Who makes the cut: Offensive line
The three-week slog through training camp is over as the Eagles left Lehigh University on Tuesday and returned to Philadelphia to resume preparations for the season. Practices resume on Thursday at the NovaCare Complex as coach Andy Reid continues the process of weeding out the players that won't make the 53-man roster.
In 12 days every NFL team must pare its roster from 90 players to 80. Over that span – excluding weekends – we'll take a look at each position and predict who stays and who goes. Final cuts are on Aug. 31. Here's the lineup:
Wed, Aug. 15: Offensive line
Thur., Aug. 16: Defensive tackles
Fri., Aug. 17: Cornerbacks
Mon., Aug. 20: Running backs
Tues., Aug. 21: Wide receivers / tight ends
Wed., Aug. 22: Linebackers
Thur., Aug. 23: Safeties
Fri., Aug. 24: Quarterbacks / Specialists
Mon., Aug. 27: Defensive ends
We start our journey on the offensive line where there are fewer questions than a year ago when Howard Mudd remade the group. That doesn't mean there isn't a little haze after the starting five.
LIKELY TO KEEP: 8-9.
WHO STAYS: Demetress Bell, King Dunlap, Todd Herremans, Jason Kelce, Dennis Kelly, Evan Mathis, Justin Vandervelde, Danny Watkins.
WHO GOES: Mike Gibson, D.J. Jones, Alfred McCullough, Dallas Reynolds, Steve Vallos, Brandon Washington, Thomas Welch.
If they can, the Eagles will keep only eight offensive linemen. I think that's the number because whoever is the backup interior lineman will also be asked to swing at both guard positions and center. That is essentially the one spot up for grabs and it looks like any one of four could claim it. I'm going with Vandervelde – a 2011 fifth round pick -- right now, although I could change my mind when I select a final 53. The second-year linemen did not play well in the preseason opener, so he has to show something over the next two weeks. His competition – especially Dallas Reynolds – did not fare so well either against the Steelers. Reynolds has been taking most of the repetitions with the second team at center, but he hasn't come close to putting a stamp on the spot. Gibson and Vallos have more experience than either and could leap ahead of both, but they haven't really stood out yet. This battle still has a ways to go.
Kelly is a project, but the Eagles like what they see so far. He'll remain on the roster. Dunlap is currently starting at left tackle, but I think the Eagles will likely work Bell back up to the first team by the opener. Dunlap is a versatile backup having started at both tackle spots and left guard in the NFL. It's tough to get a read on Washington. He's been out for a while with a concussion. He looks destined for the practice squad.