The Final 53: Breaking Down the Eagles' 2012 Roster Updated

The Final 53: Breaking Down the Eagles' 2012 Roster Updated

* Obviously the roster will be tinkered with many times throughout the year, this is merely the final 53 that will enter the regular season following cutdown day.

Quarterbacks: Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Trent Edwards

Fate was cruel to Mike Kafka, who entered training camp as Vick's backup, only to find himself left off the roster entirely. Kafka's fractured left hand opened the door wide for Foles and Edwards, both of whom made the most of their opportunities.

Foles of course became the story of the summer, showing uncanny poise for a rookie while posting a stat line almost identical to that which won fellow first-year quarterback Russell Wilson the starting job in Seattle. Edwards demonstrated great command of the offense as well, but more than anything else, his experience may have been the biggest factor that trumped Kafka. With 33 NFL starts under his belt, Edwards apparently is the safer option if Foles isn't ready for number two duties after all.

Running Backs: LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis, Bryce Brown, Chris Polk
Fullback: Stanley Havili

McCoy and Lewis were locks, and Havili's spot never seemed to be in jeopardy. In the end, both Brown and Polk had too much upside to cast either one out, so the Eagles go unconventional and keep five backs. Brown looks like such a fluid runner, big and powerful with excellent burst. Polk runs as hard as anybody we've seen come through here. Tons of potential in this backfield.

Wide Receivers: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson

Jackson and Maclin reprise their roles in one of the league's most dangerous receiving duos, along with steady co-star Avant in the slot. There is some question as to whether Cooper will be back from a broken collarbone in time for Week 1, but he should be ready soon. For those wondering, while he is merely an okay receiver, Coop makes the squad more for his solid special teams play.

Johnson over sixth rounder Marvin McNutt may be something of a surprise, but only if you haven't been paying attention. McNutt showed absolutely nothing in preseason, catching one pass for 13 yards in four games. The undrafted Johnson made one big play after another, hauling in 12 receptions for 195 yards and a score. Believe it or not, he could have an immediate impact -- if not in the passing game, then as the club's punt returner. McNutt is a candidate for the practice squad.

Tight Ends: Brent Celek, Clay Harbor

Little of note here. Celek has Pro-Bowl potential, and after the Eagles flirted with the idea of bringing in a veteran to compete, Harbor wound up having a strong summer.

Offensive Line: King Dunlap, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans
Depth: Demetress Bell, Dennis Kelly, Dallas Reynolds, Julian Vandervelde, Nathan Menkin

We've known Dunlap would start ahead of Bell at left tackle for some time now. Bell looked shaky in action, and there was some thinking he could even miss the cut. With a guaranteed salary this season, and no better option in play, the Eagles will be forced to turn to him in an emergency.

The rest of the line is the same as last year, and figures to be improved with continuity and experience. Depth-wise, fifth-round pick Dennis Kelly appears to be the primary backup to Herremans, and Dallas Reynolds -- who has been trying to catch on in the NFL since he first came to the Eagles undrafted in 2009 -- finally lands as a number-two at guard and center. Julian Vandervelde was also on the roster initially, but a short time later released to make room for another safety. He may land on the PS. Update: the team claimed rookie Nathan Menkin off of waivers on Saturday.

Defensive End: Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Brandon Graham, Philip Hunt, Darryl Tapp, Vinny Curry
Defensive Tackle: Cullen Jenkins, Derek Landri, Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton

Your eyes are not fooling you. The front office convinced Tapp to take a pay cut, and the Eagles will keep all six of their defensive ends. Not sure how you get six of them on to the field, although Curry won't necessarily command a ton of snaps in his first year. As expected, Cole and Babin will carry the load, with Hunt and Graham serving as their primary relief.

Antonio Dixon was not so lucky, though he'll undoubtedly catch on with another team, likely someplace that is a better scheme fit anyway. Jenkins and Landri will rotate with impressive rookie Cox and and Thornton, who originally made the squad out of camp last season, but wound up on the practice squad for most of it. The defensive tackles are thin in the event of another injury, but there is a window where Mike Patterson is eligible to return after Week 6, and either Tapp or Graham may be able to help out inside until then.

Linebackers: Mychael Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans, Akeem Jordan
Depth: Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Brian Rolle

Sorry, Brian Rolle, no change in the starting lineup yet, and opening day is only a week away. Kendricks, Ryans, and Jordan remain the starters, and no huge surprise behind them with Rolle, Chaney, and Matthews. However, there are health concerns with Chaney and Matthews, each battling nagging injuries during the preseason. The team could've taken Keenan Clayton instead, as he seemed to carve out a niche in coverage and on special teams, but the upside of the others was higher.

Cornerbacks: Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Boykin, Brandon Hughes, Trevard Lindley

The Eagles made some waves with one of their first announced cuts, releasing Joselio Hanson after he began the summer as the starter at nickel corner. It seemed as though even if he lost the job to Boykin as he did, Hanson could stick in case the rookie faltered, but obviously the Eagles are comfortable with Hughes behind him.

