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Eagles to sit first stringers, except cornerbacks

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said he will not play his first stringers in Thursday night's final preseason game against the New York Jets, with one notable exception.

Cornerback.

The Eagles currently have only five healthy corners -- projected starters Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, nickel man Brandon Boykin and roster bubble players Jordan Poyer and Trevard Lindley.

They are expected to sign at least one cornerback after teams reduce their rosters to 53 players by Saturday. But they're going to have to get through Thursday's game with what they've got. And that means probably making Williams, Fletcher and Boykin play some snaps against the Jets.

"We're going to have to roll through there a little bit," Kelly said. "Post-game on Thursday is going to be a big day for us in terms of what becomes available.

"But our whole thought right now is we've got to play with what we've got."

Williams, who started 16 games for the Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens last season, and former St. Louis Ram Fletcher were brought in to replace last year's underperforming corners, Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Neither of them has looked particularly impressive during the preseason. In fact, Boykin might be the best corner on the roster. But he's only 5-9, and defensive coordinator Bill Davis is reluctant to put him outside against the league's taller wideouts, even with a 40-inch vertical leap.

Poyer is a rookie seventh-rounder. Lindley was out of football last year and hasn't played in an NFL game since 2010.

So, expect the Eagles to be watching the waiver-wire closely Saturday when teams reduce their rosters.

In a related note, safety Kurt Coleman has started 27 games the last two years for the Eagles. But he is staring at the very real possibility of being on the outside looking in when the Eagles make their final roster cuts on Saturday.

"By no means am I frustrated," Coleman said Tuesday. "I have proven that I can play in this league, and I can play at a high level. But that's just the way it is. Every year you've got to be able to compete. What Chip did was bring in people to compete at every position."

If Kelly keeps only four safeties, they likely will be Patrick Chung, Nate Allen, rookie Earl Wolff and special teams demon Colt Anderson. If he keeps five, Coleman could survive, though there's also a pretty good possibility the Eagles will be on the lookout for another veteran safety after teams cut down to 53 players.

Coleman, like Anderson, is an excellent special teams player.

"Whatever they see fit for me, I'm willing to excel at that," he said. "I'm looking forward to the next challenge, looking forward to this next week and seeing where I land. I'd love to be a part of this and what's going on here."

--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.
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