The preseason is finally over. No one the Eagles are counting on has suffered a serious injury, so as a team they have come out of preseason with the best possible result. On an individual level, some players came out of it exceeding expectations, others failed to reach theirs.
The preseason doesn’t mean a whole lot for veterans, but it’s obviously better to look good in it than to struggle. Kendricks looked great. On one hand, it’s damning that his best stretch of play under Jim Schwartz has come in meaningless, gameplan-less games; on the other having requested a trade a strong preseason has shown other teams that at the least he hasn’t forgotten to play football.
Throughout mini and training camp, you could be forgiven if you forgot about Barnett, who did little to stand out. And you could be forgiven if you felt his claim that he was focusing on his weaknesses was a lame excuse. But then the games game, and so did Barnett, whose abilities as a pass rusher immediately showed themselves and vaulted him into the conversation for the starting job opposite Brandon Graham. Barnett likely won’t start the season as the starter, but the preseason indicated it’s just a matter of time until he is.
The WR depth chart
What a difference a year makes. After clawing for table scraps last season, the Eagles have a small problem on their hands as they have too many players they’d like to keep at wide receiver. Marcus Johnson, Greg Ward and Bryce Treggs have all staked claims on the team needing to keep a sixth WR behind Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson, with Gibson making the team simply because he was a 5th round draft pick. Paul Turner, last year’s training camp darling, has been an afterthought. Though not the most talented group in the division let alone the NFL, the Eagles shouldn’t be needing to search the waiver wire or practice squads for help this season.
Brown was a D-II star at wide receiver, but was moved to tight end by the Eagles. He’s made quite the impression, as he could make the 53 man roster. A gifted pass catcher, he needs development on his blocking, but the Eagles weren’t afraid to use a 53 man roster spot on an UDFA project last year in Dillon Gordon, so Brown might be this year’s version. His size and hands could get him some action at some point this season.
When the 2016 season ended, Kelce’s continued tenure with the Eagles was far from certain. Isaac Seumalo was waiting in the wings to replace him, then Stefen Wisniewski signed a contract extension as a possible replacement, and the Eagles signed highly rated UDFA Tyler Orlosky as a possible replacement. If a team called with a good offer, the Eagles would have traded him. But none came, and one by one, the options behind Kelce fell by the wayside. Seumalo was handed the starting left guard job when Allen Barbre was traded. Wisniewski was never given a serious look with the first time. Orlosky was injured in minicamp and was then moved to guard in training camp. Like Jason Peters, Kelce’s staying power is impressive.
After failing to land him in free agency last year, the Eagles finally signed Robinson this year, and had buyer’s remorse. After two weeks of training camp he was bumped from the starting lineup, he’ll now start the season as a part time slot player. There’s a silver lining in that Robinson’s mini and training camp performances were so bad that it played a role in the team trading for Ronald Darby, giving the team a legitimate and young starting corner. At least helped out somewhere.
Blout is 30, coming off a career high in rushing attempts and near career low in yards per attempt, and was a Patriots cast off and in the preseason he’s looked like and and all of those descriptions. The disclaimer of “it’s only the preseason” applies, as Blount wouldn’t be the first or last veteran to go through August in preventative low gear, but at the same time his performance isn’t all that surprising either given his qualifications. As long as he can be effective in short yardage he’ll be worth his roster spot, and three preseason games shouldn’t outweigh seven seasons of play. But any way you cut it Blount had a lousy preseason that doesn’t instill confidence in the running game.
The Eagles traded up in the fourth round to get Pumphrey, then gave him a lot of time in minicamp with the first team. The diminutive Pumphrey was never going to be a lead runner, but clearly the team had big plans for him. Those plans have evaporated as Pumphrey has struggled throughout the preseason and looks to start the season at the bottom of the depth chart at best, and at worst he could find a way to IR and write off his rookie season before it really begins. That’s damning not just for Pumphrey but for the Eagles front office, who came out of a very strong draft class for running backs with a player who’s upside is a role player.