The 3rd preseason game is arguably the most important of the 4. This is a final chance for fringe players to put some good plays on tape that will either allow them to make the first round of cuts or at the very least catch on to another team after they are cut here. The Eagles must have their roster trimmed down to 75 by August 27th. Some teams tend to cut their veterans first to allow them to possibly get on another roster elsewhere, so in this article we’re going to look at a few familiar Eagles faces and some other big name players that have a lot to prove this week – or they may be putting their houses on the market sooner than later.
- Danny Watkins – The Eagles 2011 1st round pick has had a rocky journey in Philly from day 1. He found himself in Howard Mudd’s doghouse early and really was never able to get out. Watkins has always had great power and strength but has never been able to get down the mental aspect of the zone blocking scheme. Many were hoping that, under Jeff Stoutland, the guard out of Baylor could rejuvenate his career and becoming a serviceable lineman. With Todd Herremans likely not to see the field this weekend due to a sore knee, it was expected by many that Watkins would be the next man up. It wasn’t the case – Allen Barbre has been getting the snaps at right guard. This is not a good sign at all for Watkins. Chip Kelly is a man who preaches versatility and that’s especially important in his lineman. Watkins can’t find the field as guard and he definitely won’t be seeing any time at tackle or center. There just simply won’t be any room on the roster for a guy who can only play one position and can’t even do that at a high level. Kelly has no ties to Watkins so he has no reason to keep him around any longer. I expect another team to pick him up quickly to kick the tires on him.
- Kurt Coleman-
Like Watkins, Coleman has had a tough time in Philly basically his whole career. It’s somewhat unfair the Coleman because it’s not truly his fault. Because of poor drafting at the safety position by the previous regime, Coleman (who is a 7th round pick by the way) has been required to step in and start when he never really was a starting caliber safety. Coleman plays fearless on the field and this results in nice hits but mainly he over commits to the run and gets burned in coverage, or he wiffs on his tackles. He’s been buried in the depth chart and hasn’t seen any meaningful snaps in the preseason. I expect Coleman to be cut early. A change of scenery will definitely do him well, as I don’t see the Philly fans ever really changing their opinion on him. He is a capable player and will get snatched up early, there’s just simply no room for him here anymore.
- Antonio Dixon – With the Eagles moving to a 3-4 defense, many had Dixon projected as a starting nose tackle before the off season additions began. It seemed as though Dixon was lost in the wide 9 as a pass rusher but could be serviceable as a run stuffing DT/NT. For whatever reason, perhaps work ethic or confidence, Dixon hasn’t been able to make a name for himself or earn any significant snaps. With the emergence of rookies Bennie Logan and Damion Square, plus the addition of Isaac Sopoaga, I can’t see any situation where Dixon makes the team… and I’m not entirely sure he will catch on anywhere else.
Jamar Chaney - Chaney is an interesting guy. He shares similarities to Coleman in the sense that he was a late round pick and was required to fill in (this time due to injury). He looked great in his rookie year but since then has never been able to recreate that success. He has had his chances to start at just about every linebacker spot over the past few years and never stood out anywhere. Casey Matthews has looked slightly improved in the new scheme, plus the additions of Emmanuel Acho and rookie Jake Knott – all who are better special teamers than Chaney – all spell trouble for Chaney and his roster spot. I expect him to be let go early and possibly catch on somewhere else as depth.
- Kenny Phillips - This ones probably not much of a shocker as Phillips has barely stepped on the field since he arrived. His knee problems are proving just too severe for him to make any significant contributions. Saturday’s game against Jacksonville will be Phillips absolute last shot to make the team, and unless he plays lights out you can expect to see his name on the early cuts. It’s sad because Phillips could have been one of the Eagles best safeties if he could return to old form. Won’t happen, and his NFL career just might be over.
- Felix Jones – Another non-surprise. Flex Jones hasn’t done squat since he arrive. Can’t run the ball and can’t catch the ball. There’s no reason to keep Jones over a guy like Matthew Tucker who at least has an upside. I’d look for the Eagles to add another back after cuts are done because I don’t think their satisfied with their choices for a 4th back. Maybe they won’t carry one at all. I have a hard time imagining Jones catching on to another team, he’s another guy whose career in the NFL just may be over.
With a new coach, there’s going to be big turnover in the roster and I expect the same when it comes to Chip Kelly and the Eagles. Due to poor draft the roster is full of guys who really had no business starting in the NFL. It will take a few seasons to start but I expect Kelly to send a clear message early – It doesn’t matter what you might have done in the past or where you’re drafted, if you can’t play at a high level now you won’t be on the team.
Follow Adam on Twitter @ITIAdam