Welcome to the BGN Mailbag, where I do my best to answer your Eagles questions. Thanks again to everyone on Twitter who sent in a question.
To the Q&A...
@NickMorano1 asks: What are your expectations for Travis Long? Do you think he will make the team?
Travis Long seems to be everyone's favorite sleeper candidate. I noticed during the Eagles OTA practice that Long looks like he's in good shape. I would say Long has a good chance to make the roster but I'm just not sure when I look at the projected depth chart. There's probably five OLBs ahead of Long at this point: Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Marcus Smith, Brandon Graham, and Bryan Braman. Philadelphia really only kept 4 OLB and one of those was former ILB Casey Matthews. I wouldn't be surprised if Long has a good summer, but I'm not sure how he fits in with all of those other guys ahead of him. Long could end up on the practice squad again but I have a feeling he'd be claimed before he ever got the chance to make it there.
@ABigCatL92 asks: Who ends up as the #3 running back? Tucker or one of the young guys/camp invites?
The first two running backs on the Eagles depth chart are fairly obvious: LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles. Behind them, it's less certain. I do think Chris Polk has the inside track on a third spot. Polk had offseason shoulder surgery and that's a concern. But keep in mind Polk looked pretty impressive in training camp and preseason last year. He lost a lot of weight and looked like he could beat out Bryce Brown at one point but it never happened. Polk largely played special teams and handled a few carries during the regular season. Polk only played 47 regular snaps but 33 of those (70%) came in the last four games of the season. Plus, check out this fun Polk stat:
Chris Polk: 11 attempts, 3 TD. Trent Richardson: 157 attempts, 3 TD. Did the Colts trade for the wrong RB? (promo code: YES)— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) January 23, 2014
Returning second year player Matthew Tucker has the best chance to either unseat Polk or win a fourth job. Henry Josey and David Fluellen both seem like longshots at this point but could end up on the practice squad.
The Eagles will very likely keep at least four running backs under team control. As everyone knows, running the ball is very important in Chip Kelly's offense. If that's the case, there's two options. The first is that they could carry four running backs on the 53 man roster. They initially opted against this early in the season (and kept four tight ends instead) but later added Matthew Tucker to the active roster due to a temporary Chris Polk injury. The other option is that the Eagles keep three running backs on the 53 man and one on the practice squad, just like they did with the aforementioned Tucker last season.
@ElJefe_ and @E_Velazquez21 ask: Who is going to break out, and who do you think will be a major disappointment?
Breakout: Zach Ertz is the obvious candidate here. He performed really well for a rookie tight end. A full offseason of gaining strength and better understanding the playbook will only do him good. On defense, look for Bennie Logan to surprise as an attacking NT.
Disappointment: On offense, there's probably a lot of room for disappointment with Nick Foles. It could be hard for him to repeat his 2013 success. Riley Cooper is another candidate here. On defense, I would say DeMeco Ryans. Ryans played a lot of snaps last year and there were times where he looked a bit slow. The Eagles will probably need to find an upgrade at ILB in future seasons.
@ryne_jones asks: Which pair has more combined rec TD's at seasons end - Cooper and Matthews / Maclin and Ertz.
This is a good question. I'm going to say Jeremy Maclin and Zach Ertz. Maclin has shown a knack for being effective in the redzone in the past. I think that's a quality that Ertz will share moving forward. You could also make a case for Cooper and Matthews using the same logic but I think the combination of Maclin/Ertz will see more targets. Plus the safe bet would be to not rely on a rookie in this case.
@kpop1978 asks: Will any players be added before camp?
It's worth noting the Eagles roster is already set at the 90 man limit. The Eagles aren't shy to churn the bottom of their roster but I wouldn't expect anything major. Probably just camp bodies at this point. Nothing significant. As far as more noteworthy players go, Daryn Colledge and Michael Smith could be two names to keep an eye on.
@MKevinBonner asks: Tackling highlights aside, Murderleg doesn't seem like great competition for Henery. Nobody better available?
I'm not sure if there were ever any obvious options out there for the Eagles at kicker. They weren't going to spend serious money on competition for Henery in free agency. Perhaps they could have signed a better player in undrafted free agency. In any case, it seems like the Eagles really didn't have plans of parting with Henery. They just wanted to "push" him this summer.