Every summer, NFL teams face the difficult task of narrowing down their rosters from 90 players to 53. And while a majority spots are already set in stone, there are still plenty of opportunities for players on the fringe to state their cases. OTAs, minicamps and Training Camp give those under-the-radar guys a chance to duke it out with NFL vets, who in turn are fighting for their own careers.
For the Eagles, several veterans will be fighting to make the team. For these players, failure to impress the coaching staff over the summer could mean the end of their time in Philadelphia.
Ed Reynolds II
Generally speaking, it's not a great sign when a team cuts a draft pick after said rookie's only been with the team for a few months. But that's what happened with Reynolds, the team's fifth round pick in 2014. After missing almost all of OTAs, Reynolds was something of a surprise cut in the summer. He spent the season on the practice squad, and now faces an uphill battle to make the team. With one starting safety spot still up for grabs and some stiff competition, Reynolds has a great chance to prove he belongs on the 53-man roster.
If there's a silver lining for Reynolds, it's that the he missed all but the last day of OTAs finishing up classes. Now that he's had a full season and his first full NFL offseason to prepare, Reynolds should have a more impressive summer showing than last year. Whether that's enough for him to make the team remains to be seen.
Perhaps more than any other player on this list, Earl Wolff's mission is clear: stay healthy and win the second starting safety job. The Eagles' fifth round pick in 2013, Wolff has shown flashes, but his progress has been hampered by injury. In two seasons Wolff has played in only 18 games in two seasons, starting seven. Wolf missed the last eight games of the 2014 season after undergoing knee surgery, and has yet to step foot on the field for OTAs.
This year, though, Wolff will be facing stiffer competition than ever before. Walter Thurmond III appears to have the early lead in the race for the starting spot opposite Malcolm Jenkins, and that's far from the end of it. Guys like Ed Reynolds and Jaylen Watkins are also vying for that spot.
Would losing the starting job mean the end of Wolff's tenure as an Eagle? It seems unlikely (or at least, less likely than some of the other players on this list), but Chip is fond of the phrase "the best ability is durability". Will the Eagles want to hang on to Wolff if he can't stay on the field? This summer he will need to overcome his history of injuries and prove that he can take his game to the next level.
Whether it's playfully taking shots at Brandon Boykin or going to prom in a Malcolm Jenkins bow tie, Acho made the offseason brighter. But the NFL is a brutal business, and Acho enters camp finding himself on the outside looking in at inside linebacker.
Consider this: right now on the depth chart, Acho is behind Kiko Alonso, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. He also may be behind Jordan Hicks, Marcus Smith II and Najee Goode. And then there are special teams ace Bryan Braman and newcomer Brad Jones to consider. That's a lot of names, and most of the guys on this list are locks to make the team. Granted, a Kendricks trade could help Acho's case, but last year the Eagles kept nine linebackers in total--including outside 'backers.
Where Acho could have a chance to really shine is on special teams. The recently-departed Casey Matthews was second on last year's team in special teams tackles with 13, and the coaching staff would undoubtedly love one of the inside linebackers to fill in there. Could it be Acho?
In 2012 the Eagles traded into the first pick of the fourth round to draft the USC quarterback, but that has essentially been the highlight of his Eagles career thus far.
In three regular season appearances he's thrown for 300 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions. Most of this came during the now-infamous game against the Cowboys in 2013. In his limited appearances, Barkley hasn't shown a great command of the offense, and his arm strength looks noticeably below-average for an NFL player.
Going into his third season in Philadelphia, Barkley hasn't been able to win the second-string job, and enters the summer in a battle for the third quarterback spot. And, oh yeah, the guy he's competing against is none other than Tim Tebow.
For Barkley, competing against a player who hasn't played a regular season snap since 2012 shouldn't be a tremendous challenge. But it does seem like Tebow could provide more versatility than just being the last quarterback on the roster. If Barkley wants to make the team, he'll have to show the skills that had the NFL buzzing about his potential only a few years ago.