September 1 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Sam Donnellon
“WHEN ANDY REID said yesterday that, “You want to make sure that you’re right” about roster selections, he was not speaking in the theoretical. Just last summer the St. Louis Rams plucked Danny Amendola from the Eagles’ practice squad and turned him into a valuable NFL player, a slot receiver with 43 catches and the sixth-best punt-return average in the NFL.
When Chad Hall comes into the locker room late and out of breath from running extra routes, it is not some schoolboy’s attempt to impress. If he has learned nothing else about the NFL since he signed a free-agent contract with the Eagles in March, he has learned what a heartless business it can be, that signing a player one day does not preclude cutting him the next.
“People always describe it as a numbers game,” he was saying after practice yesterday. “So every time you’re on that field, you’re playing for everybody. The separation you get is so important.”
That’s the intrigue, if it can be called that, about tomorrow night’s final preseason game against the Jets at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles have to shed 22 more names from their roster before 6 p.m. on Saturday, and many, if not all their remaining decisions, will hinge on tomorrow night’s performances.
“I say it every year, make the decision hard,” wide receiver Hank Baskett said yesterday.
Baskett is a bubble player expected to make the roster. Hall is a bubble boy who is not expected to be one of the 53.
A running back at Air Force Academy, he is three seasons removed from those days, when he was named Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year. A second lieutenant now in the Air Force Reserve, he has spent much of this year regaining football shape, relearning how, in his words, “to play fast.”
He is 5-8, 187 pounds, which right from the get-go are daunting numbers for an NFL aspirant to overcome.
“I grew up with that,” he said. “Everyone has always told me I can’t do it, I can’t do it. So I work harder. And the extra stuff I do makes up for that. The stuff I do on the side. In the offseason when the other guys are relaxing, I’m in there working. I try to be as versatile as I can. Because of my size.”
He’s been good at times, uneven at other times, and probably not as spectacular as he needs to be through the first three preseason games. Hall caught four passes in the first two, but none last Friday against the Chiefs. Signed as a possible alternative to using DeSean Jackson on returns, he also misjudged a punt and watched it roll 20 extra yards.”
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