The third preseason game is in the books and it’s time to speculate on the makings of the final 53-man roster, which needs to be finalized by Sept. 5.
Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb will be there, but after that things could be tricky for Andy Reid.
Does he keep Michael Vick on the roster so he can practice with the team if he’s suspended for the first couple of weeks of the season, or do you keep him off the roster and have him sit out practices?
Either way, things don’t look good for A.J. Feeley’s future in Philadelphia.
My guess is Reid releases Feeley so he can find work elsewhere before it gets too late, and keeps Vick on the roster so he can continue to get reps in practice.
Running Backs (Four - Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Leonard Weaver, Eldra Buckley)
Westbrook, McCoy, and Weaver are all obvious choices to make the team.
Lorenzo Booker has been terrible from the get go in Philly, and his preseason performance hasn’t been any better. He hasn’t shown the hands or elusive moves we all thought he’d bring from Miami when the Eagles acquired him, and he has no shot at making this team.
It comes down to Kyle Eckel and Buckley.
Reid could take Eckel as a second fullback, but Weaver’s ability to run the ball on short-yardage essentially nullifies Eckel’s role from last season. Buckley, although he looked like an undrafted rookie on Thursday, has shown some flashes of being a decent runner, and if the Eagles think he’s more of a contributor on special teams than Eckel he’ll be the choice.
Wide Receiver (Six - DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett, Brandon Gibson)
It pains me not to list Reggie Brown as one of the six receivers the Eagles retain, but his salary and corresponding performance just don’t add up. I’m hoping Reid and company can at least turn him into a draft pick before the season begins. So much for my prediction three years ago that he’d be a poor man’s Marvin Harrison.
Baskett stays on because of his blocking and special teams play (and his HOT wife coming to games). Gibson is a guy who may spend a lot of weeks on the inactive list on game days but has shown he could be another Avant-type possession guy down the road.
Tight Ends (Three - Brent Celek, Rob Myers, Tony Curtis)
The Matt Schobel era is mercifully over, as the oft-injured free agent signee will not be back in 2009. Curtis is a pure blocker—something the Birds haven’t bothered with at this position for a very long time.
Offensive Lineman (10 - Jason Peters, Shawn Andrews, Stacy Andrews, Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson, Nick Cole, Max Jean-Gilles, Mike McGlynn, King Dunlap, Winston Justice)
No real surprises here. Justice has really taken advantage of Shawn Andrews’ absence and played well at right tackle. Ditto that for Dunlap, who performed admirably while Peters was on the shelf. McGlynn is versatile enough, and Reid probably loves the guy’s tenacity. Look for one of the Birds’ two draft picks—Fenuki Tepou or Paul Fanaika to make the practice squad.
Defensive Lineman (10 - Trent Cole, Darren Howard, Victor Abiamiri, Chris Clemons, Jason Babin, Mike Patterson, Broderick Bunkley, Trevor Laws, Dan Klecko, Juqua Parker)
Parker squeaks in despite the fact he got busted for pot this preseason. He better not get comfortable though—he could be the last guy on the roster if injuries crop up during the season.
Bryan Smith hasn’t shown any of the burst they hoped for off the edge, and when you’re undersized you better be fast and/or strong (see Dwight Freeney). Smith doesn’t seem to be either.
Linebackers (Six - Joe Mays, Akeem Jordan, Chris Gocong, Omar Gaither, Moise Fokou, Matt Wilhelm, Tracy White)
Losing Stewart Bradley kills the Eagles. He was by the far the most talented player in that group, and his absence has shown during the preseason. Here’s hoping some combo of Mays, Gaither, and maybe Fokou can fill the void. Wilhelm’s hold on a roster spot is tenuous. White is there strictly for special teams—which looks real shaky already. Maybe it wasn’t just Rory Seagrest last season?
Cornerbacks (Four - Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Ellis Hobbs, Joselio Hanson)
Jack Ikegwunou could be practice squad-bound, as could Dimitri Patterson. Both have potential but are caught behind a very deep and talented bunch.
Safeties (Four - Quintin Mikell, Quintin Demps, Sean Jones, Victor Harris)
Harris hasn’t set the world on fire, but his ability to play special teams and both S and CB gives him the advantage over Ikegwunou and Patterson.
Special Teams (Three - David Akers, Sav Rocca, Jon Dorenbos)
No surprises here.