A fairly solid week all-around makes the defensive end battle a very difficult one to figure. Nothing has changed regarding the top three spots. Josh Sweat was absent from the stat sheet on Thursday, but was collapsing the pocket well and has the support of the coaching staff behind him. Finding himself on the injury list with a day-to-day knee injury is a setback. The gravity of that is yet to be seen. It is not the first concern about Sweat’s knees. It shouldn’t keep him from making the roster, but it will be something to keep an eye on throughout the season.
Daeshon Hall put on another incredible performance in Jacksonville. The front office will have a hard time keeping him off the roster. There are rumors swirling that the Eagles may look to move him before the start of the season. With Josh Sweat’s health as it is, Philadelphia may be forced to hold onto Hall. They could do worse.
The coaches are reportedly quite pleased with Shareef Miller‘s progression. He’s been particularly impressive against the run. While he’s still a project, he may have done enough to carve out a roster spot. He could be a candidate to end up on the reserves with an undiagnosed injury — if you catch my drift. Knowing the team’s propensity to rotate pass rushers, keeping six ends is not out of the question.
This may be the most solidified position group on the roster. There won’t be any movement at the top three positions. Hassan Ridgeway is back in pads after impressing in the first week. He is looking more and more like a huge steal for the franchise. The amount of playing time he gets against the Ravens will be more-or-less a tell-all in terms of how cemented his spot is.
Bruce Hector is not a bad option for the Birds and Aziz Shittu has had a pretty steady offseason as well. Hector and Treyvon Hester have spent time on the active roster and this is Shittu’s second time with the team. That is to say, the front office clearly has a certain comfort level with all three players and will give them all a chance to compete.
Conclusively, I think Hester‘s special teams value gives him the edge over the other options. The dude just has a knack for getting his hands on kicks. There aren’t many concrete x-factors for roster hopefuls, but multiple blocked kicks in just a short span of time is one of them. He’s not a bad defensive tackle either.
Kamu Grugier-Hill’s injury puts this position group in flux. Nigel Bradham is the unquestioned number one and Zach Brown will be the second ‘backer until KGH returns from injury. The team is very happy with what Brown brings to the table, so it will likely be a rotation of Brown and Grugier-Hill as the season goes on. That’s where things get tricky.
The coaching staff reportedly like L.J. Fort, but he still hasn’t shaken the inconsistency out of his system. Toss Nate Gerry in that box as well. Unless Gerry can show some real improvement this season, it may be his last with the Eagles. Jonathan Cyprien’s presence — and versatility to play both linebacker and safety — may very well eat into Gerry’s limited chances to prove himself.
The dark-horse in this race is undrafted free agent T.J. Edwards. He has impressed the coaches and will be tough to keep off the final roster. Six linebackers, even with KGH’s injury just seems like too many. Edwards might be the last to be cut, but I don’t think the team is ready to give up on Gerry just yet. Long story short, the decision to cut or keep Wis may be the deciding factor for T.J. Edwards.
Alex Singleton led the team in tackles in Jacksonville. If nothing else he has earned himself a practice squad spot. If it wasn’t for the log jam of talent at the position, he may have even sneaked onto the roster.
Newest addition Chris Worley likely won’t get a fair shot at making the roster, but he will get to see the field.
|*Jalen Mills (PUP)|
Darby and Maddox are the clear favorites to start the season. Maddox will likely start in the slot, which means the other outside corner position is up for grabs until Jalen Mills returns. I give the slight edge to Rasul Douglas, but I don’t believe the coaches do. Sidney Jones will be given a long leash early in the season, with hopes he can regain his college form.
Whether or not the team keeps a sixth corner will depend on Cre’Von Leblanc’s health. Scandrick will undoubtedly win the sixth corner position. His experience and ability covering the slot give him the advantage.
Jeremiah McKinnon and Josh Hawkins seem to be neck and neck although Hawkins was picked on a bit in Jacksonville. Neither will make the final cut, but it the next few weeks could be a battle for a practice squad position between the two.
Sojourn Shelton had a nice PBU in Thursday’s game, but hasn’t been getting enough playing time to really show his stuff. Same could be said for Ajene Harris after registering a sack in the first week.
There are no changes at this spot. I’m a fan of Tre Sullivan, but the odds are stacked against him. Cyprien is tailor-made for this defense and the coaching staff has been impressed with Sendejo. It’s rare that a team keep four safeties on the roster, but Cyprien’s versatility and Rodney McLeod’s health concerns facilitate that decision. This battle is unlikely to change even if Sullivan shows out in the last two games.
Elliot hit a huge 52 yarder in Jacksonville; Johnston averaged 43.8 yards per punt and Lovato is as steady as they come.
Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports