Eagles waive injured Vandervelde

Posted: August 28, 2014

The Eagles waived center Julian Vandervelde with an injury settlement Tuesday, reducing the roster to the league-mandated 75 players while cutting ties with last year's backup center.

Vandervelde, 26, underwent back surgery this summer. Coach Chip Kelly said Tuesday that Vandervelde was a "ways away" from returning. Waiving Vandervelde was another indication that David Molk is likely to make the team as Jason Kelce's backup.

Vandervelde played in 14 games last season. As one of the seven offensive linemen active on game days, Vandervelde needed to play both center and guard. Molk is a career center who has worked on playing guard in emergency situations.

The second-string offensive line should receive significant work in the preseason finale Thursday against the New York Jets, with Molk at center. Lane Johnson is the headliner in that group, although he will not count against the 53-man roster while serving a four-game suspension. Look for Matt Tobin, a second-year lineman, to be active as the backup tackle and guard during the first four weeks. Veteran Andrew Gardner is another second-team lineman expected to make the 53-man roster.

"I think it's giving us some depth and strength of our team," Kelly said. "When you have lines like we have, we feel like that's part of what the game is all about, what you have up front, and we feel good that we have that right now."

The waiving of Vandervelde came after the Eagles cut 14 players Saturday. Kelly said the Eagles made those initial cuts four days early to help the players find landing spots. Four were claimed off waivers Monday.

Kicking competition

Kelly said kicker Cody Parkey has "done a nice job" since arriving in Philadelphia last week. Parkey, a rookie from Auburn, is competing with Alex Henery for the placekicking job. He kicked off twice last week, but attempted no field goals. That could change this week.

"There's also a difference between game reps and practice reps, and I think everybody is aware of that," Kelly said. "So it will be interesting to see. Hopefully, we get into situations on Thursday night where we get a chance to kick those guys."

Kelly did not say whether he would force field-goal situations. The Eagles could kick a field goal on a fourth down instead of punting or going for a first just to see how a kicker responds on field goals from a distance.

Henery is the incumbent and had a strong training camp, although he missed two field goals in preseason games. He said he is confident the mistakes are correctable.

Kelly did not rule out keeping two kickers, one each for field goals and kickoffs. The problem with that strategy is it takes up a valuable spot on the 53-man roster and 46-man game-day roster. The Eagles will also consider kickers from other teams.

"There's a list, and we have had a list for a while," Kelly said. "We have a list that's updated weekly based upon first preseason game, second preseason game, third preseason game, so we are looking at everybody."

Pressure on Polk

Eagles running back Chris Polk has not played in the preseason after injuring his hamstring early in training camp. Polk returned to practice this week and is trying to play Thursday. Even though he's the most experienced of the four running backs competing for spots behind LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, Polk's injury has hurt his stock.

"It's more what you're doing now," Polk said. "I feel like that's a little bit of consideration. But it really comes down to what happens, how the game goes, who's in, who's playing, who isn't playing. It's going to be a real tough decision."

Polk said he rushed to return to action. Kelly said last week that the Eagles need to find out who their third running back will be, and Polk is determined to show that he should still fill the slot. But even if he plays Thursday, he estimated that he will be only 80 percent.

"It's definitely going to be a preview," Polk said. "Because I've been out a month, and this is my first week practicing. So if I play or if I don't play, I can still get a whole lot better."

Polk is competing for either one or two spots with Matthew Tucker, Henry Josey, and Kenjon Barner. Kelly said the final running back spots will be determined by how a player can contribute on special teams.

One last practice

The Eagles had a walkthrough Tuesday. They will practice Wednesday, which is the final opportunity for players before Thursday's game. The roster must be reduced to 53 by 4 p.m. Saturday.



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