Eagles waive injured Vandervelde

The Eagles completed their first round of cuts Tuesday, announcing that offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde has been placed on waivers to bring the team’s roster to 75 players.

Vandervelde, a fifth-round draft pick of the Eagles in 2011, was waived with an injury settlement after missing much of training camp with a back injury.

A product of the University of Iowa, Vandervelde appeared in 15 games for the Eagles over the course of three seasons. He saw limited action as a reserve guard in his rookie campaign, then returned to the team’s practice squad after a two-day stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012. After his promotion to the active roster as a second-year backup, Vandervelde also served as Philadelphia’s second-string center.

In advance of the NFL’s Tuesday afternoon deadline for trimming rosters from 90 to 75 players, Philadelphia previously released 14 others on Saturday. Among the initial cuts were former draft pick Joe Kruger and suspended linebacker Jake Knott.

The Eagles have until August 30 at 4 p.m. to make final roster cuts for the 53-man regular season roster.

Report: Sanchez opposed to trade possibilities

It wasn’t long after the St. Louis Rams learned they would be without starting quarterback Sam Bradford for the entire 2014 season that Mark Sanchez’s name surfaced as a potential trade target.

It also wasn’t long after that possibility emerged that the backup Eagles quarterback reportedly shot it down.

According to USA Today, Sanchez would not give up his current role as Philadelphia’s likely No. 2 to fill a starting job in St. Louis. Of course, that’s if he were to have a say in trade talks, which may very well be out of the question to begin with.

Sanchez, signed by the Eagles in March to handle second-string duties behind Nick Foles, was almost immediately speculated as a possible fill-in for the injured Bradford. His connection with Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, under whom he played with the Jets from 2009-2011, adds a level of intrigue to St. Louis’ reported interest.

However, both Sanchez and the Eagles could make a compelling argument for sticking together.

The former has been virtually flawless under Coach Chip Kelly in the preseason and is well positioned to turn his career around in Philadelphia, even if it means acting as an insurance policy for Foles. The Eagles, meanwhile, possess an experienced veteran that can be trusted if called upon, assuming Sanchez plays as comfortably as he has once the regular season rolls around.

Round one: Eagles trim roster with 14 cuts

Ahead of the NFL’s deadline for the first roster cuts of the season, the Eagles announced the release of 14 players Saturday.

The 14 cut victims consist of wide receivers B.J. Cunningham and Kadron Boone, tight ends Emil Igwenagu and Blake Annen, offensive tackle Michael Bamiro, offensive guards Karim Barton and Donald Hawkins, defensive ends Joe Kruger, Alejandro Villanueva and Frank Mays, inside linebacker Jake Knott, safeties Davon Morgan and Daytawion Lowe, and kicker Carey Spear.

Nearly half of the jettisoned players were undrafted rookie free agents, whereas Cunningham, Igwenagu, Kruger, Villanueva and Knott were among the more notable cuts.

Cunningham, a sixth-round draft pick of the Dolphins in 2012, spent his entire rookie season on the Eagles practice squad and was on and off the scout team last year. He would have had a touchdown catch in the team’s latest preseason game if not for a penalty, but he also faced steep competition at the back end of the WR corps.

Igwenagu, noted for his versatility as an undrafted product of Massachusetts in 2012, spent most of the last two seasons on the Eagles practice squad, making two stints on the active roster. The emergence of Zach Ertz and presence of James Casey behind Brent Celek seemed to make him expendable.

Kruger, the younger brother of Browns pass rusher Paul Kruger, was a seventh-round pick of the Eagles in 2013. He seemed to be an ideal long-term project for the team’s 3-4 defense, but spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve and appeared behind his competition this summer.

Villanueva was arguably known just as much for his off-field achievements as his role in the Eagles’ defensive end competition. A former Army Ranger who served three overseas tours after a college career with the U.S. Military Academy team, he could be a candidate to join Philadelphia’s practice squad.

Knott appeared in 12 games as an undrafted rookie in 2013, serving as a reserve ILB for the Eagles. He was suspended for the first four games of 2014 earlier this offseason, however, after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.

Philadelphia has until 4 p.m. Tuesday to trim its roster from 90 to 75 players, so after cutting ties with more than a dozen competing backups, the team needs just one more transaction before its fourth and final preseason game.

Eagles show promise in ‘battle for Pennsylvania’

It took three weeks, but the Eagles finally got in the win column for the 2014 preseason Thursday night, producing on both sides of the ball in a 31-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at home.

Of course, preseason wins and losses don’t matter much once the regular season rolls around, but the performances within them certainly do to some extent. For Philadelphia, the team’s win in the “battle for Pennsylvania” provided a promising glimpse at the starting lineups more than it did a turnaround in the Eagles’ record.

Quarterback Nick Foles was up and down in the first two weeks of the preseason, but the third-year signal-caller helped guide the Eagles to 17-point lead in the first half of Thursday’s contest. His 179 yards and one touchdown through the air led the team, while his one interception on the night came after target Darren Sproles tripped on a pass route.

