Eagles Looking at Tight Ends, Punters

Eagles Looking at Tight Ends, Punters

While they are constantly tinkering with the 90-man roster, it's not always the Eagles make a move of consequence in late July. This week, there might be two.

The Birds tried out four punters on Monday, including two-time Pro Bowler and former Dallas Cowboy Mat McBriar, who Reuben Frank believes will eventually sign in Philadelphia. Then on Tuesday, the team is set to host Visanthe Shiancoe, while Tim McManus of the newly formed Birds 24/7 blog reported there is also interest in Jeremy Shockey, implying a veteran addition could be on the way at tight end as well.

All of which might amount to competition for Chas Henry and Clay Harbor -- or it could mean the writing is on the wall for one or both.

The news at tight end is certainly the more interesting of the two developments. Harbor had been rumored to be locked in a position battle for the backup spot behind Brent Celek since minicamps, but the only competition as of now is Brett Brackett and Chase Ford, a pair of undrafted rookies. According to Football Outsiders Almanac, the Eagles used either two tight ends or six offensive linemen 30% of the time in 2011, so it's a fairly significant roster spot.

Harbor's blocking is mainly what seems to be under fire, which accounted for roughly two-thirds of his snaps last year according to Pro Football Focus. A fourth-round pick in 2010, Harbor has nice size and athleticism, and it translated well the few times he was targeted on a route last season (13 rec on 19 att for 163 yds, 1 TD -- via FO). However, that accounts for so little of his action, while the blocking has become a more prevalent role as the offense continues its transition to more singleback formations under OL coach Howard Mudd.

While both are into their thirties, either Shiancoe or Shockey might represent an improvement in that department. Both are more accomplished receivers as well.

After starting his career with the Giants to little notoriety, Shiancoe played the last five seasons in Minnesota, averaging 42 receptions and 485 yards. He also caught 11 touchdowns in 2009. Shockey is the more renowned -- and disliked -- of the two. Selected 14th overall by the Giants in the '02 Draft, Shockey made four Pro Bowls in six seasons with New York. He's not the threat he once was, but he still caught 37 balls for 455 yards and four TD for Carolina last year.

Given his natural abilities, it would be a shame if Harbor doesn't pan out. Coming from small-time Missouri State though, it will not come as a huge shock either.


Things aren't looking so hot for Henry either, who will almost certainly find himself out of a job in the wake of another signing. An undrafted free agent out of Florida last year, where he won the Ray Guy Award for best punter in the nation, Henry had a mediocre rookie season in the NFL. He ranked 29th in average distance (42.9 yds), 33rd in net average (36.9), and 25th for kicks inside the 20 (19).

The Eagles just released a rookie punter prior to the start of camp (no, I'm not looking up his name), and they tried out veteran Brad Maynard back in June, also one of the four at Lehigh on Monday. Roob says it's likely McBriar though, who last made the Pro Bowl in 2010, but was bothered by a foot injury last season.

Obviously we generally don't think of the punter as a big deal, that is until he's terrible anyway. Maybe Henry can pick up with another team should he be released, but whatever improvements the Eagles can make, however minor they are, they have to consider them all.

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.