By Steven Lienert
The Phanatic Magazine
From Jerome McDougle to Kris Wilson, from Chris Clemons to Andy Studebaker, Saturday could spell the end, at least temporarily, of their football lives.
Or, maybe not.
From what I see, the Eagles are in prime position to have the best 53 players make the team and the next five can be safely stowed away on the practice squad.
Defensive ends: 7
Juqua Parker and Trent Cole are the starters, Victor Abiamiri and Darren Howard are the backups while Clemons, McDougle and Bryan Smith find time rushing the passer when the Eagles employ four ends on the line during obvious passing downs, just like the Giants did last year.
Defensive tackles: 4
Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley are beasts, and Trevor Laws and Dan Klecko are solid backups. That is if Klecko's wrist is ok. Cut: We hardly knew ya, Montae Reagor.
Linebacker: 6 plus 1 on practice squad
Omar Gaither, Stewart Bradley and Chris Gocong will start, with Akeem Jordan, Joe Mays and, yes, Rocky Boiman as the backups. Practice squad: Andy Studebaker. Boiman provides too much help on special teams for him to get cut, and Studebaker has too much potential as a speedy, pass rushing insurance policy to jettison.
Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown are the starters, Lito Sheppard is the nickel back and Joselio Hanson is the dime back. Teams that get behind and have to throw are playing right into the Eagles' hands.
Brian Dawkins and Quintin Mikell provide the Eagles' best one-two safety punch since Andre Waters and Wes Hopkins manned the back line in 1990. Sean Considine gets one more chance and J.R. Reed is still hanging around, much to his credit. Quintin Demps has a lot to learn about pass coverage at the NFL level, but he will be the Eagles kickoff returner in 2008.
Defense overall (26): The Defensive line and linebacking corps are very fast and very young, and they'll be good for a long, long time. The corners are the strength of the team, and Brian Dawkins has at least one good year left in him.
Wide receiver: 6 plus 1 on practice squad
DeSean Jackson and Reggie Brown will be the starters until Kevin Curtis comes back from his sports hernia, with Jason Avant and Jackson switching in and out of the slot. Hank Baskett and Greg Lewis are still on the team, and it;s guaranteed that both of them will have one big game this season. That is, unless Lewis used his against New England in the preseason. Michael Gasperson (even though he was waived today) has shown enough in the preseason to be put on the practice squad. I hope he comes back.
Offensive line: 8 plus 2 on practice squad.
Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan anchor the line at the tackle position, while Shawn Andrews, who's showed no ill effects from his bout with depression and Todd Herremans start at guard, with big Jamaal Jackson at center. Nick Cole has earned a place on the team at center, with Max Jean-Gilles and Winston Justice as the backup guard and tackle respectively. Rookie guard Mike McGlynn and rookie tackle King Dunlap get put on the practice squad.
Tight ends: 3
L.J. Smith starts, with Brent Celek pushing him for his job. Matt Schobel edges out Kris Wilson for the last spot, but don't be surprised if both of them are let go in order to keep a younger player that would contribute on special teams.
Quarterbacks: 3 (duh)
Donovan McNabb starts, Kevin Kolb is the No. 2 while A.J. Feeley, who didn't look very sharp on Thursday night, is the three.
Running back: 4 plus one on practice squad.
Brian Westbrook starts (duh), Correll Buckhalter gets a bulk of the carries between the tackles and Booker spells Westbrook when he needs to be spelled. Tony Hunt makes the team as a fullback and a special teamer, while Jason Davis gets a spot on the practice squad.
Offense overall (24): Tight end has the most players on the bubble, but if your biggest problem is deciding who will be your third tight end, you don't have too many problems. The Eagles are healthy, their pissed and, if Jackson is anything like he's shown in the preseason, they are going to be tough to stop.
Special teams: 3
Punter Sav Rocca, kicker David Akers and long snapper Jon Dorenbos each make the team at their respective positions.
There you go: 26+24=50+3=53. With the amount of depth the Eagles have combined with the number of rookies that should contribute from the 2008 draft class, this could be a special year down at the Linc.
Steve Lienert can be reached at email@example.com