The favorite pastime among the media covering the Eagles this week has been trying to guess what happens at defensive end, where the Birds have seven decent contenders, and usually would keep no more than six. Everyone has been trying to parse who the odd man out will be. There seems to be a strong feeling that it will be Jerome McDougle, despite McDougle notching a team-high 2.5 sacks in the preseason.
Your humble Eagletarian has gone over the roster, in the wee hours of Friday morning, in the wake of the final preseason game Thursday night, and he says keep Jerome, don't donate him to the Giants, who need pass-rush help after losing Osi Umenyiora. In fact, I say, keep all seven. You can do it if you go with five linebackers, which I think is doable, given a young, healthy linebacking corps.
Here is Eagletarian's 53-man Eagles roster, which of course doesn't account for players that might spring loose from other teams and get gobbled up by the Birds over the weekend (say, a real fullback). The actual cuts will be made by 6 p.m. tomorrow; some might be made today, with any luck, after you've read this, since I stayed up writing it.
Let's start with that defensive line. DEs are Victor Abiamiri, Chris Clemons, Trent Cole, Darren Howard, Juqua Parker, Bryan Smith and McDougle. That's not such a luxury right now, with both Abiamiri and Clemons sidelined by injury. You can always reshuffle in a few weeks, when those two are healthy and you've seen the other guys play in real games.
DTs are Brodrick Bunkley, Mike Patterson, Trevor Laws and Dan Klecko. The versatility of Howard and Parker makes a fifth tackle unnecessary for now.
LBs are Chris Gocong, Stewart Bradley, Omar Gaither, Akeem Jordan and Joe Mays. I kept waiting for Rocky Boiman to do something in the preseason, as the veteran of the group, to justify keeping him ahead of Mays.. I'm still waiting. "Good Rocky's revival" is going to require more than Gideon's Bible. Andy Studebaker makes the Eagletarian practice squad, along with Justin Roland, just so I can make more Studebaker Hawk and Song of Roland references.
I'm keeping five safeties, because the Eagles have five pretty good ones, and Brian Dawkins seems to get dinged a lot these days: Dawk, Quintin Mikell, Quintin Demps (is a 2-Quintin defensive backfield an NFL first?), Sean Considine and the unsinkable J.R. Reed.
That means four corners: Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard and Joselio Hanson. Kyle Arrington to the practice squad. Demps can move over to corner in an emergency. But yeah, that's thin. You'll need a fifth eventually, just not for Week 1
On the offensive line, I'm assuming the worst on that Max Jean-Gilles left knee sprain suffered late in the fourth quarter Thursday night, and I'm IRing Max. (And why was the top offensive line sub out there with 3:37 left in the final preseason game?) At any rate, I'm keeping Tra Thomas, Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson, Shawn Andrews, Jon Runyan, Scott Young, Nick Cole, King Dunlap and Winston Justice. Mike McGlynn ought to make it through to the practice squad, with somebody else, probably Stefan Rodgers.
Tight ends are L.J. Smith, Brent Celek and Matt Schobel. Kris Wilson was a huge disappointment, despite a good last couple weeks.
Running backs are Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter and Lorenzo Booker. Tony Hunt is my fullback, whether he likes it or not. In reality, I can't see this working out, but here's what I'd be tempted to try: Let Hunt be the fullback who catches passes and converts third-and-1. Let Klecko slide back in there in some blocking situations, particularly down around the goal line, where he looked OK for Indianapolis and New England. But what I think will really happen is Hunt getting released by Monday and the Eagles bringing in yet another castoff from parts unknown
Wideouts are Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, DeSean Jackson, Hank Baskett, Greg Lewis and Jason Avant. If Brown isn't going to be ready for the opener, maybe Michael Gasperson gets a game, but of course, you'd have to cut someone else somewhere to make that work. Brown has never missed a regular-season game, in three previous seasons, so I'm thinking Gasperson, a valiant, hard-working member of the Practice Squad Hall of Fame, is out of luck.
Quarterbacks, no surprise, are Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and A.J. Feeley.
David Akers is the kicker, Sav Rocca the punter, Jon Dorenbos the long-snapper.
I'm pretty sure that's 53. Somebody e-mail this to Tom Heckert and Andy Reid, so they don't have to spend all that time scrutinizing film and arguing.