RB Tucker returns to Eagles practice squad

Matthew Tucker was among the most notable departures from the Eagles’ weekend cut-down to a 53-man roster, but the running back returned as one of eight additions to Philadelphia’s practice squad Sunday.

In addition to Tucker, the Eagles announced they have signed wide receivers Quron Pratt and Will Murphy, offensive tackle Kevin Graf, offensive guard Josh Andrews, nose tackle Wade Keliikipi, inside linebacker Emmanuel Acho and safety Ed Reynolds to the newly expanded 10-man scout team.

Tucker, an undrafted free agent out of Texas Christian University in 2013, led the Eagles with four rushing touchdowns this preseason but was edged by the more experienced Chris Polk for No. 3 RB duties. After beginning his rookie year on the practice squad, Tucker was promoted and appeared in two games on the Eagles’ active roster after an injury to Polk.

Each of the team’s other practice squad additions spent time with the Eagles this offseason. Perhaps the biggest names of the group are that of Reynolds, a fifth-round draft pick out of Stanford this year; and Acho, who was also a cut victim in 2013 before returning for a six-game stint on the active roster as well as a brief tenure on the practice squad.

The Eagles still have two openings on the practice squad, although NFL agent Dave Canter indicated via Twitter that his client, former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver/cornerback Teddy Williams, has agreed to a contract with the team.

It’s important to keep in mind that with the NFL’s new practice squad rules, the eligibility requirements are far less demanding for two of the 10 players–one of which may very well be Williams.

An early look at the Eagles’ 2014 depth chart

Despite finalizing their 53-man roster with a flurry of moves Saturday, the Eagles still have time to tweak their lineup before their Sept. 7 regular season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That being said, here’s an early look at Philadelphia’s projected 2014 depth chart with the roster trimmed to 53 players:

Quarterback: Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley

Running back: LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Chris Polk

Wide receiver: Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Brad Smith, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Jeff Maehl

Tight end: Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey, Trey Burton

Offensive tackle: Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Andrew Gardner, Dennis Kelly

Offensive guard: Evan Mathis, Todd Herremans, Matt Tobin

Center: Jason Kelce, David Molk

Defensive end: Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry, Brandon Bair, Taylor Hart

Nose tackle: Bennie Logan, Beau Allen

Outside linebacker: Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith, Bryan Braman

Inside linebacker: DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Casey Matthews

Cornerback: Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll, Jaylen Watkins

Safety: Malcolm Jenkins, Nate Allen, Chris Maragos, Earl Wolff

Special teams: Cody Parkey (kicker), Donnie Jones (punter), Jon Dorenbos (long snapper)

Injured Reserve: WR Arrelious Benn, OLB Travis Long

Reserve/Suspended: OT Lane Johnson

Henery among Eagles’ final roster cuts

After months of competition, the Eagles finalized their 53-man roster Saturday, announcing the release of 19 players before the NFL’s 4 p.m. cut-down deadline.

After trimming its lineup from 90 to 75 players before its final preseason game, Philadelphia reached the 53-man limit by cutting ties with quarterback G.J. Kinne, running backs Henry Josey, Matthew Tucker and Kenjon Barner, wide receivers Damaris Johnson, Will Murphy, Ifeanyi Momah and Quron Pratt, offensive tackle Kevin Graf, offensive guard Josh Andrews, defensive end Damion Square, nose tackle Wade Keliilipi, linebackers Emmanuel Acho and Josh Kaddu, cornerbacks Curtis Marsh and Roc Carmichael, safeties Ed Reynolds and Keelan Robinson and kicker Alex Henery.

In addition to the cuts, the Eagles announced that wide receiver Arrelious Benn and outside linebacker Travis Long have been placed on Injured Reserve (IR) and will miss the 2014 season, while offensive tackle Lane Johnson has been placed on the Reserve/Suspended list to begin serving his four-game suspension.

Benn, a former second-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, joined the Eagles last year and also spent 2013 on IR after suffering a torn ACL. Competing for a backup job, he caught a touchdown in the team’s preseason finale this season, but reportedly also sustained a back injury.

