Eagles Coach Pederson Comfortable With Robinson, Ready to Decide Tight Battles

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- About two and a half hours before the game, a group of 30 Eagles went through a lengthy workout on the field at MetLife Stadium. The group included starters and veterans pretty much guaranteed to make the roster. 

And Patrick Robinson was one of them. 

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After a disastrous start to his training camp, the 29-year-old free agent pickup moved into the slot after the Ronald Darby trade and it seems like he's found a home. Coming in as the Eagles' nickel corner will be his role in 2017. 

"Yeah, Patrick's been doing a nice job," head coach Doug Pederson said. "We feel real comfortable with him in the slot and the addition of (Dexter) McDougle. So we feel real comfortable there."

McDougle, who came to the Eagles in a trade with the Jets on Sunday, played a decent amount in Thursday night's 16-10 loss (see breakdown). The Eagles will have just a few days of film to watch of McDougle in an Eagles uniform, but it is sounding like the newcomer is going to make the team. 

At least that's the way Pederson was talking on Thursday night after the game. 

"We gotta keep doing our research on him and keep studying not only the tape this week but in the past for him," Pederson said. "And he'll continue to grow in our system, grow with (Jim) Schwartz's defense. As we move forward, as we begin to really game plan and finalize some things, I think things will simplify just a little bit and feel comfortable with where he's at and where he's going."

Of course the big position battle most fans were paying attention to on Thursday night was at running back. Three of the Eagles' backs didn't even play on Thursday and likely have their roster spots sealed: Darren Sproles, LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood. 

That leaves Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement batting it out for the last spot. Unless the Eagles keep five running backs, which would be rare.  

"I don't know," Pederson said when asked about keeping five. "That's something we'll evaluate. It could be based on other positions. It's not out of the question."

Clement, the local product who was undrafted out of Wisconsin, clearly outplayed Pumphrey during this preseason. But Pumphrey was a fourth-round draft pick the Eagles traded up to get. 

On Thursday night, Pederson made sure to stress a few times the importance of using the entire body of work, dating back to the spring, in the evaluation process. Pederson specifically mentioned they had to go back to see how they used Pumphrey in their offense in the spring. 

"It's a matter of just going back and under calmer situations in the office, looking at the tape, having conversations with position coaches and the staff and making the final decision," he said. "These guys did a lot of nice things, so the evaluation here in the next couple hours, next couple of days will be very important." 

The Eagles' roster was at 86 players to start Thursday's game against the Jets. They'll have until 4 p.m. on Saturday to cut that down to 53. That means a lot of players are going to be let go in the next couple days and the Eagles will probably start that process on Friday.

"The message here in the locker room tonight was I appreciate all their efforts throughout camp and really through OTAs," Pederson said. "There were some great efforts. The effort tonight was there. And really, I wanted them to make decisions tough on us and these battles that you guys are talking about, we wanted to make it tough. Make these decisions hard. These next two days will be very important for our football team and the lives of some young men we're eventually going to have to let go." 

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