Early Eagles roster projection: Defense

785800.jpg

Early Eagles roster projection: Defense

Its ridiculously early, but, then again, its never too early for a 53-man roster, right? Right? Well, heres the first go at it. Yesterday, we looked at the offense and today we'll be evaluating the defense and special teams.

This roster is based on what Ive seen during OTAs and minicamp. Obviously, plenty can change during training camp:

LDE: Jason Babin, Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp
LDT: Cullen Jenkins, Derek Landri, Antonio Dixon
RDT: Fletcher Cox, Mike Patterson
RDE: Trent Cole, Vinny Curry
WILL: Jamar Chaney, Brian Rolle
MIKE: DeMeco Ryans, Casey Matthews
SAM: Mychal Kendricks, Akeem Jordan
LCB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Brandon Boykin, Brandon Hughes
RCB: Nnamdi Asomugha, Joselio Hanson, Curtis Marsh
SS: Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett
FS: Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson, Phillip Thomas

Safety
The Eagles are still young up the middle here and Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman remain the starting safeties, much to the dismay of many Eagles fans.

The fact that Jaiquawn Jarrett, last years second-round pick, had trouble getting on the field last season, doesnt look good, but after a lockout-shortened offseason cost him his first months of development, they wont give up on him yet.

Colt Anderson is still recovering from ACL surgery, so well have to see how that goes, but he should make the team if hes healthy. Hes their best special teams player.

The last guy on the team at safety is Phillip Thomas, a rookie free agent out of Syracuse. Hes a guy who has looked good through OTAs and had a nice college career.

Cornerback
Nnamdi Asomugha will be the starter on the right side and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be the starter on the left side. And with Asante Samuel gone, you can expect those two to switch back and forth more frequently.

Joselio Hanson is the incumbent corner in the slot and hes battling with rookie Brandon Boykin. Both should make the roster. Id give a slight edge to Boykin to win that job.

The next corner on the outside is Curtis Marsh. He didnt get much of a chance to play last season after getting drafted in the third round but has some talent. Hell be ahead of Brandon Hughes.

That would leave D.J. Johnson, Trevard Lindley and Cliff Harris out of the mix. Harris couldnt attend OTAs because he hadnt yet graduated from Oregon. Its possible he has a good enough camp to take a spot from somebody, but itll be an uphill battle.

Also, the Eagles had no problem cutting Joselio Hanson before last season only to re-sign him four days later. That was a contract issue, as they were able to bring him back for less money, but if Boykin wins the slot job, maybe theyd cut Hanson again.

Linebacker
The Eagles traded for DeMeco Ryans to be the man in the middle and they drafted Mychal Kendricks to play the strongside. Thats where those two guys will start. Then, it gets a little more interesting.

Jamar Chaney and Brian Rolle will battle for the weakside position. Rolle is the starter now -- like he was at the end of last season -- but Chaney had off-season surgery and its possible theyre trying to slowly get him back in there. Either way, both are on the roster, so that leaves two spots open (thinking theyll keep six linebackers).

Akeem Jordan is a really hard guy to cut because he plays smart and is a good special teams player. And, Casey Matthews was thrown into a bad situation last season and he will get another shot.

That leaves Keenan Clayton and Moise Fokou out of the mix. Fokou was once a starter; now hes an afterthought. And, Clayton recently had sports hernia surgery, and he was on thin ice before he wasnt able to show his stuff during OTAs.

Defensive line
Were probably looking at 10 defensive linemen on this team, which is important because theyre all going to get plenty of playing time. Jason Babin and Trent Cole are the starting ends. Cullen Jenkins and Fletcher Cox look like the two tackles. Cox is the 12th-overall pick and he should be ready to start after training camp.

Brandon Graham is still on the team, ready to prove hes not a bust. Vinny Curry is a second-round pick. Mike Patterson should be ready to go for the season after brain surgery in the off-season. He still has a chance to start if the team wants to give it to him.

Derek Landri found a home last season the Birds last season and the team will want to see if his 2011 performance was for real. Antonio Dixon is coming back from an injury-shortened 2011 and is one of the teams best run-stuffers.

That leaves one spot for either Phillip Hunt or Darryl Tapp. The Eagles really like Hunt, formerly of the CFL, but Tapp showed some real pass-rushing ability during the early part of last season before injuries ruined the rest of his year. I think hell be the guy.

Special Teams
P: Chas Henry
K: Alex Henery
LS: Jon Dorenbos

The Eagles worked out Brad Maynard and brought in free agent punter Ryan Tydlacka, but the job still belongs to Chas Henry. Yeah, his 2011 season wasnt very good, but hes still they best they have.

