The season opener is just around the corner but before the Linc roars into life, the Eagles have to trim their roster from 90 down to 53. There’s one last opportunity for players to prove themselves prior to a day that will change the lives of many, but there’s one position battle that’s almost bound to steal the spotlight.
Zach Ertz isn’t going to play in the Birds’ fourth preseason game, Dallas Goedert has been kept out of preseason with the team verging on the side of caution after he picked up a knock in the first game, and Richard Rodgers recently suffered an injury that could span multiple weeks.
For the three remaining tight ends on the roster, this is their biggest opportunity yet. The Eagles usually keep three tight ends around and if Richard Rodgers can’t go, there’s a chance he starts the year on IR. Beyond that, the desire to run 13-personnel looks could even point to the Eagles keeping a fourth tight end. With the stakes so high, it hasn’t taken long for the players to start making an impact.
“Yeah, these guys are working extremely hard, number one.” Doug Pederson explained following Thursday’s game. “We now understand Josh. He’s a fluid athlete. He runs well. He’s smart, a good special teams’ player. We had Will last year, Will was on our practice roster last year, and Will is another one that’s a bigger guy that’s a little more in-line, kind of the primary blocker tight end that we have, physical, and he’s one that’s kind of learning the passing game. It probably doesn’t come as easy as say Josh.
And then Alex, this guy coming to us late, he’s just gotten better each day. He’s improved. Each game you see him flying around on special teams making plays, and then there was a great catch the other night for the touchdown and certain things. But yeah, he’s improving every day. They all have a different skill set, but excited to watch them one more time this week.”
One would assume that Joshua Perkins has all the momentum on his side given that he’s been with the team the longest.
Perkins may not be as polished as Dallas Goedert or the units leading man, but as an undrafted free agent in 2016, he stuck onto the Falcons roster as their fourth tight end. When Jacob Tamme suffered an injury in November of 2017, Perkins saw his first action on an NFL field. Eventually, he found his way to Philadelphia, signing a futures contract and sticking onto the roster ever since.
In fact, Perkins had quite an impressive start to the 2018 season considering the circumstances. Registering 4 catches for 57-yards against the Bucs before notching a ten-yard catch against Indianapolis one week later, Perkins made his presence felt on an offense that at the time, needed receiving depth. There were some drops and inconsistencies along the way, but Perkins showed enough to remain on the roster.
But receiving prowess may not be enough this time around. With Ertz and Goedert already established as a leading TE tandem, Perkins will mainly be used as an in-line blocker or on special teams, making preseason all the more important.
Ellis was on the Chiefs roster last season after stints with the Jags, Titans, and Saints. The former UDFA out of Tennessee stands at 6’4, 236 lbs and stepped into a tight end room that looked congested just a matter of weeks ago. But landscapes can change rapidly in the NFL.
The Tight End caught a touchdown in Thursday night’s loss to Baltimore, as well as laying a crucial block on a 2-pt conversion, and flying around the field on special teams. He hasn’t been here long, but what may have once seemed like a natural path to the roster for Joshua Perkins, has now become a triple threat clash with just one preseason game remaining and Will Tye on the outside looking in.
Tye has been the quietest in this discussion, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He’s been on the team since last November and signed a futures deal after the end of the season. The 27-year old hasn’t played a regular-season game in close to two years and it’s almost easy to forget that in his first two years, he played in all 32 games for the Giants, catching 90 passes for 859 yards and two scores.
The big-bodied tight end is fighting to prove he’s still got it, but that silence will need to be broken on Thursday. He has 34 receiving yards to his name so far this preseason, but 25 of those came on a huge catch-and-run in week 2.
Tye has been on the team for a while now and the team obviously have familiarity with him and his skillset. But with Alex Ellis scoring a touchdown and Perkins showing development ad a route-runner, the road to a spot on the final 53 is a long one.
Who do you think makes the final roster? Let us know in the comments below!