Cherry, oth­ers to make fi­nal roster push against Jets

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

Eight is a crowd at line­backer, es­pe­cially for a team like the Ea­gles, who are likely to keep only six on the roster en­ter­ing the reg­u­lar season.

Ten is ridicu­lous, which is the deal now as the Ea­gles just added Chris­tian Tago and Carl­ton Fields.

With the starters get­ting the night off, Vil­lanova prod­uct Don Cherry will have no prob­lem get­ting snaps at line­backer in the fourth and fi­nal pre­sea­son game when the Ea­gles op­pose the New York Jets Thurs­day at MetLife Sta­dium (7, Chan­nel 10, WIP 94.1-FM).

For Cherry, who plays strong side and mid­dle line­backer, it was go­ing to be a bat­tle no mat­ter how many lineback­ers were on the Philly roster.

“Ob­vi­ously for guys like me and the guys at my po­si­tion it’s a huge week for us,” Cherry said. “It’s a big chance to get a lot of things on film de­fen­sively and on spe­cial teams. You just try to pre­pare as best you can es­pe­cially from the con­di­tion­ing as­pect be­cause you’re play­ing the whole game.”

In ad­di­tion to line­backer, the Ea­gles have tal­ented sur­pluses on the of­fen­sive line, wide re­ceiver, run­ning back and tight end.

Dal­las Thomas, Josh An­drews and Tay­lor Hart are bid­ding for jobs on the of­fen­sive line.

At run­ning back, Byron Mar­shall and rookie Corey Cle­ment are try­ing to bump rookie fourth-round pick Don­nel Pumphrey.

Bryce Treggs and rookie Greg Ward are at­tempt­ing to open eyes at wide re­ceiver.

On the bub­ble at tight end are Billy Brown, An­thony Den­ham and Adam Zaruba.

Ea­gles head coach Doug Ped­er­son, of­fen­sive mind that he is, sounds most in­ter­ested in the run­ning back com­pe­ti­tion.

“Corey, I’ll tell you, has come in here with a great at­ti­tude,” Ped­er­son said. “From day one when we got him after the draft, from that all the way through train­ing camp he’s done ev­ery­thing we’ve asked him to do and prob­a­bly even more. He’s def­i­nitely caught our at­ten­tion. Pumphrey is in it. As I men­tioned the other day, he’s right where he needs to be from the stand­point of what we’re ask­ing him to do. Byron Mar­shall is another one that’s fa­mil­iar with our of­fense. He had a chance to play late in the season last year and did some nice things in the last cou­ple of games. He’s another one that’s com­pet­ing as well for a roster spot.

“It will be in­ter­est­ing to watch those guys Thurs­day night and to see how well they do.”

Cherry pro­duced one of his best plays of the pre­sea­son in the Ea­gles’ win over the Dol­phins last week. Cherry made one of three Ea­gles in­ter­cep­tions in the game. The 42-yard re­turn to the five-yard line set up Matt McGloin’s one­yard scor­ing pass to Marcus John­son.

“I had a good play,” Cherry said. “But ob­vi­ously there were some things I need to im­prove on.”

Cherry signed with the Ea­gles after the 2016 draft fol­low­ing a stint with the Bears. The two-time Al­lAmer­i­can at Vil­lanova col­lected 331 tack­les, in­clud­ing 46 1/2 for loss and 14 sacks. He also forced seven fum­bles and re­cov­ered two fum­bles.

To quell any late night in­som­nia, Cherry chats with Wild­cats team­mate Austin Cal­itro, who’s with the 49ers.

“I’ve been talk­ing to him prob­a­bly three, four times a week,” Cherry said. “He’s go­ing through the same grind I am, go­ing through the un­drafted free agent route. It’s mainly to check in on each other and just try to keep each other’s morale up.”

Cherry spent last year on the Ea­gles’ prac­tice squad. If he doesn’t make the 53man roster, it could be an op­tion again. If, of course, he isn’t claimed be­fore­hand. Ros­ters must be pared from 90 to 53 by 4 p.m. Satur­day.

••• Newly ac­quired cor­ner­back Dex­ter McDougle clocked a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day at Mary­land in the spring of 2014.

McDougle then was taken off the board by the Jets in the third round of the draft, which makes the game Thurs­day strange. No, fun.

“I think it’s go­ing to be fun,” said McDougle, who was ac­quired for safety Ter­rence Brooks. “It’s go­ing to be fun see­ing the guys again. I just have to go out there and do my job, not make it big­ger than what it is. Ob­vi­ously (the Ea­gles have) seen my pre­vi­ous pre­sea­son games al­ready so this is another op­por­tu­nity to show­case what I can do.”

McDougle went to the same high school and col­lege as Ea­gles re­ceiver Tor­rey Smith, who he con­sid­ers “an older brother type of guy.

“It’s cool to be on the same team with him again,” McDougle said.

••• NOTES: The Ea­gles an­nounced they will in­duct kicker David Ak­ers into their hall of fame at their Oct. 23rd game at the Linc ver­sus the Red­skins ... Birds pass rusher Steven Means signed a one-year con­tract ex­ten­sion through 2018, per the club ... Tago (6-0, 237) is a prod­uct of San Jose State who was cut by the Fal­cons. Fields (6-1, 238) starred at Divi­sion II Win­ston Salem be­fore spend­ing time with sev­eral teams after sign­ing with the Raiders in 2014. Most re­cently Fields was with the Charg­ers. To make room on the roster the Ea­gles re­leased cor­ner­backs Ron Brooks and Mitchell White. Brooks made a valiant ef­fort to come back from ma­jor knee surgery but fell be­hind Pa­trick Robin­son at slot cor­ner.

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