Parkey reportedly staying, Josey gone as Eagles begin making cuts

Posted: August 31, 2014

THE EAGLES made decisions yesterday on roster cuts, but chose not to make any of them public, even after they'd been widely reported, in one case by a player himself on Twitter. (That was fan favorite Henry Josey, the 5-8 running back from Missouri who overcame a terrible knee injury in college and ran for 121 yards on 22 carries Thursday night against the Jets. He bid Eagles fans farewell.)

So, here is what we could piece together from other sources, and what others have reported, which might or might not be entirely correct. The headline move was provided by NJ.com, which reported "multiple sources" as asserting that Cody Parkey has won the kicking competition over Alex Henery. This would validate the fans' collective opinion, in the wake of Parkey's 3-for-3 night against the Jets, which included 53- and 54-yard field goals.

For what it's worth, Parkey's ex-Auburn teammate, 49ers linebacker Corey Lemonier, tweeted congratulations to Parkey for making the Eagles. But it remains unofficial. NFL rosters must be at the regular-season limit of 53 by 4 p.m. today.

Representatives of Parkey and Henery did not respond to requests for comment, and the Eagles' only response was to say they weren't announcing anything yesterday.

Of course, the team could decide to keep both kickers for a week or 2, just to make sure Parkey, acquired from the Colts last week, isn't a mirage.

Meanwhile, an NFL source confirmed an Inquirer report last night that Eagles linebacker Travis Long suffered a torn left ACL late in Thursday's game, which should end his season. Long might not have played a lot of snaps, but he had the versatility to play inside and outside linebacking positions, and the Eagles are really thin inside now. He was on the practice squad all last season. The coaches liked his potential; Long would have been drafted in 2013 had he not torn his right ACL his senior year at Washington State.

It seems very likely now that Casey Matthews will again make the team; like Long, Matthews, a 2011 fourth-round pick, can play inside or out, and he has lots of special teams experience. Look for the Eagles to actively search through other teams' discards this weekend for inside linebacking help.

The NFL rumor mill held that the Eagles indeed were showcasing quarterback Matt Barkley Thursday night, seeing whether someone would trade them something for the 2013 fourth-round pick from USC. That might be why the Birds reportedly tried out quarterback Thad Lewis, released recently by the Bills. Lewis, 26, is not eligible for the practice squad.

Also rumored to be in the trade mix was wideout-returner Damaris Johnson, who only rarely has showed the explosiveness that earned him a roster spot as an undrafted rookie in 2012. Johnson, pressed into duty as an emergency running back late in the preseason finale against the Jets, ran 46 yards for a touchdown, but he hasn't really seemed to be in the Chip Kelly regime's plans for a while now. If no trade is forthcoming, he'll probably be released.

A source close to the situation confirmed that the Eagles will place wideout Arrelious Benn on short-term injured reserve with a back problem. Benn got his back examined when he left the Jets game, but he said in the locker room he was fine. Benn now can't practice for 6 weeks, and can't play before Week 8.

This could open up a roster spot for someone - Johnson, or Jeff Maehl, perhaps. Or maybe the Eagles will keep only five wideouts and four tight ends. A league source said yesterday that undrafted rookie tight end Trey Burton from Florida has been told he will make the team, and there is no indication the Eagles are ready to cut loose veteran TE James Casey. We're pretty sure they aren't cutting Brent Celek or Zach Ertz, either.

Burton's versatility probably was the key; listed generously at 6-3, 235, he is more "receiver" than tight end, and he showed better hands and better route-running skills than several of the wideout hopefuls in training camp. At Florida, he was a quarterback, fullback, H-back, tight end and wide receiver. His grandfather, wide receiver Larry Burton, was the Saints' first-round pick in 1975 and was a sprinter for the United States in the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Other reported cuts: quarterback G.J. Kinne, linebacker Emmanuel Acho, offensive lineman Josh Andrews, wide receiver Quron Pratt (from Rutgers and Palmyra), and wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah, who almost certainly will be brought back for the practice squad tomorrow if no other team claims him for its roster.

Running back Chris Polk, who missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, apparently will not be cut - at least, that was how it was looking last night, a source close to the situation said.

Fans who watched Josey dip and dart against deep subs - he was the NFL's second-leading preseason rusher, with 225 yards on 34 carries (6.6 yards per carry) - probably thought this was an injustice. The only guy with more yards, Baltimore's Lorenzo Taliaferro, carried 65 times - only 3.7 yards per carry.

But right after Josey's big night against the Jets, Kelly cautioned that he was "still a rookie" and needed work on things like pass protection, though "he's had a really, really productive camp for us." Kelly also talked a couple of times recently about the importance of special teams for reserve running backs. Polk is bigger than Josey and is well ahead of him in those areas. Plus, Polk scored three touchdowns on 11 carries last season - against real NFL players - which isn't bad.

Josey tweeted yesterday: "Thank you Eagle nation it's been a blast, the journey continues! Appreciate the opportunity and support!"

So, if we assume that Long, Henery, Pratt, Momah, Josey, Acho, Andrews, Kinne, Benn and Johnson (one way or another) will not be part of the 53-man group remaining today, that would be 12 cuts that either hadn't been made last night or we didn't know about.

Injuries remain a wild card, as was vividly demonstrated in the case of Long. Both running back/returner Kenjon Barner and offensive lineman Matt Tobin suffered ankle injuries against the Jets, and running back Matthew Tucker left with a shoulder injury. Tobin's injury, in particular, sure seemed at the time to have the potential to be serious, but no decision on his status had been made last night, a source close to the situation said.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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