Over the last few weeks, as the Eagles have worked to figure out who to keep on their 53-man roster, we've been catching up weekly with undrafted rookie linebacker T.J. Edwards from Wisconsin to track his progress as he tries to make the Eagles' roster.
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By 4 o'clock on Saturday afternoon, T.J. Edwards will know his fate.
That's the NFL's deadline for final cuts, so the Eagles must have their 90-man roster whittled down to 53 players by then. When it comes to Edwards, it really could go either way.
While he admitted this process is "a little crazy," Edwards isn't focusing on a phone call that might or might not come on Saturday.
He's still focused on Thursday.
"My mindset is on this game," Edwards said. "After that, knowing that I did all I could is something I want to be sure of. I want to make sure I'm always doing everything I can to make this team."
If Edwards, 23, doesn't make the 53-man roster, he will likely be one of the last names crossed off by Eagles coaches. The rookie linebacker from Wisconsin came on very strong in training camp and then acquitted himself quite well in the preseason games. Add that to a depth issue at his position and there's a real chance Edwards makes this team. If he doesn't, it won't be his fault.
After experiencing some ups and downs early in training camp, Edwards said the thing he's most proud of himself for after this last month was his ability to not let one bad day become two. He's stayed the course.
I think I have proved to myself that I can play at this level and that I can hang with these guys," Edwards said.
"It's been a really good experience for me no matter which way it goes with this organization. It's been great. Hopefully I can continue to be here.
If Edwards gets bad news on Friday or Saturday, it'll become an anxious 24 hours for him to see if he gets claimed on waivers. If he does, he'd be leaving town to join his new team on a 53-man roster he hadn't been spending the last four months trying to make. If he goes unclaimed, he'd become a free agent.
If the latter scenario unfolds, the Eagles would probably want to bring Edwards back to take one of their 10 practice squad spots. Players on the practice squad don't count toward the roster and they make just a fraction of the salary rostered players make, but they stay close to the team and are usually an injury (or bad performance) away from getting called up.
Edwards said he'd explore all options if he gets waived.
"I want to play in the National Football League whether it's here or somewhere else," he said. "Obviously, it would be hard to leave here after growing with this place. I feel like I've got a good feel with what's going on. No matter which way it goes, I'd be open to several options."
As he reflected over the past few grueling weeks and then over his entire four months since joining the Eagles, Edwards compared it to his freshman year in college. He came into a locker room that already had chemistry and he had to learn where to fit in. Edwards expected everyone to be faster and stronger in the NFL - he was right - but the thing he noticed most was how detailed players were in their technique. He's hoping he'll be around long enough to be just as detailed as his veteran teammates.
After our chat was over, I thanked Edwards for his time. After two-hour practices in the summer heat, my face is not what you want to see every week. But he graciously thanked me for the opportunity and said he hoped we'd be able to chat again sometime.
We'll find out soon enough.
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