NFL Nation: Mike Kafka

Most significant move: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a leap of faith when they released kicker Connor Barth and decided to go with Patrick Murray. Barth was a proven veteran. Murray is an unknown. But Murray had an excellent preseason to win the job. Barth didn’t look quite as sharp and didn’t seem to have as much distance as he did before missing all of the past season with a torn Achilles tendon. Barth also was scheduled to make more than $3 million this season. Murray will only cost the team $420,000.

Not so fast: A lot of people assumed running back Jeff Demps would make the roster because the Bucs were so infatuated with his speed. But Demps was released Saturday. The former Olympic sprinter was given every opportunity as a running back and a return man, but he never was able to make things happen in space. Still, Demps has rare speed, and the Bucs likely will try to get him signed to the practice squad, where he might be able to develop into something.

What’s next: The Bucs likely aren’t done with roster moves. They’re likely to bring in some players who were released elsewhere. Depth at linebacker, safety and on the offensive line still could be priorities.

Bucs’ cuts: Released WR Solomon Patton, RB Jeff Demps, QB Mike Kafka, DT Matthew Masifilo, DT Ronald Talley, K Connor Barth, TE Cameron Brate, DE Larry English, G Jamon Meredith, DB Marc Anthony, LB Nate Askew, T Edawn Coughman, CB Kip Edwards, DE T.J. Fatinikun, CB Anthony Gaitor, LB Ka'Lial Glaud, CB Keith Lewis, LB Brandon Magee, OL Andrew Miller, FB Lonnie Pryor, DL Ronald Talley, S Major Wright and OL Jeremiah Warren.

Despite the high hopes that came with new coach Lovie Smith, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers weren't very impressive in their preseason debut.

They lost 16-10 to the Jacksonville Jaguars and didn't look sharp in the process. The offense couldn't get much going. The defense played well but allowed Denard Robinson to run for a 23-yard touchdown that gave Jacksonville its final lead. There were penalties and turnovers by the Buccaneers. It was only the first preseason game, but a team coached by Smith has to be much sharper.

Here are some other thoughts on the Bucs' first preseason game of the year:
  • Starting quarterback Josh McCown did not have a great start. He had an interception returned for a touchdown and also lost a fumble and had another that he recovered. He didn't get any help from his offensive line and had to deal with consistent pressure. He completed two of four passes for 20 yards.
  • There has been concern about the offensive line, particularly the guards. It looks like those concerns are legitimate. The first-team offensive line struggled during its playing time.
  • The turnovers, sacks and penalties were disappointing, especially from a team that doesn't have much margin for error.
  • Defensive end Steven Means is probably ticketed for a backup role. But Means was one of the bright spots in the first half, recording a sack and two tackles for a loss.
  • Backup quarterback Mike Glennon (11 of 19 for 140 yards) got more playing time than McCown -- and fared better. Glennon threw a third-quarter touchdown pass to receiver Tommy Streeter, who has been having a nice training camp.
  • Third-string quarterback Mike Kafka had a nice pass to rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but it was wiped out by a penalty on the offensive line.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 7

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
10:38
PM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • Early in camp, the defense clearly was ahead of the offense. That’s not the case anymore. The offense had a good showing at Friday night’s practice at Raymond James Stadium. The first- and second-team offenses each drove for successful field goals in the two-minute drill. “It’s about scoring points, and that’s what the offense was able to do," coach Lovie Smith said. “Somebody can’t look good in that situation. Most games come down to that two-minute drive at the end of the game. (Quarterbacks) Josh [McCown] and Mike [Glennon] both did a great job with us."
  • Many fans had to be pleasantly surprised by their first look at coordinator Jeff Tedford’s offense. It didn’t look nearly as conservative as what the Bucs have run in recent years. The play of the night was a trick play. Running back Mike James took a pitchout and threw a touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson. The deep passing game also looked good, with Chris Owusu catching a long touchdown from Glennon in an 11-on-11 drill.
  • Center Evan Dietrich-Smith missed practice with a foot injury, and his absence was obvious. The one blemish for the offense was that three snaps between center and quarterback were botched. “One time on the ground is too many," Smith said.
  • The practice drew just under 15,000 fans, according team officials. “It’s a fanbase that deserves to see a good football team on the field, and we plan on giving them that," Smith said.
  • The Buccaneers have the day off from practice Saturday. Smith and many team employees will travel to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, to attend the induction ceremony for Derrick Brooks. The team will return to practice Sunday at 4:30 p.m. “All week, I’ve been thinking about Derrrick going in," Smith said. “I can’t wait to get up there tomorrow. A special day for him. You know Derrick Brooks. Who deserves to be in the Hall more than him? It’s a special time for his family, and we can’t wait to get there.’’
Click here for a full list of Jacksonville Jaguars roster moves.

