As the Philadelphia Eagles enter the second week of preseason, several veterans are still fighting for the last few roster spots. With the Eagles have a very deep roster on both sides of the football, very few players are locks to make the team.
Both Jeremy Maclin and Mike Patterson are both expected to be ready for the season opener despite having to overcome some serious health issues. Patterson suffered a seizure in training camp on Aug. 3. Patterson hasn't been fully cleared to play yet, but has been back at practice and is just awaiting final clearance from doctors.
Maclin suffered from a virus this summer and has undergone several tests to rule out cancer or any other life-threatening diseases. Maclin should be able to fully practice with the team within seven to 10 days, while Patterson doesn't have a specific time table yet but is expected to play at some point this season.
With all the depth the Eagles have across the board along with another outstanding 11-man draft class, the position battles are going to be fierce. One bad week can cost a player his job.
Like 2010, Chad Hall went into to training camp as a long shot to make the team. The Eagles are loaded at wide receiver already with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper and Steve Smith. All five receivers are locks to make the team and now both Maclin and Smith are expected to be healthy going into Week 1.
Hall was impressive in the first preseason game against the Ravens. Hall had five catches for 82 yards and looked like a more complete receiver. Hall ran crisp routes and caught the ball in traffic. The only way Hall can make the team is if the Eagles elect to go with six receivers. If Hall keeps playing at the level he did last week, the Eagles may have to.
Mike McGlynn did a solid job filling in for injured center Jamaal Jackson in 2010. Going into 2011, McGlynn has already been moved back to guard and is now fighting for a spot on the team a year after starting 14 games at center.
Rookie sixth-round draft pick Jason Kelce has already impressed new offensive line coach Howard Mudd enough to be the backup center, forcing McGlynn to move back to guard. Newly acquired Eagles Evan Mathis and Julian Vandervelde have been more impressive at guard.
Barring any injuries, McGlynn will have to really impress the coaching staff in order to earn one of the backup guard positions. Mathis has the experience and Vandervelde has the potential.
Last year, Austin Howard was another undrafted free agent that was able to find a spot on the Eagles roster. Juan Castillo took him on as a project player for his offensive line. Now Castillo is the new defensive coordinator and Howard Mudd is the offensive line coach. Castillo and head coach Andy Reid preferred bigger linemen like Howard, but Mudd prefers his players slimmer and more athletic to play his scheme.
Howard struggled to give quarterbacks Vince Young and Mike Kafka any protection against the Ravens all night long. Both Winston Justice and Ryan Harris are both listed as out for the second preseason game against the Steelers. With two of the Eagles' offensive tackles already battling the injuries early in the 2011 season, Howard could make the team for depth purposes, but it's not a sure thing.
Phillip Hunt looks to be an ideal situational pass rusher in defensive line coach Jim Washburn's aggressive scheme. Hunt is undersized at 6' and 240 pounds, and doesn't project to be an every down defensive end.
Hunt did show he has plenty of ability as a pass rusher, picking up a sack in the first game preseason game. Hunt also had several pressures on the quarterback as well. If Hunt continues to show plenty of ability rushing the quarterback, he will be a part of the Eagles defensive line rotation this season.
Hunt was brought in to do one thing—rush the quarterback—and it appears he is more than capable of doing just that.
Defensive tackle has become a wide open position for the Eagles. Trevor Laws, Antonio Dixon and Mike Patterson were both inactive for the preseason opener last week. All three players plus newly acquired Cullen Jenkins are the likely candidates to make the team, but former Carolina Panther Derek Landri is making a strong case.
Landri picked up a sack last week against the Ravens and showed off a very impressive spin move in the process. Landri was a starting defensive tackle with the Panthers last year, where he finished 2010 with 43 tackles and three sacks.
Landri is a natural pass rusher and would be an ideal fit in Washburn's rotation. It will be hard to beat out either Laws or Dixon, but if Patterson is not ready to go for Week 1, Landri could make the roster that way.