Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Projecting the 2010 Eagles 53 man roster, Ver. 4.0

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. Having already cut their roster down to 75, the Eagles must now get down to 53 by Saturday, 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 fourth and final 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.

QB(3): Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Mike Kafka

RB(3): LeSean McCoy, Mike Bell, Eldra Buckley

FB (1): Leonard Weaver

WR(5): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett, Riley Cooper

TE(3): Brent Celek, Clay Harbor, FA Tight end

LT(2): Jason Peters, Austin Howard

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

C(2): Jamaal Jackson, Mike McGlynn

RG(2): Stacy Andrews, Nick Cole

RT(2): Winston Justice, King Dunlap

DE(5): Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Juqua Parker, Darryl Tapp, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim

DT(4): Brodrick Bunkley, Mike Patterson, Trevor Laws, Antonio Dixon

LB(7): Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims, Akeem Jordan, Omar Gaither, Keenan Clayton, Moise Fokou, Jamar Chaney

CB(5): Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Joselio Hanson, Trevard Lindley, Dimitri Patterson

FS(2): Nate Allen, Macho Harris

SS(2): Quintin Mikell, Kurt Coleman

Special Teams:
K(1): David Akers

P(1): Sav Rocca

LS(1): Jon Dorenbos

Players on IR: Ricky Sapp
Sapp was shut down for the season and may require surgery. He's going to need to make tremendous improvements if he wants to make the team next year.

Could start season on injured reserve: Jamaal Jackson, Victor Abiamiri, Cornelius Ingram
It should be safe to take Jackson off this list now, it almost sounds like he is going to start for the Eagles in Week One. As for Abiamiri, I haven't heard much of anything about his health, likely meaning that he's nowhere close to returning. Ingram better hope he is put on IR, otherwise the Eagles will probably just cut him.

Players on the bubble:

RB: J.J. Arrington, Martell Mallett
Arrington didn't make any impression due to his injuries. I suppose there is a chance that the Eagles stash him on IR but it's more likely that they will just cut him. Mallett has looked impressive at times so expect him to be on the practice squad.

WR: Chad Hall, Kelley Washington
After not looking impressive in the return game this preseason, Chad Hall blew his chance. Perhaps he can be stashed on the practice squad. As for Washington, I still think he loses his battle with Hank Baskett. Unless Washington just amazes them with his special teams play in the last game, the Eagles will go with Baskett simply because they are more comfortable with his knowledge of the offense.

TE: Nate Lawrie
Instead of sticking with Lawrie, I'm betting the Eagles go with a free agent tight end that can block with their third tight end spot. With Celek and Harbor not exactly known as the best blockers, the Eagles would be smart to bring in a tight end that can help in short-yardage situations. Of course, the Eagles could always just go with two tight ends.

OL: Fenuki Tupou, Dallas Reynolds, A.Q, Shipley
Jackson's return makes it pointless for the Eagles to keep more than 10 offensive linemen at the start of the season. Tupou looks likely to spend another year on the practice squad.

DL: Jeff Owens, Pannel Egboh
Owens falls short in his bid to beat out Antonio Dixon for a roster spot. Look for him to spend the year on the practice squad. I don't know much about the recently acquired Egboh but his best case scenario would also be to spend the year on the practice squad.

LB: Tracy White
I've changed my thinking at linebacker and now think that the Eagles will go with a quality depth linebacker like Moise Fokou over a special teams "ace" like Tracy White. Although their coverage in the return game hasn't been great, I don't think the Eagles will just dump one of their starting linebackers from last year. Of course, the Eagles could always try to stash Jamar Chaney on the practice squad and keep both White and Fokou, but there is no guarantee that another team wouldn't try to swoop in and sign Chaney should the Eagles cut him initially.

CB: Geoff Pope, Jorrick Calvin
There isn't enough room for a 6th corner so Pope and the recently acquired Calvin have to go. The recently acquired Calvin has some potential in the return game so he is another solid practice squad candidate.

S: Quintin Demps
The move of Macho Harris to safety and the announcement that Ellis Hobbs will be the primary kick returner means that Demps should start packing his bags. While there is still an outside chance the Birds keep 5 safeties and decide they need a fallback option in the return game, the writing on the wall isn't good for Demps.

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

Eagles place Sapp on IR, claim DE Egboh

Eagles 5th round draft pick Ricky Sapp hasn't lived up to expectations this camp, failing to establish himself as a viable defensive end in the NFL. While he was likely going to be cut before the beginning of the season, the Eagles have managed to hold on to him for this year after Sapp was placed on the injured reserve due to a bad knee. The rookie did have an MRI on the knee but there is no indication of how badly his knee is hurting, although there are rumors that he might need surgery. My guess is that the Eagles came up with a phantom injury as a way to hold on to Sapp for the year and they will give him another shot next year to earn a roster spot.

With Sapp's roster spot opened up, the Eagles claimed defensive end Pannel Egboh off waivers from the Houston Texans. Egboh, who played his college ball with Stanford, signed with the Niners as an undrafted free agent before last season but ended the season on the Texans practice squad. With the Eagles already set at defensive end, Egboh doesn't figure to have any chance of making the roster but he could end up on the practice squad.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Eagles trade RB Charles Scott to the Cardinals

The Eagles made a minor trade today, dealing rookie running back Charles Scott to the Arizona Cardinals for rookie cornerback Jorrick Calvin. Both players were 6th round picks in the draft this year and were taken back-to-back, with Scott being selected 200th overall and Calvin being taken 201st overall.

This deal boils down to two teams dealing away rookies who probably weren't going to make the final roster. For Scott, who was originally drafted with the idea that he would be a nice short-yardage back, it's a chance for a fresh start after the Eagles demoted him to backup fullback. For Calvin, who does have some kick-returning experience, he comes to a team that's already so loaded at cornerback that Macho Harris had to move back to safety. The best-case scenario for Calvin is likely a spot on the Eagles practice squad.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Who saw that coming? Phillies sweep Padres

Things looked pretty bad for the Phillies after they got swept in four games by the lowly Astros. With the offense struggling to score any runs against the mediocrity that is the Astros pitching staff, the Phillies headed to San Diego to face one of the best staffs in the league. Surely, the Phillies wouldn't be able to muster enough offense to beat the best team in the National League.

Not so fast. Behind great pitching performances by Roy Oswalt, Joe Blanton and Cole Hamels and some timely hits, the Phillies swept the best team in the NL in their own ballpark. While the hitting wasn't much better than it was against Houston, averaging 3.7 runs per game, the Phillies starting pitching rose to the occasion, allowing only 2 runs in 22 innings against a Padres team that has their own offensive problems. As for some good news when it comes to the Phillies bats, it was nice to see a little power on display on Sunday as both Mike Sweeney and Jayson Werth went yard.

With the sweep, the Phillies have pulled to just 2 games behind the Braves and remain in the lead for the Wild Card. Now headed to LA to face the Manny-less Dodgers, things are looking up once again for the Phillies as they should be able to handle a Dodgers team that is sliding right out of playoff contention. Of course, we all thought they would easily push the Astros aside and that didn't exactly work out as planned. Still, if the Phillies continue to get solid outings from the rotation, they will only need to muster up a few runs to continue their winning streak.
(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Eagles cut 5, trim roster down to 75

Needing to trim their roster from 80 players down to 75 by August 31st, the Eagles have cut 5 players:

G Zipp Duncan
S Ryan Hamilton
OL Greg Isander
LB Simoni Lawrence
WR Jared Perry

None of these players were expected to be anything other than training camp bodies. By September 4th, the Eagles must have their roster trimmed down to 53 players. Click here for my projection on who makes the final roster.