Most significant move: The Jaguars’ No. 3 quarterback has yet to practice with the team.

Matt Scott and Mike Kafka were among the 21 players the Jaguars cut on Friday, meaning the team will begin preparations for the Sept. 8 season opener against Kansas City with Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne and Ricky Stanzi as the quarterbacks. Neither Kafka nor Scott played well in the preseason: Kafka completed 13 of 29 passes with one touchdown and one interception while Scott completed 18 of 40 passes with one interception. Scott also had a fumble returned for a touchdown.

The Jaguars signed Stanzi on Tuesday after he was released by the Chiefs and cleared waivers. The former fifth-round draft pick in 2011 spent the past two seasons on the Chiefs’ active roster. He never appeared in a regular-season game, but Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said he got a good report on Stanzi from Jaguars scout Kyle O’Brien, who spent the 2012 season with the Chiefs.

"We liked what we saw on film of him, I can tell you that," Bradley said. "We really did. We liked him. We were evaluating him out in warm-ups [on Thursday night], you know, when he was throwing the ball. So we did like him, and one of our scouts was with Kansas City and was intrigued by him and I think it passed on to us."

It’s still unclear whether Gabbert (hairline fracture in his right thumb) will be able to start the season opener. If he can’t, Henne would get the start and Stanzi would be No. 2. If Gabbert can play, Stanzi would likely be inactive.

One extra spot: The Jaguars will receive a roster exemption on Saturday for receiver Justin Blackmon, who will serve a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. That allows the Jaguars to keep a 54-man roster, but it also means that the Jaguars have only five receivers on the roster right now: Blackmon, Cecil Shorts, Mike Brown, Ace Sanders and Jordan Shipley. That’s an area that the Jaguars likely will address this weekend from the waiver wire.

Onward and upward: CB Marcus Trufant is an 11-year veteran who played well in the preseason, but he doesn’t fit into the Jaguars’ youth movement in the secondary. Plus, the signing earlier this week of Will Blackmon made him expendable because of Blackmon’s age (28, four years younger than Trufant) and special-teams ability. Still, Trufant is an experienced, heady player who could find himself on a roster. The Jaguars liked defensive end Pannel Egboh but his production didn’t match his measurables (6-foot-6, 277 pounds). It wouldn’t be surprising if he ended up on another roster within the next few days. The Jaguars' roster may be one of the thinnest in the league, so it’s unlikely that there will be much interest in most of the players cut.

What's next: The Jaguars certainly aren’t anywhere close to being done with cutting and adding players. Bradley and GM Dave Caldwell have both said they plan on continuously scouring the waiver wire in an effort to improve the bottom part of the roster, so expect more moves over the weekend. Most of the impending signings will likely center around their ability to help on special teams. The units have struggled during camp and in the preseason, which is why linebackers Brandon Marshall, Michael Zimmer and Julian Stanford were released. The Jaguars added linebacker Andy Studebaker in mid-August and linebacker Kyle Knox and cornerback Blackmon, both of whom were released by Seattle, earlier this week. Blackmon was signed on Wednesday and played well in the Jaguars’ 20-16 victory over Atlanta on Thursday night, returning a punt for 21 yards.