Forget about the 49ers game; Alex Henery is good. In fact, hes really good and made just about everything during OTAs and minicamp. His leg will keep getting stronger and hell be the Eagles kicker for years to come.

Jon Dorenbos is the long snapper. And he does magic.

E-mail Dave Zangaro at dzangaro@comcastsportsnet.com

MLB Notes: Rangers' Rougned Odor's suspension reduced to 7 games

052716_mackanin_slide.jpg

MLB Notes: Rangers' Rougned Odor's suspension reduced to 7 games

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor started serving his suspension Friday for punching Toronto's Jose Bautista after the penalty was reduced from eight to seven games.

Odor was out of the lineup for the series opener against Pittsburgh. He will be eligible to return June 4 when Texas is home against Seattle.

Bautista was suspended one game, and he was serving that Friday, when the penalty was upheld a day after his appeal was heard.

The Rangers promoted former top prospect Jurickson Profar from Triple-A Round Rock, and he was in the lineup against the Pirates as the leadoff hitter playing second base. Odor had been leading off.

Odor's penalty was cut by Major League Baseball special assistant John McHale Jr. The appeal over Odor's role in a May 15 brawl between the Rangers and Blue Jays was heard Tuesday. The league disciplined 14 players and staff over the melee in Arlington (see full story).

Red Sox: Struggling RHP Clay Buchholz to bullpen
TORONTO -- Struggling Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz is being moved to the bullpen and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will take Buchholz's spot in the rotation, starting Tuesday at Baltimore.

Buchholz is 2-5 with a 6.35 ERA in 10 starts and has allowed five earned runs or more six times. He gave up season-highs of six runs and three home runs in Thursday's 8-2 loss to Colorado.

Rodriguez (right knee) is on the 15-day DL has not pitched for the Red Sox this season. He's 0-3 with a 3.54 ERA in five rehab starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. He went 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA as a rookie in 2015.

Buchholz has made two career relief appearances, one in his rookie season in 2007 and another in 2008.

Manager John Farrell said Buchholz will make multi-inning appearances in order to remain stretched out and could return to the rotation later in the season.

NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance

052716_okafor_noel_slide.jpg

NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance

BOX SCORE

TORONTO -- LeBron James scored 33 points, Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to their second straight NBA Finals by beating the Toronto Raptors 113-87 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night.

It's the third finals appearance in team history for the Cavaliers. Cleveland lost to Golden State in six games last year and got swept by San Antonio in 2007.

For James, it's his sixth straight trip to the finals, including four with Miami. He broke the 30-point barrier for the first time this postseason and finished with 11 rebounds and six assists.

"We needed LeBron to set the tone for us early and I thought he did that," coach Tyronn Lue said.

James will be the eighth player in NBA history to appear in six consecutive finals and the first who didn't play for the Boston Celtics.

"He's just a great player," Lue said. "He's a proven winner. He's always won over the course of his career. To go to six straight finals is unbelievable."

James got there by taking down a Toronto team that set a franchise record with 56 wins and reached the conference finals for the first time in 21 seasons.

After a second-quarter dunk, James shared some verbal barbs with rapper Drake, the Raptors' global ambassador and the man who popularized the nickname `6ix' for Toronto.

Kyrie Irving had 30 points and J.R. Smith added 15 for the Cavaliers, who will face the winner of the Golden State-Oklahoma City series on Thursday.

Cleveland would open at home against the Thunder but would be on the road against the 73-win Warriors, who trail 3-2 against Oklahoma City heading into Saturday's Game 6.

The Cavs will be seeking to end Cleveland's 52-year championship drought, the longest by any city with at least three professional teams. No Cleveland team has won it all since the Browns blanked Baltimore 27-0 to win the NFL championship in 1964.

"This city has been craving a championship," Lue said. "We have the right team and we have the right talent."

Kyle Lowry scored 35 points and DeMar DeRozan had 20 as the deepest playoff run in Raptors team history ended, much to the disappointment of a sellout crowd of 20,605 dressed in red and white T-shirts that formed a maple leaf pattern on either side of the court. Fans stood and cheered "Let's go, Raptors! Let's go, Raptors!" throughout most of the final three minutes.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said reaching the conference finals was "a tremendous learning experience" for his young team, one that's "a step ahead" in its process of becoming a championship contender.

"We're learning," Casey said. "We're not where (the Cavaliers) are right now. We're going to be."

A dejected Lowry said it was hard to see the positive side of Toronto's best season ever.

"Of course you're going to look back at some point but right now I'm disappointed," he said. "Simple as that, I'm disappointed."

