Eagles 53-man Roster: "Dream Team" Edition

Eagles 53-man Roster: "Dream Team" Edition

The Eagles had until 6 p.m. Saturday evening to trim their roster down to 53 players, which always means making some difficult decisions. The most notable release was Joselio Hanson, who was pushed out of his nickel corner role by the additions of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Word was the front office might trade the seventh-year veteran, but ultimately there were no takers.

Other than that, there weren't many truly shocking developments--yet. There is always a chance another move is coming as other players become available while teams move to finalize their rosters, but for right now, these 53 are set. After the jump, the full roster and thoughts about a supposed dream team.

QB: Michael Vick
Reserves: Vince Young, Mike Kafka

No surprises here. Vick is the man for at least the next two seasons, Young looked effective before the hammy strain, and Kafka is the developmental project. Once again, the Eagles have quite possibly the deepest stable of QB's in the league.

RB: LeSean McCoy, Ronnie Brown, Dion Lewis
FB: Owen Schmitt

This group has turned into one of the best all around units on the club. McCoy could be on the verge of superstardom. Brown showed in the preseason he can be much more than a complementary piece. In some ways, Lewis has been the most impressive of the three--you won't find many rookie backs who are as refined in every phase of the game. Will he push for playing time?

Schmitt may be the fullback by default. The Eagles reportedly attempted to claim fourth-year veteran Jerome Felton off waivers from the Lions, but Carolina had priority. Schmitt knows the system and isn't afraid to get dirty, so he should be fine in limited action.

WR: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Steve Smith
TE: Brent Celek, Clay Harbor

Not much to say about this group of receivers that hasn't been covered already. If Maclin and/or Smith get off to a slow start, look for Cooper to step up in his second season and emerge as another threat from this crowded field. Interesting they didn't keep either Chad Hall, Sinorice Moss, or Johnny Lee Higgins. Who returns punts?

Celek is still the top dog at tight end, but Harbor could make a huge impact in his sophomore year. The Eagles declined to keep either blocking specialist Donald Lee or the athletic Cornelius Ingram. A fifth round pick in '09, Ingram was finally healthy in training camp, but upside alone wasn't enough to make the cut. Practice squad, perhaps?

OL: Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans
Reserves: King Dunlap, Jamaal Jackson, Julian Vandervelde, Winston Justice

There is plenty of concern to go around on this unit. Let's start with the positives: Peters is a dominant, stabilizing force on the left side, and Herremans is a natural tackle who will only get better with time on the outside. The negatives: Kelce and Watkins are rookies, and played like it during the preseason. The line will be better in Week 17 than in Week 1, but they will also be better in Week 2, Week 3, and so on. We're willing to give this a chance to succeed.

Not many surprises behind them. Thought there was a chance the Eagles would trade Jackson and hold on to Mike McGlynn, but the emphasis on quality depth behind Kelce is definitely no accident.

DE: Jason Babin, Trent Cole, Juqua Parker, Darryl Tapp, Philip Hunt
DT: Mike Patterson, Antonio Dixon, Cullen Jenkins, Trevor Laws, Cedric Thornton

The Eagles opted to pay the salaries of both Parker and Tapp, so they are obviously committed to keeping guys who can rush the passer. That also explains why they cut last year's third round pick Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, who has yet to show coaches anything on a pro football field. They instead went with former CFL'er Hunt, who was tough to contain all summer.

For now, it appears Patterson and Dixon will start and play on running downs, while Jenkins and Laws will see the bulk of their action in passing situations. Laws making the final cut is a minor upset--Anthony Hargrove and Derek Landri really impressed--but he was larger than the competition and showed some promise late last season. Thornton is an undrafted rookie with upside out of Southern Arkansas.

LB: Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Moise Fokou
Reserves: Akeem Jordan, Brian Rolle, Keenan Clayton

Nothing new to report on the starting linebackers. Same alignment, same doubts.

Expect Rolle and Clayton to see plenty of playing time, particularly on passing downs. Both were very active during the preseason, and saw action with the starters in in nickel packages. Rolle was also effective rushing the passer, racking up 2.5 sacks in the final two games. There may be some questions about the frontline starters, but this group might be better when judged as a whole.

