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Eagles about to kick off season

D’Andre Swift

The stage is set. The NFL summer is over.

Last month, the Eagles and the rest of the league marked the end of summer with their annual roster cutdowns to 53 players and the subsequent establishment of a 16-player practice squad.

After three interesting but mostly uneventful preseason games, the Eagles made some interesting choices in their final cutdowns in preparation for the Sept. 10 season opener in New England.

The most telling and interesting move involved punter Arryn Siposs, who was cut then re-signed to the practice squad. For a while, the Eagles didn’t have a single punter on the roster.

So, either the Eagles decided they weren’t going to punt at all this season or they thought they could find a more permanent solution for their punt game than keeping Siposs.

Siposs had already survived a training camp battle with Ty Zentner before he was cut. Still, it is clear that Siposs has far from won the job outright this season.

Because of the changes to the practice squad that were first caused by the COVID pandemic, the practice squad was expanded to 16 players per team with the option of elevating up to two players per week to the active gameday roster and allowing any practice squadder to be lifted to the gameday roster up to three times per season.

Unless the Eagles find a new punter before Sept. 10, expect Siposs to be elevated for each of the first three weeks. If no new punter is found by then, Siposs will have to be activated on the 53-man roster.

Leaving Siposs off the 53-man roster highlights the flexibility the new practice squad rules gives general manager Howie Roseman.

The final preseason roster cutdown exposes young players to the rest of the league. For instance, safety K’Von Wallace was claimed by Arizona during the waiver period before the practice squads were formed across the league. Vested veterans like wide receiver Greg Ward were exempt from waiver claims.

The Eagles were able to reclaim 13 of the players they cut two days before. The final three spots were filled by former Texans defensive tackle Thomas Booker, former Eagles offensive tackle Le’Raven Clark, who was with the Steelers this summer, and cornerback Taiwan Mullen, who spent the preseason with the Chargers.

The Eagles are a different team than they were in February in the Super Bowl. We’ll soon know whether they have a chance to be even better than they were a season ago.

The offense doesn’t have running back Miles Sanders or guard Isaac Seumalo. The defense lost both linebackers and both safeties, plus tackle Javon Hargrave.

Still, there are plenty of things to be hopeful about. New running backs D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny should be able to offset the loss of Sanders. Second-year guard Cam Jurgens is set to plug himself into the league’s best offensive line.

Defensively, the University of Georgia has supplied plenty of fill-ins for the team’s defensive holes. Second-year linebacker Nakobe Dean will be handed the keys to the defensive huddle. Linemen Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis and Nolan Smith will bolster the league’s top pass rush unit last season.

All that’s left is kickoff and we’ll know just how successful the summer has been for the team. Bet you can’t wait. ••

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