The grueling weeks of training camp practices and four preseason games are everything for a rookie or young player trying to fight for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Every rep is critical to showing the coaching staff that a player is talented enough to compete in the National Football League. Even seasoned players must take advantage of their opportunities or they can be one of the rare veteran cuts, whether it be for performance dropping off or a hefty salary that counts too heavily against the cap.
The following five players entered camp expected to contribute and make a strong impact on the Philadelphia Eagles, but whether it be injury, poor play or even a factor beyond their control, it’s likely these players are wishing they could hit a redo button for training camp.
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Mike Kafka in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft, and he spent the previous two seasons as the third-string quarterback. Kafka has mastered the art of the West Coast offense and he’s extremely intelligent, although he does likely lack the physical skills to succeed in the NFL.
Kafka broke his hand in the first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and rookie third-round pick Nick Foles has played remarkably well. Combine that with the fact that veteran Trent Edwards has played better than expected, and Kafka may be on the outside looking in when his hand is finally healed.
I really expected the Philadelphia Eagles to get a strong performance out of Cliff Harris this preseason. He was initially signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after a promising college career that included some off-the-field legal issues.
Harris never impressed in camp though despite a dominating tenure at the University of Oregon. He was an All-American kick returner and led the nation with 20 passes defensed in 2010 before he was dismissed from the football team.
Harris technically survived the first round of cuts by the Eagles, but was then a surprise cut early Sunday morning. He will likely be signed by another team on waivers, but still it couldn’t have been the start Harris was hoping for.
When Jason Peters tore his Achilles' tendon in the offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles signed his replacement in Buffalo to take over the starting left tackle job in 2012.
Bell was signed to a five-year, $34.5 million contract, although with the way that salary is structured, he would likely only last one season before he is released.
But Bell ultimately lost his starting nod to four-year backup King Dunlap and now finds himself practicing with the second team before the regular season has even started.
There’s really nothing Mike Patterson could do about the unfortunate hand life dealt him, but the way things have turned out will drastically affect Patterson’s NFL future.
Patterson was diagnosed with a brain condition last training camp after having a seizure at training camp, and this led to him having surgery this past January that could sideline him for the duration of the 2012 season.
Patterson was a former first-round pick who gave the Philadelphia Eagles seven good seasons, but with the team having selected defensive tackle Fletcher Cox out of the University of Mississippi State in the first round, Patterson’s future with the Eagles is very much in doubt.
He is slated to earn $3 million in 2013, $3.75 million in 2014, $5 million in 2015 and $6.35 million in 2016. With Cullen Jenkins starting at one defensive tackle spot, Cox waiting for another and top backup Derek Landri, there just may not be room for Patterson at that salary. That is, if he’s even physically able to play again anyway.
The Philadelphia Eagles made major changes to their linebacker corps this past offseason, trading for two-time Pro Bowler DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans and drafting Mychal Kendricks in the second round.
Brian Rolle entered the season as the only returning starter from last year’s linebacker corps, and that’s because he had a strong season as a rookie at weak-side linebacker.
Rolle is undersized but he’s aggressive and played well against the run. It wasn’t even expected that there would be competition for his spot in 2012 but veteran linebacker Akeem Jordan has reportedly won the weak-side spot, which sends Rolle to the bench.