The Philadelphia Eagles face some difficult roster decisions on Saturday, when all NFL teams must trim down to a 53-man roster. Competition at defensive back, wide receiver, running back and defensive line has highlighted camp.
General manager Howie Roseman has already made five trades since the start of camp and is always aggressive on the waiver wire after the cutdown date, so the final 53-man roster going into the season is often different than the first 53-man roster.
Here’s our best stab at predicting the first 53-man roster:
Analysis: An elbow injury kept Nick Foles out of all four preseason games, but the Eagles are convinced he’ll be fine and don’t need to carry a third QB (Matt McGloin) into the season.
Running backs (4)
Analysis: Donnel Pumphrey needs development and won’t be among the three active on game day. He should bulk up to get that 170-pound frame more suited for the professional level. The Eagles still need to figure out the best roles for Sproles, Smallwood and Blount. Don’t be stunned, though, if the Eagles cut Blount for rookie free agent Corey Clement or a waiver-wire upgrade.
Wide receivers (6)
Analysis: No real surprises here. Rookie fifth-rounder Shelton Gibson came on at the end of camp after dropping nearly everything thrown his way for the first two weeks, but Johnson and Treggs were solid performers and have more experience. Gibson can find his way onto the practice squad.
Tight ends (3)
Analysis: Rookie free agent Billy Brown played well and will probably be retained to the practice squad if he clears waivers. Ertz is poised for his best season to date. He and Carson Wentz continued their burgeoning rapport during the preseason.
Offensive linemen (10)
Analysis: Depth is much stronger this year. Warmack, Wisniewski and Vatai each have starting experience. Gordon can play fullback in short-yardage formations.
Defensive line (9)
Analysis: This is a deep, strong group that should be the backbone of the defense. Rookie first-rounder Derek Barnett will be a major part of the third-down pass rush.
Analysis: Don’t be surprised if Roseman tries to deepen this group through the waiver wire or deals Mychal Kendricks, a weak-side linebacker who played fewer than 30 percent of snaps last year. Kendricks’ strong preseason could increase his trade value.
Defensive backs (10)
Analysis: Three of these nine — Darby, Graham and McDougle — weren’t even on the team going into training camp. That shows how hard Roseman has tried to overhaul this position, which is the biggest question mark entering the season. It’ll be interesting to see what list injured rookie corner Sidney Jones (Achilles) he’s placed on to start this season.
Special teams (3)
Analysis: For the first time since 2007, the Eagles enter the regular season with a long snapper not named Jon Dorenbos. Sturgis and Jones are incumbents.