The Eagles got their roster down to the required 53 players on Saturday, releasing nine more players, including cornerback Sidney Jones, the team’s 2017 second-round draft pick.
Also released were defensive ends Shareef Miller and Joe Ostman, defensive tackles Raequan Williams and Anthony Rush, cornerback Rasul Douglas, rookie offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho, guard Sua Opeta, and undrafted rookie tight end Noah Togiai.
General manager Howie Roseman said that the team will be making changes to the roster in the next two days.
“The roster as it is today, there definitely will be changes in the next 24 to 48 hours just based on the new IR [injured reserve] rules to begin with,” he said. “And I don’t know that we’re necessarily where we want to be with our 53 right now. But knowing that we have extra practice-squad spots and have the ability to bring guys up gives us a little bit different flexibility.”
The NFL has made significant changes to both the injured-reserve list and the practice squad to allow teams a little more flexibility with players because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, a team can put an unlimited number of players on injured reserve starting 4 p.m., Sunday, and bring them back as soon as three weeks.
Practice squads have been expanded to 16 players. In the past, the practice squad was limited to players with three years or less experience. This year, teams can have as many as six players on their practice squads, with unlimited experience, and they can protect four players each week who can’t be signed by another team.
At least two players on the Eagles’ 53-man roster — wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and safety Will Parks — are expected to be placed on IR on Sunday, which will open up two roster spots. Another injured player, defensive end Genard Avery, also is an IR candidate.
Teams can start signing players to their practice squad at 1 p.m., Sunday.
Jeffery, who is rehabbing a foot injury suffered last season, has spent training camp on the team’s physically unable to perform list. But players on PUP can’t return until the seventh game of the season. Roseman said the team expects Jeffery to be able to play a lot sooner than that, which is why they’ll move him to IR.
“We feel he’s going to be ready before that,” he said. “Alshon feels he’s going to be ready before that. He’s a good player, and we want to get him back as quickly as possible to help this football team.”
Roseman denied an Inquirer report that the Eagles have been trying to trade Jeffery.
Jones’ release wasn’t a surprise. He was hurt much of his first three years with the Eagles and was sidelined again for much of the team’s abbreviated training camp.
“He wants to be a really good player,” Roseman said. “Unfortunately, when you look at what happened this training camp, we didn’t have as much of an opportunity to evaluate him as we would’ve liked to.
“Given the circumstances, it’s hard to make a decision and keep a guy like that right now. That doesn’t mean he won’t be a good player going forward. It doesn’t mean we’d ever rule out bringing him back. But right now, we have to make decisions that maybe are a little different than in an ideal world.”
Jones was considered one of the top corners in the 2017 draft until he ruptured his Achilles tendon at his Pro Day workout.
The Eagles took him in the second round knowing that his rookie season essentially would be a redshirt year. He played in just one game as a rookie.
He spent much of the next two years bothered by hamstring injuries. He went through a six-game stretch last season in which he played just four defensive snaps.
He got an opportunity late in the season, breaking up a key third-down pass in the Week 14 overtime win over the Giants. Two weeks later, he had a game-saving, fourth-down pass breakup in the end zone in a win over Dallas.
With starting corner Jalen Mills out with an ankle injury, he played 57 snaps in the division-clinching Week 17 win over the Giants. But he didn’t play a single snap a week later, in the first-round playoff loss to Seattle.
Jones vowed that he would have a breakout season in 2020. “It’s going to be different next year for me, for sure,” he said in January. “My time is going to come. I’m going to work hard, and things are going to be different for me next year.”
But Jones spent much of the Eagles’ short training camp in a familiar place, on the sideline hurt.
The Eagles also released Douglas, who was taken the round after Jones in the 2017 draft. He played 500-plus snaps in each of the last two seasons, starting 18 games in his three years with the team. But he was an inconsistent, undisciplined corner who defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz didn’t have a lot of trust in.
The Eagles kept nine of their 10 rookie draft picks on the 53-man roster. The 10th, Tega Wanogho, who was one of three sixth-round picks, is expected to be signed to the practice squad.
Seventh-round defensive end Casey Toohill made the team ahead of 2019 fourth-round pick Miller, a former Nittany Lion, and 2018 undrafted free agent Ostman.
“When camp opened, Casey probably was fighting an uphill battle [to make the roster],” Roseman said. “We had a chance as a staff to watch all of those defensive ends together and watch all of their reps one after the other.
“The thing that stands out with Casey is he’s got the tools in his body. he’s got the explosiveness in his body. And he’s got a relentless motor.”
QB (3): Jalen Hurts, Nate Sudfeld, Carson Wentz
RB (3): Corey Clement, Miles Sanders, Boston Scott
WR (7): J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, John Hightower, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, Quez Watkins
TE (2): Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert
OL (8): Jack Driscoll, Nate Herbig, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Jordan Mailata, Jason Peters, Matt Pryor, Isaac Seumalo
Defense and Special Teams
DE (6): Genard Avery, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Casey Toohill
DT (4): Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Malik Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway
LB (6): Shaun Bradley, T.J. Edwards, Nathan Gerry, Duke Riley, Alex Singleton, Davion Taylor
CB (5): Craig James, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Avonte Maddox, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Darius Slay
S (6): Marcus Epps, Rudy Ford, Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills, Will Parks, K’Von Wallace
ST (3): Jake Elliott (K), Cameron Johnston (P), Rick Lovato (LS)