Monthly Archives: September 2017

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Here is a look at the Philadelphia Eagles’ 53-man roster, with analysis:

Quarterbacks (2): Carson Wentz, Nick Foles

Foles’ sore elbow has to be a little concerning, but it would have been difficult to justify putting Matt McGloin or Dane Evans on the roster.

Running backs (5): LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, Donnel Pumphrey

If this was purely about picking the best 53, Pumphrey wouldn’t have made it. But the Eagles did trade up to take him in the fourth round, so they’re invested. It seems like overkill to go into the regular season with five backs.

Wide receiver (6): Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, Marcus Johnson, Shelton Gibson

Gibson had a bad case of the drops earlier in the summer before turning things around some. Bryce Treggs outperformed him overall and earned a roster spot based on merit. Executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman remains intrigued by Gibson’s speed and deep-ball ability, though, traits that convinced the front office to take him in the fifth round.

Tight end (3): Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton

Undrafted free agent Billy Brown flashed during training camp. He could be a practice-squad option if he’s not picked up elsewhere.

Offensive line (8): Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Chance Warmack, Stefen Wisniewski

Somewhat surprising that they only went with eight O-linemen considering the depth and the value that the organization puts on the front. T Dillon Gordon was recently thought of as a good prospect, so to see him cut was a bit unexpected. The Eagles are very light at backup tackle. I think there’s another move coming here.

DEFENSE

Defensive line (10): Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Chris Long, Derek Barnett, Steven Means, Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Beau Allen, Elijah Qualls, Destiny Vaeao

DE Alex McCalister added weight to his athletic frame this offseason, received some praise from defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz during training camp and finished the preseason with a team-high 3.5 sacks, but didn’t make the squad. If he doesn’t get scooped up, the Eagles could try to get him on the practice squad.

Linebacker (6): Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Joe Walker, Najee Goode, Kamu Grugier-Hill

The Eagles decided to part with fifth-round pick Nathan Gerry, the former Nebraska safety that they were trying to convert to linebacker. Gerry is a good practice squad candidate.

Cornerback (5): Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, Dexter McDougle
They traded for McDougle earlier in the week and on Saturday gave the former Jet a one-year contract extension through 2018. Jaylen Watkins has been playing some corner of late, so you can put him half in this category as well. Sidney Jones is on the Reserve/NFI list, keeping him on the shelf for at least the first six weeks of the season.

Safety (5): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Corey Graham, Jaylen Watkins

On the occasions Jenkins plays nickel, Graham could be a decent third safety option for Schwartz. Pretty solid grouping.

Special teams (3): Caleb Sturgis, Donnie Jones, Rick Lovato

Long-snapper Jon Dorenbos is now in New Orleans after more than a decade in Philly. Lovato takes his place.

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The Philadelphia Eagles clinched their 30-17 victory Sunday over the Washington Redskins on a 20-yard fumble return by defensive lineman Fletcher Cox.

It’s fair to question whether the play should have been ruled a fumble at all.

On the play (which came with less than two minutes left in the game), referee Brad Allen ruled that Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins lost the ball when hit by Eagles pass-rusher Brandon Graham — and, presumably, before his hand started moving forward. Cox scooped up the ball and ran for the score.

Replays, however, showed the ball appearing to move forward from Cousins’ hand. In that circumstance, according to NFL rules, the play should have been called an incomplete pass.

Here’s how the NFL rule book defines a forward pass:

“(a) the ball initially moves forward (to a point nearer the opponent’s goal line) after leaving the passer’s hand(s); or

(b) the ball first touches the ground, a player, an official, or anything else at a point that is nearer the opponent’s goal line than the point at which the ball leaves the passer’s hand(s).

(c) When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional movement forward of his hand starts a forward pass.”

In watching the replay, you could argue that all three options apply to this play.

NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron upheld Allen’s call in replay review.

As a reminder, Riveron replaced Dean Blandino during the offseason and the NFL is starting its first season in which the final say of all replays are being decided by the league office in New York. The NFL’s standard for overturning calls has not been altered, however. The mistake must be clear and obvious in order to merit a change.

Former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira, now a broadcaster on Fox Sports, said during the game that he would have overturned the call. It might not have changed the outcome, but the fumble ruling and subsequent Eagles touchdown eliminated any chances of a Redskins victory.

