Did Parkey win job as Eagles kicker?

RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Vick waves to fans as he walks off after one play.
RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Vick waves to fans as he walks off after one play.
Posted: August 29, 2014

AN INVISIBLE barrier seemed to descend around Alex Henery as the second half wore on. The bench area can be a crowded place, with NFL rosters still at 75 until tomorrow's cutdown to 53. Yet, Henery paced back and forth in a black Eagles baseball cap, several feet of space on each side of him.

The Eagles tried three field goals in last night's 37-7 preseason-ending victory over the visiting New York Jets. Rookie Cody Parkey, acquired last week from Indianapolis, attempted and made all three - from 54, 25 and 53 yards.

The crowd was a bit spotty at Lincoln Financial Field, as it always is for this final warmup, in which starters and some key reserves don't play. But the half-filled stadium had no trouble coming up with a verdict - Parkey in as the Eagles' kicker to start the 2014 season, Henery out after three seasons, and a preseason in which he made one of three field goals.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly ultimately will be making that decision, though. He might have cast his vote with 7 minutes and 9 seconds left in the third quarter, when he sent Parkey out for the 53-yarder. Before that, Henery notched a touchback on the second-half kickoff, his first action of the evening. He seemed to be in line for the next field goal.

Instead of giving Henery a chance to best his career long of 51 yards, and maybe make a statement about not being done yet, Kelly opted to see if the kid from Auburn could bang through another long one. Turned out, he could, and suddenly, the cone of silence enveloped Henery on the home side of the field.

Afterward, Kelly said that he wasn't cutting anybody right then, and that he'd brought in Parkey to "give Alex some competition."

Henery kicked a pair of extra points, managed two touchbacks, Parkey the same.

"We'll go back, evaluate the tape, sit down and make decisions on everybody on our team," Kelly said. He said the evaluation would include "what the whole week was like with him."

Henery said he thought he was going to try the 53-yarder, was eager to do so, with a northwesterly wind at 11 mph to help out. He said he found out "probably like 3 seconds" before the field-goal unit took the field that Parkey would get this one, too.

"I was ready. It was just one of those things; the coaches made the decision on who was going in," Henery said. "I had no say in it . . . He had a good hit . . . He had a great day, he was hitting the ball well."

Parkey said he was under the impression Henery would get that kick, but special-teams coordinator Dave Fipp came up and told him to go out "because it was a longer one." Henery's career long is 51 yards.

"Both of them were ready to go," Kelly said. "I just kept going back and forth with Dave [Fipp] in terms of who he's going to put in the game."

Henery was a fourth-round Eagles draft pick in 2011 who set a franchise record for accuracy as a rookie, but his 2013 was up and down, and a couple of miscues in the two-point playoff loss to New Orleans turned the faithful against him.

Asked what he thinks happens next, Henery said: "I think they make decisions. It's out of my control. Whatever happens, happens. Everything happens for a reason. That's how you've got to approach it."

Henery said he feels that other than the two field goals he missed this preseason, "I'm a pretty consistent guy. My first 3 years here, I think I've kicked the ball well. Kickoffs are getting better . . . it's whatever guy they like, and that's what they'll go with . . . I think I'm an NFL kicker. It's just one of those things - find the right spot, if it's not here."

Parkey said he tried to look at this as "just another game." He said he had never nailed 54- and 53-yard field goals before; his collegiate best was 52 yards.

"I think I did pretty well. There's room for improvement - there's a couple of kickoffs I'd like to have back, I didn't kick 'em as far as I wanted to, but for the most part, I think I did pretty well," Parkey said. "But it's not up to me anymore. I did what I could, and I guess we'll see what happens from here."

Parkey said he didn't get to try a lot of long field goals in college, but "I have confidence I can hit big kicks, short kicks, medium kicks, whatever. Every time I go out there, I'm confident I can make the kick . . . I was hoping for the best tonight. I got some great opportunities to put some stuff on film, and just go from there."

Kelly was asked whether he's sure one of the two current kickers will open the season for him against Jacksonville Sept. 7.

"I can't answer that question," he said. "We'll see how it all plays out in the next day or so, and what happens on other teams . . . You don't gain anything by saying this."

Other happenings of note last night, as fans strained for hints about the last few spots on the roster:

* Quarterback Matt Barkley played the first three quarters and did pretty well, much of it behind that second offensive line that has been so good this preseason. Barkley completed 21 of 33 passes for 253 yards, a touchdown, an interception, a nifty 7-yard touchdown run, and an 84.5 passer rating, working here and there from the pistol formation.

"I didn't make any bad decisions at all today," Barkley said. "I was confident in where I was going with the ball every time."

* Running back Chris Polk, who hobbled through the week of practice with a still-healing hamstring, feeling he might need to play last night to make the team, did not play. Dunno what that means for his future, especially with Henry Josey having run for 122 yards on 21 carries last night.

"I really feel for him," Kelly said of Polk. "Because he's done everything he can to get out there." Kelly said Josey is still a rookie, and is still "working on all the little things" such as pass protection and special-teams play.

* Michael Vick got an ovation when he came out to start the Jets' first series. They ran one play, called timeout. Turned out it was for Vick to take a bow as he left the game. Crowd dutifully clapped again.

Vick said afterward he was surprised by the quick hook. He declined to discuss his relationship with Eagles wideout Riley Cooper; Vick was quoted Wednesday as being disappointed Cooper didn't return his text, when Cooper got a new contract several months back. Vick said he felt he saved Cooper's career in the wake of the 2013 N-word video scandal.

* Looked as if the plan was to get an extended look at Kenjon Barner as a returner of kicks and punts, and at running back, but Barner left in the third quarter with an ankle injury. He carried five times for 21 yards, returned one punt for 3 yards.

* With Matthew Tucker also leaving, after suffering a shoulder injury, and Polk not playing, Damaris Johnson got emergency running-back work again, and made the most of it. He dipped and darted for a 46-yard fourth-quarter touchdown. Overall, the Eagles ran 44 times for 276 yards, 6.3 yards per carry. They finished with 568 net yards.

* Matt Tobin might be the Eagles' top offensive-line sub heading into the season, since Lane Johnson will be suspended for the first four games, and Allen Barbre will start for Johnson. Tobin went down early last night with an ankle injury, severity unknown.

"It's about to sink in for real right now," said Johnson, who can't enter the NovaCare facility or talk to coaches from this coming Monday to Sept. 29. "I mean, it's been looming the past few months, but now it's really happening. So, it's going to be tough sitting out a month, but nothing I can do about it."

* Jeff Maehl caught four passes for 84 yards. Arrelious Benn caught a 43-yard Barkley touchdown pass early.

* Fourth-round rookie corner Jaylen Watkins had a tough night in coverage, taking a penalty and giving up the Jets' only touchdown, a 42-yarder from Tajh Boyd to Clyde Gates. Fifth-round rookie safety Ed Reynolds could have saved Watkins on that one, but a sure interception went through his hands.

* Kelly indicated wide receiver Brad Smith didn't need to play last night to solidify his spot on the roster.

* Kelly confirmed that nose tackle Bennie Logan, the only starter among the position players who appeared last night, was just getting some reps, Logan having missed time early in camp, including the preseason opener.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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