As we approach the final game of the season, the anticipation builds for who will be part of the final 53. Coach Andy Reid has said that the first team won’t play this week. Instead we will see a tune up half for the second string and a fight for your NFL life quarter for the third and fourth string. Having the extra roster spots has allowed a slightly different approach to determining the final cuts.
Consider These Key Battles
With the exception of the right cornerback position, it seems the starting team has been set since the start of the season. The battles were expected at the second string level and third string/special teams positions.
A couple I have had my eye on are the QB, RB, TE, ILB, and DL. These positions all had a lot of drafting and free agent signing going on with them. However, after this last game with Spencer Ware going down with an injury, I think there is a bit more clarity on who will make the team. Also, it seems Patrick Mahomes has clearly moved into the QB2 position over Tyler Bray. So, not a lot of competition left there either. This leaves us with TE, ILB, and DL to watch this week.
Full disclosure on this, I did not watch every down each of the following players paid nor did I research all of their preseason stats. This is a combination of the snapshots of what I saw in the game and some stats.
Considering the Tight Ends
I haven’t really been impressed with the group behind Travis Kelce. I was expecting more from Gavin Escobar when we signed him earlier this year, but that doesn’t seem to be panning out the way I thought. Strangely enough, it seem Demetrius Harris is able to catch the ball now. With the way Reid likes to use TEs, we will probably end up with these three and Ross Travis.
Considering the Inside Linebackers
It seems the front office continues to search for upgrades at this position. Kevin Pierre-Louis, Reggie Ragland, & Ukeme Eligwe were all added to the mix this year. Justin March-Lillard and Terrence Smith are the other two that are still fighting for spots. Other than Eligwe, I am not sure who will make the final cut. I would probably give the upper hand to Pierre-Louis & Ragland, based on their prior experience.
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Considering the Defensive Line
The last group I will be watching is our defensive line. We drafted Tanoh Kpassagnon and picked up Cam Thomas in the off season. Rakeem “Nacho” Nunez-Roches is returning for another season, bringing experience in this defense. After that, we drop off to the fringe players that are looking to beat the bubble. Again, I am not seeing any other clear standouts to make the decision easy.
With what I see as a lack of depth at these positions, I hope we can identify the players that have enough upside to get some playing time and provide relief for the first string. If we don’t have them, then we are looking at tired legs, beat up bodies, and fatigue going into the last quarter of the season (and hopefully the playoffs).
What do you guys think? Are there other position groups we should worry about? Any players, among the 2s, 3s, & 4s, that you see clearly making the roster in these groups?
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