles need one on game days? I don't know, but Asante Samuel has lined up in a safety position in certain situations -- I think he was in that safety spot in the game against the Chiefs on the touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe with over-the-top coverage. I'm not worried at all. I think the Eagles have a great defensive coaching staff. The Eagles have a huge challenge against Green Bay, no doubt about it. But to have done what they did in the preseason -- and I know it is only the preseason -- was really exciting to see. Good scheme, good talent, smart players and a lot of speed.
- What can we really expect from Jackson against Green Bay? Getting into football shape seems to be the big question, because Jackson has tested his knee and feels very confident that he will be up to speed in his first game against since injuring it against Denver last December. Can Jackson last 65 snaps in a game? The long-range weather forecast is for temperatures in the mid-80s, so that shouldn't be a problem with the 4:15 p.m. start.
- There seemed to be a buzz in some circles that the Eagles were looking in other directions at tight end, and maybe that is the case, but I sure am high on rookie Clay Harbor. Kid is working hard to improve his blocking, he is a good receiver and he is really athletic. I sure as heck wouldn't give up on him. No way, no how.
- So ... the Eagles draft 13 players. Only defensive tackle Jeff Owens and fullback Charles Scott didn't make the team (defensive end Ricky Sapp is on Injured Reserve) and then Calvin and Howard make it, too. Have the Eagles ever had a younger team? I am going to enjoy the growth, day-by-day, month-by-month, year-by-year, of this team. The window is wide open as I see it.
- The Eagles had high hopes for offensive lineman Stacy Andrews, and it is a shame that things didn't work out here. He was a clunky offensive tackle at Cincinnati who used his strength to have success. His technique was poor, from the games I watched. He tried to maul defensive ends. Juan Castillo teaches a very specific technique and Andrews just didn't get it. Good thing to move him rather than have that situation fester. The Eagles swung and missed on Andrews in free agency. You have to admit your mistakes and they have done so.
- The practice squad will likely be announced on Monday or Tuesday here. Teams are busy now looking at the waiver wire and seeing if they can upgrade their rosters, so what you see now on the Eagles' roster isn't necessarily what you will see in a day or two.
- How did Hank Baskett beat out Kelley Washington? Here is what I think: Baskett is quicker and is a better receiver, he blocks very well in the running game and he plays good special teams. Washington made his effort and he helped state his case on Thursday night with a strong performance, but Baskett is in and Washington will try to catch on with another team.
- I am a bit of a special teams geek, but I can't wait to see who April has lined up as his core players this season. Does Riley Cooper play gunner? Which linebackers step up? Most important: Who becomes the leader of the special teams group? The Eagles have sent players to the Pro Bowl based on their special teams, but not since Ike Reese and Keith Adams have they really had that guy who is the playmaker in coverage.
- The Eagles, at this point, have a full roster of players. Defensive end Trent Cole and wide receiver DeSean Jackson should be full go at practices this week.
- Quick, now: What was the Eagles' record in the preseason? See how little wins and losses matter in those games?
- Finally, this roster is one of the most interesting mixes of youth and experience and personalities that I have ever seen here. It is going to be a lot of fun seeing all of these players come together. The season is here!