Long, who joined the Eagles as an undrafted free agent last year and spent his rookie season on the team’s practice squad, was in competition for a reserve pass rushing role but, according to reports, suffered an ACL tear in the preseason finale.

Henery is perhaps the most notable cut victim. A fourth-round pick of the team in 2011, he set an NFL rookie record for field goal accuracy and converted 18 consecutive attempts in 2012. However, he was inconsistent last year (23rd in the league in FG conversion percentage) and was outperformed this preseason by Cody Parkey, an undrafted rookie acquired in a trade with the Colts.

Tucker’s release might come as a surprise after the second-year back scored four touchdowns this preseason, but the Eagles’ decision to retain Chris Polk as a third RB apparently deemed him expendable. Like fellow cut victims Josey and Barner, who has been waived with an injury settlement, the former undrafted free agent does have practice squad eligibility.

Johnson and Marsh are among those who spent time on the Eagles’ 2013 roster. The former had a promising performance in the preseason finale, but seemed to be on the roster bubble since the team’s acquisition of Darren Sproles; whereas Marsh, a former third-round draft pick, appeared to be on the outside looking in at the bottom of Philadelphia’s cornerback depth chart.

Eagles’ depth on display in 37-7 preseason win vs. Jets

It was a big night for the Eagles on Thursday as Coach Chip Kelly led Philadelphia to its second consecutive win, a 37-7 rout of the New York Jets in the team’s preseason finale.

The victory had to be encouraging, but perhaps even more important than the Eagles shining en route to a .500 preseason record was the performance of several players fighting to stick with the team through looming final roster cuts.

Starters rested in advance of the Eagles’ Sept. 7 regular season opener, but there was no shortage of highlights from those lower on the depth chart.

Among the standouts were quarterbacks Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne, running back Henry Josey, wide receivers Damaris Johnson and Arrelious Benn as well as kicker Cody Parkey, who seemed to convert some of the most celebrated field goals in Eagles preseason history.

Parkey, acquired in a trade with the Colts prior to Philadelphia’s third preseason game, was three for three on attempts from 54, 25 and 53 yards. Although his time with the Eagles has been short, his perfect outing against New York assuredly jeopardized the future of incumbent kicker Alex Henery.

Barkley, who started at QB in place of resting veterans Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez, took advantage of Kelly’s up-tempo approach and finished with 253 yards and a touchdown through the air. The former fourth-round draft pick also threw an interception but added a second score to his stat line with a seven-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.

Kinne is likely a long shot to unseat Barkley as the team’s No. 3 quarterback, but if nothing else, he seemed to flash more than enough potential to warrant a practice squad spot. In limited action at the end of the game, he threw a 21-yard touchdown to rookie tight end Trey Burton and also gained 15 yards on the ground.

Josey might be on the outside looking in at a crowded running back position, but the undrafted rookie did his best to make a name for himself, gaining 121 yards on 22 carries.

Johnson and Benn both seemed unlikely to crack the Eagles’ 53-man roster coming into the game, but both receivers made a case to be kept around. The former, whose skill set was seemingly replaced with the addition of Darren Sproles this year, had a 46-yard touchdown run to go along with a 32-yard punt return, while Benn hauled in a 43-yard scoring strike from Barkley.

Other notes from the Eagles’ win over the Jets: Former Philadelphia QB Michael Vick received a standing ovation from the Lincoln Financial Field crowd after taking several snaps for New York; Earl Wolff started at safety for the Eagles and forced a fumble; running back Kenjon Barner, a recent trade acquisition, left the game after sustaining an ankle injury; outside linebacker Bryan Braman had one of two sacks by the Eagles defense.

Benjamin: Predicting the 2014 Eagles 53-man roster

It’s that time of the year again.

Preseason games are about to wrap up, and with the regular season right around the corner, teams will be forced to make plenty of decisions (some tougher than others) in the coming days thanks to the NFL’s Aug. 30 deadline for cutting rosters to 53 players.

The Eagles trimmed their lineup less than a week ago in the mandated move from 90 to 75 players, but the time for finalizing the active roster is fast approaching.