CB: Asante Samuel, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Reserves: Trevard Lindley, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes

This time last year, cornerback was the most glaring problem for the Birds. Today, it's their greatest strength. Samuel and Asomugha are two of the absolute best corners in the game, and DRC has playmaking ability out the wazoo. We look forward to watching quarterbacks attempt to solve this group.

And you have to be a little excited for the promising young players backing them up. Asomugha and DRC are here for the foreseeable future, but Samuel is likely gone in 2012, which means either Lindley, Marsh, or maybe even Hughes will have the opportunity to step into the nickel job.

S: Jarrad Page, Kurt Coleman
Reserves: Nate Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Colt Anderson

When the Eagles drafted Jarrett back in April, the common assumption was he and Allen would be the starters Week 1. Coleman has been playing like he wants it though, and Allen has not fully recovered from a ruptured patellar tendon, so your actual starters look a little different. It probably doesn't say anything about either second rounder's future--if anything, it speaks highly to Coleman's. Just funny the way things work out sometimes.

Anderson stays for his special teams prowess.

Specialists: Alex Henery, Chas Henry, Jon Dorenbos

The "shaky" kicking game received a lot of attention after Thursday's final preseason tilt against the Jets. Other than Henry's mishandled snap, I would say that was a little unfair. For his career, Davi
d Akers was only 11-for-22 on field goals at old Giants Stadium--though he went 3-for-3 in one post-season game--and is 1-for-1 at new MetLife Stadium. The Meadowlands are a tough place for even the most veteran kicker, so we can probably give Henery a break after his first trip.

PUP: DE Brandon Graham, RT Winston Justice

Players who begin the regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform list are not eligible to rejoin the squad until after Week 6.

The Eagles were prepared to enter this season without Graham, who underwent microfracture surgery in December. Ideally the 13th pick in the 2010 draft would be on the field gaining experience, but the reality is Graham has a long road back. At this point, if he contributes in any meaningful way this season, that would have to be considered a bonus. Whatever the case, the defensive line looks fine.

The Birds were decidedly less prepared to be without Justice, who is still recovering from what was described as a routine cleanout surgery on his left knee in February. By the time he is good to go, it could be too late for the former second round pick. As long as Herremans can successfully transition to the outside, and the play on the interior does not suffer as a result, it's hard to envision the coaches making another major change to the offensive line midway through the season. Justice agreed to a paycut to remain in midnight green, which tells us all we need to know.

IR: Victor Abiamiri

Surprise, surprise.

Observations

- This offense is built to run the football. Every year, we hold out hope Andy Reid will utilize the running game just a tad more, and every year, we are shut down. With a strong class of backs, and two rookies starting on the offensive line, it may be more important than ever the coaches tinker with their strategy. Wasted words? Almost certainly. But establishing a three-headed monster in the backfield early on could take the pressure off the patchwork O-line, plus might even have the added bonus of altering the way defenses gameplan for the Eagles.

- Underrated weapon-waiting-to-happen for the offense? Clay Harbor. The 2010 fourth rounder saw his snaps increase down the stretch last season, and he should only see more this year. The 6-3, 252 lbs. tight end has tremendous athletic ability, and with Brent Celek seemingly falling out of favor as a target last season--probably at least in part due to increased blocking duties--it could be Harbor Vick searches for in the middle of the field.

- Daniel Te'o-Nesheim could still wind up on the practice squad, but it may not be too soon to use the B-word. It's not often you see a front office release a highly drafted player after one season, but it's fair to say he has shown nothing. They had better players in Hunt and Thornton, it's as simple as that. On that note, should Graham come back, who is the odd-man out in this defensive line equation?

- The fact that the kicker and punter are first-year players officially has been blown way out of proportion. What does being a rookie have to do with kicking a ball? There is a chance the Hen-ries simply will not be very good, but historically that has not typically the case. Some of the soundest kickers in the game today were productive in the NFL from day one, such as Nate Kaeding, Stephen Gostkowski, and Mason Crosby. Sure, there are some Mike Nugents and Matt Dodges in there, but generally speaking, if a guy can kick, he can kick.

- For the record, I hate the Dream Team label too. The fact is, such teams don't exist in the NFL. The closest I've seen in the past decade were the '07 Patriots, and they lost in Super Bowl XLII against the Giants. Every organization has holes somewhere, and the Eagles are no exception. It's all about having the right combination of stars and solid starters on both sides of the ball, backed by strong depth at as many positions possible. Their potential problem areas might be a little easier to spot, but this is unquestionably a deep roster with plenty of top shelf talent.

