5 Players Who Might Not Make Eagles' Roster in 2013
NFL training camp is a time to indulge in interesting headlines–mostly fodder that keeps the mind running until the actual season starts.
But while the fans sit back and wait for the action to start, some players use training camp as a tool to make the final roster. Things are no different for the Eagles.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly has taken an approach many admire: Everyone has the same shot at a roster spot and even significant playing time.
With that understood, there are still players on Philadelphia's roster that will utilize camp to simply solidify starting spots or fine tune skills (i.e. DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, etc.).
And while there are a handful of guys fighting for the right to suit up on Sundays, a fraction of those players will be relegated to the practice squad or released by the season's start.
That being said, let's take a look at five Eagles who might find themselves on the outside looking in for 2013.
Clay Harbor, TE
Clay Harbor stood as the backup tight end in Philadelphia's offense last year, and didn't have supreme numbers to show for it.
It makes sense considering Brent Celek (the Eagles' No. 1 tight end in 2012) was the second-most targeted ball-catcher last season.
And it's not like Harbor isn't talented.
He was a useful cog in the short to intermediate passing game—snagging 25 receptions for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
But a nice target plus blocking ability may not cut it for Kelly's offensive thoughts going forward.
That's not to say Harbor couldn't be effective, but it seems as though he'll be the odd man out looking at who the Eagles now have at tight end.
Celek returns along with the additions of former Texans jack-of-all-trades James Casey and Stanford standout Zach Ertz.
Kelly is expected to utilize his tight ends the same way Bill O'Brien does at Penn State: Create size mismatches in the secondary and trump linebackers with superior quickness.
With those three playmakers in place, it seems as though Harbor isn't looking at a spot in the rotation.
Instead, don't be surprised if the Eagles (like last season) retain just three tight ends on the roster, leaving Harbor on the outskirts of the roster.
Colt Anderson, S
Colt Anderson was useful for virtually one thing in 2012: special teams.
Special teams construction is an important part of a team's prospects at winning. But with the plethora of safeties on the Eagles' roster, it's tough to find a spot for Anderson.
Philadelphia retains Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, while adding a few pieces to the secondary as well.
Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung both signed in free agency, while the Eagles landed a steal in the fifth round when selecting former NC State ball hawk Earl Wolff.
The safety of Phillips, Chung, Allen and Coleman makes sense, but what about a fifth-round selection?
Well, according to reports, Wolff is already making in-roads at the starting spot. So there are five safeties making the team right there.
Don't expect the Eagles to allow more than five safeties to make the roster, so that might leave Anderson stranded on the wayside.
If the Eagles' special teams tackling struggles during the season, Anderson could easily be brought back in to play, but it appears he's on the outside looking in.
Everette Brown, DE
Looking back to the Eagles of last year, the team retained six defensive ends after final roster cuts were made.
Fast forward to the present and two of those ends are no longer with the team (Jason Babin and Darryl Tapp).
But the additions at the position have outweighed the losses, which could leave Everette Brown on the free agent market.
Brown has been out of the league for a while (didn't play in the NFL at all last year), which could hurt his chances.
What could also make him uneasy is the talent surrounding him.
Trent Cole, Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham and Clifton Geathers (who Kelly loves) are basically locks.
And even though the Eagles kept six ends on the roster last year, they might be more inclined to retain more linebackers than defensive linemen in 2013 because of the 3-4 defense transition under new coordinator Billy Davis.
Brown would have a solid shot at that final spot, but players like versatile rookie Joe Kruger or Philip Hunt (who made the roster last year) could have an edge on the former Seminole.
It should be interesting to see how the defensive end battles play out in training camp.
Russell Shepard, WR
This one is kind of a toss-up considering the versatility Kelly has at wide receiver.
While the only proven commodities among the Eagles' wideouts are Jackson, Maclin and Jason Avant, there are quite a few wild cards that could impress or flop in training camp.
A few of those intriguing names are Russell Shepard, Damaris Johnson, Arrelious Benn and Ifeanyi Momah.
The players listed above are names worth remembering, because a few of them might turn out to be key pieces for Philadelphia's offense in 2013.
It's known that Johnson's creativity and escapability are respected by Maclin, and he'll likely get some significant playing time.
The Eagles, while they do have tight ends like Ertz to utilize in the red zone, would be better off with a reliable set of hands split out wide within 20 yards of the goal line.
Riley Cooper isn't the answer as he's not extremely tall (6'3''), and his hands aren't the most reliable.
That considered, Kelly would be smart to give Momah a shot at those duties. With more potential at a younger age than the 25-year-old Cooper, Momah (6'7'') has dealt with injuries.
But if staying healthy becomes a habit for Momah, he could have a bright future in Philadelphia—which could eventually render Cooper expendable.
That would leave the Eagles with five receivers (Jackson, Maclin, Avant, Johnson and Momah), which is the amount of receivers they went into 2012 with.
However, it wouldn't be surprising to see Kelly and the Eagles carry six receivers for flexibility sake.
With that potential situation, it would come down to Shepard or Benn—the latter has NFL experience under his belt.
Benn was an all-purpose threat in his time at Illinois—catching 30 balls for 440 yards and three scores in 2011—despite limited action last year.
Shepard showed his weaknesses at LSU (weak route-running), and even though he's electric with the ball in his hands, that defect alone could keep him off the final roster and on the practice squad.
But should an injury occur to one of the Eagles' rostered receivers, expect Shepard to step in and make some sort of an impact.
Dennis Dixon, QB
There was a lot of intrigue that came with Dennis Dixon's arrival to Philadelphia.
Dixon, who was a practice-squad quarterback on the Ravens last season, came over to the Eagles to reunite with Kelly—his former offensive coordinator at Oregon.
While in Eugene, Dixon put up Heisman-like numbers—including a 2007 campaign in which winning the coveted trophy was a real possibility had it not been for an ill-timed knee injury.
Dixon totaled 2,136 passing yards, 583 rushing yards and 29 total touchdowns under the tutelage of Kelly in that senior campaign.
But his success at the collegiate level hasn't translated, as Dixon has limped into just 59 passing attempts in four games played since 2008.
Discounting the lack of in-game experience Dixon possesses in the NFL, he was expected to be a learning tool for Philadelphia's other quarterbacks considering his past with Kelly.
Already knowing the offense Kelly ran at Oregon (which he thrived in), Dixon was a perfect guy to bring in when he came to Philadelphia in February.
And even though some thought of him as an outside contender for the starting role, Dixon is leaning more and more towards the outskirts of the Eagles' core quarterbacks moving forward.
It's not definite that he's heading for free agency, but teams normally carry three signal-callers. Philadelphia's trio looks like Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Matt Barkley.