Philadelphia Eagles News

Welcome to a week like no other in the NFL season

As much as everyone says it's "just another week," the truth is that it isn't. The preseason finale is on Thursday night at the New York Jets. The Eagles will reduce their roster from 90 players to 53 players by 4 p.m. on Saturday.

That isn't "just another week."

If you let it get to you, it's an NFL version of torture.

"I was on the record last year saying the same thing around this time: You root for everyone in this business," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "You know how hard they work and what they put into their effort and making a contribution to the team. And not everyone can make the team, but when it is all said and done, everyone that was in camp with us will have contributed to our team somehow and to our success going forward.

"But yeah, guys make teams or don't make teams for a lot of reasons. It could be numbers at their position, it could be scheme fit, it could be injury, a lot of different things. And we have seen a lot of different guys that have scrapped their way up from the bottom in this league. We have a lot of guys on this team that are contributors. So the longer you are around it – and I think the other human part of it is when you have kids and you root for your own kids in life and different things that they are doing and you see them have successes and failures, it give you a better empathy for those guys and my empathy for those guys certainly has increased over the tenure of my career."

It's human. It's real. There is going to be pain involved – on every side.

The veterans who know they're going to make the 53-man roster are focused more on Washington and the regular-season opener on September 8 than they are the Jets. The starters aren't playing against the Jets, let's be real here.

For everyone else, managing the stress is the key to success.

"I think the stress is the same as it is every day here," offensive lineman Matt Pryor said. "You're expected to perform at a high level or they're going to find someone else to do your job. That doesn't change. For me, I'm just looking forward to going out there and playing my best game against the Jets. I won't lose that stress, that feeling, until I become a starting player in this league."

In the NFL, you always move on to the next thing. You never dwell on the negatives or the positives. Another challenge awaits.

Always.

The reality is staring players in the faces.

"You see how much time guys invest to try to improve themselves every day and to try and show up and be healthy and go compete but always, you have to be real about it: We're going to cut our roster almost in half in a few short days," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "We invest a lot in each other as a team and that's a tough part to see, but the good thing is there is still one more opportunity for a lot of these guys to make this roster and if not this roster, hopefully another one.

"I'm always somebody who has to remind myself not to stress about things that I can't control. So, the decision-making, as to whether you make this team or not, is outside of all of these players' control. What they can control is how they show up every day, how they prepare, and how they go out and play on Thursday. That should be where the focus and the energy is."

For the coaching staff, they have their focus on the New York Jets, having already done some advance work on Washington, a division foe. For the personnel staff, of course, it's "go" time with all ears, eyes, and telephone lines open and operating. Anything can happen at any time. Decisions are made quickly. Conversations – internally and with other teams – are constant.

This week is as fun and as furious and as frustrating as can be. Everything is happening all at once, simultaneously in fast-forward speed and in slow motion.

It's just a wild week, man.

"I'm preparing like I always do to go out and play," said defensive end Daeshon Hall, who was cut by Carolina last year as the Panthers reached the 53-man roster limit. "It didn't work out for me last year, but this is a new season and I feel like I've played pretty good football. The decision is out of my hands. I can't worry about all of that other stuff. I just want to show every day what I can do on the field."

The routine of the week is the same as every other preseason week. Tuesday will be run the same as a regular-season Friday, if that makes sense. Business is business. The objective is to put together the best 53 players for the active roster and a 10-man practice squad that is developing.

Feelings are hurt, yes. Lives are altered, no doubt.

That's just the way it is in the most frantic week of the NFL's preseason.

"They're tough every year. Tough every year," head coach Doug Pederson said of the required cuts. "We have to make decisions that affect these players' lives, and it's difficult to face them and talk to them. That's one of the things, too, I talk about with the team every year with Howie (Roseman) and Andy Weidl and our personnel staff now, we're always going to look to bring in depth and competition at every position, and then for the player to make it hard on us as coaches to make these roster moves.

"Every year it's hard. This will be no different."

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