Three takeaways: Jaguars-Falcons

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
7:00
AM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Three things that stood out in the Jacksonville Jaguars20-16 victory over Atlanta on Thursday night:

1. Running back Jordan Todman showed again not only why he deserves to make the team but to probably be No. 2 on the depth chart behind Maurice Jones-Drew. The former UConn standout ran for 60 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, giving him a team-high 223 yards on 29 carries in the preseason.

Todman, who scored on an 18-yard run against the Falcons in the first quarter, is a patient runner who quickly gets north and south when he makes a decision. He has been the offense’s best player throughout the preseason.

The Jaguars signed Justin Forsett to be the top option behind Jones-Drew, but he has yet to play this preseason because of a sprained toe on his right foot. He hasn’t even practiced since he suffered the injury during the first live period of training camp.

Forsett is hoping for a Week 1 return, but even if he does, Todman has been so impressive that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get more work.

2. Cornerback Demetrius McCray had his best game of the preseason: five tackles, two pass breakups and a sack. One of those tackles came with a group of other defenders on a fourth-down stop inside the 5-yard line to preserve the victory.

The Jaguars drafted McCray with their second pick in the seventh round of this year's draft. He’s a bigger corner (6-foot, 185 pounds) and plays the physical style coach Gus Bradley wants out of his corners.

McCray had been having a relatively anonymous preseason (just two tackles), but he solidified his spot on the roster with his performance against the Falcons. He jarred a pass loose from receiver Kevin Cone and then made a leaping deflection of another pass to Cone in the first half. He also made a solid open-field tackle on fullback Jason Snelling on a screen pass.

3. Quarterback Matt Scott did some nice things, but they were wiped out by two terrible plays: a fumble that was returned for a touchdown and an interception on back-to-back series in the second quarter.

Scott’s first turnover came when he failed to secure the ball when he turned on a bootleg and was confronted by defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi, who poked the ball free and returned it for a 9-yard touchdown. It’s not an unusual occurrence for a quarterback to whip around into the bootleg after the fake and see a defender in his face. Sometimes the smartest thing a quarterback can do is realize the play has been blown up and just secure the ball and keep the negative play from becoming even worse.

On the interception, Scott stared down intended receiver Mike Brown, and cornerback Desmond Trufant, the Falcons’ first-round draft pick, stepped in front of the pass. There may have been some miscommunication on the route, but it was an easy interception for Trufant.

Scott was battling Mike Kafka for the No. 3 quarterback spot. Scott completed 6 of 12 passes for 67 yards. Kafka completed 6 of 15 passes for 46 yards, but he did hook up with Jeremy Ebert on a 13-yard touchdown pass that put the Jaguars ahead for good.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars wrap up the preseason in Atlanta against the Falcons tonight (7:30 p.m. ET). Here are three things to watch:

The quarterbacks: With starter Blaine Gabbert out with a hairline fracture of his right thumb, Chad Henne gets the start. But he and the rest of the team’s starters will play only 10-15 snaps. That leaves Mike Kafka and Matt Scott to play the majority of the game.

The two are battling for the No. 3 quarterback spot. Neither has been particularly impressive in the preseason. Kafka has completed 7 of 14 passes for 27 yards and one interception while Scott has completed 12 of 28 passes for 103 yards. They’ve played in every game.

The team claimed former Kansas City QB Ricky Stanzi off waivers on Tuesday, but that move appears to be more about picking his brain about the Chiefs (whom the Jaguars play in the regular-season opener) than anything else.

So it’s Scott versus Kafka for the third quarterback spot. It’s a critical competition, at least for the early part of the season. There’s some doubt that Gabbert will be ready to go in Week 1, in which case Henne would start and the Kafka/Scott winner would be the No. 2.

Jonathan Cyprien: Coach Gus Bradley has said several times this week that he wants Cyprien to get more reps against the Falcons. The second-round draft pick missed the first two weeks of training camp because of a hamstring injury.

The 6-foot, 217-pound safety is a better option in the secondary than Chris Prosinski, who was picked on by Miami in the preseason opener, including a play in which he got turned around on a touchdown pass. Cyprien seemed to be unsure of himself at times in last Saturday’s game against the Eagles and the extra playing time will certainly help.

