Eagles Training Camp Preview: Cut Days

Chip Kelly participates in Training Camp with his teamAs the dog days of summer grow near, training camp begins to rear its ugly head. Just a few weeks of conditioning, game planning, and formulation will stand between NFL teams and their 2013 campaigns’. For Philadelphia, training camp will be especially tumultuous under the new coaching staff. Players drafted during the Andy Reid era may want to update their resumes, as their time in the bird gang may be coming to a close.

Roster cuts are the least enjoyable part of coaching, but are a necessary evil if team’s want to take their talents to the big apple come February. Chip Kelly will not play favorites, a fact that should worry third year underperforming linebacker, Casey Matthews, an Oregon product. But who else’s days in Eagles green are numbered?

Starting with the wide receivers, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, DeSean Jackson, and Damaris Johnson are veritable locks to make the team, so that leaves only one to two spots left for Riley Cooper, Ifeanyi Momah, Arrelious Benn, Russell Shepard, and B.J. Cunningham. Benn has seen time with the first team offense during the team’s recent mini-camp, and should be able to make the active roster with a strong camp. Momah is my sleeper here, but it will likely be the former Buccaneer in Benn who makes the team.

Now regarding the offensive line, second year man Danny Watkins was a first round draft pick during the Reid era, but is reportedly on the roster bubble. If Watkins can prove his value, some added depth on a virtually ancient offensive line wouldn’t be a bad thing to have.

The tight end position is especially interesting with the addition of James Casey through free agency, and Zach Ertz during the draft; both of whom are locks to make the roster. Longtime Eagles veteran Brent Celek should be a lock to make the roster, but where will that leave Clay Harbor? I am not entirely sold on the fact that James Casey won’t be the team’s fullback this season. If Casey is versatile enough to play both TE and FB, there is a chance that Harbor could remain with the team, though that scenario remains very unlikely.

Another weapon the Eagles would be happy to be with or without, is former Dallas Cowboys’ running back Felix Jones. If Jones does not impress at camp, the Eagles will have a plethora of younger running backs to choose from.  Even with his value in the return game, there are many other capable returners on the roster, including the aforementioned Benn.

Perhaps the most unlikely scenario of the bunch, suppose Nick Foles and or Matt Barkley impress at camp. Where would that leave Michael Vick? Vick has publicly stated his desire for Coach Kelly to name a starter, but is because he may be cut and wishing for enough time to search for another team? Or simply his desire to reassert himself as the leader and player that MV7 believes himself to be? While I am not predicting a departure from Vick, I would not be surprised by one.

Switching to the defensive side of the ball, the most likely bit of loose fat the eagles will decide to trim is the unimpressive Kurt Coleman. The former 7th round pick of the Reid era will likely be cut early unless the balky knees of Kenny Phillips prevent him from contributing on defense. Though he was impressive at the first mini-camp, Curtis Marsh will have to impress at camp should he hope to stay on the roster. While the Eagles are not ripe with top quality talent in the secondary, tremendous depth does lie in the ranks of the cornerbacks, which means that Marsh’s time with the Eagles’ is likely over.

In the front seven, Casey Matthews is a likely candidate for departure, as he has not been anywhere near as effective as his brother, Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers. Due to a scheme change, it is unlikely that defensive end Phillip Hunt will make the team as he is much more suited to play in a 4-3 scheme. Which would contrast the hybrid 3-4 Billy Davis is expected to run.

Cut days can shatter a player’s life, or give him new beginning. Whatever the outcome of one of the most anticipated training camps of recent years, Eagles’ fans know that Kelly is determined to put a winner on the field.

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Benjamin Haley

Ben Haley is the Sports Director for 91.3 FM WVUD. Ben also serves as a sports broadcaster for the University of Delaware. . He is the main Philadelphia Eagles contributor for HighPhive.com! You can follow him on Twitter @BenHaley11.