Adams, Hector Try to Seize Roster Spots vs. Jets
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It's a tradition unlike any other, the preseason finale between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets.
Before we start, as a public service if you read that lede absent of sarcasm, your mockery detector is in need of service but Thursday's game is a necessary if inconvenient evil before the Super Bowl champions can get down to business a week from tonight against the Atlanta Falcons.
Forget about the Week 1 starting quarterback against Dan Quinn and Co., Doug Pederson didn't even commit to a plan for the Jets. Asked if third-stringer Nate Sudfeld would get any reps before Joe Callahan and Christian Hackenberg mop up, all Pederson would say is that he was leaning that way.
"Haven't made that decision yet. Leaning towards it, but it's not 100 percent," the coach said before practice on Tuesday. "I’m going to talk about it with [offensive coordinator] Mike [Groh]."
By the time the practice session was over Sudfeld was still in the dark over his role on Thursday.
"We haven't talked about the reps and who is going to play," Sudfeld admitted to 973espn.com. "As always I'm ready to play."
The more likely scenario is South Jersey native Callahan getting the first half before Hackenberg gets an opportunity at "revenge" against his former team.
"This whole league is a business," Hackenberg, a former second-round pick of the Jets, said. "It's wasted energy to even think about it all that much. It's just a cool opportunity to go out and play football."
Callahan also sees a chance to get himself on film and perhaps another job in a different city where the depth chart doesn't read: Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, and Sudfeld.
"I just know I have to go out, play well and execute the offense," Callahan said. "If I'm able to do that and put my best game on film even if things don't work out here, maybe I end up somewhere else."
Injuries to Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins have opened the door for another body at receiver early in the season, be it a veteran (Markus Wheaton, Kamar Aiken, Bryce Treggs) or a younger player such as the late-charging DeAndre Carter, Rashard Davis or Greg Ward.
The other name to keep an eye on from an offensive perspective is undrafted free agent running back Josh Adams, the ex-Notre Dame star who is pushing for a role in the backfield.
"He's another bright spot, young player that's made an impact," Pederson said. "And really right now, it's just about seeing these guys one last time in this type of environment when things are kind of flying around. They didn't get a lot of snaps last week, and so just want to make sure that as personnel staff, coaches, we're doing our due diligence that when we eventually get to the 53 that we're not missing anybody."
On defense, undrafted tackle Bruce Hector is an unknown with an opportunity to lock down a position on the 53-man roster.
“He's impressed us all along the way,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “But I think the thing that's been most impressive is that there's a lot of guys that look good early and then they level out, or they fade, or they can't stay healthy, or they plateau and they just don't improve, [but] that's not Bruce. Bruce impressed us early, but going on he has steadily improved. And he's been on the field and he's healthy enough to be on the field.
“Then in the last couple games, particularly in the last game, we got him some reps up against some better players and some better competition. He responded well. Those are all things you look for. He’s on the right track.”
For Hector, that track ends in South Philadelphia against the Jets and the next race begins with the starting block either the roster or the practice squad.
"Everybody on a team is in the same position as everybody else," Hector explained. "You just have to continue to work hard and make the team.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen