PHILADELPHIA - Twenty-two players will be wearing an Eagles uniform for the final time in Thursday's preseason finale against the New York Jets.
Eagles coach Chip Kelly, general manager Howie Roseman and the assistant coaches are required to reduce the roster from 75 players to the regular-season limit of 53 by 6 p.m. Saturday.
"There's a lot up in the air right now," Kelly said Tuesday. "Obviously, the games are different than the training sessions out here, so (Thursday's game) is the last real good shot of us getting an opportunity to see how they react in that environment. It's as close to a regular season as you can get, so it's a huge night for all of those guys."
Some of the decisions will be rather easy - there is no way they will keep five quarterbacks, for example - while others will be made after much debate.
Despite his status as a first-year NFL head coach, Kelly will have final say on who stays and who goes. But only after he consults with Roseman and others.
"It's not a problem because we're on the same page in everything," Kelly said. "There has not been a decision that's been made personnel-wise where I've felt one way and (Roseman) felt the other way.
"It helps when you have guys that are professional and can see (both sides) and understand how it fits in the grand scheme of things. I think (Roseman) sees the big picture and I see the big picture, so I think that's why we get along so well."
When it comes to filling in the roster, Kelly said a players' versatility will have a big role in determining his value.
That should help guys like tight end/wide receiver Clay Harbor, linebacker Brandon Graham and several offensive linemen.
Harbor was initially viewed as a long shot to survive the cuts, considering he entered training camp as the fourth tight end behind James Casey, Brent Celek and rookie Zach Ertz. But the fourth-year veteran has also been taking reps at wide receiver in the last two weeks while also excelling on special teams. He will play tight end for the first half against the Jets, then move to receiver for the second half.
"It's a very strange situation," Harbor said. "I feel like I'm a better tight end than I've ever been and I've definitely had my best camp since I've been here. But yet I'm lower on the depth chart than in the past.
"It's probably still a coin flip (whether or not he makes the team). I still have no idea if I'll be here or somewhere else this season. Or if I'll be a tight end or wide receiver. All I can do is keep playing hard and do whatever they ask me to do."
Graham, the Eagles' first-round draft pick in 2010, has been making the transition from defensive end in a 4-3 defense to outside linebacker in a 3-4. The 6-foot-2, 264-pounder is currently listed as a backup to Connor Barwin, who was signed as a free agent from Houston.
Graham has also been playing special teams, which could be the difference between staying on the team and hitting the waiver wire.
"It's been an adjustment for me, but I feel good," Graham said. "The biggest challenge for me is to prove I can drop back into coverage. I'm not a pro at it, yet, but I'm trying to be a pro. I just have to keep progressing.
"I'm looking forward to (Thursday's game). I'm excited. It's another opportunity for me to go out and show what I'm about. I know I can play ball in this league, but you never know what can happen."
On the offensive line, versatility will be a deciding factor for the backup spots.
Allen Barbre and Dennis Kelly are likely to earn two of the jobs on the offensive line behind starters Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans and rookie Lane Johnson. That leaves Michael Bamiro, Matt Kopa, Dallas Reynolds, Matt Tennant, Matt Tobin, Julian Vandervelde and 2012 first-round draft pick Danny Watkins fighting for two or three positions.
Reynolds, Tennant and Vandervelde are able to play multiple positions up front. Watkins was a tackle in college, but has been a guard since coming to the Eagles. Watkins could become the first Eagles' first-round pick to last two seasons or less since defensive end Jon Harris, who played in 1997-98.
"I'm not getting into who has obstacles or whatever," Chip Kelly said. "We'll play and keep the best guys, but when you talk about backup guys, they have to have versatility. That's huge."
Extra points: Dennis Kelly, who underwent back surgery earlier this month, said he is scheduled to meet with doctors on Sept. 16 in hopes of getting clearance to play. That means he will miss at least two regular-season games, at Washington (Sept. 9) and San Diego (Sept. 15).
Running back Bryce Brown, who hurt his ankle in Monday's practice at Lincoln Financial Field, participated in Tuesday's workout at the NovaCare Complex.
The Eagles reached the 75-player limit Tuesday by waiving injured third-year linebacker Phillip Hunt. If Hunt, who suffered a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament earlier this month in practice, is not claimed by another team by 4 p.m. today, he will return to the Eagles and be placed on the injured reserve list.
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