In the grand scheme of things, backups on the final 53-man roster may not seem too important, but every slot on the opening day roster matters. Injuries can happen at any time, and if one wrong guy goes down, a team could be in a very tough situation.
Going into OTAs and minicamp, there was a huge question over who would play the other starting safety position for the Philadelphia Eagles. Would it be Eric Rowe? Would it be Earl Wolff? Would it be somebody totally different? Chip Kelly decided to move Walter Thurmond to safety from cornerback, and after a week of training camp, nobody has really gotten first-team reps there other than Thurmond. They must not have seen much they liked from the other safeties already on the roster.
As of now, the other safeties on the roster are Earl Wolff, Jerome Couplin, Chris Prosinski, Ed Reynolds and Chris Maragos. Maragos is primarily a special teams player, so it would be very surprising to see him even vying for the starting job. The rest of the guys haven’t really gotten any first-team reps thus far. But, those backup slots at safety could be very important going forward.
As has been the case this year, injuries happen, and they’re often serious or season-ending. They can happen at any moment to any player of any skill or position. It’s obvious that the Eagles are still very thin at safety. Maragos is a lock for the roster for special teams purposes, but the other four guys could be fighting for just one or two spots on the team, assuming Thurmond makes the team as the other starting safety.
The Eagles only kept four safeties on the roster for most of last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them do the same in 2015. Reynolds is still practice squad eligible, but I’m not sure about the other guys. Prosinski and Couplin were both signed in the middle of last year and were on the actual roster, but Couplin wasn’t active for at least one of the games. Some information about the practice squad rules and eligibility can be read here.
Here’s the bottom line: someone has to step up. Wolff apparently had the biggest hit of camp a few days ago, but other than that I haven’t heard much from him. At least he’s been out on the field, which can’t be said about Couplin. “The Osprey” has been recovering from appendicitis and has missed most of training camp so far. It’s unclear when he’ll return, and while it shouldn’t be very long, being on the sidelines certainly doesn’t help his stock.
Prosinski reportedly has three interceptions in camp this year, which is obviously a good sign. Granted, they were all off of either Tim Tebow or Matt Barkley, but picks are picks, and it’s better than nothing. He seems to be making the most noise of this group in these first seven days.
The only news I’ve heard about Reynolds was of him dropping an interception that was basically thrown directly at him. He’s the biggest long shot to make the roster, and since he still has that practice squad eligibility, there’s more of a chance he’ll end up there.
So in review, because no one has made a splash thus far, it means the final safety spot is wide open. Wolff is the one with the most experience, but if he doesn’t show enough in camp, I could see them giving up on him and just releasing him. Couplin appears to have the most upside, but since he hasn’t been on the field much, it’s hard to tell. If I were to rank their likeliness of making the roster at this point, I would list Malcolm Jenkins, Thurmond and Maragos as 100 percent likely, then, in order of decreasing likelihood, Prosinski, Wolff, Couplin, Reynolds.
This order can obviously change at any point and probably will. That’s the great thing about training camp, players you might not expect really step up. Once the preseason starts and these guys start to play in games, it should make it a lot easier to see their chances. But as of now, the backup safety position(s) are wide open.
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