10 Philadelphia Eagles Players Fighting for Their Roster Spot
Through six games, the Philadelphia Eagles are among the more disappointing teams in the National Football League. They entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations after struggling to an 8-8 season in 2011, which included five blown fourth quarter leads. This year, the Eagles are 3-3, with consecutive losses following a hot 3-1 start that had included close wins over the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants.
The bye week came at a perfect time for the Eagles. Head coach Andy Reid made the gutsy decision to fire defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, who probably never should have been given the position in the first place before the start of the 2011 season. Castillo's unit blew a 10-point lead in the final four minutes of the week six game against the Detroit Lions, losing in overtime. That was a game the Eagles should have won, and could end up costing them a chance at the playoffs in a few months.
With ten games left, the Eagles may need to make several changes on their roster to compete for a postseason spot, which would be their ninth in the last 13 seasons. There are 53 players on the roster, and I would estimate that about 12 of them are in danger of getting cut before the end of the season. The following slides will highlight the ten players most in danger of losing their roster spot if they don't step up their play over the final two and a half months of the season (in no particular order).
1. Dion Lewis, Running Back
The team's fifth round draft pick in 2011, Lewis drew comparisons to LeSean McCoy, and not just because they both attended the same college. Last season, Lewis carried 23 times for 102 yards, an average of 4.4 yards per carry, and a touchdown. But this year, he has been demoted to the fourth running back, behind rookies Bryce Brown and Chris Polk. Lewis has played in just three snaps this season. The Eagles are really excited about the future of both Brown and Polk, so there's really no reason to keep Lewis.
2. Damaris Johnson, Wide Receiver/Punt Returner
Damaris Johnson was the talk of training camp for his projected big play ability as a punt returner. Yet he's been a major disappointment through six games, returning just eight punts for 48 yards, a brutal 6.0 yards per return. He lost his job last week, as DeSean Jackson amd Mardy Gilyard shared the returning duties against the Lions. Johnson also has eight catches for 124 yards, but he hasn't shown that he's important enough to keep around.
3. Mardy Gilyard, Wide Receiver
Gilyard wasn't even expected to be on the team this season, but he caught a break when Riley Cooper broke his collarbone in training camp. Gilyard has been active in five games this season, but he's played just six total snaps on offense and he doesn't have a catch. With Cooper back from his injury, there's no need to keep Gilyard on the team.
4. King Dunlap, Left Tackle
Dunlap is back as the team's starter at left tackle but that doesn't mean his roster spot is secure. He likely won't get cut because he can play tackle and guard, four of the five positions, but he really isn't a great player and is only starting because veteran Demetress Bell has been awful.
5. Demetress Bell, Left Tackle
I'm surprised that Bell is still around. He was supposed to succeed as the replacement for Jason Peters this season. I predicted him to turn into the next Evan Mathis. Instead, he's been one of the worst linemen in the league, rating as a -14.4 according to Pro Football Focus, the fourth worst tackle in the game. With Dunlap now starting and rookie Dennis Kelly unproven, expect Bell to be handed his release papers pretty soon.
6. Dallas Reynolds, Center
Reynolds spent the previous three seasons on the practice squad and needed to make the 53-man roster this year to remain a member of the Eagles. He did make the roster, and that's unfortunate because he has been one of the worst players on the team. In fairness, he is replacing Jason Kelce, but he's ruining any chance of playing in this league again with his poor play through the last month, especially his fumble on an early snap last week.
7. Darryl Tapp, Defensive End
Tapp would be on the roster for the majority of teams in the league, but the Eagles have a lot of depth at defensive end (even though they all suck this year). With the possible return of Mike Patterson, the longest-tenured member of the Eagles, Tapp becomes expendable. He has played more snaps at defensive end than Brandon Graham and Phillip Hunt this year, but Graham has been very promising and the Eagles really like Hunt so I think a veteran like Tapp would be the one to go if Patterson returned. At the very least, I'd expect rookie Vinny Curry to start taking some snaps, meaning Tapp would be inactive.
8. Jamar Chaney, Linebacker
Two years ago, Chaney started a couple of games at the end of the season that caused analyst Brian Baldinger to call him one of the best linebackers in the game already. Now Chaney is on the verge of being cut. He was inactive against the Lions for the first time this season and made a comment on Monday that he didn't mind being inactive. CSNPhilly's Reuben Frank suggests that the Eagles cut Chaney just for those remarks, and I can't say I'd be upset. He's not playing this season anyway.
9. Curtis Marsh, Cornerback
When Marsh was drafted, the Eagles knew they had a project, a player who could take a year or two to develop into a starting-caliber cornerback. That still hasn't happened yet. Marsh has appeared in just nine defensive plays this season, and he's behind Brandon Hughes on the depth chart, not to mention Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Brandon Boykin. I wouldn't cut him yet but he's not earning his roster spot, not even remotely.
10. Brandon Hughes, Cornerback
Hughes is the fourth cornerback, not the fifth, but he has brutal against the Lions on Sunday, allowing three passes, all of which were completed, for 82 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles' epic fourth quarter collapse against the Lions. Keeping him on the team really does nothing at this point.