On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Eagles made official a move that many have expected for a couple weeks—and may have unofficially made the first of their final roster cuts an easy one.
Macho Harris’ return to cornerback has been aborted, and as of this week, the 2009 draftee will move back to the position he played last season, free safety.
Harris was slowed by injury this preseason, and his absence allowed both veteran Dimitri Patterson and 2010 fourth-round pick Trevard Lindley the chance to impress the coaching staff so much that Macho was shunted back inside.
Coach Andy Reid was fine with the move on two levels.
As he told PhiladelphiaEagles.com correspondent Bo Wulf, “A little bit of the reason for moving Harris to safety, I think, was that I felt comfortable with Lindley, who did a nice job.”
Reid also added that he thinks, “Macho is a good safety…he can also help you out in nickel situations inside."
Harris is fine with it too, as he told Wulf that “I'm a team guy. I love this game of football. Whatever position they need me, I'm willing to play.”
So that drama finally seems to be settled, but its resolution brings about another potential one—what will become of seventh-round pick Kurt Coleman?
In the NFL, the norm says that talent will win a final roster spot more often than incumbency. That’s apparently true for Lindley, as his play and Macho’s move pretty much signal that he’ll be the fifth corner on this team.
Coleman has also had a very impressive preseason. He’s now nowhere near a lock to break camp with the club.
Incumbency aside, Reid has already said he likes what Harris can do in the nickel, which the Birds plan to run a bit more this fall.
Plus, there’s that matter of his kick return ability. A glut of depth at receiver means Chad Hall is unlikely to earn a roster spot, so return duties will fall on Harris, Quintin Demps, and perhaps Ellis Hobbs.
For most of the preseason, I have surmised that Lindley, Harris, and Coleman were battling for one or two spots…and if the former has his sewn up, the battle then gets even feistier.
Coleman does have one advantage (in name, anyway), as he’s currently listed as the second-team strong safety (with Harris third behind Demps and Nate Allen at free safety).
But as we saw last year, Demps is better suited to the strong safety position anyway, and Harris’ return would allow him to spend more time there.
It’s not out of the question that the Birds could keep 10 defensive backs; should they choose to go with only nine linemen—a possibility that got a little more realistic when Ricky Sapp was placed on IR—then the 25th spot on defense would be between a linebacker and a DB.
Either Keenan Clayton or Jamar Chaney could find themselves in the situation of having played well enough to make the team but not actually doing so.
Unfortunately, I don’t think they will.
Both have shown great versatility and special teams ability this preseason and are likely to be ahead of either Tracy White or Moise Fokou (or both) on the depth chart come Saturday morning, which means the end of Kurt Coleman.
Just another reason that everyone wants as much guaranteed money as they can get, I guess.