Whew: Trent Cole has just a minor ankle sprain

The Eagles appear to have dodged a bullet when it comes to their best defensive player. Trent Cole, who was carted back to the locker room last night against the Chiefs, had X-rays and an MRI on his ankle and no structural damage was found. The Eagles are now calling Cole day-to-day with a mild ankle sprain but I wouldn't expect to see him on the field again until Week 1 against the Packers.

With Cole coming out fine and DeSean Jackson, who also left the game against the Chiefs early, suffering just a minor injury, Eagles fans can breathe easy. Losing their best offensive and defensive players before the season even started would have been a huge blow for the Birds.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Eagles Preseason Game 3 Thoughts

If you've ever wondered why wins and losses are completely meaningless in the preseason then look no further than the Eagles 20-17 win over the Chiefs on Friday night. Sure, the Eagles had a nice come from behind win in the final minute of the game but anyone who watched any of the action when the starters were in the game knows that the Birds are nowhere close to ready to start the season. From an offensive line that can't block to a weak passing game to stupid penalties to missed tackles, the Eagles looked a lot like a team that is going to struggle to go .500 than a team that has any chance at the playoffs. Here are my positives and negatives from the Eagles third preseason game.


Red Zone offense: The Eagles first team offense finally broke through in the red-zone as LeSean McCoy ran it in from the 18 yard line in the first quarter. Of course, they did fail on their next two attempts in the red zone but at least they were successful once this entire preseason!

Mike Kafka: Nice game from the rookie as he completed 9 of his 13 passes for 93 yards and led the Eagles on a nice two-minute drive for the game-winning touchdown. I may be in the minority but if Kevin Kolb goes down, I'm much more comfortable with Kafka as the starting quarterback than Michael Vick. Of course, if Kolb goes down the Eagles will probably just sign a veteran QB like Jeff Garcia to be the starter.
Trevard Lindley: Lindley was another rookie making an impact as he played some with the first team and even had an interception. He should probably help Macho Harris pack his bags at this point.

David Akers: He went two for two on field goals and remains perfect in the preseason.


Offensive line: Once again, the Eagles offensive line was just terrible, this time giving 5 sacks as they continue to allow the opposing defense to do pretty much whatever they want. I continue to hold out hope that all of the line problems are simply due to a lack of consistency because of all of the injuries, but, with the season just around the corner, I don't see how the line is going to just magically flip a switch and be good. If they don't gel, and fast, this is going to be a long, long season for the Eagles.

Jason Peters: He continues to be a drive-killer as he had two false start penalties called on him. Remind me again how this guy was a Pro Bowler?

Passing offense: The first team offense was completely out of sync for the entire game as Kevin Kolb went just 11 for 25 for 103 yards. I'm not sure if the injury to DeSean Jackson hampered the passing attack or if Kolb simply can't get comfortable behind his suspect offensive line but the offense certainly didn't look like it was ready for real game action.

Running game: Besides Shady McCoy's 18 yard touchdown run, the Eagles running game was pretty pathetic. While most of the blame likely goes to the aforementioned offensive line, Eagles running backs didn't get much of anything going on the ground. Mike Bell, making his Eagles preseason debut, didn't look impressive as he managed only 17 yards on 8 carries.

DeSean Jackson: Jackson left the game early in the first quarter with an upper back injury that has been diagnosed as a neck strain. His injury didn't look incredibly serious so hopefully the Eagles just kept him out of the game as a precaution.

Trent Cole: Cole left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury. While X-rays came back negative on the ankle, Cole still could have sprained it and that could cost him some time. Let's hope for the best but, obviously, losing both their best offensive and defensive player for any amount of time would be a huge blow to the Eagles.
(Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)

Good riddance? Phillies place Baez on DL, recall Bastardo

Phillies fans have been calling for the team to release Danys Baez for months. While they didn't quite get their wish, those that despise Baez and his 5.14 ERA will be happy to know that the Phillies had to place the reliever on the disabled list due to back spasms. In his place, Antonio Bastardo was called up from Triple A to reprise his role as lefty specialist.

Baez has been the very definition of a disappointment this season. When he was signed in the offseason, the Phillies probably thought they were bringing in someone who could lock down the 7th inning and help bridge the gap from the starting pitcher to Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge. Instead, Baez has been completely unreliable and can only pitch in low-leverage situations when the Phillies are up or down by multiple runs. What makes his bad season even worse is knowing that he's signed on to play another season with the Phillies.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Phillies offense disappears as Astros sweep them out of town

With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley returning to the lineup, it wasn't supposed to be like this. With arguably their two best hitters coming back from injury, the Phillies offense was supposed to explode and it was only supposed to be a few days before they took the division lead away from the Braves. After a four game sweep at the hands of the lowly Astros, however, the Phillies find themselves sputtering at the wrong time.

The main culprit for the poor showing against the Astros was the offense that, with everyone healthy and back in the lineup, managed to score only 7 runs in 4 games, an average of 1.75 runs per game. While the Astros do have some decent pitching, the Phillies just couldn't get anything going against a team that has given up 4.65 runs per game this season. What made the series even more frustrating was that the Phillies wasted strong outings from Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton because they were so inept with bats.

It's hard to place the blame on any one individual player for the Phillies when really no one is swinging the bat well. Fueled by their below-normal production, there has been some speculation that both Howard and Utley rushed back from their injuries and are not healthy enough to contribute at this time. Howard for sure hasn't been himself since coming back, going 3 for 20 with only 1 RBI and no extra base hits.

What makes the 4 losses against the Astros even more frustrating is that the Phillies now have to travel to San Diego to take on the best team in the National League. With the Padres having one of the best pitching staffs in the league and the Phillies offense currently flailing, things could get ugly fast on the West Coast trip. Of course, knowing the Phillies, they could easily flip the switch and turn everything around in their very next game For the sake of their 3 game deficit in the division, let's hope that's the case.

Eagles TE Ingram out after knee procedure

After going in for an MRI yesterday, you had to figure there would be some bad news about tight end Cornelius Ingram today. It looks like Ingram, who has missed the last two seasons due to multiple knee injuries, will be sidelined once again, this time due to a cyst on his left knee that needed to be drained. The cyst is being called a "Baker's cyst", which is a build-up of excess joint fluid that accumulates due to swelling.

There is no word yet on how long Ingram will be out but he is not going to travel with the team to Kansas City. I wouldn't count on Ingram playing any time soon for the Eagles; it's looking pretty likely that he will be spending another year on Injured Reserve.

