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Ignore Chip; Eagles’ roster is set

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PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles head into Thursday’s final preseason game with all of the starting jobs settled, even though coach Chip Kelly disputed that Monday and was not convincing in doing so.

Asked whether Andrew Gardner, the starting right guard for the Eagles’ first three preseason games, will be the season-opening starter there, Kelly said: “We haven’t finalized anything.”

Gardner had a solid training camp and preseason and clearly beat out Matt Tobin, John Moffitt and Dennis Kelly for Todd Herremans’ old job. Herremans was released in the offseason.

The most interesting still-being-contested battles heading into Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets are the third and fourth safety jobs and the No. 3 quarterback job.

“We feel real confident with Walter (Thurmond) in with Malcolm (Jenkins),” Kelly said of his starting safeties. “But we still have to figure out who our third and fourth safeties are.

“It’s still a big question mark going into Thursday’s game against the Jets.”

The four candidates are Chris Maragos, Chris Prosinski, Ed Reynolds and Jerome Couplin.

Maragos would appear to be a roster lock because of his special teams prowess. Prosinski also was one of the Eagles’ better special teams players last season.

But defensive coordinator Bill Davis needs somebody that can actually play safety if something happens to Jenkins or Thurmond.

Reynolds was a 2014 fifth-round pick out of Stanford. The 6-2, 215-pound Couplin was signed off the Detroit Lions’ practice squad last November.

The Eagles like him, but he missed a sizeable chunk of training camp with an injury.

“They’ve all shown up at times,” Kelly said. “It’s just a matter of figuring out which of that group we’re going to be able to keep.”

As for the No. 3 quarterback job behind Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez, neither Matt Barkley nor Tim Tebow have had very good preseasons.

Barkley is a better fit for Kelly’s offense as a passer. But the Eagles coach continues to be intrigued by Tebow’s running ability, which was obvious Saturday when he used him on two two-point attempts, both of which were unsuccessful.

Asked about Tebow Monday, Kelly was subdued in his praise.

“I’ve seen Tim improve since he got here,” Kelly said. “I’ve seen improvement in his throwing motion. He’s worked hard at that, sequencing his throwing motions. So I think he’s been a lot more accurate with his passes.

“He’s had a good camp. He’s got a big week again this week. I anticipate him working real hard, like he always does.”

–Wide receiver Riley Cooper, who has played only 27 snaps in the Eagles’ first three preseason games, doesn’t have a reception this summer and has been targeted just once.

“Honestly, I never even thought about this until you all brought it to my attention,” Cooper said. “I mean, it’s preseason, dude. We’re 3-0. We’re killing people.

“I’ve played like two quarters the whole time. But I’m not worried about it, to answer everyone’s question. I’m super-excited about this upcoming season. I’m ready to rock and roll. I feel great.”

–At 309 pounds, Bennie Logan is the second lightest nose tackle in the league. But it certainly hasn’t been a problem for him.

Logan anchored a line that helped the Eagles finish fifth in the league in yards allowed per carry last season (3.7) and third over the final eight games (3.5).

“People look at nose tackle and think you have to be this huge guy,” Logan said. “But I don’t measure a nose tackle by (body) size. I measure them by heart. How much heart and effort are you willing to put in to be the best?

“Size doesn’t really mean anything. It’s all about the heart and pride you have when you’re lining up against a guy.”

The Eagles lead the league in the preseason in scoring and total offense. They are averaging 38.3 points per game. Kansas City is second at 27.3.

Philadelphia has averages a league high 429.7 yards per game. New Orleans is second at 395.7.

NOTES: Linebacker Marcus Smith continues to be sidelined because of a hamstring injury. He won’t play in the final preseason game and it’s not a given that he will survive the final cutdown. … Linebacker Kiko Alonso did not play at all in the first three preseason games. He missed the first two because of a concussion, then sat out Saturday’s game against Green Bay with what Kelly said was a minor leg injury. … Offensive lineman Andrew Gardner is expected to be the season-opening starter at right guard, even though coach Chip Kelly claimed on Monday that nothing has been “finalized” there yet.


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