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Who's looking over their shoulder?

This year McCoy gave #51, and his job to Takeo Spikes
Did anyone notice there was kinda real football last night? Some guys wearing Steeler jerseys beat some guys wearing Saints jerseys in the hall of fame game. No one you've heard played more than probably a handful of plays or so... but it was amazing to realize just how close we are to the real thing.

By the time preseason is over a team can only keep 53 guys. It's harsh reality a bunch of guys face every year. I wanted to take a look at a few guys that have legit chances to make the team but could find themselves on the outside looking in.

Matt McCoy - Whether or not McCoy makes this teams probably depends on how many linebackers the Eagles want to keep. Either way, any time you get benched halfway through the season and then the team goes out trades for a guy that plays your position in the offseason you should probably be worried. We know Spikes, Trotter, & Gocong are the starters. Gaither spent time on the weakside last year and in the middle doing a respectable job at both. Stewart Bradley, who was the team's 3rd round pick is a strong side  backer by trade and has been working in the middle as well so far in camp. So right there all 3 spots have a starter and a backup in just 5 guys. That said, they'll keep another LB or maybe two to fill out special teams. Still, with the way Andy loves to keep alot of the big guys in the trenches you could see how linebacker could be a place where he could drop a guy to free up roster spot. McCoy is going to have to show himself as a better special teams player than guys like Greg Richmond, Tank Daniels, and Dedrick Roper if he's going to ensure his place on the team.

Prediction - McCoy makes the team. The guy has never lacked effort and that's the attitude you need to succeed on special teams. Not only that but McCoy did make some plays last year at LB. The problem was that the plays he made were overshadowed by the fact that he couldn't get off a block the rest of the game. In a backup role though, I think a guy with his effort and energy could still have some value as a linebacker. Plus, I don't think he really has all that much competition...

Greg Lewis/Jason Avant - I put these guys together because it could come down to a situation where it's one or the other. The top 3 at this point look like Brown, Curtis, & Baskett. Plus, you have an X factor is Jeremy Bloom. He appears to be virtually unchallenged as the punt & kick return man for the team and he's gotten himself noticed seemingly every day for is work as a WR. Bloom is going to make this team. It's going to come down to a numbers game. The Eagles kept 5 WRs last year, to keep Avant & Lewis as well as Bloom they'd have to carry 6 WRs. However, if Bloom shows himself to be a capable wideout in preseason you could see how Andy might live with him as the 5th WR and save the roster spot for use elsewhere.  

Looking at last year, at different times of the season the Eagles kept an extra DB or RB as the return guy. It's entirely possible that they could do the same at WR this year and just carry 6 guys.

Prediction - They both make the team. Greg Lewis is in a battle for his job every single year and has managed to now enter his 5th year on this team. He'll never be a starter, but he knows the system and you can pencil him in for a couple of big important plays every year. I don't really see any reason Greg won't get himself a roster spot once again. Avant showed me some things in that Atlanta game last year. He had 4 catches for 40 yds and a TD. Now entering his 2nd full year in this system, he could be poised to breakout this year. With a big preseason, he could very well end up as the #3.

The Enigma
Ryan Moats - The Eagles kept a 4th RB last year because Reno Mahe was the return man. With Mahe out and Bloom in I just don't see them keeping a 4th guy this year. There's 5 guys gunning for what will likely be 3 spots. Westbrook is a lock and I think Buckhalter is pretty close to a lock. He's looking very good in camp, he's finally fully healthy, and he knows the system better than any back in camp not named Westbrook. The 3rd slot is where the drama really is. The Eagles invested a 3rd round pick in Penn State RB Tony Hunt, which usually will pretty much guarantee you a place on the team in your rookie year. Ryan Moats is a guy with exciting a ability but has had several years here now to make an impact and he hasn't done it. The word thrown around all time referring to Moats is "enigma." He flashes the talent sometimes and you think that he could maybe be the next Westbrook... but the next moment he fumbles or just disappears. Then there's Nate Ilaoa, who was only a seventh round pick but it's still an investment by the team.

Prediction - Moats gets cut. Westy, Buck, & Hunt make the team while Nate Ilaoa lands on the practice or develops a "stinger" that keeps him on IR for the year. Only several really good preseason performances from Moats will save his job here.

The obvious guys - Finally there's a few veteran guys whose job is in pretty obvious jeopardy.

Kelly Holcomb will probably be here long enough for someone to make the Eagles a trade offer or the deadline to make a 53 man roster comes.

Dirk Johnson is in a classic mano e mano winner takes all battle with Sav Rocca. So far, it looks like the Aussie has the edge. That said, the real test will be to see who can do it in a live game. Dirk has done it, Rocca has not.

Jerome McDougle has got to assume he doesn't have very long after seeing the Eagles resign Juqua Thomas and draft Victor Abiamiri with their second pick. That leaves the team with 5 DEs ahead of him on the depth chart. Considering he was a top 15 pick and the team has stuck with him for this long through everything he has been through he could still win a job with a great preseason... but does anyone actually expect a great preseason from McDougle?

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