Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Eagles roster projection 2.0: Some surprise cuts, plus a training camp darling

The Eagles continue preparations for a season of raised expectations.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni watches his team during a public practice at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, August 7, 2022.
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni watches his team during a public practice at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, August 7, 2022.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Several thousands of fans filtered into the lower bowl at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday evening to get a sneak peek of this year’s squad with the Eagles hosting their lone public training camp practice.

“It’s always good to go to the stadium and get that support,” cornerback Darius Slay said. “We look forward to competing. I love the fans. That’s one of the main things I love about this game and my platform. A handshake from me to them might be life-changing to them. ... I just try to put smiles on people’s faces.”

While Sunday might’ve served as the only opportunity for fans to watch the team practice this summer, The Inquirer has attended every session since training camp began July 27.

NFL rules and regulations allow teams to carry 90 players on their active roster for the start of camp. Roster cutdown dates follow each week of the preseason. The Eagles must reduce their roster to 85 players by Aug. 16; 80 players by Aug. 23; and the final cut to a 53-man active roster by Aug. 30.

Throughout training camp and the preseason, Eagles beat reporter Josh Tolentino will provide updates on his 53-man roster projections.

Here’s version 1.0, and 2.0:

Quarterback (2)

Jalen Hurts, Gardner Minshew

Steady might be the best descriptor for Hurts’ performance in camp thus far. The third-year quarterback has experienced his share of “good” and “bad” days. Close friend and star wideout A.J. Brown has undoubtedly been Hurts’ No. 1 target in the passing game. During Sunday’s practice, Hurts found Brown down the middle of the field on a slant route. This has been one of Hurts’ go-to looks, especially when the pocket breaks down. Moments later, Hurts floated a deep throw to Brown, who beat cornerback James Bradberry on a fade route and hauled in tough 40-yard touchdown reception with one hand. The Hurts-to-Brown connection is alive and well.

» READ MORE: Eagles’ Isaac Seumalo is the clear favorite at right guard, but he isn’t taking it for granted

Running back (4)

Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, Jason Huntley

After handling snaps with the second-team offense during a practice last week, Sanders went out of his way to point out he’s still the top tailback in the room. In practice sessions that followed, Sanders exuded extra effort on his rushes to assure he reached the end zone, even if the play had already been called dead. It was a spicy side we hadn’t seen previously from Sanders, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Sanders boasts one of the best rushing averages in the league, although Gainwell is making a strong case to be the go-to option in high-leverage situations. Scott sustained a concussion on Saturday, when he was unintentionally laid out by Marcus Epps. Jason Huntley has flashed some in camp; he’ll be a practice-squad candidate if the Eagles stick with only three running backs on the initial 53-man roster.

Wide receiver (6)

A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal, Greg Ward Jr., Britain Covey

Despite missing a week of practice due to food poisoning, Pascal’s movements have looked crisp. Given his speed, Watkins seemed to be cemented into the No. 3 spot, but Pascal is also hungry to prove he deserves his targets in the passing game. FWIW, Reagor has been on the receiving end of the top two highlight catches in camp. However, as many remember from last summer, Reagor made multiple highlight one-handed grabs during joint practices, but he failed to carry over any of that momentum into the regular season. Covey has an opportunity to claim the title of this year’s training camp darling. He’s stacked impressive days that have been highlighted by multiple receptions from the slot and extended reps at returner. If Covey does make the team, it might come at the expense of another receiver fighting for a spot (see: Reagor, Ward, Hightower, etc.).

Tight end (4)

Dallas Goedert, Grant Calcaterra, Jack Stoll, JJ Arcega-Whiteside

Calcaterra was having a solid camp before he became the first victim of the summer to suffer a soft tissue injury (hamstring). It never helps when a Day 3 draft pick misses practices, but the depth chart is thin, which increases Calcaterra’s chances at clinching a roster spot. Stoll, who’s already developed a reputation as a stud blocker, has hauled in a handful of catches from multiple quarterbacks. Arcega-Whiteside, a former second-round pick, is a toss-up to make the team.

Offensive line (9)

Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, Lane Johnson, Cam Jurgens, Sua Opeta, Andre Dillard, Jack Driscoll

Jurgens has been one of the biggest surprises of camp. He arrived to Philadelphia as a second-round pick out of Nebraska, who was supposed to be Kelce’s long-term replacement. But Jurgens has shined early. His pure strength is clear to the naked eye, and there’s a realistic chance he plays at some point this season – whether it be at center or another spot across the interior. Seumalo has held down the right guard spot, while a slimmed-down Dillard has also shown improvements, especially during his individual reps.

Defensive line (8)

Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Jordan Davis, Milton Williams, Derek Barnett, Tarron Jackson

It’s been a joy to watch Davis on a regular basis. He’s had his share of rookie moments, but his sheer and utter dominance during individual drills is evident. The Eagles gave up touchdowns in the red zone at 66.2% last season, which ranked 29th worst in the NFL. Considering the packages Gannon could mix in with Cox, Hargrave and Davis anchored across the interior, the red zone defense – especially near the goal line – should improve drastically.

Linebacker (7)

Haason Reddick, T.J. Edwards, Kyzir White, Nakobe Dean, Davion Taylor, Kyron Johnson, Shaun Bradley

White has a chance to be one of the most impactful offseason acquisitions. That carries a lot of weight considering the team’s additions were headlined by Brown, Reddick, Davis, and Bradberry. White’s play style comes off as aggressive, but also instinctual. He is frequently around the ball, and has shown ability to hold his own in coverage. Dean has gotten more first-team reps recently, but his expectations should be tamed with Edwards and White affixed atop the depth chart.

Cornerback (6)

Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson, Mac McCain, Josiah Scott

Bradberry has been one of the most consistent players in practice. The combination of Slay, Bradberry and Maddox should serve as one of the top CB trios in the league. The back-end spots at this position are a toss-up. Tay Gowan possesses plenty of athleticism and length, but he hasn’t been nearly consistent enough. Scott presents inside-outside flexibility, which earns him the nod here.

» READ MORE: Eagles’ James Bradberry a strong, silent cornerback who complements Darius Slay nicely

Safety (4)

Marcus Epps, Anthony Harris, Jaquiski Tartt, Andre Chachere

Epps continues to solidify himself as a starter. He flashes nearly every practice, and seems to be improving with his reads and also as a defensive communicator. The noticeable omission is K’Von Wallace, who’s been outperformed by Chachere. Howie Roseman loves his draft picks – Wallace was a fourth-round pick in 2020 – but Chachere’s hybrid ability and reputation as a special-teams ace will make this a tough decision for the front office.

Specialists (3)

Jake Elliott, Arryn Siposs, Rick Lovato

The team hasn’t brought in any outside competition to debunk the three featured specialists. Special-teams coordinator Michael Clay recently said Siposs has made noticeable improvements to his technique, including increasing his overall hang time on his punts.