Philadelphia Eagles

RB Ryan Mathews passes physical, released by Eagles

RB Ryan Mathews passes physical, released by Eagles

After months of waiting, Ryan Mathews is gone. 

The Eagles on Tuesday finally cut the veteran 29-year-old running back in a move that will save the team $4 million in cap space. 

While Mathews has been rehabbing elsewhere, he has taken up a roster spot all spring and summer while he recovered from a serious neck injury. He even still had a stall in the Eagles' locker room. The Eagles were waiting for him to completely heal before releasing him. 

Mathews was set to have a cap hit of $5 million in 2017, the last year of the three year contract he signed before the 2015 season. 

Before the move on Tuesday, the Eagles had $8.665 million in cap space. This will create $4 million more. 

The team released the following statement regarding Mathews' release:

“We want to thank Ryan for his contributions to the Philadelphia Eagles over the past two seasons. We spoke today and had a productive conversation about his future and the direction of our team going forward. First and foremost, we are glad that Ryan is healthy and has been cleared to return to football activities, but given the current state of our running back position, we feel like it is best for both sides to go in a different direction. We wish him all the best as he continues his career.”

When he was healthy, Mathews was actually pretty productive as a member of the Eagles. But as it has been in the past for him, staying healthy wasn't easy for Mathews. His Eagles career ended in Week 16 when he suffered a herniated disc in his neck.

In 26 games with the Eagles, the former first-round pick carried the ball 261 times for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns. His yards per attempt average was 4.6. 

Among Eagles running backs with at least 250 career attempts, Mathews ranks third in yards per attempt behind Ernie Steel (5.18) and LeSean McCoy (4.65). 

Only 12 players had more rushing touchdowns over the last two years and his 4.6 yards per attempt was the ninth-highest average among players with at least 250 attempts. 

Mathews, throughout his career, has been a good running back when healthy. The problem is he never seems to be healthy. 

While Mathews played well in two years, it wasn't very surprising the Eagles decided to move on from a 29-year-old with a big cap number, who can't stay healthy and who is coming off a serious injury and surgery. 

The Eagles have Darren Sproles, LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey as their running backs right now. 

The Eagles used the roster spot vacated by Mathews to bring back cornerback Mitchell White. The roster now stands at 90.

Rob's Rants: Eagles preseason opener, Chris Long and Odubel Herrera

Rob's Rants: Eagles preseason opener, Chris Long and Odubel Herrera

Here's the latest edition of Rob's Rants in which CSNPhilly's Rob Ellis does just that about the hottest topics in Philly sports.

Crisp Carson
Cue the ESPN 30 for 30 narration. 

What if I told you that in the Eagles' first preseason game, Carson Wentz would go 4 for 4 passing and lead his team to a touchdown on his only drive of the night. He would also convert a fourth down with a man in his face and a 3rd-and-13 while flinging aside a rushing Clay Matthews for a 38-yard touchdown. 

Wentz's physical prowess and football growth were on full display. There aren’t many quarterbacks who can fight off a 6-3, 255-pound freight train with bad intentions and still have the wherewithal to keep their eyes down the field and complete a pass. Wentz's combo of size, strength and athleticism is a lethal mix.

The first-team defense would hold the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers to a three-and-out and on the next possession force a fumble. 

I’d say, barring any major injuries, which didn’t occur — success. Big picture: Focus on what the Eagles' starters accomplished last Thursday in Green Bay. Everything is typical preseason fodder.

Can we just fast-forward to Sept. 10 already?

Out of his lane
I never understood the "stay in your lane, stick to sports if you’re an athlete" thing. If Eagles defensive end Chris Long wants to tweet his opinion about what’s happening in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, why is he any different than anyone else who has a take, other than he has a platform? Because he plays sports for a living and gets paid handsomely to do so, he isn’t afforded the same rights as a “regular guy?”

If you check his timeline or listen to interviews from him in the past, giving opinions outside of sports is something Long has done virtually his entire career. This is not a concert setting where an artist is forcing political opinions down the throat of a captive audience who just wants to hear his or her songs. If you don’t want to listen to Long or any other athlete, don’t follow them on Twitter and don’t listen to their interviews.