Cyprien will be one of two rookie starters in the secondary (cornerback Dwayne Gratz is the other). They’re going to make mistakes but the best way to limit those is to get as much time on the field as possible.

The battle at WR: Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders and Mike Brown are set, which leaves five players competing for two spots. The top two candidates are Jordan Shipley and Tobais Palmer, with Jeremy Ebert, Toney Clemons and Charly Martin likely on the outside.

The 5-11, 178-pound Palmer is intriguing because of his speed, but he has fumbled two punts in the preseason and that may be something he can’t overcome. Shipley leads the bubble group of receivers with four catches for 48 yards. He also has value on special teams as a punt and kickoff returner, which may be enough to win him one of the final two spots.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- I got to the Jacksonville Jaguars practice fields this morning just three plays into full-team work.

Some quick thoughts on what I saw and heard:

Blaine Gabbert: The quarterback had his right ankle heavily wrapped and didn’t participate in team work. But he said after practice that barring something crazy he’d be back to a full workload tomorrow. Mike Kafka worked as the No. 2 behind Chad Henne, with Matt Scott last.

Wildcatting: Denard Robinson ran several Wildcat plays, but didn’t throw on any of them, handing off or running.

I am generally anti-Wildcat, but the Jaguars are the right team to be playing with it -- a team without a high-quality quarterback.

Receiver Mike Brown did throw a pass on a trick play, after taking a lateral screen pass from Kafka to the left side. Brown threw to the right side of the end zone from about 40 yards out. Running back Jordan Todman had linebacker Julian Stanford beat, but couldn’t corral it. (See this play and some pictures from today on my Instagram account: pkuharsky)

I watched one-on-one pass rush (which was sometimes two-on-two), Andre Branch tried to bull rush Luke Joeckel and while he gained some ground, Joeckel had control. Will Rackley rode D’Anthony Smith wide on one snap. And Jason Babin slipped under Eugene Monroe’s left shoulder but then got pinned there and went to the ground. Tyson Alualu did some nice work against Mike Brewster working on an inside rush. That’s a matchup he should win. I’ll write more about Alualu and his move to end soon.

Good throw: One of Henne’s best throws was to Marcedes Lewis in the middle of the field for a mid-range gain. What made it especially good was that Henne initially looked and pumped left, then came back to find Lewis.

Fumble: Cecil Shorts and Henne shared responsibility on an end-around handoff being fumbled.

Well defended: Undrafted rookie cornerback Marcus Burley hasn’t been heard from much in camp so far, I am told. But he made a very good play in the end zone. From the 10-yard line, Henne threw a nice pass to Mohamed Massaquoi into the right side of the end zone. Burley realized he wasn’t going to be able to make a play on the ball, but that he could still prevent the catch and he broke it up even though he wasn’t on top of the receiver.

Option: Henne ran an option play to the left side, pitching to Maurice Jones-Drew on a well-executed snap.

Not long later, Henne easily hit Shorts under the goalpost for a red zone TD.

Detente? I was with some other reporters near the end of the open locker room and we had a fun, spirited chat with Jones-Drew, who was hanging out at a new, still net-less ping-pong table in the middle of the locker room. (Not so spirited that young receiver Tobias Palmer needed to check if MJD wanted his assistance to break free of it. But I found it to be charming naiveté.) MJD and I have some history, about which I try to be up front. We seemed to have benefited from a cooling off period. Perhaps we’ll have a chance to visit with a tape recorder running on Thursday.
» NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

The major question facing each team in the AFC South as summer break looms:

Houston Texans: Even if Derek Newton recovers well from his knee surgery, are they sure he can be good at right tackle? In Newton's first year as the starter there, veteran Ryan Harris still got a share of the snaps. Now the team has to see how Newton recovers, will consider rookies Brennan Williams and David Quessenberry and brought Harris back as veteran insurance. They’ve surely got comfort in numbers, but you’d much rather have a sure thing at the front of the line. If second-year man Brandon Brooks doesn’t play well from the start at right guard, right tackle could be an even bigger problem. And the Texans need to be able to send Arian Foster both left and right to be unpredictable in the run game. They also need to protect Matt Schaub from all angles.

