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Why was Eric Rowe dealt? Maybe it was his demeanor

The No. 1 rule in answering why a player was traded or released is to not focus on what the player did wrong or why he didn't fit, but on circumstances outside of his control.

The No. 1 rule in answering why a player was traded or released is to not focus on what the player did wrong or why he didn't fit, but on circumstances outside of his control.

So when Jim Schwartz was asked why the Eagles dealt cornerback Eric Rowe to the Patriots for a conditional fourth-round draft pick, he mentioned the development of rookie Jalen Mills.

"Jalen was a seventh-round pick and really exceeded our expectations and probably anybody's expectations for him," Schwartz said Thursday. "We're looking at a situation where we're going to have four corners active."

Rowe was the fifth corner and there was a chance that he wasn't going to dress Sunday. But how did a second-round pick entering only his second season - after he showed promise in five starts as a rookie - suddenly become expendable?

"It wasn't as consistent as you would like it to be, just for a second-year guy," cornerback Nolan Carroll said. "You have those [inconsistencies] when you're a rookie."

But just several weeks ago, Schwartz was preaching patience in regard to Rowe. He has the size (6-foot-1, 205 pounds), speed (4.45-second 40-yard dash) and attitude (even-tempered) that most coaches would find attractive.

Something was missing, though. Rowe's technique looked little like it did a year ago. He was often trailing receivers in the preseason. But he had the same cornerbacks coach (Cory Undlin) and a scheme that wasn't drastically different from last season's.

"He's a good press corner," Schwartz said. "That's what his strengths are."

Rowe played safety for his first three seasons at Utah. He practiced there briefly last year, but Schwartz said he thought he was a corner.

But was he Schwartz's type of corner? The longtime defensive coach wants his defensive backs to play with a swagger.

"You can't be soft," cornerback Ron Brooks said. "You've got to be aggressive - like Jim. . . . He needs guys that he knows he can rely on out there at corner."

Leodis McKelvin and Brooks followed Schwartz from the Bills and never lost the prominent roles - the former on the outside and the latter in the slot - they were given at the start of practices in the spring.

Carroll was eased back as he returned from a broken ankle, but he eventually overtook Rowe and will start opposite McKelvin. Mills impressed early, but a hamstring injury sidelined him and he struggled like most rookies during the preseason.

But Mills, like McKelvin and Brooks, carries himself with confidence - maybe too much.

"Sometimes Coach tells me, 'Calm down' because I may get too excited if I make a play," Mills said. "But I think I play with an aggression."

Rowe was a Chip Kelly draft pick and a Kelly guy in terms of his demeanor. But the Eagles didn't trade him because he came from another regime. If Rowe could perform at a high level in Schwartz's scheme, he would still be here.

But it's fair to wonder if a clash of personalities prevented him from continuing on the upward path he appeared to be scaling by the end of last season. The Patriots saw something worth salvaging.

Kendricks rotating?

Jim Schwartz confirmed that he is likely to use a rotation at linebacker when the Eagles open the season Sunday against the Browns.

"I view using guys with their particular talents as a positive," Schwartz said Thursday. "I view keeping guys fresh over the course of a season and over the course of a game as a positive. It's up to the players to perform."

A day earlier, Jordan Hicks said that it was "more than likely" Schwartz would use multiple personnel groupings. A lot, of course, will depend upon the week's opponent and matchups, but it seemed unlikely that Schwartz wouldn't use backup middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch - at least on running downs.

"We didn't bring him here to watch," Hicks said of the recently-acquired Tulloch. "They've been rotating me around a little bit a couple snaps at each position. We'll see."

If Tulloch were to play in the middle and Hicks were to move outside to the weak side, that could mean Mychal Kendricks is the odd man out on running downs. Nigel Bradham would conceivably remain at strong-side linebacker since he isn't expected to play in the nickel.

Kendricks hasn't spoken publicly since before the third preseason game and declined to answer questions again on Thursday. In May, he said that last season's linebacker rotation played a part in his on-field struggles. Asked if Kendricks' role has changed, Schwartz said, "Everybody's role is sort of fluid."

Kendricks was the only expected starter to play in the fourth preseason game. Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Schwartz said they wanted to get him playing time because he missed the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury.

Soft-tissue injuries have been an issue for Kendricks, who missed three games to a hamstring strain last season and four to a calf strain the year before. He struggled last season - particularly in pass coverage - but should be on the field with Hicks in the nickel package.

Peters principle

After three seasons of playing at about 330 pounds, Jason Peters said that he is back to his usual playing weight of 345.

"I played it all my career until Chip [Kelly] got here," Peters said recently. "It ain't no biggie."

Peters missed the first preseason game with a quadriceps injury, and there is obvious concern that the 34-year-old left tackle will not make it through the entire season unscathed. But the Eagles were sure to give him a steady stream of breaks throughout training camp and have devoted a trainer to stretch him out during warm-ups.

"I feel good," Peters said.

The Hall of Fame-caliber tackle is entering his 13th season in the NFL and his eighth with the Eagles. After playing in all 16 regular-season games from 2013-14 - the first time in his career that he started in all 32 - Peters missed two games and parts of several others because of a back condition last season.

His play appeared to suffer as a result, although he said he has nothing to prove in 2016.

"What else do I got to prove?" Peters said. "You tell me."

Peters said that he still considered himself one of the premier left tackles in the NFL.

"I'm still starting, right?" Peters said. "Other people feel that way, not just me."

Five questions: Jason Kelce

1. Who is the toughest player you ever faced?

My rookie year, Jay Ratliff.

2. What's the first position you ever played in football?


3. Who's the best teammate you ever had?

My brother [Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce].

4. What is your best football memory?

Getting drafted.

5. What is your least favorite piece of equipment that you have to wear?

Knee pads.

Inside the game

Doug Pederson has changed half of the plays in his offense so that the calls are just one word. The West Coast offense typically has verbose terminology. Quarterback Sam Bradford, before he left via the trade to the Vikings, said he preferred the one-word method.

"It just makes it so much easier getting in and out of the huddle," Bradford said. "It puts a little more responsibility on [the rest of the offense] because it doesn't tell everyone what to do. But I think honestly it's better . . . [because] everyone's got to be dialed in to hear that one word."

Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich was asked who the Eagles planned on using to fill the fullback role after tight end Chris Pantale was released.

"You can always move [tight end] Trey [Burton] back there," Reich said. "We can find other offensive or defensive linemen to kind of put back there in specialty situations."

The Eagles have practiced some with defensive tackle Beau Allen as the fullback on short-yardage plays.

Inside the locker room

On Wednesday, Josh Huff was casually returning a kick during a non-contact drill when he got popped and knocked on his rear. The receiver jumped up and had to be restrained by tight end Brent Celek.

"It [ticked] me off," Huff said. "I think it was [defensive end Steven] Means. . . . He said it was his fault. It's cool. I'll get him back sometime."

The Eagles will rotate at wide receiver, but Dorial Green-Beckham said that he was the starting "X" receiver - opposite Nelson Agholor at the "Z " - during practice this week.

By the numbers

Average number of snaps the last five opening-day rookie quarterback starters played in the preseason. Carson Wentz played 39.

Combined record (.460) of teams that started a rookie quarterback from Game 1 in the last 10 years. It happened 17 times over that span.

Combined record of Eagles coaches in their first game. Doug Pederson is the sixth straight without prior NFL head coaching experience.