Parkey, Barbre biggest unknowns on roster

Posted: September 03, 2014

IT WILL BE interesting to see how invested the Eagles are in Cody Parkey, the rookie kicker who apparently will open the season for them Sunday against the Jaguars.

The Birds didn't make a lot of significant changes in training camp. Nobody will be starting against Jacksonville who wasn't in line to start when training camp began July 25 - except Parkey, who was part of the Colts' camp back then. He was traded to the Eagles Aug. 21 and was named Alex Henery's successor 9 days later, in the final roster cutdown to the regular-season limit of 53.

Parkey and Allen Barbre, the journeyman vet subbing for suspended right tackle Lane Johnson, are probably the biggest unknowns, at least among the starters, for the Eagles going into Week 1. Barbre can probably afford to miss a block or two; Parkey probably can't afford to miss anything. It won't take much to turn this into a kicker-of-the-week situation.

Depthwise, the Eagles are scrambling after losing linebacker Travis Long to an ACL tear in the preseason finale. First-round rookie project Marcus Smith becomes the backup to Connor Barwin. At inside linebacker, Najee Goode - a lucky waiver pickup a year ago this week from Tampa - and the unsinkable Casey Matthews are the only backups.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said over the weekend that special-teams coordinator Dave Fipp worked out Parkey, a rookie from Auburn, during the draft process. The Eagles signed Vanderbilt's Carey Spear instead because they were impressed with his leg strength, Roseman said, but when the Colts decided to cut Parkey, the Eagles traded for him because he has "a tremendous leg," has kicked in big games in college, and was once rated the nation's top high school kicking prospect.

Would the Eagles have gone with Parkey had he not made 53- and 54-yard field goals against the Jets? "I'm not big on hypotheticals," Roseman said.

Henery was a fourth-round selection in 2011, and his demise might qualify that draft as the worst of the seven-round era, certainly the Eagles' worst since 2003, the year of Jerome McDougle, Billy McMullen and taking L.J. Smith over Jason Witten.

With 2011 third-round corner Curtis Marsh now released for the second time, the Eagles have parted with first-round guard Danny Watkins, second-round safety Jaiquawn Jarrett and everybody else from that draft, excepting fourth-round linebacker Matthews and sixth-round center Jason Kelce.

The biggest roster surprise might have been that the team went with just three running backs, given that Chris Polk was unable to participate in the preseason with a lingering hamstring injury. When the Eagles practice today for the first time since the cutdowns, reporters will definitely want to check out whether Polk feels he's on track to play Sunday, as Roseman seemed to indicate. Of course, the Eagles did name Matthew Tucker to the practice squad. Last Thursday's hero, Henry Josey, is on Jacksonville's practice squad.

Undrafted rookie Trey Burton had an excellent camp; Roseman noted that he had "nine catches on nine targets" in the preseason, but not many observers expected the Eagles to keep four tight ends. They did, though, Chip Kelly clearly intrigued with Burton's versatility - he's been a running back and a wideout as well.

The headline news for the 10-member practice squad, completed yesterday, is the presence of fifth-round rookie safety Ed Reynolds. The Eagles haven't cut a fifth-rounder after his first preseason since axing another safety, C.J. Gaddis in 2007. Gaddis, who looked totally lost, didn't even get a practice-squad berth.

Other than Tucker and Reynolds, the practice-squad members are: linebacker Emmanuel Acho, offensive linemen Josh Andrews and Kevin Graf, nose tackle Wadfe Keliikipi, quarterback G.J. Kinne, WR/CB Teddy Williams and wide receivers Will Murphy and Quron Pratt. Williams is the only member of that group who didn't attend camp with the Eagles.

The Oregon Duck count stands at five on the roster, two more on the practice squad.


 

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