Foles was aided by a number of other notable offensive performances, including that of running back LeSean McCoy, who totaled 50 yards and hauled in Foles’ TD pass in limited action; wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who made his preseason debut with six catches; and competing backup running backs Henry Josey and Matthew Tucker, the latter of which scored twice on the ground.

Defensively, the Eagles appeared just as sharp, shutting out the Steelers offense while the starters were on the field. Playing without cornerbacks Cary Williams and Brandon Boykin, both of whom rested for precautionary reasons pertaining to injury, the Philadelphia “D” surrendered just 96 yards to Pittsburgh’s first-team unit and also forced a turnover thanks to an interception by cornerback Nolan Carroll. The Eagles weren’t quite as stout in the second half once mostly backups populated the lineup, but the team still finished the game with a markedly improved showing from previous weeks.

Other notes from the Eagles’ first preseason win of the year: Backup QB Mark Sanchez continued his run of near-perfect appearances in relief of Foles, completing seven of nine passes vs. Pittsburgh; RB Kenjon Barner, acquired in a trade with the Panthers two days before the game, got in on the action in the backfield with seven carries for 32 yards; WR B.J. Cunningham, one of several reserves competing for a backup role, had a headlining touchdown pass negated by a penalty late in the game; DE Vinny Curry and OLB Brandon Graham each got the Steelers pocket for a sack; and K Alex Henery missed a 31-yard field goal try a day after the Eagles traded for rookie specialist Cody Parkey, who converted one extra point attempt on the night.

Eagles land rookie kicker in trade with Colts

After keeping quiet for much of training camp, the Eagles have not been shy about shuffling their roster this week, announcing Wednesday that rookie kicker Cody Parkey has been acquired from the Colts in Philadelphia’s second trade in as many days.

An undrafted free agent signing of Indianapolis this year, Parkey had reportedly been placed on waivers earlier in the day, but was ultimately sent to the Eagles in exchange for running back David Fluellen before the transaction was officially processed.

Parkey’s arrival comes courtesy of a move apparently made to inject life into Philadelphia’s kicker competition. Fourth-year specialist Alex Henery seemed to have little trouble fending off undrafted rookie Carey Spear in training camp, so the former Colts kicker could, if nothing else, motivate Henery in the waning weeks prior to the regular season.

A product of Auburn, Parkey converted both field goals he attempted for Indianapolis this preseason, but wasn’t expected to overcome veteran Adam Vinatieri for a roster spot. In college, he converted just 15 of 21 field goal tries as a senior, but was noted for leading the nation on kickoffs with 69 touchbacks.

Fluellen, who also happened to be waived before being traded, could have been deemed more expendable thanks to the Eagles’ acquisition of reserve running back Kenjon Barner on Tuesday. An undrafted product of Toledo, the 224-pound rookie flashed potential with a touchdown in the Eagles’ preseason opener, but still faced heavy competition for a role behind LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles.

Eagles deal for Panthers RB Kenjon Barner

The Eagles arguably have two of the most elusive running backs in the NFL on their roster, but that didn’t stop them from adding more depth to the position Tuesday night.

In an announced deal with the Panthers that saw Philadelphia acquire Kenjon Barner in exchange for a conditional 2015 seventh-round draft pick, the Eagles upped the competition for a role behind veterans LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles.

Behind McCoy and his expected backup, Sproles, the Eagles initially figured to have third-year reserve Chris Polk handle the No. 3 RB duties, but the former undrafted addition has been sidelined for several weeks with a hamstring injury. Young options like Matthew Tucker, Henry Josey and David Fluellen have also each shown promise in the preseason, although hardly enough to guarantee a spot on the team’s final roster.

A sixth-round pick of Carolina last year, Barner previously played under Coach Chip Kelly in college, setting school records at the University of Oregon. While he saw limited action as a rookie in 2013, carrying the ball just six times in eight games, the former Ducks back flashed big-play ability in Kelly’s offense and also has experience as a kick returner.

The addition of Barner, then, could add competition not only to the backfield but also on special teams. Rookie third-round draft pick Josh Huff opened eyes with a kick return touchdown in the Eagles’ preseason opener, but an injury to the wide receiver last week may have sparked Philadelphia’s interest in a player with returning experience.

The NFL’s recent allowance of an additional two spots on team practice squads could bid well for some of the battling Eagles running backs, too. With scout teams now consisting of 10 openings, some of which also have more lenient eligibility requirements, Philadelphia could end up retaining one or more of those who don’t crack the 53-man roster at the RB position.

In related news, the Eagles also announced the release of inside linebacker Jason Phillips on Tuesday. A free agent addition last offseason, the sixth-year veteran had been competing for a backup/special teams role after missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL. Before signing with Philadelphia, Phillips spent five years between the Ravens and Panthers, recording a career high 22 tackles for Carolina’s special teams unit in 2012.