Roster Analysis: Philadelphia Eagles

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Here is an in-depth look at the Philadelphia Eagles as they prepare for their season-opener against the Washington Redskins Monday, 7 p.m. ET.

QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Michael Vick. Backups -- Nick Foles, Matt Barkley.
Vick beat out Foles and rookie Barkley for the starting job in the preseason. His mobility gives him the best fit in coach Chip Kelly's read-option/ spread offense. Vick must cut down on the turnovers that plagued him the last two-plus years -- 42 in his last 32 starts.
RUNNING BACKS: Starter -- LeSean McCoy. Backups -- Bryce Brown, Chris Polk.
After rushing for 1,303 yards and a league-best 17 touchdowns in 2011, McCoy missed four games with a concussion last season and wasn't as productive behind an injury-ravaged line. Brown had two 150-plus rushing performances last year as a rookie. He is a big man with good speed, but fumbled four times in 136 touches last year. Polk is a good between-the-tackles runner.
TIGHT ENDS: Starters -- Brent Celek, Zach Ertz. Backups -- James Casey, Emil Igwenagu.
Celek is slowing a bit, but is a tough guy who can catch the ball over the middle and still has decent yards-after-the-catch. Ertz, the team's second-round pick, is an excellent route-runner with good hands. Casey is a move tight end, but Ertz fills that role. Igwenagu was kept over veteran Clay Harbor for his blocking ability.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper. Backups -- Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson.
Jackson, once considered one of the league's most dangerous vertical threats, managed only five 100-yard receiving games and eight touchdowns in his last 35 starts. He had an excellent preseason and is expected to be highlighted in Kelly's offense. Cooper replaced Jeremy Maclin, who is out for the year with a torn ACL. Cooper is big and probably is the team's best blocking wideout, but isn't fast. Avant is an excellent slot receiver. Johnson's skill set is similar to that of Jackson, but is only 5-foot,8 and Kelly may not pair him with with the 5-9 Jackson.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Jason Peters, LG Evan Mathis, C Jason Kelce, RG Todd Herremans, RT Lane Johnson. Backups -- Allen Barbre, Dennis Kelly Julian Vandervelde, Matt Tobin.
The starting five could be one of the better units in the league when healthy. They all are athletic and can move the line of scrimmage. But there is not much depth. Peters is coming off a torn Achilles, Kelce off a torn ACL and Herremans off a broken foot. Collectively, the three missed 38 games last season. Peters was one of the best left tackles in the game before he got hurt. Johnson, the fourth overall pick in the draft, has made a remarkably smooth transition to the pro game.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LDE Cedric Thornton, NT Isaac Sopoaga, RDE Fletcher Cox. Backups -- Clifton Geathers, Bennie Logan, Vinny Curry, Damion Square.
Cox and Thornton both struggled with the transition from last year's wide-nine 4-3 to what is expected to be a two-gap 3-4. Cox is a better 3-technique tackle than he is a 5-technique end so his talents don't seem to fit this system. The 32-year-old Sopoaga was signed as a veteran presence in the middle of the line, didn't make a play the entire preseason. Logan is expected to be the starter there, but lacks ideal size to play the nose. He may be better suited to be an end in this defense. Curry is strictly a pass-rusher, who probably will be used in nickel. Geather is big -- 6-8 and 340 pounds, making his long legs a target for cut blocks.
LINEBACKERS: Starters -- LOLB Connor Barwin, LILB DeMeco Ryans, RILB Mychal Kendricks, ROLB Trent Cole. Backups -- Brandon Graham, Jake Knott, Casey Matthews, Najee Goode.
Barwin is the only experienced 3-4 outside linebacker and is coming off a sub-par season with the Texans. Cole and Graham both were hand-in-the-dirt D-ends before the scheme switch and still are making the adjustment. Cole has been an effective pass-rusher during his career, but had a career-low three sacks last season. Matthews was kept on the roster because to play inside or outside. Kendricks is the Eagles' best blitzer and cover linebacker. Ryans is strictly a two-down player due to limited range. Knott, an undrafted free agent, had a solid preseason, plays smart and shows excellent instinct.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Bradley Fletcher, RCB Cary Williams, FS Patrick Chung, SS Nate Allen. Backups -- Brandon Boykin, Earl Wolff, Jordan Poyer, Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson, Brandon Hughes, Shaun Prater.
Fletcher and Williams were brought in to replace Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Both are big corners who can play press coverage and are good tacklers. Williams will probably match up against the opponent's top wideout. Boykin was the Eagles' best corner last year as a rookie and will play in the slot. Chung, signed as a free agent, is the team's best safety, but has durability issues. Allen, a former second-round pick, is inconsistent. He takes bad angles and is not a good tackler. Wolff probably will replace him, but the fifth-round rookie isn't ready. There isn't depth beyond the starting five. Wolf and Poyer are late-round rookies. Coleman started 27 games the last two years, but is better suited as a core special teams guy.
SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Alex Henery, P Donnie Jones, LS Jon Dorenbos, PR/KR Damaris Johnson.
Henery missed only seven of 58 field goal attempts his first two seasons. He's got a strong leg and has dramatically improved his kickoff effectiveness. Jones is a veteran punter with an impressive 45.6-yard average. Johnson, who was the team's primary punt returner as a rookie, will handle both punt and kickoff return chores. The Eagles also will use DeSean Jackson occasionally on punt returns. Johnson averaged 27.2 yards per return on kickoffs in the preseason and 21.3 on punts.

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