Monday, August 31, 2009

Eagles cut Chris Patrick; 4 more cuts coming Tuesday

It's cutting season in the NFL, with teams needing to get from their 80-man camp rosters all the way down to the final 53-man roster by Saturday. The Eagles started their cuts off with offensive lineman Chris Patrick, who wasn't expected to make the team. Patrick, who was on the team for a brief period last season, was a victim of an extremely deep offensive line group. He was no better than a 3rd stringer with the Eagles, but he could catch on as a backup for another team with less depth. The Eagles could also look to stash Patrick on the practice squad, although there are likely more deserving practice squad players yet to be cut.

The Eagles must make four more cuts before 4 p.m. Tuesday, but don't expect any surprises. There are still plenty of guys with basically no shot of making the team, like OL Dallas Reynolds, S Brandon Harrison, LB Curtis Gatewood, S Reshard Langford and another handful of players who you barely heard mention of this preseason. The real intrigue happens when the team has to cut down to 53 on Saturday, there have been some great battles for the final roster spots. Click here for my projection for the Eagles 53 man roster.

Projecting the 2009 Eagles 53 man roster, Ver. 5.0

With the all-important 3rd preseason game now out of the way, it's time for the Eagles to start putting the final touches on their roster. By Tuesday, the Eagles have to cut the roster down to 75 players and by Saturday they have to be down to 53, so look for lots of players to get the axe over the next few days. The 3rd preseason game was a crucial one for all the bubble players on the roster; a good effort could ensure them a spot while a bad one could force them to start packing their bags. This is my fifth attempt at predicting the Eagles Week One roster. Below my roster projection I have also listed several players who are on the bubble and I gave reasons why they might not make the final roster. Changes from my previous projection are listed in bold.

Offense:
QB(3): Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb

RB(3): Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Eldra Buckley

FB (1): Leonard Weaver

WR(6): DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jason Avant, Jeremy Maclin, Hank Baskett, Reggie Brown

TE(3): Brent Celek, Tony Curtis, Rob Myers

LT(2): Jason Peters, King Dunlap

LG(2): Todd Herremans, Max Jean-Gilles

C(2): Jamaal Jackson, Nick Cole

RG(2): Stacy Andrews, Mike McGlynn

RT(2): Shawn Andrews, Winston Justice

Defense:
DE(6): Juqua Parker, Trent Cole, Victor Abiamiri, Darren Howard, Chris Clemons, Jason Babin

DT(4): Brodrick Bunkley, Mike Patterson, Trevor Laws, Dan Klecko

LB(6): Chris Gocong, Akeem Jordan, Joe Mays, Omar Gaither, Moise Fokou, Tracy White

CB(4): Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Joselio Hanson, Ellis Hobbs

FS(2): Quintin Demps, Macho Harris

SS(2): Quintin Mikell, Sean Jones

Special Teams:
K(1): David Akers

P(1): Sav Rocca

LS(1): Jon Dorenbos

Players who will start the season on the injured list: Stewart Bradley, Cornelius Ingram
Bradley's season-ending injury really exposed how thin the Birds were up the middle. Ingram looked like a promising backup tight end, unfortunately we will have to wait another year to find out.

Possible to start the season on the injured list: Victor Abiamiri, Shawn Andrews
Abiamiri seems to always be injured, so I am going to leave him in this category until further notice. Andrews has returned to practice, which is a good sign. It might still take him a while to return to game shape.

Most likely to get cut/traded: Reggie Brown
The Eagles are searching for a team desperate for wide receiver help so they can unload Brown and keep Brandon Gibson on the roster. Brown still has talent, as he showed against the Jaguars in the 4th quarter, so there has to be trading partner out there somewhere.

Players on the bubble:
QB A.J. Feeley
Feeley didn't play at all against the Jaguars. Shockingly, and I hate to admit this, Kevin Kolb actually looked passable at quarterback in his first preseason action so it looks like the Eagles will stick with the younger Kolb at backup. Feeley is a capable backup and he will find a home somewhere else in the league.

RB Lorenzo Booker
The writing has to be on the wall for Booker by now. In the game against the Jaguars, Booker didn't touch the ball once while Eldra Buckley had 3 rushes and 3 catches. Been nice knowing ya, Lorenzo.

RB/FB: Kyle Eckel
Not enough room for Eckel in the backfield. His fumble against the Jaguars sealed his fate.

WR: Brandon Gibson
Gibson is going to make this team one way or another but I have to put him here until the Eagles do something about Reggie Brown. If Brown isn't traded or cut, then the Eagles must think they can hide Gibson on the practice squad for the year, a risky move because it will make Gibson briefly available to other teams. If I had to put money on it, however, I would say that Gibson is on the Week 1 roster.

TE: Matt Schobel, Eugene Bright
The recently signed Tony Curtis is already practicing with the Eagles and as long as he proves to be healthy he will be the veteran backup behind Brent Celek. That would likely leave Schobel off the roster since the Eagles would be smart to have a 3rd TE with some upside. At that point, it's a toss-up between Rob Myers and Eugene Bright for the final spot. I put Myers on the roster for now but I think this battle will come down to who does better in the final preseason game.

OL: Mike Gibson, Fenuki Tupou, Chris Patrick, Paul Fanaika
I had Mike McGlynn on the cut list last time but he's too valuable to just get rid of. Keeping McGlynn means the Eagles have a backup at every position, so the rest of the guys listed here have to go. Look for Gibson and possibly Tupou to spend the year on the practice squad and be ready to step in when injuries occur.

DL: Bryan Smith
The emergence of Jason Babin will likely cost Smith his job. There is still a chance the Eagles cut DT Dan Klecko and go with 3 DT's since Abiamiri can rotate inside. The Eagles might try to stash Smith on the IR so they can keep him around and continue to develop him.

LB: Matt Wilhelm, Tank Daniels
Matt Wilhelm simply hasn't done enough to earn a roster spot. The emergence of Moise Fokou has essentially cost him a roster spot. There is still a shot for Wilhelm to beat out Tracy White but White is so much more valuable on special teams.

DB: Jack Ikegwuonu, Dmitri Patterson
Jack Ikegwuonu had a shot but he hasn't done enough to force the Eagles to keep a 5th cornerback. The team is already so deep at CB there is really no reason to keep Ike around. I would bet they put Ikegwuonu on the IR for the season and let him work on getting better for next year.

That's the team as I see it. Did I leave anyone off? Who needs to be cut? Discuss in the comments section.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cliff Lee is human after all

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
We knew this day had to come sometime. Cliff Lee, who had been nothing short of a machine since joining the Phillies in late July, had his first bad outing as a Phillie, getting shelled for 6 runs on 10 hits in a 9-1 rain-shortened loss to the Braves. I guess even Superman can be defeated now and then.

Lee went 5 innings in the game, 2 shorter than any other outing he had with the Phillies. His ERA as a Phillie also jumped from the eye-popping 0.68 to 1.80, which is still insanely good. Lee was hurt by the long ball in the game, giving up 3 homers to the Braves, 2 of which came in a 5-run 4th inning. Cliff Lee hadn't given up 5 runs in his previous 5 starts with the Phillies combined.

The rest of the Phillies team barely showed up in this one, with only Chase Utley getting the team on the scoreboard with a homer. Let's just chalk this one up to an anomaly and watch in five days when Cliff Lee dominates his next opponent. If anything, this bad outing will just make Lee mad. The rest of the league won't like him when he's mad!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Eagles Preseason Game 3 Thoughts

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)
How many times are you ever going to hear this: Kevin Kolb led the Eagles to a come-from-behind win! It must be the preseason.

The Eagles played their 3rd preseason game, the most important one because the starters play 3 quarters, against the Jaguars on Thursday night. While the mere presence of Michael Vick made all the headlines, there were still some interesting performances by some players who are fighting for a spot on the roster. While the Birds won 33-32, and that is always a good thing, there still seems to be a lot of kinks that need to be worked out. Here is a quick look at some of the positives and negatives for the Eagles in their 3rd preseason game.

Positives:
-The first team defense.
Sure, they gave up a lot of points, but it wasn't the fault of the defense. They swarmed the Jaguars all night, with nearly every starting defensive lineman getting a hit on Jaguars quarterback David Garrard. Even DT Mike Patterson got in on the action, recording the lone sack of the night.

-Asante Samuel. He was everywhere on Thursday, getting an interception and a forced fumble. He got a little banged up at one point but Asante looks ready to start the season.

-Jason Babin. He has earned his spot by once again being a difference-maker on the field. Babin didn't record a sack this time but he constantly put pressure on and forced a fumble. Welcome to the team, Jason Babin. Sorry, Bryan Smith, despite your interception, you are a goner.

-Jason Avant. Everyone talks about DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis and Jeremy Maclin in the passing game but Jason Avant could have the best year out of all of them. He caught 5 passes for 92 yards and is really emerging.

-Kevin Kolb. He actually looked pretty good out there at times. Don't tell anyone I admitted that.

-David Akers. 4/4 on field goals is a good day. I wish he didn't have to kick so many.

Negatives:
-The first team offense in the first half. I don't know if it was Michael Vick or what but the first team offense looked off. Stop me if you've heard this before but they moved the ball well at times but they were stopped in the red zone and had to settle for field goals twice. The play selection in the first half was incredibly skewed with 3 times as many runs as passes. Most of the problems with the offense are likely related to...

-Donovan McNabb in the first half. McNabb looked out of sync until late in the second quarter when Michael Vick's night was done. After that, McNabb got into a nice rhythm and started hitting the open receivers with regularity. Was it a coincidence that once Vick was done McNabb got into a rhythm?

-Jason Peters. I guess 60 million doesn't buy what it used to. He needs to get it together.

-Discipline. It was better this week but 8 penalties for 62 yards still isn't great. There are too many plays getting called back and drives getting killed because of stupid penalties.
-Special Teams. This is still the least special unit the Eagles have. The Jags had too many long returns.

-The running game. Oh, wait, what running game? They only had 66 yards on the ground but when you have 19 total rushes, I guess you can't expect more. Obviously, when Brian Westbrook plays this will be better.

Herremans to have surgery, will miss a "couple of games"

Remember that Eagles starting offensive line that looked so promising in the offseason? Yeah, you are going to have to wait a few weeks to see it. And, no, this time, it isn't Shawn Andrews' fault.

Todd Herremans, who has been sidelined for the last few weeks, will be out indefinitely after he has surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. Andy Reid said that Herremans will miss a "couple of games", which is a vague assessment and also not very encouraging. If I had to guess, I would say there is little chance we will see Herremans on the field until sometime after the Eagles Week 4 bye.

The likely lineman to take Herremans place at left guard is Nick Cole, who is a very capable backup. While I wouldn't expect too much of a drop-off with Herremans out, it's still going to make it that much harder for this offensive line to develop into a cohesive unit. The best offensive lines in the league have played together for a while and have continuity. The Eagles offensive line is filled with talent but they have never played together. How are the pieces going to magically fit together?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vick's mediocre debut delights Eagles fans

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Running on the field amidst a standing ovation, Michael Vick made his debut with the Eagles Thursday night on the second play of a preseason game against the Jaguars. While the crowd at the Linc seemed into his every move, it's hard to say that his debut was a rousing success. Vick was only in on a handful of plays and, while nothing he did was particularly bad, he seemed to do more harm than good for the Eagles offense.

By my count, Vick was on the field for 6 plays. 5 of those plays, Vick was the quarterback; in the 6th he lined up at wide receiver. Donovan McNabb was on the field with Vick on every play except one of the times Vick was the quarterback. In Vick's 6 plays, he completed 4 of 4 passes for a mere 19 yards, rushed for one yard and also ran a very weak route when he lined up at wideout and the Eagles ran the ball towards the other side of the field. Nothing Vick did was mind-blowing, although he showed a lot of zip on the ball on a 13 yard pass to Hank Baskett.

Vick's presence on the field seemed to be detrimental to McNabb, however. McNabb failed to get into any kind of rhythm with the offense, missing more than his usual amount of open receivers. Whether it was because he had to constantly look to the sideline and see if Vick was coming in or the scramble as he went to line up at wide receiver, McNabb just didn't get into the flow of the game until late in the 2nd quarter when Vick's day was done. I know the more the Eagles run this type of offense, the easier it will get for McNabb, but it's going to be hard to teach these new tricks to a veteran quarterback who has done things his way for so long.

In all, Michael Vick's day was pretty uneventful. Once we got used to the idea of Vick in an Eagles uniform and watched what he was actually doing on the field, it wasn't that impressive. Of course, when you realize the man hasn't played football in a few years and it's going to take him a while to get up to game speed, you are willing to give him a pass. I seem to be in the minority about Vick's performance, however, as fans at the Linc applauded loudly every time he got on the field. Some even ridiculously chanted for Vick to get back out there after McNabb threw an interception. Let's hope they just had too much to drink.

The take home lesson from Vick's first game as an Eagle? Vick is going to have to get used to playing again and the Eagles offense is going to have to get used to his sporadic presence on the field. It's a definite work in progress for both Vick and the Eagles.

Michael Vick Predictions?

So, as you have heard, Michael Vick is finally getting on the field tonight with the Eagles. As Andy Reid has indicated, Vick will be playing in parts of the first three quarters, likely lining up at quarterback for a few plays. As for any special plays, Reid didn't deny that the team would be running something out of the Wildcat formation.

With that in mind, what do you think Vick does tonight? Personally, I think he makes a few passes at quarterback and makes a few runs out of the backfield, but for the most part, Vick will be used as a decoy. The Eagles would be smart to throw a few different formations out there just to keep opposing teams guessing during the season but I wouldn't expect any crazy plays. I am also expecting Donovan McNabb to line up at receiver at least once but I highly doubt the Eagles would actually throw the ball to him. No reason to risk any injury to #5.

What are your predictions for tonight?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who needs a closer? Ryan Howard saves the day!

It looks like Ryan Madson isn't the answer at closer, either. One day after Phillies fans called for Brad Lidge's head after he blew his 9th save of the season, Madson proved that he wasn't much better in the role after he blew a 1 run lead against the Pirates on Wednesday. Madson, who got the save opportunity because Lidge was unavailable after pitching four days in a row, entered the game with a 1-0 lead in the 9th inning before blowing the save by giving up a homer. It was the 5th blown save in 9 tries this season for Madson.

Of course, who needs a closer when you have Ryan Howard? Howard, clearly annoyed by the inability of his pitchers to close out games, crushed a 3 run homer in the top of the 10th inning to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead they would never look back from. The homer, his 9th in the last 13 games, was further proof that Howard is warming up with the weather. The Phillies went on to win the game as Madson pitched a second inning in the 10th and "earned" the win.

Lost in all the closer craziness is the fact that Cole Hamels pitched a solid game for the Phillies. Hamels pitched 8 shutout innings, and although it was against the lowly Pirates, it was still a better effort than he has shown in quite a while. Hamels allowed runners on base all night but kept finding a way to pitch out of every jam he found himself in. We will see if this is a turning point for Hamels or if it was just the result of Pirate terrbileness.

So, those that want Brad Lidge out, if Ryan Madson isn't the answer at closer, who do the Phillies turn to? Some have suggested Chan Ho Park, who saved 2 games for the Dodgers last season. Others point to Brett Myers and his outing in Double A on Wednesday, where he struck out 5 batters in two innings of work. If Myers is healthy in the coming weeks, he is certainly an intriguing option.

Myers is still a few weeks away, however, so Phillies fans need to make their peace with Lidge closing games for the immediate future. Of course, if Howard continues to rake the way he is right now, having a closer might not really be necessary.

What to do about Brad Lidge?

How much longer can Brad Lidge be a closer on a team that wants to win a championship? Last night, for the NINTH time this season, the Phillies had a lead late in the game, handed the ball to Brad Lidge, and then watched him blow a save. Many would argue that Lidge probably shouldn't have been in the game last night at all since he had pitched in three straight games already, but when you have a one run lead against the Pirates, your closer should be able to get the job done. While Lidge wasn't helped by Jayson Werth's botched play in the outfield last night, he still more than earned a blown save since he failed to get any of the three batters he faced out.

In the encore to a magical season last year, Lidge has been nothing short of a disaster in 2009, putting up numbers this season that are terrifyingly bad (0-6, 7.33 ERA, 1.80 WHIP), especially when compared with his numbers in 2008 (2-0, 1.95 ERA, 1.23 WHIP). For a team that has built up a large lead in their division like the Phillies, having a closer who has put up the kind of numbers that Lidge has is truly astonishing.

So, the question now is, what do the Phillies do? I'm all for taking Lidge out of the closer role, but who do you turn to? Ryan Madson closed a few games earlier in the year but wasn't terribly effective. J.C. Romero closes games from time to time but he's injured. Brett Myers, who is unfortunately at least a month away from contributing, has shown that he can be an effective closer, so he could be a good option if he has his head straight. There are really no other options on the roster after that.

With no obvious replacement available, the Phillies are forced to stick with Lidge despite how terrible he has been. With October right around the corner, however, if the Phillies have a Plan B closer up their sleeve, now is the time to show it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Simon Gagne injured at Team Canada Camp

It's only August and we already have to worry about the health of Flyers forward Simon Gagne. Gagne, who had surgery on his hip this offseason, was skating in Team Canada's orientation camp on Monday when he felt tightness in his hip and his groin and was forced to leave practice. The injury isn't considered major but it did force Gagne to leave the camp entirely and return to Philadelphia to be examined by team doctors. All initial reports indicate that Gagne should be fine with a little rest but it's never good when a player re-injures himself in a place he just had surgery.

Gagne believes he suffered the injury because he wasn't ready for the tempo and competition of the drills they were doing at the Team Canada camp. As a Flyers fan, I would rather not see a player coming off surgery try to overwork himself in the offseason to make Team Canada, so this minor injury could be a good thing if it allows Gagne to continue to rehab at his own pace.

While it's a relief that Gagne didn't suffer another concussion, something that likely would end his career, it's a situation that should be monitored. With how thin they are on the wings, the Flyers are counting on Gagne to score 25-35 goals on a top scoring line, but, given his injury history, it's always tough to rely on Gagne for anything. While this latest inury news doesn't appear to be a big deal, groin and hip injuries have a way of lingering and causing a player to be less productive.

Updated: Vick to play with starters on Thursday

Update: Andy Reid has announced that Donovan McNabb will play the first 3 quarters at quarterback and Kevin Kolb will play in the 4th quarter. Michael Vick will play, and it will be with the starters. Reid did not say if it would be at quarterback or in a Wildcat formation with McNabb on the field. Perhaps the Eagles are going to experiment a bit? A.J. Feeley is still the odd man out and won't likely play.

Previously:
It looks like Michael Vick is finally going to take the field for the Eagles! Vick hasn't yet been cleared to play regular season games but he is allowed to play in the final two preseason games for the Birds. Andy Reid is expected to announce today that Vick will play quarterback in the 4th quarter for the Eagles in their preseason game against the Jaguars on Thursday.

Vick's quarter of work certainly will be the most watched 4th quarter in preseason history as everyone wants to see how he does. Don't expect any trickery or Wildcat offensive looks; the Eagles aren't going to give away how they plan to use Vick in a meaningless preseason game. What you should expect is Vick to stay behind center and work on his quarterback fundamentals which will need to get much better if he is going to be the backup to Donovan McNabb.

With McNabb likely to play the entire first half and Vick to play the 4th quarter, it will be interesting to see who the Eagles use at quarterback in the 3rd quarter. There are indications that Kevin Kolb will be playing on Thursday so that could leave A.J. Feeley without any playing time. Of course, Feeley has already gotten the bulk of the work this preseason so the Eagles really don't need to see much more from him. Then again, the Birds will likely try to trade Feeley so they should showcase him for the rest of the teams.

The Michael Vick era is ready to begin on the field. While what we see from Vick on Thursday won't be his true role on the team, it will still be interesting to see if he can cut it as a backup quarterback. It's time to start finding out if he is worth all the fuss.

Projecting the 2009 Eagles 53 man roster, Ver. 4.0

With two preseason games in the books, the Eagles roster is beginning to take shape. Most of the major roster battles have already been decided and now the Birds are down to figuring out the little things like how many linebackers they will keep and who their last receiver will be. This is my fourth attempt at predicting the Eagles Week One roster. Below my roster projection I have also listed several players who are on the bubble and I gave reasons why they might not make the final roster. Changes from my previous projection are listed in bold.

Offense:
QB(3): Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb

RB(3): Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Eldra Buckley

FB (1): Leonard Weaver

WR(6): DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jason Avant, Jeremy Maclin, Reggie Brown, Hank Baskett

TE(3): Brent Celek, Matt Schobel, Tony Curtis

LT(2): Jason Peters, King Dunlap

LG(2): Todd Herremans, Max Jean-Gilles

C(2): Jamaal Jackson, Nick Cole

RG(1): Stacy Andrews

RT(2): Shawn Andrews, Winston Justice

Defense:
DE(6): Juqua Parker, Trent Cole, Victor Abiamiri, Darren Howard, Chris Clemons, Jason Babin

DT(4): Brodrick Bunkley, Mike Patterson, Trevor Laws, Dan Klecko

LB(6): Chris Gocong, Akeem Jordan, Joe Mays, Omar Gaither, Matt Wilhelm, Tracy White

CB(5): Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Joselio Hanson, Ellis Hobbs, Jack Ikegwuonu

FS(2): Quintin Demps, Macho Harris

SS(2): Quintin Mikell, Sean Jones

Special Teams:
K(1): David Akers

P(1): Sav Rocca

LS(1): Jon Dorenbos

Players who will start the season on the injured list: Stewart Bradley, Cornelius Ingram
Bradley's season-ending injury opens the door for another linebacker to make the team. Ingram forces the Eagles to go with Schobel as the backup, unfortunately.

Possible to start the season on the injured list: Victor Abiamiri, Shawn Andrews
Abiamiri seems to always be injured, so I am going to leave him in this category until further notice. The Shawn Andrews saga continues, who knows if he is going to be healthy or in shape for Week 1.

Most likely to get cut/traded: Reggie Brown
If the Eagles want to keep their 6 most talented receivers, Reggie Brown will make the team. Unfortunately, he would make the team as the 5th receiver, and normally you want a 5th wideout who can contribute on special teams. That could mean the Eagles will try to get rid of Brown to keep both Hank Baskett and Brandon Gibson.

Players on the bubble:
QB A.J. Feeley
Feeley did just about everything he could to keep his job against the Colts, completing 80% of his passes and looking like the only Eagle with any competency in the second half. He's too valuable for the Eagles to just release him, so look for him to be traded for a late round draft pick to a team desperate for a veteran backup. I don't see a scenario where the Eagles will keep 4 quarterbacks.

RB Lorenzo Booker
I think we've seen the last of the Lorenzo Booker experiment. While Eldra Buckley saw fewer touches against the Colts, it was because he was playing with the second team offense. Booker got the majority of the work with the third team offense and did nothing with the touches he got.

RB/FB: Kyle Eckel
When Leonard Weaver went down with an injury against the Colts, it was up to Eckel to prove he belonged with the team. 2 carries for zero yards and 2 catches later, Eckel would be wise to start packing his bags.

WR: Brandon Gibson, Shaheer McBride
I've been waffling back and forth on this one, but I currently think, if they choose to keep Reggie Brown, the Eagles will go with Hank Baskett for the 6th receiver spot, leaving Brandon Gibson out. Gibson has shown flashes of talent but he has been doing it against third team secondaries. Until he proves his worth against better opponents, Gibson will have to be a practice squad player.

TE: Rob Myers, Eugene Bright
The Eagles just signed Tony Curtis, a veteran with some experience in the NFL, so if he is healthy he seems a given to make the team over these two unproven rookies. Rob Myers was emerging following his 4 catch night by against the Colts and appears to have an edge over Eugene Bright if the Eagles choose to rid themselves of Matt Schobel.

OL: Mike McGlynn, Mike Gibson, Fenuki Tupou, Chris Patrick, Paul Fanaika
There could be a spot for one of these guys if Andrews starts the season on the injured list. I bumped McGlynn off the roster to make room for other positions where the Eagles don't have as much depth. Along the offensive line, because of the versatility of some of the guys, they don't need two players at each spot. There are some good linemen here that the Eagles won't have room for, some will likely stick on the practice squad.

