PHILADELPHIA -- It's the time of year when 53-man roster projections are made and players on the bubble briefly take center stage. Teams must cut their rosters from 90 to 53 players by Sept. 2.
There are multiple roster battles happening right now with the Philadelphia Eagles. When asked which ones he has an eye on heading into Thursday's preseason finale at the New York Jets, head coach Doug Pederson named cornerback/nickel, running back, tight end and offensive line.
Let's take a quick look at each:
The Eagles just traded safety Terrence Brooks to the Jets for cornerback Dexter McDougle, who has experience at both outside and nickel. "He's a young kid that we're excited about getting him in here and getting him going with the defense," Pederson said. McDougle will be added to a group that includes projected starters Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, along with Patrick Robinson, Ron Brooks, rookie Rasul Douglas, Aaron Grymes and C.J. Smith. Robinson has been getting some looks with the first-team nickel and has acquitted himself pretty well. Jaylen Watkins also has position versatility as a safety/corner.
This could come down to rookies Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement for the fourth running back spot behind LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles. Clement has risen up the special-teams depth chart (special-teams coordinator Dave Fipp likes Clement as a potential kick returner) and has been the better offensive performer overall. The Eagles moved up to select Pumphrey in the fourth round, however, while Clement went undrafted. Pederson gave a vote of confidence to Pumphrey on Sunday, adding, "I thought they all did a great job the other night in that game, so it will be interesting this week to see how that plays out."
Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Trey Burton should all make the squad. The wildcard is Billy Brown, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound undrafted rookie out of Shephard University who has shown some real promise this summer. Anthony Denham out of Utah has also had some good moments this offseason, though it appears he has trailed off some of late.
Pederson mentioned former defensive lineman-turned-offensive-tackle Taylor Hart specifically. Hart has made the transition to the offensive side pretty well and has given himself a fighting chance. The head coach also mentioned second-year player Dillon Gordon as someone he is interested in watching Thursday.
"It's going to be fun to watch these guys not only in practice this week but again on Thursday night," Pederson said.