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PHILADELPHIA — When Philadelphia Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman was asked about the strengths of the 2017 NFL draft class at this year’s scouting combine, he started with the running backs.

“Certainly when you look at the running back position, we think it’s a possible historic class [in respect to] how many guys and where they would have gone in previous drafts,” he said.

Early returns suggest Roseman might have been on to something. Week 1 showcased a youth movement at running back featuring big outings from several rookies, including Dalvin Cook of the Minnesota Vikings (127 rushing yards), Leonard Fournette of the Jacksonville Jaguars (26 carries, 100 yards, 1 TD), Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (92 all-purpose yards) and Tarik Cohen of the Chicago Bears (158 total yards, 1 TD). Others, such as Chris Carson of the Seattle Seahawks (6.5-yard average on six carries) have been showing promise in their own right.

The top performance of the week belongs to Kareem Hunt, who racked up 246 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns for the Kansas City Chiefs in a 42-27 win over the defending-champion New England Patriots. Coach Doug Pederson said recently Hunt was one of the backs the Eagles looked at during the pre-draft process.

“I liked him. I did,” he said. “I thought he had a good career there in college. [He was] one of the guys that was definitely someone that we had our eye on.”

They’ll get an up-close look at Hunt this week, as the Eagles play at Kansas City on Sunday.

The Toledo product was selected by the Chiefs in the third round, 86th overall. The Eagles originally held the 74th overall slot but traded it to the Baltimore Ravens for starting defensive tackle Tim Jernigan.

They also had heavy interest in Cook and were considering trading up from No. 43 overall in the second round to get him but balked at the price of a fourth-round pick. The Vikings met the Cincinnati Bengals’ demands and snagged Cook two spots before the Eagles, who ended up selecting cornerback Sidney Jones with their second-round pick and wide receiver Mack Hollins with the fourth-rounder that they held on to. It will be a while until we know whether that was a wise decision.
Roseman & Co. later traded up in the fourth to select Donnel Pumphrey, the undersized (5-foot-9, 176 pounds) but prolific running back out of San Diego State. Pumphrey struggled in the preseason and was on the roster bubble approaching cut-downs. Ultimately, the front office decided not to give up on their investment so soon and kept him on the 53-man roster along with four other backs — LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and undrafted rookie Corey Clement. Pumphrey was the lone inactive back in Week 1.

The Eagles were unable to establish the run in an opening-day win over the Washington Redskins, finishing with 58 yards on 24 carries (2.4 YPC). Quarterback Carson Wentz, meanwhile, threw the ball 39 times.

Wentz set a franchise record with 607 pass attempts as a rookie in part because of an inconsistent ground game. The plan this offseason was to beef up the backfield talent so the Eagles could have more balance and take some of the heat off their young signal-caller. It’s questionable whether that was accomplished.

It’s early, and still possible Pumphrey develops over the coming weeks and months or Smallwood takes off or Blount rounds into form and looks like the guy that led the league last year with 18 touchdowns for the Patriots. But the early signs aren’t great, and it’s worth wondering whether the Eagles will look back with regret at a running back class they knew could be special.

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick received high praise from ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski and managed to take it in stride.
“I truly believe Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever,” Jaworski said Wednesday on ESPN. “I love his skill set. I think the sky’s the limit.”

Kaepernick was asked how he handles such lofty projections.

“I’m working,” he responded. “To me, it’s a great honor he said that. I’m very flattered by it. But at the same time, I haven’t played a full season yet.”

Kaepernick took over as the 49ers starting quarterback after Alex Smith was injured last season and led San Francisco to the Super Bowl.

He emerged as one of the NFL’s most potent dual-threat quarterbacks, throwing for 1,814 yards and 10 touchdowns in seven regular-season games and rushing for 415 yards and five touchdowns.

He threw four touchdown passes in three postseason games and rushed for 181 yards in the NFC division playoffs against Green Bay, setting the single-game NFL playoff rushing record for a quarterback.

The 49ers are considered a Super Bowl contender this season and Kaepernick, after just 10 NFL starts, is one of the league’s biggest stars.

Kaepernick also appears on the cover of the latest GQ magazine.