DL: Bryan Smith
The emergence of Jason Babin will cost Bryan Smith his job. Smith has had trouble staying healthy and has done little to show he's anything but an undersized lineman. Babin has been a beast all preseason and has proven he belongs in the rotation. Smith could be placed on the injured list so the Eagles could keep working on the project player.

LB: Tank Daniels, Moise Fokou
Matt Wilhelm hasn't done enough to guarantee himself a roster spot, so there could be something available for Daniels or Fokou. I left off Tracy White last time forgetting how valuable he is to the Eagles special teams. White will be kept, so it's a three-man race for the last spot. Unless Wilhelm distinguishes himself, I think the Birds will go with Fokou.

DB: Dmitri Patterson
With the release of Rashad Baker, the Eagles secondary looks set, although Jack Ikegwuonu hasn't done anything amazing this preseason so there is a chance he could get cut. I don't see a way that Patterson makes the team, however, if Ikegwuonu isn't good enough to keep the team will just go with 4 cornerbacks.

That's the team as I see it. Did I leave anyone off? Who needs to be cut? Discuss in the comments section.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Eagles sign tight end Tony Curtis

As was rumored a few days ago, the Eagles have signed tight end Tony Curtis, according to Brian Seltzer on Twitter. According to Seltzer, Curtis is recovering from a high ankle sprain and will continue his rehab with the Eagles and should have a good shot at making the team. As a veteran with some NFL experience, if healthy, Curtis should beat out Eugene Bright and Rob Myers for a spot on the roster. There is also the possibility that the Eagles could be looking to cut oft-injured Matt Schobel since he has barely been healthy this preseason, making Curtis a possibility for the second tight end spot.

The Eagles are extremely thin at tight end so the signing of a veteran, even though he is injured, is a solid move to try to build some depth. Curtis only has 11 career catches in two NFL seasons with the Cowboys but those 32 games of real experience give him an upper hand over two unproven tight ends like Myers and Bright. Time will tell if he is healthy enough to make a contribution, however.

The Hockey News picks the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup

I just got some good Flyers news via my mailbox. The Hockey News 2009-10 Yearbook arrived, and while at first I was sickened by the picture of Sidney Crosby on the cover, I was happy the moment I flipped to the section where they make their predictions. According to THN, the Flyers will win the Stanley Cup!

The magazine predicted the Flyers to finish 4th the East, just behind the Penguins, but thinks Philly is built to make a run for the Cup. While THN does express concern with Ray Emery in net, they feel he will be sufficiently motivated by his one year contract with the Flyers to put in a good season. Couple that with what The Hockey News calls a group of forwards that are "the envy of the league" and "one of the deepest and best bluelines", and the Flyers have all the makings of a Stanley Cup winner.

As for the Flyers opponent in the Finals, THN doesn't make a pick, although they pick the Sharks to finish atop the Western Conference standings. They also think the Red Wings have a great shot at a third straight trip to the Finals.

The Hockey News goes further into depth on the Flyers, saying they could finish as high as 1st in the East if everything goes right and as low as 7th if Emery is terrible and they have a rash of injuries. They also list several Flyers in their "Top 50" player list, including Jeff Carter (14), Chris Pronger (23), Mike Richards (28) and Simon Gagne (48), and two Flyers also made the "Top 25 Players Under 25" list: Mike Richards (9) and Jeff Carter (15).

The Hockey News is a highly reputable source, so the fact that they love the Flyers is a good thing, however, as we all know, predictions are meaningless. On paper, the Flyers appear to have one of the better teams in the league. Their forward and defensemen depth is nearly unmatched and they are the grittiest team in the league, but none of that matters if they don't get strong goaltending or a few key players get injured.

That being said, it's nice to know the Flyers are in the mix and that hockey experts think they have what it takes to win it all. Stanley Cups aren't won in August, but it sure feels good to know the Flyers are the best team on paper.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bruntlett caps career day with triple play

(AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
The guys over at Fire Eric Bruntlett can't like this. Bruntlett, who sports an ugly batting average and an equally ugly beard, entered today's game as a goat to many Phillies fans. Many wondered how he could possibly have a job on any major league team, let alone a team with championship aspirations. Well, at least for one day, Bruntlett silenced his critics with the game of his life in the Phillies 9-7 win over the Mets.

With Chase Utley needing some rest, Bruntlett got a rare start at second base against the Mets. Bruntlett then proceeded to have a great day at the plate, going 3 for 5 with 3 singles and narrowly missing a 4th hit in the 9th when Jeff Francouer made a diving catch that umpires initially ruled a hit and then overturned it. With the big game at the plate, Bruntlett's average "soared" to .154 on the season, the highest it's been since mid-June.

Bruntlett's day didn't end there, however, he had an even bigger impact on the field. In the 9th inning, with Brad Lidge going for the save, Bruntlett nearly single-handedly blew the game, botching a pair of grounders that allowed to Mets to get on base. He was only officially given an error on the first play, but a good fielder, like Chase Utley, would have made the second play as well. So, with two runners on base, no outs, and the Phillies clinging to a two run lead, Jeff Francouer stepped to the plate for the Mets and ripped a hit up the middle as both runners took off on a hit-and-run attempt. Bruntlett, clearly upset that Francouer had robbed him of a hit earlier, snagged the ball and then proceeded to end the inning by tagging second base and tagging the runner trying to steal second to win the game for the Phillies with an unassisted triple play.

Here is the video, via @jimmacmillan and Phillies Nation:


Bruntlett's unassisted triple play was the first to end a game since 1927 and the first for the Phillies since Mickey Morandini had one in 1992. While there is an extreme amount of luck that goes into a play like that, it was the perfect cap to an up-and-down game by Bruntlett that might go down as his best game ever.

Many Phillies fans want to get rid of Eric Bruntlett, and while I can't blame them at times, it's games like these that prove he belongs. No, his batting average is never going to look pretty, but he still has value for the team because he can fill in at multiple positions at any time. If he was given more consistent at-bats, you can bet his average would be at least 50 points higher, so couple that with the ability to play all over the field and you have a serviceable major league player. No, he isn't great or even above average, but Eric Bruntlett deserves his spot on the Phillies roster. At least until he screws up again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Shawn Andrews: To play or not to play?

It seems that we have a difference in opinions on when Shawn Andrews will return to the Eagles.

Andrews, who hasn't participated in any preseason activities since the first day, thinks he will be ready for Week One. Andrews is back in Philadelphia after going out to the West Coast and getting his back examined, and he appears to be in good spirits and believes he will be able to suit up against the Panthers on September 13th.

The Eagles aren't so sure, with Coach Andy Reid's mindset being that Winston Justice will be the right tackle until further notice. Reid says he has "no idea" when Andrews will be ready so he has to just go with what he has, no matter how scary it might be to think that Justice is a starter.

While the much-maligned offensive line is starting to come together now that Jason Peters and Stacy Andrews have now returned to practice, Shawn Andrews and his ailing back are still a mystery. While it could be plausible for Shawn to be ready for the first week, should the Eagles rush to get him into the starting line-up? On the one hand, he is a former Pro Bowler, but on the other, how in-shape could he possibly be if he hasn't practiced for months?

We've been through all of this before with Shawn Andrews. Last season, he battled depression all preseason and was MIA for training camp, only to show up and play in the first game of the season, proving he can get ready quickly. Of course, Andrews subsequently got injured in Week Two and was out for the rest of the year, so the Eagles would be smart to avoid rushing him back. Another factor in this situation is the fact that he is changing positions from right guard to right tackle. If Andrews doesn't even practice at his new position, how is he supposed to have any clue what he's doing out there?

So, will he or won't he play? While having Winston Justice start along the Eagles offensive line is not the best situation, if it's only for a few weeks while Andrews gets up to speed, that might not be so bad. Of course, an even smarter move would be to start Stacy Andrews at right tackle and have Nick Cole play right guard until Shawn Andrews is ready; hopefully the Eagles have looked into that.

Coach Reid has the right idea in this situation. Shawn Andrews can't be counted on until he actually starts playing, so the team has to move ahead with plans assuming he won't be suiting up. One thing we have all learned is that you can't rely on Shawn Andrews at all. If he plays, great, if he doesn't, make sure you have a contingency plan in place.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Eagles close to signing tight end Tony Curtis

It's not an earth-shattering move, but when you are desperate for some depth at tight end, these are the kind of signings that happen. According to an NFL.com blog, the Eagles are "on the verge" of signing veteran tight end Tony Curtis. Curtis, who had spent two years with the Cowboys and part of this preseason with the Chiefs, has been brought in by the Eagles, who are evaluating him with a plan to sign him if he passes a physical. Curtis was battling injuries this past offseason, so there is no guarantee that he will be healthy enough to contribute.

Curtis, who had 11 career catches and three touchdowns in two full seasons in Dallas, is likely being looked at as competition for the 3rd tight end spot. Currently, the Eagles have Matt Schobel, Eugene Bright and Rob Myers battling for two backup spots behind starter Brent Celek. Schobel appears likely to make the team, so that would leave Bright, Myers and Curtis in a fight for the third spot. After a solid game last night, Myers might be making his move for the spot, but Curtis actually has experience in the NFL and could quickly vault onto the roster.

Again, this move is hardly exciting considering he only had 8 catches last year, but Curtis could have a role to play given how little depth the Eagles have at tight end. Should anything serious happen to Brent Celek, it's safe to say the Eagles are screwed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Colts work over injury-depleted Eagles

(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
It's a good thing there is still nearly a month until the regular season starts because the Eagles don't look like they are anywhere close to being ready. The short-handed Eagles, who played without 12 players, got trounced by the Colts in every facet of the game, losing 23-15. While a lot of this poor play can be attributed to all of the missing players (Kevin Kolb, Brian Westbrook, Jason Peters, Shawn Andrews, Stacy Andrews, Todd Herremans, Trent Cole, Bryan Smith, Darren Howard, Omar Gaither, Sheldon Brown and Michael Vick all didn't play), Eagles fans still hoped to see a lot more effort and a much more competitive game than they saw. Here are my positives and negatives from the Eagles second preseason game.

Positives:
-The DeSean Jackson 39 yard touchdown. Donovan McNabb and DeSean Jackson looked to be in midseason form as they connected for a beautiful touchdown that was easily the highlight of the game.

-Jason Babin. Once again, Babin was one of the better defensive linemen out there. With all the injuries along the line, Babin got a chance to start and he made the most of it, sacking Peyton Manning and forcing a fumble in the first quarter. Babin was around the quarterback the entire first half, proving that he deserves a spot on the final roster. Sorry, Bryan Smith, I think you just got bumped.

-A.J. Feeley. For a guy who is likely to get cut, he sure is making a case to be added on by another team. Despite facing constant pressure and getting knocked around in the pocket, Feeley hung tough and made some good throws. I know he made a bad decision at the end of the first half, but completing 16 of 20 passes is no easy task.

-Eldra Buckley. Buckley played much less tonight, but it was actually a good thing. Buckley, who got time with the second unit while Lorenzo Booker was demoted to the third team, held his own against better competition, averaging 5 yards a carry and proving he has good hands out of the backfield with four catches. Yeah, I know he fumbled, but it seems like a given at this point that Buckley makes the team while Booker gets cut.

-Sav Rocca. His first punt was a beauty that pinned the Colts inside the 5 yardline. I've had my doubts about the guy, but he has his moments.

-Adam DiMichele. If that was his one chance with the Eagles, he made the most of it. He made some nice throws and moved the ball well, too bad he's cut the moment Kevin Kolb comes back.

Negatives:
-Leonard Weaver. For the short amount of time he was out there, he played great. Unfortunately, Weaver is the latest Eagle to fall victim to the injury bug. He sprained his knee, probably while he was trying to block a lineman who got through the porous offensive line. If Weaver is out for any amount of time, Kyle Eckel is your starting fullback. Needless to say, that's a big drop-off.

-The Colts first team offense shredded the Eagles first team defense. Luckily, the Eagles have two pretty good excuses as to why the Colts were able to move the ball at will against them. First, it's the Colts, they have one of the best offenses in the league. Second, the Eagles first team defense was missing so many players that it was far from their best unit. The Eagles still should have been able to put up a better fight than that, but it shows that, defensively, they still aren't where they need to be yet. Not even close.

-The Eagles first team offense. They started extremely slow, with a 3 and out on the first possession and a fumble in the second possession. Things started to come together on the third possession when McNabb connected with Jackson on that 39 yard strike. McNabb put up surprisingly solid numbers, completing 5 of 7 passes for 77 yards, and he should be commended for staying upright behind the makeshift offensive line. Overall, though, things seemed pretty disjointed with the offense, and it all starts with the play of....

-The offensive line. Playing with only one starter, the "first team" offensive line was atrocious. King Dunlap, who was the starting left tackle, predictably got burned by Dwight Freeney early and often. About the only positive thing from this group is the fact that McNabb didn't get injured playing behind these guys. It's easy to simply blame this on injuries, but at what point is that actual starting offensive line going to play together? The season is coming soon, it's hard to have any faith in these guys.

-Discipline. Just like last week, the Eagles had way too many penalties, this time committing 12 for 87 yards. It could be a product of guys who have never played together or it could be the coaching, but Andy Reid has got to get this situation under control.

-Jeremy Maclin. As a receiver, he's fine. As a punt returner, not so much. His second fumble in two games might be a sign that he shouldn't be returning punts in the NFL.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Three things you can count on: Death, Taxes and Cliff Lee

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Stop me if you've heard this before: Cliff Lee dominated batter after batter and pitched a gem to lead the Phillies to a win. It sounds like a broken record, but Lee has done exactly that in each of his first four starts with the Phillies. On Wednesday night, Lee did it against the Diamondbacks in an 8-1 win, pitching an 11 strikeout complete game while giving up one unearned run on 2 hits. He had a no-hitter through 6 innings and each of his two hits allowed were singles.

I've run out of ways to describe how good Lee has been for the Phillies. The man has truly dominated National League hitters in his four starts, allowing only 3 earned runs in 33 innings, a sparkling 0.82 ERA. In that same span, Lee has also struck out 34 batters while walking only 6. More amazing has been Lee's consistency: in each outing with the Phillies, he has pitched at least 7 innings, gotten at least 6 strikeouts and allowed no more than 1 run. For those to be his worst stats in all of his outings with the Phillies is truly remarkable.

The game wasn't all Cliff Lee, the Phillies had some fireworks on offense as well. Jayson Werth continued his career year, belting a pair of homers to give him 27 on the season. Werth is currently on pace for 38 homers and 103 RBI, eye-popping numbers for someone who is supposedly the Phillies 5th best hitter. Also adding homers on the night were Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who hit a 3 run bomb. For good measure, Cliff Lee also added a pair of hits into the offensive mix.

There are three things you can count on in life: death, taxes and Cliff Lee. Lee is currently in the middle of one of the most dominating stretches of games I have ever seen for a starting pitcher. Every time Lee takes the mound, Ruben Amaro looks a little more like a genius. To get this ace for the relatively small price the Phillies paid has to be the best move any team has made this season.

I've run out of ways to say it: Cliff Lee is the man.

The Brett Myers story changes. Again.

Here we go again, the story that changes daily seems to have taken the turn we all expected. Brett Myers, who missed a rehab start last weekend with a black eye, has been lying to the Phillies, according to Randy Miller of the Bucks Courier County Times. Originally, Myers said that he injured his eye while playing catch with his son, but later changed his story, saying he was embarrassed because he really got hurt while falling out of his car. Word came out later that Myers was involved in a dispute at a bar, but it wasn't believed to be a physical confrontation.

Well, the story changes now to the obvious conclusion, that, according to Miller, Myers got his black eye from being punched in the face in a bar fight. While we don't know the full story of the incident, like whether he was punched while fighting back or if he was sucker-punched or something, there is more to the story than Myers decided to share.

The fact that Myers got the black eye in a fight is not surprising, and it could even be forgivable. Given his past incident, one would hope that he had grown up, but it's not hard to picture Myers getting into these types of situations. The fact that Myers lied to the media, and presumably to the Phillies, is the part that is disturbing. If Myers had simply come out and told the truth, sure, he would have endured some ridicule in the media and amongst fans, but now that we know the truth and that he lied about it, Myers comes across much worse.

This incident is just the next in a string that will likely lead Myers out of town at the end of this season. He will be a free agent, but I wouldn't count on the Phillies wanting to put up with his crap anymore. As Charlie Manuel put it, "He’s a grown man; I’d like to see him be a professional.” Myers will continue his rehab this week and still looks poised to be in the Phillies bullpen come September. Let's hope he stays out of trouble until then.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jamie Moyer, Phillies relief ace

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
This Jamie Moyer would have never lost his spot in the Phillies rotation, that's for sure. In a game started by Pedro Martinez that was subsequently stopped by rain, Moyer had one of his best performances of the season, pitching 6 nearly perfect relief innings to lead the Phillies to a 5-1 win over the Diamondbacks.

Pedro started the game by giving up a homer but settled down nicely, pitching 3 innings and giving up only that one run. Then the rains came, delaying the game for over an hour, and out went Pedro and in came Moyer. The Old Man pitched amazingly, allowing only 2 hits, walking none and striking out 5 to earn the win, his team-leading 11th on the season. Moyer also helped out with his bat, getting a pair of singles to raise his batting average to .152, an average that towers over Eric Bruntlett's .129. (Why is Bruntlett on the team again?)

Pedro said it best in his post-game interview: "You never know what you get when you put two old goats out there. It's a scary combination" (quote via Todd Zolecki on Twitter). Pedro and Moyer, all 83 years between them, combined for one of the best pitching outings of the season. Baseball may be a game for kids, but these old guys dominated tonight.

Old Man Moyer was on a mission tonight, to prove that he still belonged in the rotation. Ultimately, this performance won't get him where he wants to be, but it's nice to know that he can be counted on after a long rain delay. Moyer knows that if he had pitched anywhere near like he did tonight at any other point in the last few months he would have never been in this situation to begin with. Knowing that he still has a few more good innings left in his arm gives the Phillies just one more weapon that will help them in their march towards another World Championship.

Eagles "reach out" to Warrick Dunn

Apparently unsatisfied with having Lorenzo Booker or Eldra Buckley as their third string running back, rumor has it that the Eagles are possibly pursuing veteran running back Warrick Dunn. According to Steve Wyche of NFL.com, the Eagles, along with the Seahawks, have reached out to Dunn to gauge the interest of the 34 year old who spent last season with Tampa Bay. Dunn is a 12 year veteran and, while at the twilight of his career, still has the speed, shiftiness and receiving skills to contribute in the NFL.

Simply because he wouldn't play very much, I would say there is a slim chance Dunn will sign with the Eagles. He would be better of playing for the Seahawks, where he could work his way into their running back rotation. The Eagles don't really need another small running back, so I'm surprised they would even want Dunn. A backfield of Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy and Dunn would be incredibly dynamic but it would also be shrimpy as hell, with no back taller than 5 foot 10 or heavier than 200 pounds.

This reaching out to Dunn signifies to me that the Eagles might want to upgrade their 3rd running back spot. Booker looks like he has been beaten out by the unproven Buckley, but the Eagles might choose to go with someone with more experience as a backup. After all, if/when Westbrook gets hurt, the team doesn't want to have to rely on a pair of rookies to carry the load, no matter how good they have looked this preseason.

Eagles release Rashad Baker, sign rookie

When the Eagles signed Rashad Baker back in March, the team expected him to challenge for a starting safety spot. Five months later, Baker is out on the street.

The Eagles have released Baker and signed DB Brandon Harrison, a rookie from Michigan. There was some speculation that Baker was on his way out when he wasn't at practice yesterday and his nameplate was removed from his locker. Apparently the Eagles didn't like what they saw from the 5 year veteran and let him go. This all but ensures Macho Harris of a spot on the final roster, which is a good thing.

As for Harrison, I wouldn't expect him to challenge for a roster spot. He was both a cornerback and a safety at Michigan, so the Eagles could be bringing him in to compete at either position. I doubt that an undrafted rookie is going to crack the roster after joining the team in mid-August, however. Harrison had previously spent time with the Colts this preseason.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Don't count on Shawn Andrews to be ready for Week 1

The Eagles revamped their offensive line this offseason in hopes of getting younger and better, but so far the group has been long on talent and short on health. While Todd Herremans will be out until the regular season, Jason Peters has been in and out of practice and Stacy Andrews has had problems of his own, the most mystifying member of the Eagles offensive line has been Shawn Andrews, who has been MIA all preseason. Shawn has missed basically all of camp, and with the latest news, I wouldn't expect him back any time soon.

According to Andy Reid, and via Philly.com, Shawn Andrews is in Los Angeles right now, visiting the doctor that performed the surgery on his back last October. Apparently Shawn aggravated his back again and is getting treatment and advice out on the west coast. Needless to say, this is isn't good news. Whenever a player is going back to visit the doctor that performed the surgery on him, many times that leads to even more surgery.

It's nice that the mystery of where Shawn Andrews has been was solved, but from the sound of it, he still isn't going to be ready come Week 1. Whenever he is finally cleared to practice, Andrews will still need a lot of time to get into game shape, especially considering how fragile his back is. Get used to Winston Justice starting at right tackle, he may be there a while.

Projecting the 2009 Eagles 53 man roster, Ver. 3.0

Now that the Michael Vick saga seems to be settling down, it's time to take another look at the how the Eagles roster is shaping up. With a preseason game under their belts, several players made strong cases for being on the team. This is my third attempt at predicting the Eagles Week One roster. Below my roster projection I have also listed several players who are on the bubble and I gave reasons why they might not make the final roster. Changes from my previous projection are listed in bold.

Offense:
QB(3): Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb

RB(3): Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Eldra Buckley

FB (1): Leonard Weaver

WR(6): DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jason Avant, Jeremy Maclin, Reggie Brown, Brandon Gibson

TE(3): Brent Celek, Matt Schobel, Eugene Bright

LT(2): Jason Peters, King Dunlap

LG(2): Todd Herremans, Max Jean-Gilles

C(2): Jamaal Jackson, Nick Cole

RG(2): Stacy Andrews, Mike McGlynn

RT(2): Shawn Andrews, Winston Justice

Defense:
DE(6): Juqua Parker, Trent Cole, Victor Abiamiri, Darren Howard, Chris Clemons, Bryan Smith

DT(4): Brodrick Bunkley, Mike Patterson, Trevor Laws, Dan Klecko

LB(5): Chris Gocong, Akeem Jordan, Joe Mays, Omar Gaither, Matt Wilhelm

CB(5): Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Joselio Hanson, Ellis Hobbs, Jack Ikegwuonu

FS(2): Quintin Demps, Macho Harris

SS(2): Quintin Mikell, Sean Jones

Special Teams:
K(1): David Akers

P(1): Sav Rocca

LS(1): Jon Dorenbos

Player who will start the season on the injured list: Stewart Bradley, Cornelius Ingram
Bradley's season-ending injury opens the door for another linebacker to make the team. Ingram forces the Eagles to go with Schobel as the backup, unfortunately. The only "bright" spot from the injury is Eugene Bright will make the team, and he has looked good.

Possible to start the season on the injured list: Victor Abiamiri, Shawn Andrews
Abiamiri seems to always be injured, so I am going to leave him in this category. Reports on Shawn Andrews haven't been good, with even Andy Reid having no clue when he will suit up.

Most likely to get cut/traded: Reggie Brown
I have removed Sheldon Brown from this category. He played extremely well against the Patriots and will likely keep his starting job. Reggie Brown will probably make the team, but, with his salary and low standing on the depth chart, he is definitely an option to be dealt.

Players on the bubble:
QB A.J. Feeley
Despite what Andy Reid says about him keeping his job, the addition of Vick pushes Feeley off the roster, even though he did play well against the Patriots. He's too valuable for the Eagles to just release him, so look for him to be traded for a late round draft pick to a team desperate for a veteran backup. I don't see a scenario where the Eagles will keep 4 quarterbacks.

RB Lorenzo Booker
I think we've seen the last of the Lorenzo Booker experiment. The Eagles don't need three small-ish running backs, so they would be smart to keep Eldra Buckley and get rid of Booker. Buckley, who is bigger and is a better North/South runner, had a tremendous game against the Pats, so it might be his job to lose.

RB/FB: Kyle Eckel
There is no way that Eckel will beat out Weaver for the starting fullback spot, so Eckel now appears to be competing with Booker and Buckley for a spot at running back. Eckel would have to be really good on special teams to make it.

WR: Hank Baskett, Shaheer McBride
Brandon Gibson is too talented not to make this team, so that is going to push Baskett off. The Eagles might be able to trade Baskett, who is still a solid special teams contributor, but he appears to be the odd man out. Perhaps Baskett could learn to play tight end? McBride made some nice catches against the Pats so look for him to spend another year on the practice squad.

OL: Mike Gibson, Fenuki Tupou, Chris Patrick, Paul Fanaika
There could be a spot for one of these guys if Andrews starts the season on the injured list. Otherwise, there isn't enough room to keep more than one backup at each offensive line position. Gibson would probably be the first choice from this group, he was on injured reserve all last season. Tupou and Fanaika were both picked up in the draft, but the Eagles are too loaded to keep either one. Tupou has the better shot and would be great on the practice squad.

DL: Jason Babin
Babin looked like a man amongst boys playing against the Patriots backups. He had the lone sack in the game, which will help his case. He has a good shot at beating out Bryan Smith for that last DE spot.

LB: Tank Daniels, Moise Fokou
With the injury to Bradley, there will be a battle between these two and Matt Wilhelm for the final LB spot. Tank is always valuable as a special teams guy, so he could earn a spot on the roster. Fokou was the last of the Eagles draft picks in the 7th round but has been impressive thus far. The Eagles will find a way to keep him around, whether it's on the team or the practice squad.

DB: Rashad Baker, Dmitri Patterson
Baker appears to be on the outside looking in, losing out on a spot to Macho Harris. If they are at all close, Harris will be the one making the team. Baker still has a decent shot if anyone gets injured in the secondary. Patterson also has a shot, since he spent the end of last season with the team, but it's going to be hard to budge any of the other DB's out of a spot.

That's the team as I see it. Did I leave anyone off? Who needs to be cut? Discuss in the comments section.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Michael Vick on 60 Minutes: The Video

Michael Vick was on 60 Minutes on Sunday night. A week ago, I never thought I would actually be watching this, but then the Eagles had to go and surprise everyone. Here is a video of Vick's interview with James Brown:

At this point, I don't really care what Michael Vick has to say. He did what he did, and if he wants to be a better person, he needs to prove it. All the words are great, but he needs to stop talking now and start doing the right thing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Vick's first practice with the Eagles

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
It didn't take long for Michael Vick to start practicing with the Eagles. He was out there Saturday for practice and reportedly looked good, taking a few snaps and making some nice throws. These are the first pictures of Vick in an Eagles helmet, though the red jersey makes him look like he's still playing with the Falcons.

Donovan McNabb sure didn't mind having Vick at practice:
Vick worked exclusively at quarterback for this practice, although I would expect him to slowly start working on some special plays where he lines up in the backfield and as a receiver. Word has also come out that Andy Reid has told Kevin Kolb and A.J. Feeley that both of their jobs are safe, although I'm not sure what that really means. The Eagles can't actually keep four quarterbacks, can they?

Finally, to make your Vick practice experience complete, here is some video from ESPN, complete with an update from Sal Pal:

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Michael Vick Press Conference

In case you missed it, here is a video of the Michael Vick press conference:

Vick, and everyone else involved, said all the right things. He clearly showed remorse for what he did, and makes it clear that he just wants another shot. Those things are all words, of course, it's what he does from now on that will prove what kind of person he is. His actions from this point forward will speak much louder than these words.

Video via Awful Announcing.

Vick to wear #7 with the Eagles

Michael Vick will wear jersey number 7 with the Eagles, the same number that he wore with the Falcons.

Former #7's for the Eagles include:

Roy Zimmerman, B (1942-1946)
John Huarte, QB (1968)
Jim Ward, QB (1971-1972)
John Reaves, QB (1972-1975)
Ron Jaworski, QB (1977-1986)
Roger Ruzek, K (1989-1993)
Ken O'Brien, QB (1993)
Bobby Hoying, QB (1996-1998)
Sean Landeta, P (1999-2002)
Jeff Garcia, QB (2006)

Jaws is clearly the best player to ever wear #7 for the Eagles, although Vick instantly becomes the most athletic.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

McNabb lobbied for Vick to play for the Eagles

Many wondered how Donovan McNabb was going to take the news that Michael Vick had signed with the Eagles. The media was already speculating that McNabb would be furious with the move and would be pissed off at the Eagles front office. Apparently, however, McNabb is fine with it and was even involved in the process of signing Vick the whole time.

McNabb, in an interview after the Eagles first preseason game, said that he "lobbied" the Eagles to bring Vick to Philadelphia. McNabb even described himself as a mentor to Vick, helping the former Falcon quarterback through the tough times of the last few years.

Donovan also said that he expects Vick to play quarterback for the Birds, not be a "utility" player. When asked about a quarterback controversy, McNabb also stated that he felt there was no controversy, noting that he doesn't mind Vick getting a few snaps every game: "if there are 70 snaps in a game and I take 65 of them", McNabb is "okay with losing 5 snaps" to Vick a game.

Overall, McNabb seemed very cool and confident about the idea of Michael Vick playing for the Eagles. He seemed genuinely excited about the possibilities that would emerge as teams try to gameplan for himself, Vick, Brian Westbrook and DeSean Jackson all on the field at once. The only mistake McNabb made in the whole press conference was when he said that "bringing in Michael Vick is no different that bringing in T.O.". Um, Donovan, I hope it's very different. I hope it doesn't end in a disaster like the T.O. debacle.

Donovan McNabb is on board with Michael Vick being a Philadelphia Eagle. It says a lot that the team leader is excited to have Vick be a part of his team. Whether you like Vick or not, the possibilities are endless now for the Eagles offense. McNabb believes in Michael Vick, so I guess the fans should, too.

More of the McNabb interview:

Thoughts on the Eagles first preseason game

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Overshadowed by the Michael Vick signing, the Eagles actually played a game on Thursday night! Even though it's only preseason, it's hard not to get excited when you see the Eagles take the field at Lincoln Financial. While the Birds comeback bid fell short against the Patriots, losing 27-25, there was some good that came out of the game. Here are some of the positives and negatives from the Eagles first preseason game.

Positives:
-McNabb and the first team offense. While the first team offense looked sloppy on their first two drives, they began to kick it into gear on the third. Mixing in several shotgun formations, Donovan McNabb, who finished 11 of 18 on the night, led the Eagles down the field with precision, completing passes to three different receivers and letting LeSean McCoy eat up yards on the ground. While the drive ultimately ended in a failure in the red zone with a sack and a field goal, there were some promising signs, especially from...

-LeSean McCoy. The rookie looked really good, eating up yardage on nearly every carry. He finished with 55 yards on 10 carries, a solid 5.5 yards per carry, plus he caught two passes out of the backfield. I have never felt more confident about the Eagles running game when/if Brian Westbrook gets hurt.

-Sheldon Brown. He made a nice play early in the game and later had a pick that pissed Tom Brady off. Sheldon has solidified his starting spot for sure.

-A.J. Feeley. He might be playing for his NFL career now that the Eagles have Vick. Feeley got the bulk of the playing time at QB and had a good showing, leading two touchdown drives and completing 18 of 24 passes for 211 yards. Unless Kevin Kolb is hurt more than has been led on, however, this is likely the end of Feeley's time in Philly.

-Jason Babin. He's on the roster bubble, so picking up the only Eagles sack of the day is a big positive for him.

-Eldra Buckley. Lorenzo Booker better watch his back, Buckley is coming for him. While not particularly great on the ground (23 yards and a TD on 8 carries), Buckley had quite a showing in the passing game, catching 6 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. With Booker basically doing nothing, Buckley has a great shot at earning the 3rd string running back spot.

