July 26, 2012;Bethlehem, PA. USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (23) smiles during training camp at Lehigh University. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
It seems like just yesterday the Eagles rookies reported to Lehigh and training camp officially began, but players have been working hard and competing for jobs for 10 days already up in the hills of Bethleham.
Andy Reid has put the team through one of his hardest camps in years so far, hoping to shape this team into one that is mentally tougher than the one that blew multiple 4th quarter leads last year.
Reid has to be happy with the way the players have responded, as they have not only performed well, but their has not even been a peep of a complaint. Despite what one "dynasty" comment might suggest, these players know they have to work hard to improve on last years 8-8 record.
What players will get a chance to try to improve that record? The Eagles don't have to make final cuts for a little over a month, but with the players off on Tuesday, let's take a look at what the roster could potentially look like right now.
Here is the same system used last time to breakdown the roster.
LOCKED: Job locked is marked with bold. These players will make the roster even if they have a horrible camp.
SOLID: Solid job security is not marked. These players will likely make the roster, although with a bad showing at Lehigh could find themselves fighting for a job at the end.
FIGHTING: Fighting for a job is marked with italics. These players will have to play themselves onto the roster, and have to have a good camp to make the team.
QB: (3) - Michael Vick, Mike Kafka, Nick Foles
RB: (3)- LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown
FB: (1)- Stanley Havili
WR: (5)- DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Marvin McNutt
TE: (2)- Brent Celek, Clay Harbor
OT: (4)- Todd Herremans, Demetress Bell, King Dunlap, Dennis Kelly
OG: (4)- Evan Mathis, Danny Watkins, Julian Vandervelde, Dallas Reynolds
C: (2)- Jason Kelce, Mike Gibson
DE: (6)- Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Vinny Curry, Phillip Hunt, Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp
DT: (5)- Cullen Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Antonio Dixon, Derek Landri, Cedric Thornton
LB: (6)- Demeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Brian Rolle, Akeem Jordan
CB: (5)- Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Brandon Boykin, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes
S: (4)- Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Kurt Coleman, OJ Atogwe
K: Alex Henery
P: Chas Henry
LS: Jon Dorenbos
PUP: Colt Anderson, Mike Patterson
HARDEST CUTS: Chad Hall, Joselio Hanson, Damaris Johnson, Brett Brackett
NOTABLE CUTS: Joselio Hanson, Trent Edwards, Moise Fokou, Cliff Harris,Trevard Lindley, Greg Lloyd, Dallas Reynolds, Chris Polk, Keenan Clayton, Damaris Johnson, Mardy Gilyard, Jamel Hamler, Chad Hall, Brett Brackett, Brandon Washington,
The good news about the Eagles training camp up at Lehigh so far is that the almost every one on the roster has come to play. You would be hard pressed to find someone who was expected to make the team that has played themselves off the roster during the first few live hitting sessions- except for maybe Trent Edwards.
The bad news? It makes getting the team down to the 53 man roster that much harder.
The Eagles have a lot of options when it comes to finalizing their roster. The positions where the Eagles could play around with the numbers are at wide receiver, cornerback, tight end, and full back.
At receiver, the Eagles are going to have to decide who they want to keep out of Riley Cooper, Chad Hall and Damaris Johnson. It's safe to say at this point that McNutt is all but a lock to make the team. He has shown in camp that not only does he know how to use his size, but he has moves when he gets into the open field. Chad Hall was a player that was likely going to get cut coming into camp, but all he has done since he got to Lehigh is make plays. Damaris Johnson has also looked good and shown his speed, and he is a player that could really benefit from the preseason games. If he can show he is a solid punt returner, things could change quick. But if the Eagles had to make cuts right now, he would likely be gone.
Wil the Eagles keep Cooper or Hall? At this point really the only thing keeping Cooper on the roster is his play on special teams, as the Eagles went with 4 receivers on only 9% of their plays last season. Say what you will about Hall, but he has had more plays ran for him over the last 2 years than Cooper has. Reid likes what he brings to this offense. Coopers injury in a weird way might have helped his chances, as he probably would not have outplayed McNutt or Hall during training camp. But Cooper still presents a better option as someone who could come in and start if any of the teams top 3 WR's went down, which combined with his special teams play, will land him on the final roster.
At tight end, the Eagles may have found a hidden gem in Brett Brackett. He has shown good hands and route running over the past few days, and has looked every bit as good as Clay Harbor. Although it appears the team may have soured on Harbor given the try-out they gave to Vicante Shiancoe, Harbor is their best back up right now. Given Brent Celeks injury, the Eagles won't go into the season without someone behind him who has veteran experience. It would not be surprising to see the Eagles go with 3 tight ends, as word around camp is that they want to run more 2 tight end sets this year.
Keeping 3 tight ends will mean a cut at another position, however. If they do decide to go with 3, look for them to not carry a fullback- something Marty Mornhinweg hinted at a few days ago. But Stanley Havili has looked good so far both as a blocker and an option out of the backfield- and for as much as we like to talk about Reid hating the fullback, he almost always ends up carrying one.
A key battle coming into camp was between Joselio Hanson and Brandon Boykin for the inside cornerback spot. Hanson and Boykin have played to a draw so far, with neither really sticking out. One thing the Eagles have done a lot this preseason is work Nnamdi Asomugha into the slot and had him work against the 3rd WR. Whether you like the idea or not, it's something Juan Castillo seems intent on doing and it isn't going to help Joselio Hanson's chances. Given how hard Bobby April will likely push for Brandon Hughes to make the team, Hanson would be the logical cut at cornerback to make room for him. The fact that Colt Anderson could start the season on the PUP doesn't help Hanson either, as it makes the need for Hughes even greater.
One thing Lehigh has shown about this team is that their is more talent than was expected at the bottom of this roster, and that with 4 preseason games still to be played, the final roster is still far from decided.
Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks