5 Things to Watch in Eagles – Jets
The only thing separating the Philadelphia Eagles from their full-on preparations for the start of the regular season is one final preseason game under the lights at MetLife Stadium.
The Eagles have their annual preseason finale with the New York Jets where the final few spots on the roster are likely up for grabs. Just like most preseason finales the game between Eagles and Jets will feature the backups, as well as the backups' backups and provide only a small portion of time for the majority of starters.
If you were expecting to see more from Mike Vick, DeSean Jackson, the starting offensive line and members of the defense get a boatload of work, Thursday will likely not be your friend. Fear not, there are still some compelling reasons to analyze the game.
1) Allen vs Wolff
- At the start of training camp most looked at the game against New York as the day to decide whether or not fifth-round rookie safety Earl Wolff would make the roster or not. Little did everyone know that Wolff may be entering the season as a starter, and now it's up to a former second-round bust, Nate Allen and a bunch of special team worthy players; Colt Anderson, David Sims and Kurt Coleman to decide who will play along-side Patrick Chung during Week 1 of the season. There still isn't a definitive answer, so now it's up to Wolff and Allen to battle it out in the final preseason game for what will likely be the starting spot. The two players have had equal amounts of practice time and will get a ton of playing time on Thursday. Whoever performs at a higher level against the Jets could earn himself the first shot to start.
2) The battle at corner
- After practice on Tuesday, Head Coach Chip Kelly said he was concerned that at the depth at cornerback with injuries to Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes. It's down to rookie Jordan Poyer, Trevard Lindley, Marsh and Hughes for a spot on the team behind Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin. While Williams, Fletcher and Boykin have all made the team, they are going to have to play against the Jets since they are so banged up at the position.
3) Last stand chance to impress for wideouts
- The race to be the final wide receivers on the roster might became a bit clearer after the the final preseason game. With respect to Greg Salas, who can't be ruled out fully from making the 53-man roster just yet, he's been the man getting most of the attention for much of training camp and the preseason. So then it's down to three receivers for what could be only two spots. If the Eagles elect to keep six, Salas, Jeff Maehl and Russell Shepard would be the men in direct competition for the final spots. Because all three got little to no time with the offense against Jacksonville, the upcoming contest against New York could be the determining factors for these players. Don't count out their performances on special teams for weighing heavily, either - Kelly has stated that being versatile will be key. Ifeanyi Momah, Nick Miller and Will Murphy most likely will be cut.
4) Four guys angling for two spots
- Normally when you approach a season as a team that normally operates out of a three-man front as the Eagles are changing to, coaches will usually keep six players for the three positions. Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry and Bennie Logan are all locks to make the 53-man roster, but then it gets hairy after that. Clifton Geathers, Damon Square, Antonio Dixon and Joe Kruger have all tried to make their mark throughout the summer to make the final roster. At this point, Square and Geathers have performed the most consistently, but a strong showing from the other two could unseat them. Kruger might have the highest hurdle to clear on Thursday, but it's not out of the realm of possibilities at this point, remember he was actually drafted by Kelly, something none of the others can say.
5) Who will be RB2
- We have all seen flashes from Bryce Brown and Chris Polk, undrafted rookie Matthew Tucker has been solid throughout both the spring and summer. Brown and Polk likely get a good portion of work against the Jets and will attempt to tie up any loose ends there may have been from the coaching staff in deciding who will be the second running back on the team. As long Brown plays a mistake-free game (no fumbles) he should win the job, Polk will have no trouble sticking around and if he does, what does that mean for Tucker, who has been impressive throughout camp - most likely the practice squad.