Asomugha, DRC, and Marsh are your top guys on the outside, followed by Hughes. Trevard Lindley's presence on the roster was a bit of a mystery after his release a season ago, but the team parted with him on Saturday in exchange for Menkin.

Safeties: Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Colt Anderson, David Sims

O.J. Atogwe got hurt again in the preseason finale, and because injuries have plagued him so much in recent years, the team had to cut bait. That left the defense with a huge hole in terms of safety depth, which for the time being they filled with diminutive David Sims, traded from Cleveland for a late draft choice. Allen and Coleman may be capable starters, but Jarrett and Sims don't inspire a great deal of confidence, while Anderson is there purely for special teams.

Specialists: Alex Henery, Chas Henry, Jon Dorenbos

Henry ended up winning the punting competition over Mat McBriar, though it seemingly had little to d
o with punting. McBriar's work as the holder on Henery field goal tries reportedly was the issue here, so even though he doesn't boom it like an Aussie, the Birds stick with the incumbent. And naturally Dorenbos will continue to work his magic as the long snapper.

Non-football Injury/Illness: Jason Peters, Mike Patterson

Both of these guys are eligible to return between Weeks 6 and 9, though neither seems very likely. Patterson probably has a better shot if his skull heals from brain surgery by then. The Eagles might feel compelled to rush Peters back from his Achilles injuries if Dunlap struggles at left tackle, but it's hard to believe he'll be ready to play at any point this season, much less at a high level. At this point, I can't get comfortable with the idea he'll return in 2012.

Best of MLB: Dodgers deny Cubs' Jake Arrieta 21st straight win

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Best of MLB: Dodgers deny Cubs' Jake Arrieta 21st straight win

CHICAGO -- Scott Kazmir and two relievers combined on a one-hitter, matching zeros with Cubs ace Jake Arrieta before the Los Angeles Dodgers got to Chicago's bullpen for a 5-0 victory Tuesday night.

Arrieta went seven scoreless innings, but was denied his 21st consecutive victory. The Cubs had won in Arrieta's last 23 starts.

Cubs left-hander Clayton Richard (0-1) gave up three straight singles to lefties in the eighth, the last Adrian Gonzalez's liner to left that scored Chase Utley and ended the Dodgers' 16-inning scoreless streak.

Corey Seager hit a three-run homer off Trevor Cahill in the ninth.

Joe Blanton (3-2) struck out three in two perfect innings as the Dodgers snapped the Cubs' six-game winning streak.

Kazmir allowed a single and a walk with seven strikeouts in six innings. Adam Liberatore struck out one in a perfect ninth (see full recap).

Betts hits trio of homers in Red Sox win
BALTIMORE -- Mookie Betts hit a career-high three homers and drove in five runs, and the Boston Red Sox cruised past the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 on Tuesday night to open a three-game lead in the AL East.

Betts led off the game with a shot to center and added a three-run drive to left in the second inning. After lining out to second base in the fourth, Betts hit a bases-empty homer to right in the seventh.

Batting in the ninth inning with a chance to tie the major league record of four homers in a game, Betts grounded out to second against rookie Ashur Tolliver.

Still, he's the first Boston player to hit three homers in a game since Will Middlebrooks against Toronto on April 7, 2013. Betts' 12 home runs rank second on the team behind David Ortiz, who has 14.

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts stretched his career-best hitting streak to 24 games with a single in the seventh inning (see full recap).

Rockies tie franchise record with 7 HRs
DENVER -- Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon each hit two of Colorado's team record-tying seven homers, powering the Rockies to a 17-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.

Blackmon became the first player in Rockies history to hit leadoff homers in back-to-back games and added his first career grand slam in the seventh. Carlos Gonzalez homered for a fourth straight game, while DJ LeMahieu and Gerardo Parra also went deep.

It was the first time Colorado hit seven homers at Coors Field. The team also had seven on April 5, 1997, in Montreal.

Rockies right-hander Jon Gray (3-2) allowed three runs in six solid innings.

Jon Moscot (0-3) was hit hard in his return from the disabled list. He surrendered seven runs and four homers in two innings. Moscot also was grazed in the right ear in the third while bunting. Moscot stayed down for a moment before taking his base (see full recap).

Difference in talent, power glaring as Phillies continue to lose to top teams

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Difference in talent, power glaring as Phillies continue to lose to top teams

BOX SCORE

The gap in talent level that exists between the Phillies and some of the top teams in the majors has really been evident over the last eight games.
 
The Phillies have lost seven of those eight games to the Tigers, Cubs and Nationals. Tuesday night brought the latest defeat, a 5-1 loss to the National League East-leading Nats at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay). The Nats have won the first two games of the series and go for the sweep on Wednesday night.
 
While losing seven of their last eight, the Phillies have seen their feel-good story turn to dust. Their record has gone from 25-19 to 26-26 and their deficit in the NL East from two games to 5½.
 
