Alex Henery has been the Philadelphia Eagles' placekicker for the past three seasons, but there is no guarantee he still will be their kicker when they open the regular season against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 7.
Henery, who the Eagles thought enough of to select in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, did not have a particularly good season in 2013. He had one of the worst touchback percentages on kickoffs in the league and while he made 23 of 28 field-goal attempts, four of his five misses were from 48 yards and in. He also missed a critical 48-yard attempt in the Eagles' two-point playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.
While he has been accurate in training camp this summer, Henery missed a 47-yard attempt last week against the New England Patriots, then shanked a 31-yarder Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Eagles brought in another kicker Aug. 20, acquiring rookie Cody Parkey in a trade with Indianapolis. Parkey converted an extra point Thursday in his only kick of the game.
"You have to make a field goal like that," coach Chip Kelly said of Henery's 31-yard miss Thursday. "You have to make it."
Corey Spear was signed over the offseason to compete with Henery but hasn't performed well enough in practice to earn a field-goal opportunity during the preseason.
Asked if he is considering bringing in a more experienced kicker to compete with Henery, Kelly said: "I don't know. But if outside influences are going to affect you, then that's something you've got to deal with, you know what I mean?
"There is going to be competition at every position. Our job is to make sure we put the best players out there and the guys that give us the best chance (to win)."
Earlier this week, Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp made it clear that Henery is on a short leash.
"We're keeping an eye on everybody (around the league)," he said. "We'll see. We'll see how the next two weeks go."
--Head coach Chip Kelly said Saturday that Matt Barkley will be the starting quarterback for Thursday night's final preseason game against the New York Jets. The Eagles are expected to keep three quarterbacks. Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez are one and two. Barkley is No. 3, followed by G.J. Kinne.
"We need to see Matt play a lot," Kelly said. "We feel very comfortable with our one and two guys. So, we're going to give Matt a really extended look against the Jets."
--The Eagles released 14 players in advance of the mandatory cutdown to 75 players by Tuesday. Placed on waivers were tight ends Blake Annen and Emil Igwenagu, tackle Michael Bamiro, guards Karim Barton and Donald Hawkins, wide receivers Kadron Boone and B.J. Cunningham, linebacker Jake Knott, defensive ends Joe Kruger, Frances Mays and Alejandro Villanueva, safety Daytawion Lowe and kicker Carey Spear.
The reduction leaves the roster at 76 players.
The most notable cuts were inside linebacker Jake Knott, who played in 12 games last season as a rookie, and 2013 seventh-round pick Joe Kruger. Knott was going to miss the first four games after getting suspended for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
--Kelly has said numerous times that the Eagles faced more man-for-man coverage last season than any team in the league. He doesn't think the crackdown on coverage penalties such as defensive holding and illegal contact will change that much.
"The rule hasn't changed," he said. "The rule is the same one it's always been. It's just that, I think after five yards, some teams were getting away with things six-seven-eight yards down the field. The first five yards it still will be a battle. That's what the teams that have the big, physical corners are still going to be."
Kelly feels what will force opposing defenses to play less man coverage against the Eagles is the presence of pass-catching running back Darren Sproles and the emergence of tight end Zach Ertz.
--Defensive coordinator Bill Davis was much happier with the pass rush by his No. 1 unit Thursday night against the Steelers than he was in the first two preseason games. The Eagles put constant pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the first half, holding the Steelers to zero points, eight first downs and 89 net yards. "I thought the guys played solid," Davis said. "The first half was a productive first half against a great offense. A great quarterback who's won a lot of games in this league. I thought the secondary covered well and I thought our rush was better. And we stayed with the same base game plan. It was nice to see it moving forward."
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Alex Henery vs. Cody Parkey for PK job. Henery, the Eagles' kicker for the last three seasons, is in jeopardy of being released. He missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt in the Eagles' second preseason game against the Patriots and a 31-yarder Thursday against the Steelers. The Eagles released one kicker, Carey Spears, but traded for another, rookie Parkey. Henery must kick well both in practice and the last preseason game against the Jets to keep his job.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--QB Matt Barkley, the team's No. 3 quarterback, was named the starter for Thursday night's final preseason game against the New York Jets. Mark Sanchez, the No. 2 quarterback, will play, but not a lot.
--RB Chris Polk, who has been sidelined since the second day of training camp with a hamstring tear, returned to practice Saturday. Polk, who was expected to be the team's No. 3 running back, is in jeopardy of not making the team.
--WR Arrelious Benn didn't practice Saturday. He suffered a concussion in Thursday's game against Pittsburgh. It's uncertain whether he'll play this week against the Jets.
--S Nate Allen has beaten out Earl Wolff for one of the starting safety jobs. Malcolm Jenkins will be the team's other starter.
--RB LeSean McCoy, who left Thursday's game with a thumb injury, practiced Saturday. He won't play in this week's final preseason game, but is expected to be ready for the season-opener.
--WR Jeremy Maclin crumpled to the turf without being hit early in the second quarter Thursday and grabbed his knee. But he eventually walked off under his own power and later returned to the game.
"It was obviously an awkward fall," he said. "It was similar to what I did last year (when he tore his ACL), with the knee going straight into the ground like that. Luckily, my quad is strong enough and the leg is intact."
--PK Alex Henery is in danger of being released. Henery, missed a 31-yard field-goal attempt Thursday against the Steelers. He missed a 47-yarder last week against the Patriots.
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