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Eagles 53-man roster projection: NFL preseason week four edition

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Who will make the final cut?

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

We've learned a lot about the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster through five weeks of training camp and three preseason games. Now it's time to take that knowledge and make an updated 53-man roster projection. Let's see how much things have changed since last week’s prediction. Keep in mind final cuts must take place prior to 4:00 PM ET this Saturday, Sept. 2.

OFFENSE

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

Wentz has had a pretty good summer. I’d say he deserves to make the team and play a little bit. As for Foles, well, he’s barely practiced and hasn’t played at all. Doug Pederson said he’s not worried about Foles’ injury but he also admitted the quarterback might have to play/practice through pain. That’s not particularly encouraging. The Eagles could potentially keep a third quarterback here, but it shouldn’t be Matt McGloin since he’s struggled. Philadelphia should just keep another passer on the practice squad instead.

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

Pederson threw cold water on the idea the Eagles are going to cut Blount. The veteran hasn’t had an awesome preseason, though. Sproles is obviously a lock. Smallwood is also a lock despite previous speculation he might not make it. The 2016 fifth-round pick has struggled to stay healthy, which is a concern, but he could easily be the Eagles’ most effective running back in 2017. Smallwood looked good with four carries for 28 yards against the Dolphins. The final running back spot comes down to Pumphrey versus Corey Clement. The latter has had the better summer, but it doesn’t seem likely the Eagles are going to cut their fourth-round pick. I think the only way Pumphrey doesn’t make this roster is if he gets banged up this week and stashed away on injured reserve. If Pumphrey does make the team, he’ll be inactive on game day each week. Doesn’t look ready to contribute in the NFL at this time.

Wide receiver - Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson, Bryce Treggs [6] [12]

Jeffery and Smith already appear to be major upgrades over what the Eagles had at receiver last offseason. Agholor has been quiet in the preseason games after drawing attention in practice. Hollins and Johnson can provide solid depth and also contribute on special teams. Those five players are locks. Then it comes down to the potential sixth spot: Treggs, Shelton Gibson, or Greg Ward. I’ll give Treggs the nod because he’s had a nice offseason. Gibson has struggled to catch the ball and hasn’t played on special teams. Ward might sneak on to the roster but maybe he’ll make it to the practice squad.

Tight end - Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton, Billy Brown (4) [16]

Ertz could really benefit from the absence of Jordan Matthews and the presence of Jeffery and Smith. He’s poised to have a lot of opportunities in the underneath passing game. Celek is still Celek. Wentz seems to like Burton a lot, but Trey hasn’t really done much to indicate he’s more than what he is: a second or third tight end. With Celek likely gone after this year and Burton set to be a free agent, the Eagles should consider keeping Brown around. The former wide receiver is an intriguing target who could benefit from some seasoning.

Offensive line - Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Stefen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Dillon Gordon, Chance Warmack (9) [25]

The starters are obvious. Wisniewski should be the top backup at any interior position. Big V is the swing tackle. Gordon gives the Eagles more depth and can be used as a situational sixth offensive lineman or short-yardage fullback. Warmack hasn’t had a great summer but Jeff Stoutland could push to keep him around. I never thought I’d be saying this, but Taylor Hart could be a name to watch here. The former defensive tackle has actually shown some competency at his new position. Part of the reason why the Eagles traded Matt Tobin is because they felt comfortable with their tackle depth.

DEFENSE

Defensive end - Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Steven Means (5) [30]

Barnett might not run away with the starting job immediately but he’s going to continue to push for playing time. Curry could lose some snaps to the first round rookie. Graham will be ready for Week 1 despite suffering an injury in practice last week. Long looks like he’s still got plenty of gas in the tank. The fifth defensive end spot comes down to Means versus Alex McCalister. McCalister is younger and from Florida, so he might get the nod. But Means has been the better player, which is why I’m keeping him here. I think Means could be a player that Howie Roseman tries to trade, similar to the Terrence Brooks deal.

Defensive tackle - Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls (5) [35]

It’ll be interesting to see how the battle of the backups shakes out at this position. Allen has unexpectedly returned and will play against the Jets this week. The Eagles liked Vaeao as their third DT while Honey Beau Beau was out. Qualls has shown some nice promise in the preseason games. Justin Hamilton, who’s quietly had a nice summer while running with the second team defensive line, is a tough cut here. I figure the Eagles will go with the slightly younger Qualls (22) over Hamilton (24).

Linebacker - Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Joe Walker, Kamu Grugier-Hill (5) [40]

Hicks and Bradham are the only obvious inclusions. Kendricks won’t get cut but I still wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him getting traded. Walker can play backup middle linebacker and contribute on special teams. Grugier-Hill projects as a WILL backup and could have a bigger role if Kendricks gets moved. Nate Gerry isn’t included here because he suffered some kind of injury in the third preseason game. Maybe he gets stashed on injured reserve. Najee Goode could be kept but the Eagles could easily cut him and try to bring him back after Week 1 when his salary is no longer guaranteed for the entire season.

Cornerback - Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, Dexter McDougle, Jaylen Watkins (6) [46]

Darby and Mills will start on the outside. Douglas could see some playing time out there as well depending on how he continues to develop. Robinson could be the first team nickel corner with McDougle backing him up. Watkins makes the team due to his versatility to play both corner and safety, though neither particularly well. Ron Brooks gets the axe because he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. C.J. Smith is on the bubble.

Safety - Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham, Chris Maragos (4) [50]

Jenkins and McLeod are the starters. Graham will likely get on the field at some points as well. He can line up at multiple spots in the secondary. His presence at safety also allows Jenkins and/or McLeod to line up elsewhere. Watkins is likely Graham’s backup. Maragos makes the roster as the special teams captain.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker - Caleb Sturgis (1) [51]

Prior to the Eagles-Dolphins game, I wrote that I was about a 3 on the panic meter with Sturgis. I’m back down to a 2 now.

Punter - Donnie Jones (1) [52]

Cameron Johnston will be one of the easiest cuts the Eagles have to make.

Long snapper - Jon Dorenbos (1) [53]

Rick Lovato will also be one of the easiest cuts the Eagles have to make.

INJURED PLAYERS

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

PRACTICE SQUAD (10)

QB Dane Evans, RB Corey Clement, WR Greg Ward, WR Shelton Gibson, OG Darrell Greene, C Tyler Orlosky, DE Alex McCalister, LB Don Cherry, CB Aaron Grymes, S Tre Sullivan