“We had a good month and a half,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “When things are going good, they snowball. When things are going bad, they snowball. We’ve got to keep that snowball from rolling. We’ve got to get out of it.”
 
There are a number of reasons the Phillies have hit hard times. Poor offense is a big one. They have been held to two or fewer runs five times in their last seven losses and 20 times for the season. They are now averaging 3.15 runs per game, the lowest mark in the majors. Offense like that is the reason why Aaron Nola can pitch six innings of two-run ball and lose on two mistake pitches as he did Tuesday night. These pitchers have no margin for error.
 
One of the offensive’s big shortcomings is the lack of power. The Phils have been out-homered 15-7 in the last eight games. Washington hit four longballs on Tuesday night; the Phillies hit none. In fact, the Phillies had just four hits – period.
 
“We’re just getting out-homered every night,” Mackanin said. “We’re not hitting home runs. I feel like it’s a broken record. We’re not hitting.”
 
For the season, the Phillies have 39 homers. Only Atlanta has hit fewer.
 
And it doesn’t appear as if things are going to get all that much better any time soon. Management would consider trading for a bat close to the July trading deadline – if the team is in the race. With reality striking hard lately, it’s tough to see this team being in the race for anything but a top-10 pick in next year’s draft. In the short term, the Phils could soon have Cody Asche back on the roster.
 
“Our pitching overall has been very good,” Mackanin said. “We’ve just got to hit.”
 
The Nationals won this game with power and good starting pitching.
 
Right-hander Joe Ross held the Phils to a run over seven innings – an RBI triple by Cesar Hernandez.
 
Meanwhile, Jayson Werth capitalized on a poorly located fastball by Nola and homered two batters into the game. Daniel Murphy got Nola in the sixth to break a 1-1 tie.
 
Nola would like to have had both pitches back.
 
“The pitch to Werth was right down the chute,” he said. “With Murphy, I wanted to get it in a little further and I didn’t.”
 
Other than that, Nola was pretty good. He pitched out of trouble in the second inning and was supported by a double play started nicely at second by Hernandez and a nice catch by Odubel Herrera in center field.
 
“We’re doing some things right but not enough of them,” Mackanin said.
 
“That’s baseball,” Nola said of the lack of run support. “Sometimes we pitch bad and get a lot of run support. The guys are battling. I feel like we’re going to bounce back the next couple of games.”
 
The Nationals blew the game open with three runs in the ninth against reliever Colton Murray. Danny Espinosa smacked a two-run homer and Stephen Drew followed with an inside-the-park homer.
 
The two home runs deprived Nats closer Jonathan Papelbon a chance at a save as he recorded the final three outs against his old team.

Instant Replay: Nationals 5, Phillies 1

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Instant Replay: Nationals 5, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

The Phillies' late-May slide continued in a 5-1 loss to the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night.
 
Aaron Nola delivered a solid start, but got poor run support. The Phillies entered the game averaging 3.2 runs per game, lowest in the majors.
 
The Nationals scored all their runs on home runs.
 
The Phillies have lost nine of their last 11 games. They are 1-7 in their last eight and have gone from 25-19 and two games back in the NL East to 26-26 and 5½ games back.
  
Starting pitching report
Nola went six innings and allowed two runs, both on solo homers. He walked one and struck out six. He is 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA.
 
Washington right-hander Joe Ross (5-4) pitched a strong game. He gave up just three hits and a run over seven innings. He walked two and struck out five. Ross has given up just two runs over 14 innings in his last two starts.
 
Bullpen report
Jonathan Papelbon closed it out for the Nats in a non-save situation.
 
At the plate
The Phillies had just four hits. They have been held to two or fewer runs 20 times in their 52 games.

Cesar Hernandez tripled home the Phillies' only run.

Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy accounted for the Nationals’ first two runs pair of solo homers against Nola. Danny Espinosa smacked a two-run homer off Colton Murray in the ninth and Stephen Drew followed with an inside-the-park homer.
 
Murphy also singled in the game. He had 47 hits in the month of May, tying a Washington/Montreal franchise record that had previously been shared by Al Oliver and Marquis Grissom.

Lineup stuff
Mackanin was trying to send Hernandez a message by batting him eighth (see story).
 
Bryce Harper did not play for Washington. He was hit on the right leg by a pitch in Monday night’s game.
 
Slumping Ryan Howard started at first base and went hitless in three at-bats to fall to .154. He hit .101 (7 for 69) in the month of May.
 
Howard will not start Wednesday night against Max Scherzer. He is 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts against Scherzer. Tommy Joseph will start that game.
 
Minor matters
Cody Asche’s minor-league rehab stint expires Wednesday. He could rejoin the team at any time.
 
Up next
 The series concludes on Wednesday night. Lefty Adam Morgan (1-3, 6.67) pitches against Washington right-hander Scherzer (5-4, 4.05).