* = Indicates Starter
*Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, A.J. Feeley
More than a year removed from the knee injury that prematurely ended his 2006 season, McNabb will start the 2008 season with a clean bill of health and a solid supporting cast around him. His strong finish last year, along with a solid preseason where he looked like the signal-caller who took the Eagles to four consecutive NFC Championship games, are reasons to be optimistic about McNabb's tenth-year in Philadelphia. Kolb will take over for Feeley as the backup quarterback after showing progression from his rookie year.
Running back -
*Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, Lorenzo Booker
After an MVP-like season where he led the league in yards-from-scrimmage, Westbrook has established himself as one of the league's most versatile players and the main option in the Eagles' offense. The addition of Booker gives the team rare depth at running back, and the coaching staff will look to utilize his speed on the field in different ways. Buckhalter will return for his eighth season with the team as a change-of-pace back and as a reliable option near the goal-line.
Originally drafted as a running back in 2006 out of Penn State, Hunt was moved to fullback during the preseason and eventually won the starting job. His lack of experience with pass-blocking and blitz pick-up is a bit of a concern, but his running ability will potentially give the Eagles another weapon on offense.
Wide Receiver -
*Kevin Curtis, *Reggie Brown, DeSean Jackson, Hank Baskett, Jason Avant, Greg Lewis
With starter Kevin Curtis out with an injury, Hank Baskett will get more looks in the passing game.
(Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
With Curtis expected to miss a least a few games recovering from a sports hernia, young players like Jackson, who led the team in receiving during the preseason as a rookie, and Baskett will get a chance to factor in games and show what they can do. Brown returns after setting a career-high with 61 receptions last year, and he could be a go-to-guy if he shows more consistency. Avant and Lewis give the Eagles good depth and also contribute on special teams.
Tight End -
*L.J. Smith, Brent Celek, Matt Schobel
Smith will try to bounce back after an injury-plagued 2007, and his presence over the middle in the red zone, where he has scored all of his 15-career touchdowns, is integral to the Eagles success on offense. Celek moves up to the second tight end spot after a solid rookie year, and he has shown that he can be a receiving threat when give the opportunity. Schobel, entering his seventh season in the NFL, beat out Kris Wilson in the preseason to earn a roster spot and brings a veteran presence to the position.
*Jon Runyan, *Tra Thomas, Winston Justice
Runyan and Thomas have been the bookends of the Eagles' offensive line for years and return for what could be their final season together, as both are in the last year of their contracts. Justice is an athletic backup who can play either side of the line, but he will need more experience before he is ready to start. The team also placed rookie King Dunlap on injured reserve, so he could be name to look watch for in the future.
*Shawn Andrews, *Todd Herremans, Max Jean-Gilles, Mike McGlynn
The versatility of the Eagles' offensive line is one of its greatest attributes, and since both of the starters Andrews and Herremans can also play tackle, it gave the team some maneuverability when
coming up with the final roster. Jean-Gilles saw action in the regular season last year, and his strong training camp and solid preseason showed that he has what it takes to eventually be a starter. McGlynn, a rookie from Pitt, unexpectedly beat out veteran Scott Young and will give the line some youth and extra depth.
*Jamaal Jackson, Nick Cole
A former undrafted free agent, Jackson worked his way up from the Eagles practice squad and has been the starting center since the second half of the 2005 season. At 6-foot-4, 330-pounds, he brings great size to the interior line and excels at run blocking. Cole, also a former undrafted player, is the backup center but can also play guard and has even lined up at fullback in goal-line situations in the past.
Andrew Pluta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org