Eagles: Notable fringe players who may not make 53-man roster

We’re officially two weeks into Eagles training camp 2021. The first preseason game will be next Thursday, August 12, at 7:30 p.m. against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’ll be our first opportunity to see what this new look Eagles team is truly made of.

That game will also be the first opportunity some of the Eagles fringe players get to prove their worth to the team.

Here are some depth players who could be in jeopardy of being cut once roster cut downs begin.

John Hightower

Indications out of Eagles camp so far suggest that second-year wideout John Hightower has just been meh through two weeks of work. Hightower did have a really nice catch from Jalen Hurts on Wednesday, but that’s about the only positive you’ll find on Hightower’s camp so far.

Hightower’s so-so performance probably won’t be the only reason he’s cut (if he’s cut). Fellow 2020 draftee Quez Watkins has been a pleasant surprise through two weeks of camp. His route running has noticeably improved and he’s made a handful of contested catches.

If Hightower makes the team, it’ll be as the final receiver on the roster. That much is clear at this point.

Nick Mullens

Keeping only two quarterbacks on the roster can be risky business, but the Eagles have done this in the past when they needed an extra roster spot elsewhere. I wouldn’t be shocked if the team elected to keep an extra running back or safety on the 53-man, leaving Nick Mullens as a prime candidate to go to the practice squad.

Outright cutting Mullens would be a bit of a shock — it’s always best to keep at least one emergency option around if need be. So expect him to get placed on the practice squad if activating two quarterbacks is the route this team takes.

Jordan Howard

Jordan Howard was going to need a really good camp in order to stake his claim to one of the running back spots. So far, all has been quiet on the Howard front.

We know he’s a solid between the tackles runner, and that much has been evident through camp so far. But he’s never been a prolific receiver out of the backfield, which seems like it’ll be a key skill to have as an Eagles running back under Nick Sirianni.

Earlier this week, Mullens stated that one of his favorite aspects of this new offense is the emphasis on taking the easy completion. That means letting it rip to the running back on short swing routes or quick routes out of the backfield. Every other back on the current roster has some sort of receiver capability — through five NFL seasons, Howard hasn’t proven that he does.

There’s a chance the team keeps Howard as their short yardage back, especially if they elect to keep more than four backs. But the emergence of Jason Huntley has thrown a wrench into things, and apparently he’s getting first-team reps as the kick/punt returner, which could ensure a roster spot.

Howard’s camp is far from over, he’ll likely be one of the last cuts if he is cut. So keep an eye on this former 1,000-yard rusher during the preseason.

Richard Rodgers

While I like what Richard Rodgers did last season with the Eagles, there’s only one scenario where I see him making the 53-man roster. And that’s if Zach Ertz is traded some point before the season. Otherwise, the team might elect to go with the developmental tight end as TE3, that guy being Tyree Jackson.

The former quarterback has flashed a lot during camp so far. It’s hard to miss him standing at 6-foot-7, but his flashy catches and solid route running is what has stood out the most. At the very least, Jackson is an intriguing prospect who the team probably doesn’t want to lose this year. If he gets put on the practice squad, another club can always swoop in and sign him as their TE3.

This organization has watched a former rugby player blossom into a solid starting left tackle and potential future Pro Bowler, why not afford Jackson a similar opportunity? Rodgers is okay, but not worth keeping over a guy who could evolve into this team’s TE2 in a year or so.

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