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Eagles 53-man roster projection after Philadelphia’s first 2017 preseason game

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Ch-ch-ch-changes.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

We've learned quite a few things about the outlook of the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster through three weeks of training camp and one preseason game. Now it's time to take that knowledge and make an updated 53-man roster prediction. Let's see how much things have changed since last week’s projection.

OFFENSE

Quarterback - Carson Wentz, Nick Foles (2) [2]

Wentz is having a very good summer. I’d say he’s probably a lock to make the team. The same cannot be said for Matt McGloin, who really struggled against the Packers. The only complication here is that Foles hasn’t practiced since the first week of training camp due to an elbow injury. If Foles gets healthy, the Eagles will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53 while keeping a third, such as Dane Evans, on the practice squad.

Running back - LeGarette Blount, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey (4) [6]

Blount is the starter. Sproles will have his usual role on offense. After that, who knows. Smallwood was looking good prior to suffering a hamstring injury. Smallwood’s lack of availability is an issue. He got hurt in camp last year and also missed some games last season due to injury. It’s going to be hard to put Pumphrey on the field if he’s going to be putting the ball on the ground as often as he has recently. Pumphrey fumbled in the first preseason game and muffed a punt as well. Then he fumbled during the first day back at practice. Corey Clement is also fighting for a job here. His struggles with drops and pass protection could keep him off the roster.

Wide receiver - Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson, Greg Ward Jr. (6) [12]

Allow me to pat myself on the back by pointing out this is the same group of receivers I projected to make the team last week despite the fact Jordan Matthews hadn’t been traded yet. (Hmmmm.) Also note that this is the same group of six receivers that NFL insider Adam Caplan projects to make the final cut. Jeffery and Smith are the starters on the outside with Agholor working in the slot. Hollins is going to work himself into regular playing time if he continues to impress. Johnson will also get some looks. Ward give the Eagles some more depth in the slot.

Tight end - Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton (3) [15]

Ertz could really benefit from Matthews’ targets being gone. Burton could also see an increased role in the slot. Celek is likely in his last year with the team. Billy Brown has shown some potential but probably belongs on the practice squad.

Offensive line - Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Stefen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Chance Warmack, Dillon Gordon (9) [24]

I feel confident in these nine players as locks to make the roster. The starters are obvious. Wisniewski is the top backup at center and can play guard. Vaitai is the swing tackle. Warmack can play guard. The team likes to use Gordon in a number of roles: backup left tackle, blocking tight end, fullback, etc. The Eagles could easily keep a 10th (or even 11th) blocker such as Matt Tobin and/or Darrell Greene. I’m leaving Tyler Orlosky off because the Eagles moved him from third team center over to guard. That might not be a good sign for him. Or maybe it shows the Eagles want to find reason to keep him.

DEFENSE

Defensive end - Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Chris Long, Alex McCalister (5) [29]

Graham should be even more motivated to have a big year due to the extra incentives he recently received in his contract. Barnett showed great promise in his first preseason game. The Eagles need to give him more looks against starters this summer. Curry hasn’t been so good that he won’t lose his job to Barnett. Long looks like he’s going to be a nice rotational pass rusher for this team. I’d keep Steven Means over McCalister, personally, but I think the Eagles might stick with the 2016 seventh-round pick. He’s a Florida guy (Howie has #GatorBias) and he’s four years younger than Means. Maybe the Eagles keep both considering they had six defensive ends last year.

Defensive tackle - Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls (4) [33]

When asked about the Eagles’ defensive tackle depth behind obvious starters Cox and Jernigan, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz first praised Vaeao. Schwartz also said 2017 sixth-round selection Qualls is a player on the rise. Qualls did a nice job of generating pressure against Green Bay. Gabe Wright could be pushing for a depth spot here as well.

Linebacker - Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Najee Goode, Joe Walker, Nate Gerry, Kamu Grugier-Hill (6) [39]

Hicks and Bradham are really the only two locks at this position. I think Goode makes the team due to his experience, versatility, and special teams contributions. Walker provides Hicks insurance and can also contribute on ST. Gerry isn’t looking lost despite transitioning from safety to linebacker. Grugier-Hill has performed well in practice. Don Cherry is also in consideration at this spot but I doubt anyone would poach him from the practice squad. I keep leaving Mychal Kendricks off because I still think he’ll get traded before Week 1.

Cornerback - Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, Ron Brooks, C.J. Smith (6) [45]

Darby is already running with the first team after arriving in Philadelphia on Saturday. It remains to be seen who starts opposite from him since Mills and Robinson are splitting time there in practice. I’d favor the former. Robinson is getting looks at nickel corner with Brooks injured. Douglas isn’t ready to be a full-time starter but he deserves to get some playing time. Smith has some nice moments and could be a capable backup to keep around. Aaron Grymes is on the bubble here. He would give the Eagles more depth at nickel if Robinson isn’t kept on the 53.

Safety - Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Terrence Brooks, Chris Maragos (5) [50]

Jenkins and McLeod are the starters. Graham is the third safety and will have a role on this team due to his defensive/special teams contributions. Brooks has looked too good not to keep on the roster. Maragos is the ST captain. Tre Sullivan is going to keep catching attention if he keeps dishing out big hits.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Caleb Sturgis (1) [51]

Sturgis had a 46-yard attempt doink off the upright in Green Bay. He went 8/10 in practice on Sunday with misses from 41 and 48. Clean it up, Caleb.

P: Donnie Jones (1) [52]

37 years young.

LS: Jon Dorenbos (1) [53]

Still doing awesome magic tricks.

INJURED PLAYERS

Sidney Jones and Beau Allen opened training camp on the active/non-football injury list. This means they can be activated at any time. If they’re not, they can eventually be placed on the regular season NFI list, which means they’ll have to miss at least the first six weeks of the season. They won’t count towards the roster limit during that span.

PRACTICE SQUAD

QB Dane Evans, RB Corey Clement, WR Shelton Gibson, WR David Watford, TE Billy Brown, OG Darrell Greene, DT Winston Craig, LB Don Cherry, CB Jomal Wiltz, S Tre Sullivan