Philadelphia Eagles News

Players On The Move For Eagles

Now, there is a long way to go. Three preseason games remain. Teams don't begin trimming the roster for another couple of weeks. But you can see how the practice reps are being divided as the coaches strive to learn more about players and find out how much responsibility they can handle.

This isn't as much a story about the veterans as it is about the rookies and the newest Eagles. Here are some players on the move, in the right direction ...

PHILLIP HUNT, defensive end

Everyone saw what he did on Thursday night against the Steelers when he recorded a pair of sacks and simply destroyed Pittsburgh's pass protection scheme. Phillip Hunt is making this team. Now the question is how the Eagles can use him. Hunt has played primarily off the edge, on both sides, and Jim Washburn needs to find more ways to get Hunt on the field.

More strength and an offseason dedicated to his technique have paid off for Hunt, who has to be a valuable part of the defensive line rotation. He isn't going to start, but if Hunt keeps playing the way he is playing, he's going to get on a field a lot.

NICK FOLES, quarterback

The kid was great in the preseason opener with a couple of touchdown passes and good command of the offense and fine recognition of what Pittsburgh did with its blitz game. Maybe more important, Foles has been just as impressive since he moved to the No. 2 position with Mike Kafka sidetracked with a broken left (non-throwing) hand. Foles was outstanding in Saturday's move-the-ball, 11-on-11 work. He saw the blitz and adjusted. He threw on time. He was crisp with his passes.

There are miles and miles to go before we know if Nick Foles can make it in the NFL, and then another year or two after that to determine just how high his ceiling will be. So far, he's made all the throws and has digested everything the coaches have thrown at him. Foles is off to an excellent start.

CURTIS MARSH, cornerback

The second-year cornerback, who has only been playing the position for a few seasons, has really stepped it up. Curtis Marsh looks more fluid in his turn and change of direction and he's been a big, physical presence at the line of scrimmage. Whatever Todd Bowles is doing with Marsh seems to be working.

Marsh isn't ready to challenge for a starting job, but he is one injury away from gaining significant playing time. There is still a lot of competition for a roster spot, of course, Marsh has to work on his technique and hunker down against smaller, quicker receivers. But he has made big-time strides. Marsh is improving and that is a very important note for a defense looking for as much depth in the back seven as it can find.

DALLAS REYNOLDS, center

I'm not sure how much attention you pay to the backup center position, but the Eagles need to have confidence in the spot behind Jason Kelce. Dallas Reynolds, who has played out his practice squad eligibility, has become the guy there. Whether that is enough to make the roster remains to be seen. But Reynolds has made the most of his time with Howard Mudd and has provided a measure of confidence for the coaching staff behind Kelce.

DAMARIS JOHNSON, wide receiver

Look out on the field and who do you see taking first-team reps in practice? Why, it's Damaris Johnson, who had such an impressive preseason debut against Pittsburgh. He had 4 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown, plus he looked good in the punt return game. 

Johnson is very much in the picture here. Does he make the roster? Well, he's certainly giving the coaching staff a lot to think about. He looks good on the field. He's earned a lot of practice reps. He has played very well. Johnson isn't a flat-out speedster, but he has quick feet and he changes direction well.

BRYCE BROWN, running back

We've been following him since the first day he became an Eagle because of his unusual story -- sensational high school player who played very little in college -- and Bryce Brown has gotten better and better. He had the 33-yard run against Pittsburgh that opened eyes and solidified his standing as a No. 3 back on the depth chart.

But with Dion Lewis sidelined with a hamstring injury, Brown is now running with the second team. He looks the part, for sure.  Brown is an improving player, a power running back with 4.3 speed.

This is just the beginning for Brown, who has shaken off the rust, who has a lot of mileage on his tread and who is a willing all-around player.

CEDRIC THORNTON, defensive tackle

A solid 298-pound inside player, Cedric Thornton has really come on in his second season. He was on the practice squad last year and spent his time well working on technique and getting bigger and stronger and more explosive in the weight room. Now Thornton has taken his game to a new level.

In a crowded and very talented tangle at defensive tackle, Thornton is trying to gain notice -- and a roster spot. He played 25 snaps against Pittsburgh and was super productive, and Thornton is likely to earn as many reps against the Patriots.

The question is this, though: Can Thornton make the team as one of five tackles? Does he beat out, say, Antonio Dixon, a restricted free agent who has a guaranteed contract?

CLAY HARBOR, tight end

It sure seems like ever since the Eagles worked out Visanthe Shiancoe, Clay Harbor has been picture perfect in practice, like he hasn't dropped a pass. Harbor has clearly benefited from taking extended reps while Brent Celek was out with his knee injury. He's faster, more fluid and is catching the ball more consistently.

The Eagles use a lot of two-tight end sets with the idea of creating a lot of favorable matchups. Given the way Harbor has bumped up his performance, the offense should have a lot of flexibility in that area. 

ALEX HENERY, placekicker

I'm not sure Alex Henery needed a mention here coming off the rookie season he had, but he's been terrific in camp and, of course, he drilled the 51-yard field goal on Thursday night to beat the Steelers.

Henery has his groove on, even as the Eagles are using both Chas Henry and Mat McBriar as the holder on the kicks. It's a great sign for the young man who looks to have a big year in 2012.

BRANDON BOYKIN, cornerback/kickoff returner

Even though he remains the team's No. 2 nickel cornerback, Brandon Boykin is having a terrific summer. Joselio Hanson remains the team's top nickel cover man, and Boykin is pressing the veteran. It's been a win-win situation for the Eagles and for both players.

Boykin is penciled in as the team's kickoff return man and he did a nice job of it on Thursday. He continues to build his case as a cornerback.

BRANDON GRAHAM, defensive end

The push continues for Brandon Graham. He notched a sack against the Steelers and added some consistent push from the left end spot and he continues to work hard and establish himself as a reliable down-in, down-out player.

Graham had a dominating Saturday in practice and he's been one of the top performers at Lehigh. The true mark comes in the regular season, though, and over the stretch of 16 games.

DeMECO RYANS, linebacker

DeMeco Ryans saw limited action in the preseason opener and had limited production and that concerned some folks out there. Ryans came right back and stepped it up over the weekend. He still has "it," so don't worry about his play at middle linebacker. Ryans is a three-down player in a new defense and he has to be given some time to work his way into the scheme.

It's coming, though. Ryans isn't going to let down this Eagles defense. We all wanted to see some "wow" factor on Thursday and, well, it wasn't there. But it will be. Ryans is coming on.

OSHIOMOGHO ATOGWE, safety

The starters are fairly set at safety -- Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman -- and both have solidified their positions. Signed after the Organized Team Activities were completed, Oshiomogho Atogwe has made some plays lately and is improving in the scheme daily to provide some depth.

It appears Atogwe is capable of forcing the line of scrimmage and making plays.  He seems to be a good tackler who is generally in good position to get to the football. He is going to see quite a bit of action in the final three preseason games to more accurately judge his abilities, but Atogwe had picked up the system quickly and is coming on strong.

TRENT EDWARDS, quarterback

His outstanding fourth quarter on Thursday helped Trent Edwards gain more confidence from the coaching staff, and now with Kafka on the mend Edwards has more reps in his practice pocket. Edwards is running with the third team and has looked good in practice. He knows the offense and he is gaining strength in his shoulder, which kept him out of football last year.

Can the Eagles keep four quarterbacks? Doubtful. Can Edwards unseat Kafka? That may be unlikely unless Edwards just plays too well for the coaches to ignore.

Whatever, Edwards is trying to once again establish himself as an NFL quarterback, and he's going to get the game reps to do so between now and September.

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