Philadelphia Eagles

Zangaro's pre-training camp Eagles 53-man roster projection

Zangaro's pre-training camp Eagles 53-man roster projection

As training camp draws near, it won't be long before the 2017 Eagles take the field for the opener on Sept. 10 in Washington. 

We just don't know what the team will look like yet. 

Over the next few weeks, the team will begin to crystallize leading up to when the roster must be cut down to 53 players. 

Thanks to the owners passing a resolution that eliminated the first cut, there's just one cut from 90 players to 53 this year. There used to be a cut down from 90 to 75 first, which never made any sense because those extra bodies are pretty handy for that last preseason game. 

Anyway, here's a first crack at what we think the Eagles' 53-man roster will look like this season:

QBs (2): Carson Wentz, Nick Foles
The Eagles still have Matt McGloin as their third-string quarterback, but will they value him enough to use a roster spot on him? Maybe. But I have him gone. Last year, the Eagles were prepared to carry three quarterbacks before the Sam Bradford trade, but keeping three in that situation is much different than keeping three this year. 

Maybe if Dane Evans from Tulsa performs well enough this training camp and preseason, he can be stashed on the practice squad as a developmental quarterback. That might be more palatable than keeping a third QB on the 53. 

RBs (4): LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey
Corey Clement and Byron Marshall are the odd men out. For a while, it seemed like Clement would have a decent shot to make the team as an undrafted free agent. After all, at 230 pounds, he was the big back the Eagles were missing. Then they went out and signed Blount. 

TEs (3): Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton
This group seems pretty well cemented. Billy Brown and Anthony Denham don't have great odds to supplant one of these guys. 

WRs (5): Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Jordan Matthews, Mack Hollins, Nelson Agholor
The Eagles made this even easier when they released Dorial Green-Beckham this offseason, although it seemed unlikely DGB had a real chance. The biggest omission on this list is Gibson, a fifth-round pick. While Gibson finished his spring strong, it wasn't a good showing before that. He has a little bit of an uphill battle to make the team. 

OL (10): Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Stefen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Chance Warmack, Dillon Gordon
I left Josh Andrews off this list, but then again, I left him off my list last year and he somehow made the team again. This time, I left him off because the Eagles have pretty good depth without him. Taylor Hart doesn't make the cut after switching from defensive tackle. 

DE (5): Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Chris Long, Derek Barnett, Steven Means
Marcus Smith and Alex McCalister are the two most noteworthy names left off the list. It seems like Smith's time with the Eagles might be coming to a close; and he was close to getting beaten out for a job by Means last summer. And McCalister has put on some weight but still just doesn't look the part. He'll really need to flash to make the squad. 

DT (5): Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, Beau Allen, Destiny Vaeao, Elijah Qualls
There's a chance Allen won't be ready for Week 1, in which case, he would be a candidate for the NFI. But for now, we'll leave him on the roster. 

LB (5): Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Joe Walker, Nate Gerry
Gerry might not end up making the team, but I saw enough from him in the spring to think he has a chance as he transitions from college safety to NFL linebacker. Joe Walker is another question mark, but the team really liked him before he went down with an ACL injury last year. Najee Goode and Kamu Grugier-Hill are the odd men out right now; both are very good special teams players. 

CB (6): Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Rasul Douglas, Ron Brooks, Aaron Grymes, C.J. Smith
Sidney Jones will likely start the season on the PUP list. Ron Brooks is still recovering from a significant leg injury, so he's worth watching in camp. Aaron Grymes and C.J. Smith snag the last two spots. 

S (5): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Jaylen Watkins, Terrence Brooks, Chris Maragos
The depth here isn't great. Watkins vs. Brooks for the third safety job might be a worthwhile competition to watch during camp.

Specialists (3) LS: Jon Dorenbos; P: Donnie Jones; K: Caleb Sturgis
No surprises. 

NFL Notes: Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE; daughter sues NFL, Patriots

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NFL Notes: Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE; daughter sues NFL, Patriots

BOSTON -- Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez had a severe case of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, his lawyer said on Thursday in announcing a lawsuit against the NFL and the team for hiding the true dangers of the sport.

Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, said Hernandez had Stage 3 (out of 4) of the disease, which can cause violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive disorders.

"We're told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron's age," attorney Jose Baez said.

Hernandez killed himself in April in the prison cell where he was serving a life-without-parole sentence for murder. Baez said Hernandez had shown signs of memory loss, impulsivity and aggression that could be attributed to CTE (see full story).

Jets: Williams limited with bone bruise in wrist
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams was limited at practice with a wrist injury that he says is a bone bruise.

Williams was originally injured during the preseason, and says Thursday that his wrist is bothering him at times. It doesn't appear that the injury will keep him out of the Jets' home opener Sunday against Miami, but Williams might have to play through it.

Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson sat out practice for the second straight day with a sore shoulder. He said Wednesday that it wasn't a big deal, and coach Todd Bowles says the Jets will see how it feels as the week goes along.

Starting right guard Brian Winters (abdomen) and tight ends Jordan Leggett (knee) and Eric Tomlinson (elbow) also didn't practice. Fourth-year backup Dakota Dozier would start if Winters is unable to play (see full story).

Packers: Perry latest key player to go down with injury
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The banged-up Green Bay Packers have lost another key player to injury with outside linebacker Nick Perry scheduled to have hand surgery.

Coach Mike McCarthy says he doesn't know how much time Perry will miss. He was off to a good start as the bookend to fellow edge rusher Clay Matthews with 1 sacks.

The Packers' first-round draft pick in 2012, Perry had a breakout 2016 last season with 11 sacks in 14 games.

The loss of Perry places added importance on the return of Ahmad Brooks, who was a full participant in practice on Wednesday after missing the Week 2 loss at Atlanta because of a concussion (see full story).

Broncos: Miller baffled by low hit from Cowboys receiver
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Von Miller says he's baffled by Cowboys wide receiver Noah Brown's low hit on him Sunday.

The Broncos linebacker pushed through Brown's block on the game's second snap and Brown got up and dived at Miller's knees as Denver's star chased down Ezekiel Elliott on a hand-off from Dak Prescott.

Miller shook off the hit to have a monster game in Denver's 42-17 win , but he has dealt with soreness in his left knee this week.

"My stance is as a player I've always tried to take care of my players on my football team and opponents as well, whether it's the quarterbacks, receivers, the running backs. So, when it's the other way around, it's just baffling," Miller said Thursday after returning to practice full-time following a limited practice Wednesday.

"But you can't really spend too much time on it," Miller added. "Everybody's situation in the National Football League is different. Everybody doesn't have the same outlook that I have and some of my comrades in the National Football League (have). Everybody doesn't see it that way. Everybody doesn't play the game like I play the game. You've got to respect that."

Earlier in the week, Broncos coach Vance Joseph declined to criticize the Cowboys wide receiver for his low hit, saying, "I saw it. It wasn't called. I'm OK with it."

Miller shook off the low hit and finished the afternoon with two sacks, five quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup.

Chris Long: Putting 'my money where my mouth is' with donation of game checks

Chris Long: Putting 'my money where my mouth is' with donation of game checks

Whether it was his passionate defense of Colin Kaepernick, his show of support for Malcolm Jenkins' raised fist by draping his arm around his teammate during the national anthem or his strong words about racism and violence in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, Chris Long has been extraordinarily outspoken since he joined the Eagles.

Now he's more than outspoken.

"I had a few people that were like, 'Hey, these gestures are great but why don’t you guys get out there in your communities?'" Long said.

So he is.

Long announced via his Twitter account earlier this week that he plans to donate his first six game checks from this year's salary — more than $350,000 — to create two scholarships for students in Charlottesville.

At his locker on Wednesday, he explained what led to the remarkably generous gesture.

"My wife and I have been investing in scholarships in my hometown for a while," Long said. "I'm interested in education, always have been, and … the best way I can give back to something I love is take it out of my game check, because what I love doing is playing football.

"I could [fund the scholarship] another way, but just taking it out of my game check makes it real easy for me to realize why I’m coming to work every day. It’s been a blessing."

Long, 32, is in his 10th NFL season and first with the Eagles. He's the son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, who graduated from Villanova in 1981.

Chris Long had his first sack as an Eagle Sunday against the Chiefs. He now has 59½ in his career.

"I’ve been lucky," Long said. "I’ve made a lot of money in my career, so it’s not like I’m scrapping check to check. This isn’t a hero thing. It’s nothing like that. It’s honestly just that I want to put my money where my mouth is.

"It’s something we’ve done before, but we’re upping the ante this time."

Long signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Eagles this offseason after winning a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots last year, the first time he's ever played for a team with a winning record.

His 2017 base salary is $1 million, which means each of his 17 game checks equal $58,823. Six game checks equal $352,941.

Long said being able to donate that kind of money makes the game more meaningful for him.

“It for certain does," he said. "It means a lot to go out and play football every Sunday. To be honest, I would play games for free. The thing I wouldn’t do for free is sit in meetings and do practice every day.

"Honestly, it’s a joy no matter what. But just knowing that the game checks are going to that makes it more special for me. You know, 10th year, you don’t know how long you’ll be able to do this, so your platform is really important and meaningful now. You don’t know how meaningful it’ll be in a year or two.”

Long said he's not done yet, either.

His foundation — the Chris Long Foundation — has more charity work in store in the coming weeks.

"My foundation is going to launch another campaign this year that’s going to be similar that’s hopefully going to have some fan involvement," Long said.

"It’s going to be broader reaching than just a couple kids getting scholarships, so I’m excited about that."