Indianapolis Colts: The team’s biggest defensive moves have been keyed on stopping the run. Outside linebacker Erik Walden is an edge-setter, defensive linemen like Ricky Jean Francois and Aubrayo Franklin should help stop backs and safety LaRon Landry is a force in the box when he’s healthy. If cornerback Greg Toler pans out, he will help the pass rush, and rookie outside 'backer Bjoern Werner could be an impact rusher if he transitions quickly from college end. But can this team consistently rush the passer? The only truly proven rusher on the defense is Robert Mathis, and for the first time he’ll be playing without Dwight Freeney drawing some of the blocking attention. To me, the major question is: Can they rush the passer effectively?

Jacksonville Jaguars: Who is the quarterback? Blaine Gabbert had most-favored status from the last regime, because the general manager of the last regime traded up to draft him 10th overall. That doesn’t mean anything to new GM Dave Caldwell or new coach Gus Bradley. They are looking for a guy who will give them the best chance to improve. If it’s Gabbert, that’s fine. But Chad Henne has said he believes there isn’t a charade element to this competition, and the team is talking as if new addition Mike Kafka and even undrafted rookie Matt Scott have an equally good chance of winning the job. Odds are very high this team will be looking for its long term-quarterback in next year’s draft. In the meantime, opportunity abounds.

Tennessee Titans: All Titans questions start with the quarterback. Jake Locker is now protected by a great offensive line, which should also greatly improve the run game. The new offense will give him a lot of play-action as well as rollouts and bootlegs, which will be threatening because of his extraordinary speed. His short-yardage targets should be dangerous -- Kevin Walter is super reliable; Kendall Wright should blossom; Delanie Walker and Chris Johnson need to be consistently reliable. The deep guys are a solid bunch if healthy. Kenny Britt and Nate Washington are capable of making downfield plays, and the team is super high on rookie Justin Hunter. The defense will be better, which means the Titans will have the ball more. What can Locker do with it?
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Throwing on the move, by design, should be easier than making plays dropping back.

I generally think that, and the Jacksonville Jaguars certainly do too based on what they are doing on offense.

“I think those are easy throws, generally for a quarterback: bootlegs, quick passing game, things like that where he’s on the move,” coach Gus Bradley said. “Easy, but not simple. They’ve still got to execute and we’ve still got to execute things in the protections. But that’s one way of getting a quarterback in a rhythm, by executing some of those passes.”

[+] EnlargeBlaine Gabbert
AP Photo/John RaouxQB Blaine Gabbert on throwing on the run: "The more reps you get throwing on the move, the more comfortable you are."
Wednesday at their final practice of minicamp, I paid particular attention to Blaine Gabbert on the move. And he wasn’t making throws on the run look like simpler plays.

Some of them were throwaways, like a red zone play where he barreled out of bounds right at me and a team staffer and let it fly before he stepped out. You tell a guy to put that one in the stands, and he did the practice equivalent.

“Oh, over the fence,” he said matter of factly but loud enough for the people in the first couple rows to hear.

Later he rolled hard to his right and hit Jordan Shipley on the right sideline, completing the pass against veteran cornerback Marcus Trufant.

Overall though, he struggled on the run just as he did from the pocket.

This week I had the chance to ask Gabbert about throwing on the run.

“The more reps you get throwing on the move the more comfortable you are,” he said. “I felt confident going on the move and that’s a big part of our offense, being able to run keepers and get the ball outside the pocket. It just boils down to getting reps in practice, feeling comfortable with it, going through your progressions on the run and at the end of the day if nothing’s open taking off.”

He and the Jaguars need more work at it.

On this day, in this practice, none of the quarterbacks -- Gabbert, Chad Henne, rookie Matt Scott or newcomer Mike Kafka -- looked very good.

Gabbert threw a red zone TD in team drills, and had another dropped. Henne had a pick that would have been a score the other way dropped.

It’s still the early stages of a new offense. Gabbert still shows a good arm. He’s still got time to get more comfortable.

He is, however, approaching now or never.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have no clear No. 1 quarterback, though I still believe Blaine Gabbert’s going to wind up their best option at the start.

Kafka
Mike Kafka didn’t work in team drills Wednesday, his first session with the Jaguars since they claimed him off waivers from New England after the Patriots let him go to make room for Tim Tebow.

But Kafka, 25, will get a fair crack at more than a backup job with a team that is preaching competition and giving everyone at virtually every position a chance.

General manager Dave Caldwell said he considered Kafka early in the offseason, but the quarterback already had committed to the Patriots.

In 2011, when Caldwell was part of the Falcons front office, he saw the best of Kafka’s limited NFL work. Michael Vick got hurt, Kafka took over for him and the Eagles and hit on 7-of-9 passes for 72 yards in a game Philadelphia lost 35-31.

Caldwell said Kafka’s got “just as good an opportunity” to win the job as Gabbert, Chad Henne or undrafted rookie Matt Scott.

Kafka said very little in a media session I had to miss but got a transcript of. He’s happy to be here and excited for the opportunity.

Jordan Rodgers is also on the team. He's out until camp after recent sports-hernia surgery.

The Jaguars are one of only two teams currently in the NFL with five quarterbacks on the roster. The other is Philadelphia.

AFC East quarterback allocation

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
11:00
AM ET
Quarterback is undoubtedly the most important position in the NFL. Teams are made and lost based on the success of their offensive leaders. We’ve seen that difference over and over again in the AFC East with Tom Brady, who kept the New England Patriots on top of the division for much of the past dozen years.

NFC West blogger Mike Sando provided this unique look at the quarterback position. He ranked all the teams’ quarterback situations based on the allocation of salary-cap money at that position.

Here is how much cap room AFC East teams are spending on the quarterback position in 2013:
A lot stands out with these figures. Obviously, something is very wrong with the Jets having the AFC East's most expensive quarterback situation. The Jets have a lot of quarterbacks. Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms are all under contract in 2013. All are highly questionable for various reasons, and there’s a good chance another quarterback will be thrown in the mix via the NFL draft. So expect a lot of change between now and September.

The Patriots are in good shape. They have Brady, Ryan Mallett and Mike Kafka tying up $15.2 million of the cap this year, but it's worth it. New England gets elite production out of Brady and Mallett is a good, young backup. Kafka is the third quarterback and might not make the 53-man roster.

The Dolphins are getting a lot of bang for their buck. Ryan Tannehill was a 2012 first-round pick, but the rookie wage scale has kept salaries manageable. Tannehill still has something to prove but showed solid flashes as a rookie. Matt Moore is one of the best backups in the NFL, and Pat Devlin is another young quarterback Miami likes. The Dolphins have a good quarterback corps at an affordable price.

And it's no surprise the Bills are bringing up the rear with $2.7 million spent on quarterbacks. They only have journeyman Tarvaris Jackson and Aaron Corp on the roster (and no, we're not including Brad Smith in the QB accounting). That number will go up when Buffalo invests a high draft pick on a quarterback next month.
Click here for the complete list of Indianapolis Colts' roster moves.

Most significant move: I didn’t expect they were doing anything with Dwight Freeney, but his $19 million salary had stirred up a new round of rumors that the Colts could let him go. He’s on the team, and there were no real cuts of note aside from the team’s most senior player, long-snapper Justin Snow. It’s not as if they were so deep there was no room, but the Colts held on to several players who weren’t drafted -- tight end Dominique Jones, offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe, linebackers Mario Addison and Mario Harvey and long-snapper Matt Overton.