Toronto prolonged the series with back-to-back home wins in Games 3 and 4 but never mounted much of a challenge to the conference champions in Game 6, falling behind by 21 in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers came in 0-4 at Air Canada Centre counting the regular season and playoffs, but looked much more like the team that handed the Raptors a trio of lopsided losses in Cleveland this series.

The Raptors trailed 88-78 on a jumper by DeRozan with 10:23 remaining but James scored six points in a 14-3 run that gave the Cavs a 102-81 lead with about 6 minutes left.

James scored 14 in the first and five of Cleveland's nine field goals were from long range as the Cavaliers led 31-25 after one.

After video review, the officials waved off a basket by Biyombo with 3:18 left in the period and gave him a flagrant foul for knocking down Love.

Tempers flared again early in the second when Richard Jefferson reacted angrily to catching an elbow from Jonas Valanciunas as the two battled for a rebound. Patrick Patterson came over and shoved Jefferson out of the way. Both Patterson and Jefferson were given technical fouls.

Cleveland made five more 3-pointers in the second and outscored Toronto 9-3 over the final 71 seconds to lead 55-41 at halftime. The Cavaliers made 10 of 15 3-point attempts in the first half, while Toronto was 2 of 12.

The Cavs led 78-57 after a 3 by Love at 3:53 of the third but Lowry scored 15 points as Toronto closed the quarter with a 17-8 run, cutting it to 86-74.

Tip-ins
Cavaliers: Shot 17 for 31 from 3-point range. ... Outscored Toronto 17-5 in fast break points.

Raptors: Finished their playoff run by playing every other day from April 29 onward, a 15-game run that started with Game 6 of the first round against Indiana.

NFL Notes: Jets' offer to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick stands at 3 years

052716_wentz_slide.jpg

NFL Notes: Jets' offer to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick stands at 3 years

NEW YORK -- A person familiar with the negotiations says the New York Jets made a three-year offer to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in March that includes $12 million guaranteed in the first year.

That offer has remained on the table for Fitzpatrick, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side is commenting publicly on the negotiations.

The New York Post first reported the terms of the offer Friday.

Fitzpatrick and the Jets have been locked in a contract stalemate. The 33-year-old quarterback is a free agent and coming off a season in which he threw a Jets-record 31 touchdown passes and led New York within a victory of the playoffs.

Both the Jets and Fitzpatrick have said they would like a reunion, but have unable to agree on a deal.

Bears: First-round pick Leonard Floyd agrees to deal
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears and first-round draft pick Leonard Floyd have agreed to a four-year contract with an option for a fifth year.

The Bears drafted the outside linebacker from Georgia with the ninth pick after trading up two spots in a deal with Tampa Bay. Chicago hopes he will add some athleticism to a team trying to build on a 6-10 season. The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Floyd led the Bulldogs in sacks for the third straight year with 4 , and tied for the team lead with 10 1/2 tackles for loss last season.

With the announcement Friday, the Bears have agreed to contracts with eight of their nine picks. Defensive end Jonathan Bullard, a third-rounder, is the exception.

NFL: Navy's Reynolds, Carter can defer military service
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Keenan Reynolds will get his chance to play in the NFL this season.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced Friday that the record-setting Navy quarterback Reynolds and fullback Chris Swain can defer their military service to play in the NFL.

Carter made the announcement during his graduation speech to the academy in Annapolis. As students cheered the news about their graduating classmates, Carter said: "Go get 'em."

Reynolds was drafted in the sixth round by the Baltimore Ravens. He is the NCAA's career leader in touchdowns with 88. He had 31 touchdown passes while leading Navy's triple-option offense. The Ravens plan to use him as a running back, receiver and kick returner.

Swain has signed with the San Diego Chargers (see full story).

Redskins: Activists criticize poll on team name
WASHINGTON -- Native American leaders and activists have criticized a recent US national poll that found nine of 10 Native Americans aren't offended by the Washington Redskins' name.

On a conference call held Friday by the National Congress of American Indians and "Change the Mascot" campaign, panelists voiced opposition to a Washington Post poll that surveyed 504 Native Americans, 90 percent of whom said the name doesn't bother them.

James Fenelon, a California State San Bernardino sociology professor, called the poll "immoral," adding it was not representative of Native American communities. Amanda Blackhorse, lead plaintiff in the trademark case against the Redskins, said the "misguided" poll will not affect attempts to change the name.

National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata said: "This issue is not about polling. This issue is about human rights."

D.C. council member David Grosso said he hadn't been swayed and that the government would not support the team moving back into the District unless the name was changed.

The team currently plays its home games in Maryland, with its headquarters and training facility in Virginia.