What this means for the Eagles at tight end is not clear. Will the Birds choose to go with only Brent Celek and Clay Harbor or will they try to sign a veteran blocking tight end? While there aren't a lot of options out there right now, perhaps a tight end will shake loose when teams begin to make cuts.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Roy Oswalt plays left field in epic 16 inning Phillies loss

In case you went to sleep before the end of the Phillies game late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, you missed a whole bunch of strange things in the Phillies 16 inning 4-2 loss to the Astros:

-Ryan Howard was ejected for throwing his bat after getting called out on strikes in the 14th inning. With Howard tossed, the Phillies were out of position players.
-With no one left on the bench, Raul Ibanez moved to first base and Roy Oswalt played left field. Yep, Oswalt played LEFT FIELD. He had a catch and even had an at-bat with the game on the line; unfortunately he grounded out. Oswalt was the first Phillies pitcher to play a position in the field in 39 years.
-Ross Gload was tossed from the game as well. Gload is on the DL.
-The game lasted 5 hours and 20 minutes
-The Phillies used every pitcher in their bullpen, right down to David Herndon, who had to pitch 3 innings of relief. Should the game have gone much longer, Kyle Kendrick was likely going to be used.
-While the umpires will be blamed for both of the Phillies losses to the Astros, the bats just haven't been there as they have scored only 4 runs in 25 innings against Houston. That's just not going to cut it.

Just about the only thing that wasn't strange about the game was that Cole Hamels had another solid outing, striking out 8 and giving up 2 runs, but once again got very little run support and got another no-decision. Hamels is now 7-10 on the season but has been one of the best pitchers in the National League.

What a bizarrely epic baseball game. You truly do see something new every time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Phillies sign pitcher Nate Robertson

The Phillies made a somewhat interesting move today, signing lefty pitcher Nate Robertson to a minor league contract. Robertson, a longtime Tiger who has spent time with the Marlins and Cardinals this season, will report to Lehigh Valley and is expected to join the rotation right away. If all goes well, Robertson could also join the Phillies in a bullpen role (LOOGY?) when rosters expand in September.

While it's hard to get too excited about Robertson and 5.47 ERA in the majors this season, he is a veteran lefty pitcher that could contribute a few solid innings for the Phillies down the stretch. Given his experience with the Tigers in their run to the World Series, Robertson could at the very least be a decent clubhouse guy to have around. If he also somehow turned himself into a usable option out of the bullpen, the Phillies could have made a real nice signing. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that, though.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Projecting the 2010 Eagles 53 man roster, Ver. 3.0

With two games in the books, it's time to take another look at who is going to make the Eagles roster. Based on their play in the two preseason games, several players have made strong cases for being on the team. With cuts coming just around the corner, time is running out for players that just can't seem to make an impact or just can't get healthy. 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.

QB(3): Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Mike Kafka

RB(3): LeSean McCoy, Mike Bell, Eldra Buckley

FB (1): Leonard Weaver

WR(6): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett, Riley Cooper, Chad Hall

TE(3): Brent Celek, Clay Harbor, Cornelius Ingram

LT(2): Jason Peters, Austin Howard

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

C(2): Jamaal Jackson, Mike McGlynn

RG(2): Stacy Andrews, Nick Cole

RT(1): Winston Justice

DE(5): Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Juqua Parker, Darryl Tapp, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim

DT(4): Brodrick Bunkley, Mike Patterson, Trevor Laws, Antonio Dixon

LB(7): Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims, Akeem Jordan, Omar Gaither, Keenan Clayton, Tracy White, Jamar Chaney

CB(5): Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Joselio Hanson, Trevard Lindley, Dimitri Patterson

FS(2): Nate Allen, Quintin Demps

SS(2): Quintin Mikell, Kurt Coleman

Special Teams:
K(1): David Akers

P(1): Sav Rocca

LS(1): Jon Dorenbos

Could start season on injured list: Jamaal Jackson, Victor Abiamiri, Cornelius Ingram
The more we hear about Jackson, the more it seems he is going to be ready to go pretty early on. Abiamiri is always hurt so there is nothing new to report there. Ingram, on the other hand, doesn't appear to be making any progress and could force the Eagles to stash him away on the IR for another season. Or, perhaps the Eagles will just let him walk.

Players on the bubble:

RB: J.J. Arrington, Martell Mallett, Charles Scott
If J.J. Arrington doesn't get a carry in the preseason, was he ever really on the team? Mallett appears to be just a step behind Eldra Buckley for the last running back spot. Scott's move to fullback signals that his end is coming soon.

WR: Kelley Washington, Jordan Norwood
I was all set to put Washington on the roster ahead of Baskett this time around due to his strong special teams play. Then, after Jeremy Maclin hurt his shoulder against the Bengals, Baskett stepped in and played with the first team offense. Washington still has a shot but he's going to have to make a strong showing these next two games. I'm putting Chad Hall on the team, at least for now. I think the Eagles like the idea of having him return punts so DeSean Jackson can stay fresh.

TE: Nate Lawrie
Should the Eagles want to go with three tight ends and Ingram is too injured to go, I would bet the Eagles would sign a veteran tight before they went with Lawrie.

OL: Fenuki Tupou, King Dunlap, Dallas Reynolds, A.Q, Shipley
With Jackson poised to come back early there are going to be a few linemen on the outside looking in. Both Tupou and Dunlap didn't do anything noteworthy as the Bengals defense carved up the line all game long. It might be time to pull the plug on the Dunlap project, although his recent ankle sprain could earn him a trip to the IR.

DL: Jeff Owens, Ricky Sapp
Owens is putting up a good fight against Antonio Dixon but he's coming up just short. Given how well Dixon played against the Bengals, Owens appears on the outside looking in at this point. Has anyone been less impressive this preseason than Sapp?

LB: Moise Fokou
With Jamar Chaney seemingly locked into a roster spot, that's going to leave Fokou, who hasn't even been playing linebacker, out. Given that Fokou can barely get on the field in a preseason game playing as a defensive end, I don't think he's long for the team.

CB: Macho Harris, Geoff Pope
Harris hasn't done anything this preseason to earn a spot on the roster. With Patterson clearly passing him up, the only thing that might get Harris on the team is his ability to play safety.

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 21, 2010

All hands on deck: Ryan Howard activated

The Phillies are getting healthy at just the right time. Ryan Howard, who has been out since August 1st with an ankle injury, was activated from the disabled list. The return of the Big Piece means the Phillies can finally put their entire Opening Day lineup back on the field for the first time since late May.

The Phillies placed Ross Gload on the DL with a groin strain to make room for Howard. While most figured Domonic Brown would be sent down, the injury to Gload likely means that Brown is here to stay for the rest of the season. Perhaps the Phillies will start rotating in the rookie and getting him a few more at bats. The return of Howard also pushes Mike Sweeney into a bench role where he can be a solid right-handed pinch hitter.

With all hands on deck, the Phillies are now poised to make a run on the Braves, who still remain 2.5 games ahead. Expect some big fireworks from a lineup that no longer has to deal with any fill-in players.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Positives and negatives from the Eagles second preseason game

After an impressive showing in their first preseason game against the Jaguars, the Eagles took a step back against the Bengals on Friday night, failing to score a touchdown while getting beat 22-9. While wins and losses in the preseason don't matter, the performance on the field does and the Eagles offense didn't come away with a lot of positives in the game. The defense, on the other hand, did show some jump and made some plays, building on their perfect performance last week against the Jaguars. Here are some more detailed positives and negatives from the Eagles first preseason game.


Eagles secondary Sure, they had their moments getting burned by the bigger Bengals receivers but the Eagles secondary had a pretty good game overall, picking off Carson Palmer twice and making several solid open-field tackles. Considering they were without Asante Samuel, that's about all you can ask for from a group that doesn't seem to have much depth.

Nate Allen The rookie got run over by Cedric Benson on a play early in the first quarter but made up for it on the very next play by putting heavy pressure on Carson Palmer and forcing an interception. He still has plenty of room to grow but Allen looks ready to start at free safety.

Brandon Graham Not to be outdone by his fellow rookie defender, Graham picked up his first sack of the preseason and also had a huge hit on a Bengals running back. Of course, most of the credit for the sack goes to Trevor Laws, who toasted his guy off the line and forced J.T. O'Sullivan to go into panic mode.

Eagles second team defense The Eagles defense was dominant in the third quarter, keeping the Bengals off the board in the third quarter despite the two turnovers by the Eagles offense that gave Cincinnati great field position. Between Graham's sack, Keenan Clayton's pick and pressure from all angles, the Eagles second team defense made life miserable for Bengals backup quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan. Of course, O'Sullivan is a pretty terrible QB, so some of the success of the defense should be credited to his poor play.

David Akers Akers went 3 for 3 on field goals, making him 8 for 8 in the preseason. Touchdowns would be nice but Akers is certainly ready for the season.


Eagles 1st team offense in the first quarter After looking great from the start last week, Kevin Kolb couldn't get much going with the first team early on, going three and out on the first two drives before managing just one first down before Jeremy Maclin fumbled the ball away on the third drive. Kolb was 5 for 7 passing early on but the running game failed, going just 6 yards on 5 carries. Fortunately, the Birds offense did start to pick things up in the second quarter but they still ran into problems with the....

Red Zone offense Once again, the Eagles first team offense failed to convert in the red zone, this time thwarted by an illegal formation call on a Jason Avant touchdown catch. While David Akers is always reliable with the field goals, the Eagles first team offense really needs to get the ball in the end zone next week.

The offensive line Not much blocking was happening along the line tonight for the Eagles. Let's hope this is just a consistency issue because of all the injuries and not a talent issue. Too many penalties, too many holes and too many blown blocks really hampered the offenses ability to move the ball.

Jeremy Maclin Rough night for Maclin, who had 3 catches for 16 yards but fumbled twice, although one of the fumbles was because he injured his shoulder. The initial report on his injury was that it was a left shoulder contusion, which doesn't sound too serious but I'm certainly no doctor.

Joselio Hanson He was burned once again this week, this time by Terrell Owens. With Asante Samuel out of the game, Hanson was simply asked to do too much. Hanson is a capable nickel corner but can't be asked to cover the bigger and faster receivers in the league.

Michael Vick I was all set to put Vick in the positives column after he showed a great burst of speed on his 13 yard run while playing with the first team. Vick's QB play with the second team, though, left much to be desired as he was completely inaccurate, going 1 for 5 with 2 interceptions. Just about the only thing Vick can do is pull down the ball and run, making him a nice weapon for a few plays a game. However, if Kevin Kolb goes down with an injury and Vick is asked to be the starting quarterback, the Eagles will be screwed.

Penalties I know it's the preseason and the Eagles are working the kinks out but there were too many penalties that negated nice plays by the Eagles offense. Where is the discipline??
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Phillies prospect Tyson Gillies busted with cocaine

This won't make anyone unhappy with the Phillies trade of Cliff Lee feel any better. According to Philly.com, Tyson Gillies, a prospect the Phillies acquired from the Mariners for Lee, was arrested in Florida and charged with possession of cocaine. He was released after posting his $2000 bond.

Gillies had been playing Double A in Reading but has been out with an injured hamstring for the past two months. There's no word yet on whether he will see any jail time or be suspended.

Shawn Andrews signs with Giants

Looks like we might be seeing the Big Kid in Philly once again.

In a surprising move, the Giants have signed former Eagle Shawn Andrews. As you may recall, the Eagles, finally fed up with his shenanigans, released the enigmatic former Pro Bowler back in February after he played only two games over the last two seasons. With plenty of questions surrounding whether he even wanted to play football, the Eagles were wise to dump Andrews and move on.

While there is no guarantee that he makes the Giants roster, if Andrews comes in with his head on straight and if he's healthy, he has the ability to be a good player in the league once again. Of course, the chances of that happening are slim but the Giants must feel that he's worth taking a flier on. While I wish Andrews the best and hope his depression issues are a thing of the past, I'm not about to start rooting for a player that signs with the Giants.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Can Jimmy Rollins hit? "You bet your sweet ass"

Hey, Charlie, can Jimmy Rollins still hit? According to Jayson Werth, his answer is priceless:

After J-Roll went 3 for 5 with a 3-run homer on Wednesday, I'd say Charlie Manuel knows what he's talking about.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shouldn't they give Dom Brown more at bats?

The Phillies have certainly used Domonic Brown sparingly over the last week, giving the rookie only the occasional at bat and rarely letting him pick up a glove. Think they might let the kid get a few more AB's after this moonshot against the Giants?

Brown's homer helped the Phillies crush the Giants 8-2 and push them to a two game lead in the Wild Card. The Braves unfortunately won again so the Phils were unable to gain any ground on the division leaders.
(YouTube clip via Where's Weems)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

5-run 8th pushes Phillies into Wild Card lead

After a slow start, the Phillies managed to ruin Pat Burrell's return to Philadelphia. Burrell, likely pumped by the standing ovation the crowd gave him, spoiled things early for the Phils, hitting a homer in his first at bat in a regular season game at Citizen's Bank while wearing an opposing uniform. Starting pitcher Roy Oswalt settled down from there, though, mowing through the Giants while allowing 3 runs across 7 innings.

The Phillies offense came alive in the 8th inning when, while searching for insurance runs, the Phils nearly batted around, plating 5 runs off a usually strong Giants bullpen. The big inning allowed the Phillies to win the game 9-3 and take a one game lead over the Giants in the Wild Card.

While Burrell made some noise in his return to the Phillies, Chase Utley was fairly quiet in his first game back in several weeks. Utley finished the night without a hit, going 0 for 5, but he did look healthy, which is the most important thing. As for who supplied the offense for the Phillies, Placido Polanco was a big contributor, going 4 for 5 while increasing his batting average to an NL-leading .325. The rest of the offense came from all over the lineup as every Phillie besides Utley registered a hit and either scored a run or drove one in. Most impressively, the Phillies managed to score 9 runs without hitting any home runs.

While the Braves won again on Tuesday night to keep the Phillies 2.5 games back, having the Wild Card lead is a nice fallback for the Phillies. While their goal should be to win the division, simply getting to the playoffs any way possible is ultimately the most important thing. After all, with a 1-2-3 pitching rotation of Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt, it's not going to matter whether they are at home or on the road to start the playoffs.

Chase Utley has returned to the Phillies!

He's back! The Phillies got some great news as Chase Utley, who had been sidelined since June 28th with an injured thumb, has been activated from the disabled list and is ready to step back into the starting lineup. While the original diagnosis called for Utley to be out until late August, he has once again shown a remarkable ability to heal and is ready well ahead of schedule. It's great timing for the Phillies, who remain 2.5 games behind the Braves despite not having their best hitter in the lineup for well over a month.

To make room for Utley, the Phillies have once again designated Greg Dobbs for assignment. As you may recall, Dobbs was DFA'd back in June but managed to get back to the majors after a short stint in Triple A. I'm not sure why the Phillies aren't sending Domonic Brown so he can actually get some playing time; I guess they are fine with him getting only occasional at-bats with the big club.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Former Eagle Brian Westbrook signs with the Niners

He has been without a job since the Eagles released him back in February but he finally has caught on with a new team: Brian Westbrook has signed with the 49ers. Given the recent retirement of backup running back Glen Coffee, signing with San Francisco makes a ton of sense for Westbrook, who will be a great compliment to Frank Gore as a third down back. Given Gore's injury history, Westbrook might even be the feature back for a few games this season. It will certainly be interesting to see how much he has left in the tank.

The Eagles will take on the Niners on October 10th in a Sunday Night game. While it won't have quite the same intrigue as the Redskins games, it'll definitely be a nice subplot to the season.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jackson and Herremans activated as the Eagles are suddenly getting healthy

There was a lot of good news coming out of Lehigh today when it comes to injured Eagles making their return to the field:

Jamaal Jackson and Todd Herremans activated from the PUP list The Eagles o-line has been a question mark all offseason but the return of these two expected starters will help to clear things up. While Jackson still isn't likely to be playing the first few weeks of the season, the fact that he's practicing again shows he's well ahead of schedule. As for Herremans, he appears on schedule to play in at least one preseason game and should be good to go when the season starts.

Mike Bell, Macho Harris, Hank Baskett and Antonio Dixon also return to practice All four missed the preseason opener but are healthy enough to get back out on the practice field. Baskett needs to be out there and giving it everything he's got if he wants to make the team over Kelley Washington. Bell's return to practice was short lived as he had to be carted off the field with a calf strain.

Safety Antoine Harris placed on the IR After suffering a Lis franc injury against the Jaguars, Harris' season is over. Harris was signed just a few weeks ago to compete for a backup safety spot but probably wasn't going to make the team before the injury. The Eagles will be looking to bring in another safety now and worked out Terrell Skinner and Jamaal Fudge after practice today.

Amongst all the injury news, the Eagles also made one cut today, dropping punter Ken Parrish. Heading into camp, Parrish seemed like he had a decent shot of unseating Sav Rocca but clearly the coaches didn't see enough from him to make a change.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The good and the bad from the Eagles first preseason game

Their first game of the new season is in the books and your Eagles are undefeated! Okay, so it's just a meaningless preseason game but the Eagles were quite impressive in their 28-27 win over the Jaguars. While the final score may make it seem like the two teams were evenly matched, if you watched the first quarter when all of the starters were in the game you saw a dominating performance by the Eagles. Here are some of the positives and negatives from the Eagles first preseason game.


First team offense: The Eagles first team offense looked on point from the start, marching right down the field on their first two drives. Kevin Kolb looked sharp, hitting DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin for big plays and even showing his scrambling ability on a couple of nice runs. Sure, they had to settle for field goals, but you couldn't have asked for much better start for the offense this preseason.

Kevin Kolb: He was strong in his quarter of play, completing 6 of 11 passes for 95 yards. While it would have been nice for Kolb to get a TD pass, he showed good movement in the pocket and made all the right throws. He's got a ton of weapons surrounding him and Kolb looks like he's capable of finding the open man and letting the playmakers make plays.

First team defense: The Jaguars first team offense couldn't get anything going, failing to even get a first down against the Eagles first team defense. They weren't out there long, but the first team D had a ton of energy and put plenty of pressure on the quarterback and didn't allow the Jaguars to let a play develop downfield. While I would have liked to see the defense out there for longer, you can't complain about how efficient they were in shutting down the Jaguars.

Riley Cooper: Cooper made an immediate impact in the second quarter, making a nice catch on a long pass from Michael Vick for 46 yards. Given that he also spent some time with the first team offense on a three receiver set, Cooper, who finished with 3 catches for 61 yards, appears to be a lock to make the team.

Brandon Graham: No, he didn't have any sacks but he did put plenty of pressure on the quarterback and had some run with the first team on third downs. A positive first step for Graham, who looks like he has the pass-rushing ability to make an impact this season.

David Akers: You can't argue with 5 for 5 on field goals. The guy has still got it.

Michael Vick: Because of his turnovers, I debated for a while about putting Vick in the negative column but I saw enough explosiveness out of him to keep him in the positives. Sure, Vick did try to do too much, but he kept the offense moving, completing 11 of 17 passes and rushing for 50 yards. The bottom line with Vick is that he looks more like his old self and is going to be a bigger weapon for the Eagles on gimmick plays than he was last year.

Martell Mallett: Due to Mike Bell and J.J. Arrington's injuries, Mallett got a ton of work in the second half and finished with 60 yards rushing, a touchdown and 18 yard receiving. The former CFL star certainly made a strong showing but he's still a longshot to make the team.

Keenan Clayton: Clayton was all over the field in the second half, making 4 tackles and picking up a sack. With a motor like that he will make it impossible for the coaches to keep him off the team.


Quintin Demps injured: He left the game with a knee injury in the first quarter. Let's hope it's nothing serious because the Eagles don't have a whole lot of depth at safety.

Second team secondary: In the second quarter, the Jaguars burned the Eagles second team secondary repeatedly, allowing Josh McCown to thrown the ball all over the field. Joselio Hanson, Dimitri Patterson, Kurt Coleman and Trevard Lindley have a ways to go if they want to get significant playing time this season.

Joselio Hanson: Hanson got torched in the second quarter on a 73 yard touchdown pass from Luke McCown to Troy Williamson. Not only did Williamson blow by him but Hanson also committed a penalty on the play. Don't count on Hanson being anything more than a nickel corner.

Geoff Pope: Like Hanson, he got burned for a big play. Unlike Hanson, Pope isn't making the team.
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Phillies do in Broxton again, overcome 7-run deficit

Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton must have nightmares about facing the Phillies. The man who regularly implodes against the Phillies in the NLCS was at it again, this time giving up a game-winning double to Carlos Ruiz in the bottom of the 9th to cap off a 10-9 Phillies win that saw them erase a 7-run deficit in the final two innings.

To call it an incredible comeback would be underselling it. According to Fangraphs.com, when Jamey Caroll singled for the Dodgers in the top of the 8th to make the score 9-2, the Phillies had a 0.4% chance of winning the game. From that point forward, however, the Phillie offense exploded, batting around in the 8th inning and picking up 4 runs before plating 4 more runners in the 9th without recording an out. Even more remarkably, all 8 runs were scored without a single home run.

You can hardly be blamed for turning off this one early but hopefully you find a way to watch a replay of the game. Despite not having their two best hitters in the lineup, the Phillies continue to find ways to get things done as they have now won 16 of their last 20 and remain just two games behind the Braves. Hopefully the magic from Thursday night carries over and helps them roll right through the Mets this weekend.
REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

Phillies activate Victorino, keep Brown (for now)

It appears that an injury to Ross Gload has extended Domonic Brown's stay in the major leagues. With the Phillies activating Shane Victorino from the disabled list today, all indications were that the team was going to send Brown down to the minors so he could play every day. Instead, because of a groin injury to Gload that the team is calling day to day, Brown will remain with the club as Antonio Bastardo is shipped back to Triple A.

Victorino's activation from the DL happened one day earlier than expected due to his drubbing of minor league pitching over the last two days. With Lehigh, Victorino proved he was ready as he went 4 for 6 with a triple and a homer.

As for Dom Brown, I still wouldn't count on the Phillies keeping him around for too much longer. Once Gload is back to full strength, at bats will be few and far between for Brown so he's better off with regular playing time in the minors. As I stated yesterday, Brown won't be gone for long, anyway, as the September 1st roster expansion is right around the corner.

Guest Post: Eagles Training Camp Observations

ATPS is happy to have Mark Trible back to write another guest post, this time on his observations at Eagles Training Camp:

As I made my yearly trip to Lehigh, my thoughts about this year’s Eagles team were unlike any other I’ve had in my life. I knew what I loved about this year’s team, and I knew what occupies the middle ground between disaster and success.

Kolb, Free Safety, Right Cornerback.

As Eagles fans, we’re familiar with these question marks by now, aren’t we? Despite my understanding of the questions on the team, I tried to go into my time at training camp with an open mind. I wanted to see what would jump out at me and give me some type of expectations for this season. For the last nine seasons, we pretty much knew what we would see from the Birds, and while it could be extremely comforting, it was also extremely boring. Now, we head into the 2010-11 campaign with a young team, a new quarterback, and hundreds of dollars worth of training camp merchandise. Well, I do anyway.

I attended an afternoon session of camp this past weekend, one that was non-contact, but nonetheless the team put together a pretty decent scrimmage. I looked for answers to the obvious questions, but also saw some positive things that deserve acknowledgment. Seeing as how I was on vacation, I wasn’t too cynical. I know, I’m disappointed in myself too. Here are some of the impressions while watching the team.

Kolb’s arm- I know that the predominant train of thought on Kevin Kolb is that he will be a more accurate passer than Donovan was, and his long range arm leaves something to be desired. After getting my first look at Kolb, I couldn’t be more impressed. His accuracy was excellent, and I was surprised at how good he looked throwing the deep ball. He hooked up with Jeremy Maclin several times, all of which were perfect. I probably saw Kolb throw 20-25 deep passes, and all but three or four were caught in stride, with excellent placement. One negative to the practice was that most of his deep passes were thrown on go routes, so I cannot vouch for his ability to hit the 20-30 yard crossing or out routes. All in all, I was extremely impressed with our new quarterback. Whether or not he has what it takes mentally and psychologically to run the team is a completely different can of worms. But, on mechanics and physical ability alone, he looked ready.

Nasty Nate Allen- Okay, so I don’t really want to go through another season with a combination of what feels like twelve different free safeties playing in the secondary. I felt it last year and all it did was rub salt in the open wound of losing Brian Dawkins. I went to camp feeling suspicious about all I had heard about Nate Allen and his prowess as a rookie to understand the defense. For all we know, that could be the same propaganda machine that we’ve heard for years by the Eagles. Jeremy Bloom was supposed to be pretty good if you all correctly remember what the organization told us.

Jeremy Bloom was a joke.

Nate Allen is no such thing (I’ll never mention the two in the same breath again, I promise).

Allen was in the middle of everything when he was on the field. He broke up pass after pass, and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He looked completely comfortable in the defense, much to my amazement. If I didn’t know he was a rookie before practice, I sure as hell wouldn’t have been able to tell after practice. I’m looking forward to seeing a whole lot more of Nate Allen this season. I have a strong feeling I won’t have to see two different free safeties this season. That’s a great feeling.

Jeremy Maclin- The one thing I noticed while closely observing Kolb during practice was that he loves to throw to Maclin. It seemed like every time number 18 was on the field, the ball was thrown in his direction. I don’t know if that was simply the way things worked out, but it seemed like Kolb and Maclin have excellent chemistry when they’re on the field together. No matter what the reason was, it’s certainly an encouraging sign for the young wide receiver and the team moving forward.

Ellis Hobbs- Hobbs seemed to hold his own most through most of practice; however he was involved in a couple of miscommunications that resulted in wide open receivers. With that being said, there was no contact in the scrimmage, so it was difficult for any corners to really shine. I’m not completely sure if the miscommunications were Hobbs’ fault or simply mistakes made by the safeties, but I was not impressed with Hobbs on the right side. I will be watching him closely throughout the preseason to see if that was an aberration. For the team’s sake, I hope it was.

Linebackers- After the scrimmage installment of practice was complete; the different positions broke into separate drills. I spent this time evaluating the linebackers. Fokou, Bradley and Sims did not participate in the drills. Basically, the drills were concentrated on pass coverage, with each linebacker covering another’s route. The routes started on the hash marks, much like tight end routes would. In watching the drills, it seemed like most of the linebackers were successful in coverage about 50 percent of the time. The exceptions were Akeem Jordan and Jamar Chaney. It’s hard not to think that Jordan will be starting at the SAM as the season opens, and I can’t help but believe that Chaney will find himself on the roster as well. He is extremely fluid and quick for a linebacker, something the birds sorely need when it comes to matching up against the tight ends in the NFC East.

Here are some less in-depth observations I also made upon my visit:

Mike Kafka looked pretty accurate, Michael Vick did not.

LeSean McCoy has the offense down to a T at this point, he looked great.

It’s great to see Stewart Bradley back on the field. He spent 20-30 minutes talking to Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott after practice.

Chad Hall spent quite a bit of time running 40 yard sprints after practice. Whether he makes the team or not, I couldn’t help but be impressed with his work ethic.

Brandon Graham was always the first person on the field when the coaches called for substitutions. He was continuously sprinting on the field to his spots. He was far and away the most enthusiastic player I saw during practice.

*I also had an excellent fan experience with rookie safety Kurt Coleman and wide receiver Kelley Washington. I was lost on Lehigh’s campus and saw the two waiting outside the dorms, for food or a ride I suppose. I stopped and wished them luck. My high school was in the same district as Washington’s, so we struck up some good-natured trash talk. Suffice to say, I was impressed with the both of them as professionals and gentlemen. I’m rooting for both to make the roster this season.

Feel free to follow Mark on Twitter (@Mtrible) or shoot him an email (mtrible@vt.edu).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sixers add Rod Thorn to front office

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Sixers have made a change in their front office, hiring Rod Thorn to be the team president of basketball operations. Thorn takes the role from Ed Stefanski, who will remain on board as the general manager.

If the name Rod Thorn sounds familiar, it's because he's been around the league for decades, first as a player in the 60's, then an assistant coach in the 70's before stepping into front office roles as general manager for the Chicago Bulls. From there, Thorn spent 15 years as the NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, a role that had him in charge of handing out league suspensions, amongst other things. In 2000, Thorn left the NBA front office and joined the Nets as team president, a role he retired from after last season.

The Sixers front office now looks a whole lot like the Nets front office in the previous decade, when Stefanski worked hand in hand with Thorn in a variety of roles. The two had some success with New Jersey, especially when they led the team to back-to-back finals appearances in 2002 and 2003. Whether this will be a good combination again will have to be seen but I'm on board with anything that gives Stefanski less power or at least gives him someone to confer with before making any major decisions.

Domonic Brown appears headed back to the minors when Victorino returns

With Shane Victorino likely to return to the Phillies on Friday, someone is going to have to go. While many hope that the Phillies would drop Greg Dobbs from the roster, according to various sources, including Randy Miller and Jayson Stark, rookie Domonic Brown will likely be sent back down to the minors.

Apparently, the Phillies feel that Brown, who has hit .257 with one homer and 10 RBI's in 10 games, would still be better off playing every day, something he wouldn't be able to do in the crowded Phillies outfield. While the idea of Brown playing against righties and Victorino playing against lefties does make some sense, the Phillies feel his development is better served by getting 4 at bats a game in the minors.

While fans will likely be disappointed in Brown's demotion, they can take solace in the fact that he will be called up immediately on September 1st when rosters expand. Should the Phillies get to the postseason, Brown is also a lock to be on the postseason roster as the first lefty pinch hitter off the bench and occasional starting outfielder.

Better get a good look at Brown over the next two games because he won't be back in Philly again for a few weeks. Of course, with the luck the Phillies have had with injuries this season, we could be seeing him a whole lot sooner.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sixers 2010/11 schedule released: Here comes the Heat

The Sixers schedule was released today and it starts off with a bang as they will take on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in their home opener. While that's a rough way to start a season, it should at least guarantee a sellout in the newly named Wells Fargo Center. The rest of the schedule features very few surprises and, as of now, no nationally televised games, but here are some key dates:

Home Opener: October 27th, vs. Heat
First Road Game: October 30th, at Indiana
New Years Eve Game: December 31st, at Los Angeles
All-Star Break: February 17th through February 22nd
Last Game: April 13th, vs. Detroit

Click here for the complete schedule.

Projecting the 2010 Eagles 53 man roster, Ver. 2.0

Now that Training Camp is under way and we have gotten some reports on how the players are doing, it's time to update my predictions of who will make the Eagles roster. With the first exhibition game coming on Friday, a lot can still change, but this is how things seem to be shaping up so far. 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. There aren't a lot, but changes from my previous projection are listed in bold.

QB(3): Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Mike Kafka

RB(3): LeSean McCoy, Mike Bell, Eldra Buckley

FB (1): Leonard Weaver

WR(5): DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett, Riley Cooper

TE(3): Brent Celek, Cornelius Ingram, Clay Harbor

LT(2): Jason Peters, Austin Howard

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

C(2): Nick Cole, Mike McGlynn

RG(2): Stacy Andrews, Fenuki Tupou

RT(2): Winston Justice, King Dunlap

DE(5): Trent Cole, Brandon Graham, Juqua Parker, Darryl Tapp, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim

DT(4): Brodrick Bunkley, Mike Patterson, Trevor Laws, Antonio Dixon

LB(7): Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims, Akeem Jordan, Moise Fokou, Omar Gaither, Keenan Clayton, Tracy White

CB(5): Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Joselio Hanson, Macho Harris, Trevard Lindley

FS(2): Nate Allen, Quintin Demps

SS(2): Quintin Mikell, Kurt Coleman

Special Teams:
K(1): David Akers

P(1): Sav Rocca

LS(1): Jon Dorenbos

Likely to start season on injured list: Jamaal Jackson, Victor Abiamiri
Jackson will hopefully be back at starting center by midseason. Abiamiri hasn't practiced yet and seems destined for another stint on the IR.

Players on the bubble:
RB: J.J. Arrington, Charles Scott
Eldra Buckley's special teams abilities give him a big advantage at making the squad over Arrington and Scott. The fact that Arrington is already nicked up and that Scott is listed as a fullback on the latest depth chart aren't good signs for their chances.

WR: Kelley Washington, Jordan Norwood, Chad Hall
The Eagles always seem to have a lot of depth at wide receiver in training camp so some quality players always get the axe. I put Washington just slightly behind Hank Baskett in their battle for the last receiver spot. If the Eagles do choose to keep 6 receivers, Norwood is probably next in line. Chad Hall, while an exciting player, appears to be destined for the practice squad.

TE: Nate Lawrie
Lawrie was brought in after Martin Rucker was cut but will only make the team if Cornelius Ingram can't get himself healthy.

OL: Dallas Reynolds, A.Q, Shipley, Jeraill McCuller
Howard has been very impressive in camp so he looks poised to make the team over Reynolds. Shipley and McCuller will probably be practice squad players.

DL: Ricky Sapp, Jeff Owens
By all accounts, Sapp hasn't looked good in training camp. Perhaps they can stash him on the IR and see if he can live up to his potential next season.

LB: Jamar Chaney, Simoni Lawrence
After ridding themselves of Alex Hall and Joe Mays and the addition of Tracy White, the Eagles linebacker picture looks much clearer. With how good White is on special teams, he's going to make the team, meaning the Eagles will likely go with 7 linebackers.

CB: Dimitri Patterson, Geoff Pope
It looks like it's down to Patterson vs. Trevard Lindley for the final DB spot. Look for the rookie, who was a total steal in the 4th round, to get the nod.

S: Antoine Harris
Harris is a distant third in the strong safety battle between Nate Allen and Quintin Demps.

P: Ken Parrish
Still gotta give the edge to the incumbent.

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 9, 2010

Riley Cote has retired from the Flyers

Although he is only 28, Flyers tough guy Riley Cote announced his retirement today and will join the Adirondack Phantoms as an assistant coach. Cote, who spent parts of 4 seasons with the Flyers, likely knew that he was going to be with the Phantoms this season and chose to be a coach with the team rather than play in the minors again. I have no clue exactly what Cote will be teaching to the minor league players considering all he ever did in the NHL was get punched.

Cote's retirement saves the Flyers 550,000, money they were going to free up anyway when they would have sent Cote to the minors. The Flyers now have around 850,000 in cap space.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

8th inning outburst pulls Phillies within one game of NL East lead

Some things never change: the sky is blue, the sun sets in the west and the Phillies own the Mets. On Friday night, the Phillies rode a spectacular 8th inning, one that saw them erase a 2-1 deficit by plating 6 runs, to beat the Mets 7-5 and notch their 13th win in their last 15 games. The win, coupled with the Giants win over the Braves in extra innings, pulls the Phillies to within one game of first place Atlanta.

The bottom of the 8th inning was a truly special thing to witness. In the inning, the Phillies sent 11 batters to the plate and slapped 7 singles, picked up a walk and one sacrifice fly in a 6 run outburst that saw them work through 3 different Mets pitchers. Newest Phillie Mike Sweeney was big in the inning, getting a pair of hits while picking up an RBI and scoring a run. While Sweeney won't be Ryan Howard, he is going to continue to get key hits when given the chance.

While the 9th inning was ugly thanks to Danys Baez and J.C. Romero allowing the Mets to make things closer than they should have been, it was a fairly solid victory for the Phillies as they continue to win games despite missing three key lineup pieces. Saturday's matchup with the Mets figures to be a good one, too, as Cole Hamels will take on Johan Santana in a clash of two solid lefty pitchers. Scratch that, make that one solid lefty as Santana has been lit up for 11 runs in his last two outings. Hopefully the Phils can capitalize on his slump and keep the 12 game home winning streak rolling.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Marlins announcers aren't too happy with blown call

We all know the Phillies got a gift when the ump called the shot down the line "fair" yesterday.

Take a listen to how the Marlins announcers reacted. They make their thoughts on the call pretty clear:

I get being mad about the call but that's a little over the top, no?
(Video via Daily Pulp)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blown call helps Phillies salvage sweep over Marlins

In a season filled with injuries the Phillies finally look like they are catching some breaks. On Thursday night, with a runner on second and the game tied up in the bottom of the 9th, Marlins hitter Gaby Sanchez rolled a grounder down the third base line that would easily have scored the game-winning run but was instead called foul. Replays clearly showed that the ball stayed fair the whole time but no amount of arguing by the Marlins reversed the call. Capitalizing on the mistake, the Phillies quickly got out of the inning and then won the game after Carlos Ruiz homered in the 10th and Brad Lidge had a (relatively) clean save to help the Phils win 5-4 and finish the sweep in Florida.

Lost in all the madness of the bad call and the terrible baserunning by the Phillies at the end of the game was the performance of Roy Oswalt. In his second start as a Phillie, Oswalt showed why he is still considered one of the better pitchers in the game. Despite having some issues locating his pitches, Oswalt left the game in the 7th with two runners on base and the Phillies up 2-0. A few pitches by J.C. Romero later and Oswalt was on the hook for a pair of earned runs, but he still had a respectable night overall, striking out 5 batters and even retiring 10 straight Marlins at one point. Given how poor he looked in his last outing, it was nice to see the real Oswalt do his thing.

With the Marlins out of the way, the season-best 12 games over .500 Phillies now come home to face the mediocre Mets. The Phillies goal with Ryan Howard should be to tread water and keep the Braves close but they are doing even better than that as they sit only 2 games back. A solid series win against the Mets while the Braves are face the tough Giants pitching could make things even tighter. Winners of 12 of their last 14, the Phillies appear to be making their move.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Phillies acquire first baseman Mike Sweeney

With Ryan Howard out for at least the next two weeks, the Phillies made a move for a new first baseman, acquiring Mike Sweeney from the Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. Sweeney, a 16 year MLB vet, spent most of his career with the Royals but played the last two seasons with Seattle. A 5-time All-Star back in the early 2000's, Sweeney still has some pop in his bat but has dealt with a number of injuries in recent years that have kept him from playing consistently. In this season alone, Sweeney has had back problems that have limited him to just 99 at-bats, though he does have 6 homers and is hitting .263 for the season.

Sweeney will step right into the lineup and be the every-day first baseman for as long as Howard is out. When Howard returns, Sweeney will slide back to the bench and will be a nice right-handed pinch-hitter. While he is far removed from his 20 homer, .300 batting average heyday with the Royals, Sweeney is a professional hitter who will contribute a key hit here and there.

Another solid August pickup for the Phillies, who have made a habit of acquiring players after the July 31st trade deadline (Jamie Moyer, Matt Stairs) that have made a significant impact down the stretch. Sure, Sweeney won't put up numbers similar to Ryan Howard but he will be a solid upgrade over the Ross Gload/Cody Ransom platoon at first. Sweeney is a strong low-risk pickup by the Phillies.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Updated: Jeremy Maclin is the latest Eagle to be carted off the field

They're dropping like flies in Bethlehem.

We are just a few days into training camp and already the Eagles are piling up injuries, from DeSean Jackson to Nick Cole to Stacy Andrews. While none of those injuries are considered serious, it still stalls the ability of the team to all get on the same page for the start of the season.

At the end of practice on Tuesday, Jeremy Maclin was the latest Eagle to suffer an injury, falling to the ground after making a catch. Things sounded bad initially as he reportedly laid on the turf for a few minutes before being carted off the field. After further examination, though, word has come out that Maclin has a hyperextended left knee but will undergo further tests with the team to determine the exact severity of the injury.

While a hyperextended knee often isn't a serious injury, it's yet another minor tweak that will keep a starting player from getting up to full speed in time for the start of the regular season. Couple Maclin's injury with DeSean Jackson's and you have a starting receiving group that won't have an ideal amount of time to get in sync with their new starting quarterback.

UPDATE: Whew! According to CSN's Derrick Gunn, Maclin has a bone bruise. He should be fine in a few days.

Phillies place Ryan Howard on the DL

After the news came out that he was going back to Philadelphia to be evaluated, we knew this was coming: Ryan Howard has been placed on the disabled list. While the initial reports were that Howard's ankle sprain wouldn't keep him out for long, apparently it was severe enough to keep him out for at least 15 days.

John Mayberry has been called up to replace Howard on the roster. Mayberry is an outfielder so he won't likely be playing first base, meaning Ross Gload and Cody Ransom will likely platoon at first for the next two weeks.

Howard is just the latest in a long line of Phillies players who have spent time on the disabled list. It's amazing this team has even been able to stay in the race with most of their starting lineup having been out for weeks at a time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Antti Niemi is available but Flyers aren't interested

Oh, the price you pay for winning the Stanley Cup. The Chicago Blackhawks, doing everything they can to keep themselves under the cap, made a surprising move today, signing Marty Turco and walking away from goaltender Antti Niemi, making him a free agent. The signing of Turco, who had been rumored to be someone the Flyers were considering, to a 1 year, 1.3 million dollar contract to be their starting goalie allows the Hawks to not pay Niemi, who was awarded a 2.75 million dollar contract in arbitration. Since Chicago is letting him walk, Niemi is now a free agent and can sign with any team for any price.

Now that he is a free agent, are the Flyers interested in making the man that beat them in the Stanley Cup Finals their starting goaltender? While fans may be interested in Niemi, according to Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly, the Flyers won't be pursuing him. Citing that the Flyers have several young goalies in the pipeline, Paul Holmgren isn't interested in signing Niemi to the long-term deal that he will likely get in the open market.

The Flyers probably weren't going to get Niemi, anyway. Sure, they could have gotten creative and dumped Brian Boucher and Riley Cote and then tried to find someone to take one of their 8 defensemen off their hands and that would have freed up enough money to sign Niemi for this season, but a contract for Niemi would have to run multiple years and would hinder the Flyers ability to sign RFA's Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux after next season. On top of that, while the Flyers could have found a way to pay him around 3 million a year, there could easily be a bidding war for Niemi that drives his price way out of that range.

While it would have been nice to bring in Niemi to upgrade the Flyers goaltending situation, it appears that Holmgren is satisfied with Michael Leighton as his starting goalie next season. With the way Homer has bungled the cap over the last few seasons, Leighton and his 1.55 million dollar salary is pretty much the best the Flyers can do. Sure, the Flyers could sign a quality goalie in the 3 million dollar range and they might be that much better but it wouldn't come with a guarantee of a Stanley Cup and it could lead to a Blackhawks-esque dismantling of the team after this season.

It looks like we're stuck with our mediocre goaltending in Philadelphia. What else is new?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ryan Howard injures ankle in Phillies win

The Phillies may have beaten the Nationals 6-4 in 11 innings but they may have paid quite a price: Ryan Howard injured his ankle on a slide into second base in the first inning of the game. While Phillies fans all feared the worst due to how Howard's leg appeared to buckle against the base, the initial reports are all positive as X-rays came up negative and the Phillies are calling the injury a sprained ankle.

After the game, Charlie Manuel speculated that Howard wouldn't need a DL stint but "might miss a day or two". Howard also so that he's in a lot of pain and he was seen on crutches as he left the park so it's probably still to early to judge whether he will miss an extended amount of time. You can bet the Phillies will take a close look at the ankle on their off day tomorrow and then proceed from there. Judging from their bad luck with injuries this season, don't be surprised to hear that Howard is placed on the disabled list tomorrow.

Should Howard miss extensive time, look for Ross Gload and Cody Ransom to play first base. Yep, that's quite a drop-off.
(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)