Negatives:
-Discipline. The Eagles were penalized 8 times for 98 yards, which is unacceptable. From the beginning of the game, the team seemed out of sorts and sloppy. Perhaps they were shocked by the Michael Vick signing?

-Jeremy Maclin. He fumbled his first touch as an Eagle on a punt return. Not a great way to start your career and not a way to endear yourselves to fans and coaches who aren't happy you held out. He later made 2 catches and had a much better punt return, but that wasn't a good first impression.

-The first team defense. After looking solid on the first drive, the first team defense got picked apart by Tom Brady on the second drive. Brady threw a bomb right to Randy Moss that Asante Samuel interfered with, which put the Patriots deep in the Eagles territory. From there, Brady dinked and dunked short passes to lead the Patriots to a touchdown. They redeemed themselves later when Brown picked off Brady, but they could have done better to put more pressure on the Patriots QB. Brady had a good game overall, completing 10 of 15 for 100 yards and 2 TDs. The second and third units fared much better, limiting the Pats to only a pair of field goals in the second half.

-Jason Peters. The big offseason pickup let the Patriots defensive line get by him for two sacks. I know he's surrounded by second team linemen that he's never played with, but he's gotta do better than that.

-Special teams. This supposedly improved unit gave up a punt return touchdown and had several penalties. Every year we hear that the special teams is going to be the amongst the best in the league and every year they disappoint. Let's hope the Eagles get these kinks worked out.

Believe it: The Eagles sign Michael Vick

Talk about a move that comes out of left field. Chris Mortensen of ESPN is reporting that the Eagles have signed Michael Vick to a 2 year contract. You all know the story about Vick, who has been out of the league for two years, so I won't rehash all the gory details here.

What the Eagles plan to do with the former quarterback, I have no clue. Many have speculated that Vick could play some kind of Wildcat role in an NFL offense, but that seems redundant since DeSean Jackson can already do that. The Eagles already have three quarterbacks on the roster, but they could be planning on having him compete with Kevin Kolb and A.J. Feeley for the backup spot. The Eagles are obviously planning to utilize his athleticism and use him as a weapon on offense in some way.

UPDATE: Vick's contract is for 1.6 million dollars this season plus a team option for 2010 worth 5.2 million. In other words, he better be really good or the Eagles won't pick up that option.

Lee leads Phillies to sweep

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
This Cliff Lee guy is pretty good, huh? In his 3rd start with the Phillies, Lee continued his dominance over the National League, giving up one run just as he had in his previous two starts. This time, Lee went 8 innings, scattering 6 hits and 3 walks and struck out 8 to lead the Phillies to a 6-1 win over the Cubs. The win gave the Phillies a sweep over the Cubs, quite a turnaround for a team that was just swept themselves by the Marlins.

One can't understate how dominant Lee has been with the Phillies. He has pitched 24 innings for the Phillies and allowed only 3 earned runs, an ERA of 1.13. Lee has also struck out 23 batters in that span and only walked 6. He's been everything the Phillies could have possibly hoped for when the traded for him back at the trade deadline. He's been an absolute horse, eating innings and pitching deep into every game. I don't think anyone is still pining for that Roy Halladay guy anymore.

The Phillies did make some noise offensively in this one, too. Ryan Howard led the way with a 3-run homer, and, perhaps more impressively, a stolen base, his 5th of the season. Howard's stolen base prowess this season has been remarkable, he only has stolen only 7 career bases, with 5 of them coming this year on 5 attempts. Pedro Feliz also homered on the day and had 2 RBI on 3 hits.

With the sweep, the Phillies put the pressure back on the Marlins to keep up. Just when Florida thought they had a shot at catching the reeling Phillies, the lead looks like it is going to open back up. Of course, the Braves are also tied with Florida, and they will face the Phillies in Atlanta for a three game set this weekend. Hopefully the Phillies respond better this time, they aren't used to being chased after being the chaser all these years.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Victorino gets beer shower from Cubs fan

(Tom Cruze/Sun-Times, via Deadspin)
If this happened in Philadelphia, we would be hearing about how terrible Philly fans are and how we all boo Santa Claus. Shane Victorino, while making a catch in the Wrigley Field outfield, was pelted by a beer thrown by a stupid Cubs fan. Since this incident happened in Chicago, I'm going to bet there will be a lot of apologists out there, saying that "Cubs fans have had to endure so much" and "it was just one bad apple." Interesting how those sentiments are never shared when this kind of thing happens in Philadelphia, huh?

Needless to say, Victorino still made the catch despite the beer shower. I guess he's used to getting beer poured on him after the Phillies World Series win last year. Of course, the Phillies also kicked the Cubs asses in the nationally televised game, 12-5, so justice was ultimately served. I guess we can't call Wrigley the "Friendly Confines" anymore, right?

Offense helps Pedro earn win in Phillies debut

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Pedro Martinez wasn't particularly sharp in his debut with the Phillies, but the offense made sure he didn't have to be. In fact, with the way the Phillies swung the bats on Wednesday, racking up 14 hits and 12 runs, anybody could have won the game.

Pedro looked good at times, but his final line wasn't impressive: 5 IP, 7 hits, 1 walk, 3 runs allowed and 5 strikeouts. His ERA for the night was 5.40, a number just lower than Jamie Moyer's ERA of 5.47 for the season. Pedro needed 99 pitches to get through 5 innings, about the length the Phillies should expect from him every time out. He needs a lot of pitches to get through each batter because he doesn't have overpowering stuff and needs to dance around the strike zone and mix his speeds.

The Phillies offense was explosive on the night, getting homers from Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez. It was a total team effort with every starting position player had a hit and scored a run in the game, and all drove in at least one run except Jayson Werth.

The real story of the night may be the fan that threw a beer at Victorino when he was making a catch in the outfield. I will have more on that once I find some pictures of the incident (Click here for it), but I will say that if something like that happened in Philly, you would be hearing about it everywhere the next day. Chicago fans will get a pass because "they've had such hard luck over the years." Whatever.

In all, a decent debut for Pedro, but anyone, including Jamie Moyer, could have won this game. It will be interesting to see how Pedro does in a start where he has a little more pressure on him. When the game was close, he looked much sharper, but once the Phillies put a ton of runs on the board, he seemed to let up a bit. I give him a pass for his effort tonight, he did just about all you could expect from someone who hasn't pitched in the majors in nearly 11 months.

Another one bites the dust: Eagles lose Todd Herremans for preseason

What would the last day in Lehigh be without another Eagles injury? On Wednesday, the last day of Eagles training camp, it was announced that yet another Eagle had suffered an injury: offensive lineman Todd Herremans has a stress fracture in his foot. Head coach Andy Reid speculated that the injury was likely a "four week injury", meaning that Herremans won't take the field again until the start of the regular season.

Many are saying that this injury isn't that big of a deal because, really, who cares about preseason games anyway? Personally, this injury worries me because it means that the projected starting offensive line will not all play together until the games start to matter. Cohesiveness counts most along an offensive line, the guys in the trenches need to know what the tendencies are of the person next to them and they need to trust each other. The preseason is a time to start building that trust, but with the way the line has been banged up throughout training camp, they have barely had any time together.

Herremans isn't the only projected starter along the line that is injured, either. Each of the Andrews brothers, Stacy and Shawn, were already ruled out for the first game of the preseason. Stacy is just being sat as a precaution, but no one knows when Shawn Andrews will be back. Again, this is good for the backups because they will get time to earn a roster spot, but it's terrible for a line that has the talent to be a top line in the league if they can just get on the field together.

According to Philly.com, the complete list of players who will not play in Thursday's game against the Patriots include: DE Victor Abiamiri, OL Shawn Andrews, OL Stacy Andrews, DE Trent Cole, OL Todd Herremans, QB Kevin Kolb, DT Trevor Laws, TE Matt Schobel and RB Brian Westbrook

At least training camp is over so now we don't have to worry about which Eagle will get hurt next. Of course, now there are meaningless preseason games to be played, so cross your fingers that no one else goes down. You can bet Andy Reid will take every precaution and have the starters on the field as little as possible.