I wouldn’t say that anything on the depth chart is a huge surprise if you’ve followed the team closely throughout training camp. But there definitely some interesting observations that can be made. Here are ten of them, in no particular order.
1) Nick Foles as the third quarterback.
What this means is that the Eagles aren’t playing around and pretending that veteran Trent Edwards is ahead of rookie third round draft Nick Foles on the depth chart. You could make a legitimate case for Trent Edwards as the player most likely to not make the 53-man roster this season. His goal right now is just to land some quality film that could attract another NFL team desperate for a quarterback.
2) Third running back spot still up for grabs.
Heading into training camp for the 2012 Eagles, the competition for backup running back was basically an open competition, as Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, and Chris Polk all had a good chance to back up Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy. If you had made a depth chart a month ago, you would have put Lewis second, Brown third, and Polk fourth, based purely on Lewis’s experience last season and Brown being drafted compared to Polk signing as an undrafted free agent. But through the first couple of weeks of camp, the order remains the same. Lewis has all but clinched the backup running back spot. Brown has been electrifying at times but he has struggled with his blocking. The final spot for running back will come down to Brown and Polk’s performances in the preseason games.
3) Middle of the pack wide receivers.
There are only three wide receivers who are guaranteed to make the week on roster for the Eagles, and that’s obviously DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant. Third-year player Riley Cooper was expected to land the fourth receiver spot again and as of now, he’s the favorite, despite a broken collarbone that will sideline him for at least the rest of the preseason. But take a look at the middle of the pack options at wide receiver. Chad Hall is fifth, rookie Marvin McNutt is sixth, and undrafted free agent Damaris Johnson is seventh. The Eagles are probably going to keep just five wide receivers, and I actually think Johnson has the best chance to make it out of him, Hall, and McNutt, because of his dynamic abilities in the return game. McNutt could be a practice squad candidate and I would be very surprised if Hall made the team this year.
4) Dallas Reynolds as the backup center.
One of the more underrated battles for the Eagles is for the job of backup center. Second-year guard Julian Vandervelde has been taking a decent amount of snaps at center this year, but he’s listed as the backup left guard, while Dallas Reynolds is the backup center. By the way, this year is make or break for Dallas Reynolds, as the Eagles cannot keep a player on their practice squad for four straight seasons. Reynolds is at three. That’s incentive to root for the 28-year old throughout the rest of training camp and the preseason.
5) Brandon Washington as the third right guard.
The Eagles were pretty high on guard Brandon Washington when they selected him in the sixth round of the draft this year. Many had predicted Washington to go as high as the second or third round this past year, and it was assumed that Washington would be able to contribute immediately. That may be true, but as of now, he’s going to have to fight to even make the roster, as he’s behind veteran Mike Gibson on the depth chart.
6) Darryl Tapp ahead of Vinny Curry.
I didn’t think Tapp had any chance to make the team this season because he is owed $2.4 million and the Eagles have other defensive ends who can play: Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, and Phillip Hunt. But as of now, Tapp is the fourth defensive end, ahead of Vinny Curry, who many have predicted to be a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate this season. I’m still not convinced that Tapp will make the team but he’s doing well so far.
7) Brian Rolle leading Jamar Chaney for WILL linebacker spot.
The battle between cousins and teammates Brian Rolle and Jamar Chaney for the weakside linebacker spot was expected to be one of the top battles of training camp. Through two weeks, Rolle, as many have expected, has the early lead. Chaney is a lock to make the team though, and will see action in every game.
8: Cliff Harris listed as seventh cornerback, fourth punt returner.
Undrafted rookie free agent Cliff Harris is everybody’s darkhorse to make the team this season. But you talk about an uphill battle. He’s listed as the seventh cornerback and even though he had some success returning punts in college, he’s only the fourth punt returner. Expect both to go up as Harris has an opportunity to play in preseason games but don’t think he has an easy shot to make the team. Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Brandon Boykin, and Curtis Marsh are the four locks at cornerback, and it’s going to be tough to unseat veteran Joselio Hanson. I could definitely see Harris beating out Brandon Hughes, the sixth cornerback, but will the Eagles keep six cornerbacks on their roster?
9) Mat McBriar ahead of Chas Henry as the punter.
It really appears that the Eagles could have seen the end of Chas Henry, last year’s punter, who struggled at times throughout the season. Two-time Pro Bowler Mat McBriar, signed a couple of weeks ago, has been unofficially named the favorite to beat out Henry as the team’s punter, and now he’s officially the favorite.
10) No DeSean Jackson on the punt return depth chart.
The Eagles announced that DeSean Jackson would see a limited amount of punt returns this season, and that looks to be true, as he did not even make the initial four-man list of punt returners. As expected, rookie Damaris Johnson is the first option, followed by Chad Hall, Brandon Boykin, and Cliff Harris.
In case you missed it, click here to read the 10 best players in 2012 Philadelphia Eagles training camp.
This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for the Philadelphia Eagles and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.