Cody Parkey's return shakes up Eagles' special teams

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles were active in NFL free agency, adding new players and subtracting a few big contracts. Now the team is focused on the upcoming NFL draft.

We'll conclude our position-by-position look at the state of the roster with the specialists.

Starters: Kicker Cody Parkey, punter Donnie Jones, long-snapper Jon Dorenbos.

The kicker quandary: The Eagles acquired Parkey in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts before the 2014 season. As a rookie, Parkey earned a Pro Bowl berth by making 32 of 36 field goal attempts and all 54 of his PAT tries. The Eagles appeared set at the position for the foreseeable future.

But Parkey injured a groin muscle last summer. After three games, in which he made 3 of 4 field goal tries, Parkey reinjured himself. He was placed on injured reserve and missed the rest of the 2015 season.

In his place, the Eagles signed Caleb Sturgis, who had spent the previous two seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Sturgis missed a field goal in his first game, a 23-20 loss at Washington. Coach Chip Kelly decided to stay with Sturgis, and he went 18 for 21 over the rest of the season.

Sturgis said during the season that he believed the job belonged to Parkey. And if Parkey is healthy and able to regain his form, he's likely to be the Eagles' kicker going forward. But if Parkey shows signs of slippage or is hurt again, Sturgis could be in line to take over.

The old vets: Dorenbos is still a reliable long-snapper. Jones had one of his best seasons in 2015, with a net average of 41.6 yards and 29 punts dropped inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

But Dorenbos and Jones will both be 36 when the season begins. That doesn't mean the Eagles urgently have to replace them, but it does mean the team should begin to put together succession plans.

Dorenbos had a rough patch early in the 2015 season and the Eagles worked out a few long-snappers. They decided to stick with Dorenbos and he was fine the rest of the season. But that's a sign of things to come.

The other guys: Under Kelly, special teams got more practice time than in many cities. Kelly also stressed special teams when making offseason roster moves. Players such as Chris Maragos, Bryan Braman and Seyi Ajirotutu were on the roster primarily because of their special teams acumen.

Special teams coach Dave Fipp remained on the Eagles' staff, which should create some continuity. But it will be up to new head coach Doug Pederson to decide which players make the team and how much emphasis is placed on special teams.