Carson Wentz By the Numbers: Not much precedent for this success

Carson Wentz By the Numbers: Not much precedent for this success

The way Carson Wentz is playing, we may have to make this a regular feature.

Generally, when an Eagles quarterback plays lights out, we pull out the [Insert Name Here] By the Numbers.

We did it for Nick Foles after his seven-touchdown game against the Raiders, we did it for Sam Bradford a couple times late last year, we did it for Michael Vick a couple times during his hot 2010 season.

With Wentz? This might have to happen every week.

He's been that good.

So here is this week's Carson Wentz By the Numbers. Don't be surprised if you see it again very soon.

• Wentz is the first rookie in NFL history to have a game in which he completed 74 percent of his passes with 300 yards, two or more touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also only the fourth Eagle to have such a game. Randall Cunningham did it against the Giants in 1988, Donovan did it four times (in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007) and Nick Foles did it against the Raiders with his historic seven-TD game in 2013.

• Wentz is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 30 or more passes with no interceptions in each of his first three career games.

• Wentz’s 73-yard TD pass to Darren Sproles was the longest touchdown pass by an Eagles rookie since John Reaves' 77-yarder to Harold Carmichael against the Giants at Yankee Stadium in 1972.

• Wentz is only the second quarterback in NFL history to be 3-0 three games into his rookie year. The other one is former Eagle and current Cowboy Mark Sanchez, who opened his career in 2009 with wins over the Texans, Patriots and Titans. Sanchez then lost six of his next seven starts.

• Wentz is the fourth quarterback to win his first three NFL starts (not necessarily as rookies). That list includes Wentz, Sanchez, 35-year-old Dieter Brock of the Rams in 1985 (who had played a decade in the CFL) and Marc Bulger of the Rams in 2002 (in his third NFL season).

• Among quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 100 passes in their career, Wentz now has the second-highest passer rating in NFL history at 103.8. He trails only Aaron Rodgers’ 104.0 figure. The only other quarterback over 100 is Russell Wilson, at 101.1.

• Wentz’s 125.9 passer rating Sunday against the Steelers is highest ever by an Eagles rookie. The previous high was A.J. Feeley’s 114.0 mark against Tampa in 2001. But Feeley didn’t start that game. So the previous high by a rookie Eagles starter was John Reaves’ 105.7 rating against the Browns in 1972.

• Wentz has already tied Mike Boryla’s franchise record for most wins by a rookie quarterback. Boryla won three games in 1974. Since then, Eagles rookie quarterbacks were a combined 5-21.  

• Wentz’s 102 pass attempts without an interception are the most in NFL history by a rookie in his first three games. Second-most are Dak Prescott’s current streak of 99 attempts. The record before Wentz and Prescott came along was 86 by Chad Hutchinson of the Cowboys in 2002.

• It was widely reported that Wentz had broken the NFL record for most pass attempts without an interception to begin a career at 102. But he actually has the second-longest streak. Tom Brady began his career with 147 attempts without an interception before getting picked off by safety Eric Brown of the Broncos in his seventh career game.  

• Wentz 103.8 passer rating is third-highest in NFL history by a quarterback three games into his rookie year. His trails only Greg Cook of the Bengals (111.9 in 1969) and Marcus Mariota of the Titans (110.3 last year). Robert Griffin III (103.5 with the Redskins in 2012) and Jacky Lee (102.5 with the Oilers in 1960) are the only other quarterbacks over 100 after Week 3 of their rookie season (based on a minimum of 50 attempts).

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Sixers acquire, merge two leading eSport companies

Sixers acquire, merge two leading eSport companies

The Sixers on Monday acquired controlling stake in Team Dignitas and Team Apex, two eSport companies.

The companies will be combining under the Team Dignitas banner. The Sixers become the first North American sports franchise to acquire an eSports team and intend to manage the day-to-day operations of Team Dignitas.

"There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the infrastructure, resources and experience of the Sixers organization to support these exciting teams as they continue to compete at the highest levels across multiple games," Sixers managing general partner Josh Harris said in a statement. "We see our entrance into eSports as a natural extension of our expanding interests in traditional sports and entertainment and are confident that our involvement will accelerate the already rapid pace of growth in eSports as a whole.”

Team Dignitas and Team Apex have created games such as League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Smite.