El Torito
As hard as it may be for some, I think we just need to accept that Odubel Herrera is a really talented player who also can be a bonehead. He can be both; they are not mutually exclusive. 

Herrera is just 25 years old and in only his third season. But he’s been around long enough that these inexplicable brain-dead plays should not be happening.

Pete Mackanin and the organization are in a tough spot. Herrera can hit for average and power. Entering Monday, he was hitting .342 with a .970 OPS since June 1. He already has 15 more doubles (an NL-leading 36) than he had all of last season.

And although he will swing at garbage, bat flip on a fly out and do things on the bases that make you throw your remote, the positives outweigh the negatives (see story). He may take a circuitous route to the ball, but his speed and ability to track a ball in center are special. His lapses in judgment may keep him from being a franchise player, but even with the warts, he is still a damn good, proven big-league player, and one the Phils should think long and hard before moving.

Eagles camp notes, quotes and tidbits: Derek Barnett expects to produce

Eagles camp notes, quotes and tidbits: Derek Barnett expects to produce

Derek Barnett had a pretty good NFL debut in the Eagles' preseason opener. 

Just ask Brett Hundley, whom he sacked twice. Or Joe Callahan, whom he drilled into the grass at Lambeau Field. 

"It felt good to get to the quarterback because we're not able to hit them in practice," Barnett said about the hit below. "It was live. All the D-linemen on the field were just excited because we could touch the quarterback without getting yelled at."

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz specifically mentioned this hit on a screen pass when asked about what Barnett showed in his debut. 

"He's a slippery guy," Schwartz said. "There are some things he can do better. He had a couple sort of wasted rushes where we weren't in sync with our front four. Sort of what you expect from a rookie as you start. But obviously, two sacks on a limited number of reps — that kind of production, you expect from a first-rounder."

Barnett said his first game felt good but he's just concerned on getting better. He is still focused on trying to make his rushes look the same. It's the mantra he's been sticking with for the last few weeks. 

Barnett feels the pressure, too. He agrees with Schwartz that production is expected from him as a first-round pick. 

"I think that's what's expected of me," he said. "It's not a surprise to me. I mean, I feel like as a first-round pick, I have to come in and help early. I feel like I'm trying to do that as much as possible and still continue to grow each and every day. It was the first preseason game but there's still a long way to go. I think it was a good start but I have to keep continuing to build every day and not get satisfied." 

Douglas shines in debut 
While the Eagles acquired Ronald Darby on Friday, one of their rookie cornerbacks really impressed Schwartz in Green Bay on Thursday night. 

Rasul Douglas stood out. 

"Well, first of all, I thought he played very well in the game," Schwartz said. "I don't remember if I said this before, but one of the things that's impressed me about Rasul is, every time we've taken a step up in competition, he's sort of met that challenge, you know, and it might not look the same on a normal practice, but on our first padded practice, he really stood out. First preseason game, I thought he stood out. 

"He's got great length. He can get his hands on balls. He responded quickly to things that happened in the game. Did a couple nice things on special teams, too, and that's important for young corners. So he's on the right track. Like so many players, and I'm sure you guys are tired of hearing this from me, he's just striving for consistency."

Don't drop the ball
While a few rookies stood out on Thursday in Green Bay, it wasn't a great debut for fourth-round running back Donnel Pumphrey. 

He struggled on offense and in the punt return game. But more importantly, he struggled holding on to the football. And on Saturday, the first practice after the game, he fumbled the football again. 

"Well, I just know this, like every coach knows, you can't win games and you can't be on the field — and this is just a general statement — if you can't hold on to the football," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "Every player knows that in this game. So we talk about it a lot. We want to make sure we drill it. It's emphasized. Some of it is hard to tell until you get into live action a bunch, that's why Coach (Doug Pederson) has some live practices during training camp. We've had some live practices without putting the ball on the ground too much. So that was probably the most disappointing thing to me, is that we put the ball on the ground four times in that last game. That's unacceptable and we have to improve upon that."