Eagles make difficult cuts as roster takes shape
So much for Dennis Dixon having a leg up because he knows Chip Kelly's offense.
Dixon was one of 12 players cut by the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday as they moved closer to the 53-player roster limit. He had a standout career at Oregon when Kelly was the Ducks' offensive coordinator there, and signed with the Eagles in February, not long after Kelly took the job. But Dixon's true shot at earning a spot as the No. 3 quarterback behind Michael Vick and Nick Foles was all but lost once the Eagles drafted USC's Matt Barkley in the fourth round in April.
But with Vick and Foles ahead of him, Barkley is also in an uncomfortable spot. Highly decorated as a Trojan, he now finds himself as a reserve for pretty much the first time in his career.
His only chance at playing time will come if Vick or Foles are injured. Of course, that's a real possibility, especially with Vick, who has missed 11 games because of injuries over the last three seasons.
Barkley and Foles took all the snaps in Philadelphia's preseason finale Thursday. The latter completed 13 of 27 passes for 134 yards and an interception in a 27-20 loss to the New York Jets.
Barkley can now trade that spot under center for one holding a clipboard on the sideline, starting Sept. 9 at Washington.
"You're going to have to learn when you're not on the job," he said. "That's the way it goes. Roll with it. Roll with the changes."
He said the best he can do is prepare every week just as a starter would and learn as much as he can from Vick and Foles. Vick was outstanding in the first two preseason games, winning the starting job over Foles and showing a solid grasp of Kelly's system.
The Eagles have potential to be a dynamic offense. Playmakers LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson seem poised to thrive in Kelly's high-octane system. And it's the kind of offense Barkley would love to run. But preseason games could be the only action he'll get.
"It's kind of been all over the place, just trying to grow because it's a different kind of rhythm that you had to try to get into as opposed to starting a game and going in feeling that rhythm the whole game," he said. "It's kind of bits and pieces. I think I managed to do the best job I can, growing, learning and feeling more comfortable with the offense."
There were plenty of other changes Friday when Kelly whittled his first Eagles roster closer to the league limit. Among those let go, were defensive end David King, a seventh-round pick, and veteran defensive tackle Antonio Dixon. The Eagles also placed defensive end Joe Kruger on injured reserve list with a shoulder injury.
With the cuts, the Eagles' roster stands at 62 players. All teams are required to cut their rosters to 53 players by 6 p.m. Saturday.
The name to keep an eye on Saturday is former first-rounder Danny Watkins. He has played only 18 games in two seasons after the fireman-turned-lineman was a surprise first-round pick under former coach Andy Reid. Watkins didn't play football until he was 22 and never found a groove under the tutelage of former offensive line coach Howard Mudd. The 29-year-old Watkins may be out of chances to prove he's not just another first-round bust.
Kelly hardly sounded enthusiastic about Watkins' chances of making the team.
"Danny is competing like the rest of those guys up front," he said. "There's always really some good out of Danny, but there's also some mistakes out of Danny. I think it's going to be a battle. You feel good about your five (offensive linemen), but then where are we going to be and then how many are we going to carry, I think, is what it's going to come down to."
NOTES: The Eagles also cut LB Everette Brown; DE David King; QB G.J. Kinne; OL Matt Kopa; WR Ifeanyi Momah; WR Will Murphy; OL Dallas Reynolds; LB Adrian Robinson; and OL Matt Tennant. CB Trevard Lindley as waived with an injury settlement.
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