East Notes: Eagles, Redskins, Dolphins, Jets

Here’s the latest coming out of the Eastern divisions.

  • Despite questions about Ryan Mathews‘ durability and viability as a starting back, the Eagles waited until the fifth round to add to the position in Wendell Smallwood. And the current mix — which also houses Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner — looks like Philadelphia’s backfield battalion for 2016 as opposed to bringing in another veteran, Dave Zangaro of CSNPhilly.com writes. Rumors of a potential Sproles trade surfaced earlier this week, but Doug Pederson did his best to refute them. Although effective in 13 games on a per-carry basis at a career-best 5.0 figure, Mathews hasn’t started more than six games in a season since 2013.
  • Logan Paulsen could be on the Redskins‘ roster bubble after the addition of Vernon Davis, Tarik El-Bashir of CSNMidAtlantic.com writes. A starter in 36 games the past three seasons as the team’s blocking tight end, Paulsen missed 2015 with a toe malady. Washington also has Niles Paul and Derek Carrier returning from injuries, though El-Bashir estimates the latter to begin the season on the PUP list after suffering a season-ending knee injury last year.
  • Although Duke Ihenacho started over David Bruton during the Broncos’ AFC championship season of 2013, Bruton was the more consistent player. Now that the former Broncos are reunited with the Redskins, John Keim of ESPN.com expects Bruton to start. Ihenacho signed his $1.67MM low-end tender in March, and despite winning a starting job in training camp, the 26-year-old ex-UDFA broke his wrist in Week 1 and missed the rest of the season. Regarded as one of the Broncos’ top special-teamers the past several years, Bruton filled in well for T.J. Ward when called upon the past two years but has made just eight starts in seven seasons. The 29-year-old Bruton is signed to a three-year, $9MM deal.
  • Recently claimed cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu has been cleared to practice with the Dolphins after missing his entire rookie season with the Browns, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports. The Browns waived the former Oregon seventh-rounder in April. Miami sports a revamped cornerback contingent that could benefit from a success story after the Fins moved on from Brent Grimes, Brice McCain and Jamar Taylor.
  • In a scenario where the Jets don’t re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith would be the obvious Week 1 starter despite the chance he’s not on the team in a Fitzpatrick-is-back world, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. With Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg potentially serving as Fitz’s backups if he returns, they wouldn’t be ready to handle a start in Cimini’s mind, giving Smith a high-variance offseason.
  • In likely faux-serious comments regarding an attempt to trade for Odell Beckham Jr. while he was with the Jets, Rex Ryan could have been second-guessing current Bills boss Doug Whaley‘s decision to trade up for Sammy Watkins rather than stay at No. 9 and selected Beckham, whom the Giants took at No. 12, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk offers. Although regarded as the No. 1 receiver prospect in the 2014 draft, Watkins is now battling another injury after struggling in that area the past two seasons during which Beckham has become a superstar.
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