That being said, here’s one writer’s prediction of how the 2014 Eagles 53-man roster will shake out:

Quarterback: Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley

G.J. Kinne seems to be well liked by the Eagles, but he has practice squad eligibility. Barkley has too much potential to be left off the final roster.

Running back: LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Chris Polk, Kenjon Barner

If final rosters had 55 players rather than 53, it’d be easy to see the Eagles keeping both Matthew Tucker and Henry Josey as well. The team will probably try to keep them around in some fashion, but Barner provides immediate special teams help.

Wide receiver: Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Brad Smith

Arrelious Benn and Damaris Johnson are among the handful of guys who simply didn’t do enough to warrant a guaranteed role.

Tight end: Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, James Casey

Rookie Trey Burton is the only other option at tight end, and he seems more fitted for the practice squad.

Offensive tackle: Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Andrew Gardner, Dennis Kelly

Kelly could be swapped out during the season after Lane Johnson returns from his four-game suspension.

Offensive guard: Evan Mathis, Todd Herremans, Matt Tobin

OT Dennis Kelly has some experience at guard, too, so three players figure to be enough.

Center: Jason Kelce, David Molk

Incumbent backup Julian Vandervelde was recently waived, solidifying an opening for Molk.

Defensive end: Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry, Brandon Bair, Taylor Hart

Competing backup Damion Square has versatility, but Hart was just drafted by the Eagles and is likely to stick around.

Nose tackle: Bennie Logan, Beau Allen

Even if Logan makes strides this year, the rookie Allen has all but guaranteed himself a sizable role thanks to a big preseason.

Outside linebacker: Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith, Travis Long, Bryan Braman

Only Josh Kaddu seems out of the running for a role as either a pass rusher or special teams player.

Inside linebacker: DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode

Casey Matthews could sneak onto the roster if one of the OLBs (perhaps Long) doesn’t make the cut. Emmanuel Acho, meanwhile, could be a practice squad candidate.

Cornerback: Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll, Jaylen Watkins, Roc Carmichael

Carmichael hasn’t set the stage on fire in the preseason, but he’s a more experienced reserve than Watkins, who’s all but locked into a job as a fourth-round draft pick.

Safety: Malcolm Jenkins, Nate Allen, Chris Maragos, Earl Wolff

Rookie Ed Reynolds seems like a prime candidate for the practice squad.

Special teams: Alex Henery (kicker), Donnie Jones (punter), Jon Dorenbos (long snapper)

As cloudy as Henery’s future looks, it’s hard to see the Eagles replacing him with Cody Parkey after just two games of limited preseason action by the latter.

Eagles notes: Foles and Romo; Giants trade McManus

A couple of random Eagles notes as the team’s fourth and final preseason game draws closer:

Quarterback Nick Foles was revealed as the cover athlete for one of Sports Illustrated’s four regional NFL preview magazines. The only catch? He’s sharing the cover with none other than Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

This isn’t the first time Foles has been featured on the front of Sports Illustrated, though. After the Eagles’ win over the Detroit Lions in Philadelphia’s unofficial “Snow Bowl” last December, the third-year signal-caller was the titular athlete.

Elsewhere in the NFC East, the New York Giants announced a trade of kicker Brandon McManus to the Broncos on Tuesday. McManus, an undrafted free agent out of Temple University in 2013, had been competing with veteran Josh Brown for a job.

The move doesn’t directly affect the Eagles, but according to Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports, one of the reasons New York opted to trade McManus rather than outright release him is that the Giants knew Philadelphia “might’ve had interest.

The Eagles, of course, recently acquired their own kicker in Cody Parkey, but the general consensus is that the team is still keeping its eyes open for specialists to compete with incumbent Alex Henery.

As far as the team’s upcoming preseason game goes, Coach Chip Kelly announced this week that Matt Barkley would start at quarterback for the Eagles against the Jets. Foles and his No. 2, Mark Sanchez, saw extensive playing time in recent weeks, so Kelly’s plan is to have Barkley and other backups see the field for much of Thursday night’s contest.