Philadelphia Eagles News

Odds, Ends And A Roster Check

I'm all of a sudden on Twitter (@DaveSpadaro) and the questions are coming fast and furious. Most of them are this ilk: "Dave, can so-and-so win the starting job this season?" Or, "Dave, who do you see starting at linebacker in Week 1 against Cleveland?"

Thanks for the questions. The truth is, the answers are coming when the pads go on at Lehigh, when the Eagles play in their four preseason games and when the coaches are finished with their evaluations. Training camp and preseason games are in place for players to win jobs.

I see an Eagles roster that should be as competitive and as talented as any I've been around. Ever. I know the 2004 roster was loaded, as were the rosters leading up to that Super Bowl season. But I think this Eagles roster has as much Pro Bowl potential, and more young promise, than any in the many years (since 1987) that I have covered the Eagles.

A couple of positions hold extreme intrigue for me. Here are some high-level looks ...


I think the Eagles are loaded here. They have as many as six ends who should play in the NFL this season. Can the Eagles keep all six? Can they retain Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Phillip Hunt, Darryl Tapp,  Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry on the active roster? Is this group as good as I think it is?

Well, I'm projecting a bit here. Cole and Babin are Pro Bowl-level players and they both have a lot of good football in them. Hunt is a player I'm expecting to take a large step forward this year, based on the promise of his rookie season and a really productive offseason in which he has gained some weight and some strength and should be more refined to go along with those natural pass-rushing skills.

I'm on record saying that Brandon Graham has everything in place to have a strong season. He is focused. He has urgency. He is in great physical condition. He understands that he has to earn playing time among a talented cast of players, made more talented when the Eagles selected Curry in the third round of April's draft. Will Graham ever be a star NFL defensive end? That remains to be seen. The first step is that he has to become relevant in this defense.

Tapp is a quality player who is versatile and who plays well when he is on the field. I'm not going to dismiss him, even though some out there think he is a logical player to trade. My thinking is that the Eagles need to keep as many quality defensive ends as they can. You never know what is going to happen.


Trading Asante Samuel opened up a starting job for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and he pairs with Nnamdi Asomugha to give the Eagles a pair of good-sized, athletic cover men. They should team up nicely. Behind the starters, there are some interesting possibilities.

Does Joselio Hanson, a seasoned and productive veteran, retain his nickel cornerback job? Does rookie Brandon Boykin step right in and earn significant playing time? Is second-year man Curtis Marsh, still in the developmental stages of his career, prepared to take on more responsibility?

Are any of the other corners --Brandon Hughes, Trevard Lindley, Cliff Harris, D.J. Johnson -- ready to challenge for playing time?

The Eagles want to be more physical and more aggressive at cornerback this year with new coach Todd Bowles. Oh, training camp is going to be so much fun!


We know that LeSean McCoy is a proven NFL star, but he is so much fun to watch in practice. He's just so ... darn ... good and hard to hit and smooth. How good are the Eagles behind McCoy?

Second-year man Dion Lewis showed some promise last season and has to build on that and perform on the field. Rookies Bryce Brown and Chris Polk are really talented and they figure to battle for the third running back spot.

Brown, as you have read many times in this space, is of particular interest. He took an unconventional route to the NFL, having basically played only one season in college after a spectacular high school career. Is his talent enough to overcome his lack of experience?


  • The Eagles, like every team, graded and scouted wide receiver Josh Gordon ahead of Thursday's Supplemental Draft, but there was no way they would have used a second-round draft pick on him. Great size, runs well and is very talented. That's the book on Gordon, who went to Cleveland at the expense of a 2013 second-round draft pick. How high would the Eagles have gone for Gordon? Maybe a fifth-round pick? I'm just guessing, of course. The Eagles have a good situation at wide receiver.
  • I don't anticipate any major moves in the days leading to training camp. There is still nothing official on wide receiver Tiger Jones, who starred this year for the Philadelphia Soul in the Arena League and who is reportedly going to sign with the Eagles for training camp.
  • It seems bizarre to me that Plaxico Burress won't be in an NFL training camp when it all begins. He is too good not to have a job somewhere. Doesn't look like it will happen here, despite all of those long-ago reports.
  • Michael Vick is going to take the first-team reps in practice, of course, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Mike Kafka and even Nick Foles get a handful during the course of the three-plus weeks at Lehigh. The Eagles need to get them ready, just in case.
  • Rookies and selected veterans -- those coming off injury, for example -- report on Sunday, July 22 and practice July 23-25 before the entire team arrives at Lehigh. We start our live coverage with head coach Andy Reid's press conference on Sunday, July 22. We're live every day for practice at 2 p.m.
  • Enjoy your last full weekend of the year that doesn't include Eagles football!
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