Onward and upward: The Colts kept both Drew Stanton and rookie Chandler Harnish as backups to Andrew Luck. I understand that Stanton’s been with the Colts through Bruce Arians' installation and there is value in that. But last season showed the value of a decent backup quarterback. If Luck gets hurt and the Colts need an alternative, I suspect there are some guys who just became available who qualify as more talented. General manager Ryan Grigson should have insight into one of them, Mike Kafka, who was released by Philadelphia. Grigson was hired by the Colts from the Eagles personnel department.

What’s next: Every player who is not a vested veteran is subject to waivers. And as the worst team in the NFL last season, the Colts still retain the first pick in the waiver order. That means they will get anyone they claim, so long as the claim comes with a corresponding roster move. That means guys who are feeling good tonight might still be in position to turn in their playbooks Saturday, or in the days to follow. Grigson could do a lot of work to upgrade the last five spots on his roster. Or more. I’d expect some turnover on the offensive line, in the secondary and perhaps at linebacker and quarterback.
Click here for a complete list of Philadelphia Eagles roster moves.

Most significant move: Mike Kafka went into training camp as the favorite to be the backup quarterback behind Michael Vick. But a combination of events led to Kafka's release Friday. First, he broke his hand in the first preseason game. Second, rookie Nick Foles impressed enough that the Eagles are now comfortable with him as their No. 2 quarterback. And third, Trent Edwards played well enough to convince the Eagles to keep him as a backup quarterback over Kafka. Backup quarterback is a significant position for the Eagles, as Vick has a history of missing games due to injury and there exists a strong chance that Foles and/or Edwards will have to start games for them this season. ... The answer to which defensive lineman had to go was defensive tackle Antonio Dixon, who was the final cut announced by the team shortly before 8 p.m. ET. That means Cedric Thornton and Darryl Tapp are still on the team, and the Eagles as of now have 10 defensive linemen.

Onward and upward: Nickel cornerback Joselio Hanson was cut on this day last year, too, but was immediately brought back at a lower salary. This year, that does not seem likely to happen. This time, it appears rookie Brandon Boykin beat out Hanson for the nickel corner spot, in part because he played well there and in part because of his usefulness as a returner and special-teams player. Hanson didn't have a great year in 2011, but he looked like a good nickel corner as recently as 2010 and likely could help someone. I wonder whether the Giants take a look, given their issues with health at cornerback.

What's next: Having cut both O.J. Atogwe (who couldn't stay healthy) and undrafted rookie Phillip Thomas, the Eagles are thin at safety. The only current backup to the starters is still-unproven Jaiquawn Jarrett, and even if they believed him capable, they'd want at least one more. Look for the Eagles to troll the list of other cuts to see whether there's someone out there who can help them beef up their bench a bit in the secondary.

UPDATE: Shortly after the cut deadline, the Eagles announced they'd acquired safety David Sims from the Browns for a conditional 2013 draft pick and released offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde.

Observation deck: Jets-Eagles

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
10:41
PM ET
Stop for a second. Take a deep breath. Now exhale, all the way. That's it. We're done with preseason football until 2013. Doesn't it feel awesome?

The NFC East's preseason finale was a 28-10 Eagles' exhibition victory over the New York Jets on Thursday night. None of the starters played, which didn't help the game's entertainment value, but kept any of them from getting hurt, which was the point. Those who did play obviously had their eye on Friday's 9 p.m. ET final roster cut deadline, and some of them were holding their final auditions for spots. These are their stories:
  • Trent Edwards, who was dropped by the Bills and Jaguars in 2010 and didn't play in the NFL last year, was an afterthought when training camp began. But he got a lot more preseason reps than expected after presumptive backup quarterback Mike Kafka broke his hand in the first game, and he played very well. Edwards played the final three quarters Thursday (after rookie Nick Foles, who's probably No. 2 behind Michael Vick after his own very strong preseason) and was 22-for-32 for 197 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles plan to keep only three of their quarterbacks, and with Vick and Foles both locks, that means it's a choice between Edwards and Kafka for the No. 3 spot. This is Kafka's third year in the system, and if the decision is to be based on more than just this preseason, he still has to have the edge. But if they saw enough from Edwards that they think he could run their offense if Vick went down, he could surprise. He definitely looks as though he can run the offense, but he has been playing against backups, obviously. And his reputation in Buffalo was as a "Captain Checkdown" type who didn't make it through progressions. First-team defenses play with more speed and could bring that back out if he were to appear in a real game. Worth considering.
  • Jaiquawn Jarrett played well at safety, and he looks safe as the backup to Nate Allen at strong safety. I think Jarrett has very good physical ability, and in a game like this that doesn't feature any game-planning, a player like Jarrett can look very good, seeking out ballcarriers and delivering big hits without getting tripped up by complex scheme or communication issues. But that's okay. Jarrett needed to show something, and he did. O.J. Atowge, on the other hand, who is slated to be Kurt Coleman's backup at free safety, got hurt again and will have an MRI on his hamstring Friday morning. Atogwe couldn't stay healthy with the Redskins last year either, and it's possible the Eagles will be hunting for safety help after the cuts come in Friday night.
  • I think Bryce Brown has shown enough to make the team as the No. 3 running back ahead of Chris Polk. I also think Polk has shown enough that some other team will pick him up and the Eagles won't be able to get him on the practice squad.
  • Brandon Graham and the defensive linemen getting called for offsides is something I think you should get used to. The Eagles want their defensive linemen to be hyper-aggressive, so they'll be offsides a lot. And some of them (Graham included) are quick enough off the ball to trick officials (replacement or otherwise) into thinking they're offsides even sometimes when they're not.
  • It was interesting that defensive tackle Antonio Dixon didn't play. It was also interesting that -- in his postgame news conference -- Eagles coach Andy Reid said he'd "seen enough of" Dixon. Couple of different ways to read that, and a few of them make you think Dixon is the odd man out when the tough defensive line cuts come Friday night. I have to think they've at least looked into trading Darryl Tapp and his $2.6 million salary. But whether they can pull that off or not, Dixon can't be having a restful night's sleep.
  • I liked Mardy Gilyard as a college player. I liked him in training camp when I was at Lehigh this summer. I liked him last night, when he doubled back and caught that duck Edwards threw into the end zone before anyone else saw it for a duck. With Damaris Johnson likely ahead of him as a receiver and a special teamer, I can't see how Gilyard makes the team. But maybe another team saw something they liked.
  • Something to remember: Derek Landri and Joselio Hanson were among last season's "final" roster cuts, and both ended up back on the team. So some of Friday's moves will be procedural. The Eagles have some high-level decisions to make and will be cutting some good players.

What I'll be watching: Jets-Eagles

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
3:00
PM ET
The Philadelphia Eagles will kick off their final preseason game of 2012 at 6:35 pm ET on Thursday night against the New York Jets. Here's what I'll be watching...

Most closely: The running backs, I think. There aren't too many position battles on the Eagles' roster, but the one for third-string running back has been interesting between seventh-round pick Bryce Brown and undrafted Chris Polk. It looks to me like Brown has the edge as the better runner, but they like Polk as a blocker, and it's kept his chances alive. Can't imagine either of them would go unclaimed if released, so they're not going to be able to stash one on the practice squad and they'll need to decide which they like better.

On the other side of the ball: The safeties. Their starters are set with Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, but backups O.J. Atowge and Jaiquawn Jarrett have shown little, and it's possible only one of them will be kept. Atogwe is the veteran who had trouble staying healthy last year in Washington. Jarrett is the second-round pick from 2011 who's been a disappointment so far. If one or both of them were to make an impression in tonight's game, it would help the Eagles feel better about their safety depth. If not, they could be in the market for a safety once other teams make their cuts Friday night.

If I think of it: Interested to watch quarterback Trent Edwards, who's scheduled to play the final three quarters in relief of Nick Foles. Can Edwards beat out the injured Mike Kafka for a roster spot? Has he already?... Who will get the defensive line snaps as the Eagles look to make decisions about how many linemen to keep?... Will Stanley Havili show enough to justify the Eagles keeping a fullback when they very rarely use one?

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

NFL SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/18
Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22
WEEKLY LEADERS