Tensions increase as those fighting for a job have one more game to impress
It’s a weird time of year in NFL locker rooms across the country.
The veterans and roster-locks are busy preparing for the season opener in less than two weeks. The second- and third-team players are getting ready for one final chance to make an impression and win a job, whether it’s with their current team or another team should they be waived.
The Eagles are in no short supply of players trying to win a job. That final opportunity arrives on Thursday in the shadow of the Freedom Tower when the Birds will visit North Jersey to take on the New York Jets.
After that, the cuts begin. Teams have until Saturday at 4 p.m. to reduce their rosters from 90 players to 53.
Tight ends Alex Ellis (pictured above catching a TD pass against the Ravens last week) and Will Tye come to mind, presuming the Eagles keep four and the three they keep are Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and Josh Perkins.
There also the defensive line. It’s loaded, but do the Eagles keep six defensive ends with Daeshon Hall, Josh Sweat, and Derek Barnett joining Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Vinny Curry? That would mean keeping four tackles, which would likely leave special-teams kick blocking ace Treyvon Hester unemployed if the Eagles kept Hassan Ridgeway, who they really seem to like.
You could go down the list – linebacker, secondary, running back – and find some difficult decisions.
VIDEO: DC Jim Schwartz talks about DE Daeshon Hall
“You root for everyone in this business,” said defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz on Monday. “You know how hard they work and what they put into their effort and making a contribution to the team.
"And not everyone can make the team, but when it is all said and done, everyone that was in camp with us will have contributed to our team somehow and to our success going forward.”
Schwartz added that there are plenty of reasons players don’t make roster, citing numbers, scheme fit, and injury.
“We have seen a lot of different guys that have scrapped their way up from the bottom in this league,” said Schwartz. “We have a lot of guys on this team that are contributors.
"The longer you are around it – and I think the other human part of it is when you have kids and you root for your own kids in life and different things that they are doing and you see them have successes and failures, it give you a better empathy for those guys and my empathy for those guys certainly has increased over the tenure of my career.”
It was safety Malcolm Jenkins who touched on the harsh reality of the situation many players find themselves in this week.
“You have to be real about it,” said Jenkins. “We’re going to cut our roster almost in half in a few short days. We invest a lot in each other as a team, so that’s always a tough part to see, but the good thing is there’s still one more opportunity for a lot of these guys to make this roster; if not this roster, hopefully another one.”