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Eagles v Panthers: What/Who to watch for

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Milk is good for strong bones... hopefully
Short week for the Birds as they play their second game in five days. They suffered a pretty nasty defeat to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday and never really looked in sync on any unit. Tonight, the boys are back home and with considerable extra firepower.

The obvious guy to watch and the one all eyes will be on is Donovan McNabb. Frankly, I don't need to see much from him to feel good. Just series or a two of him moving around well and looking comfortable will be plenty. Maybe a deep ball or two? Kelly Holcomb is out for the game so McNabb will be followed by AJ Feeley and Kevin Kolb.

Also making his first start of the preseason is pro bowler Lito Sheppard, and with the poor showing from Will James last week, it's not a moment to soon. Lito won't play much, but it'll be interesting to just see him out there moving.

Again, I'll be watching Chris Gocong hoping to see something. Other than the first defensive play in Baltimore where he got a hit on Steve McNair(albeit moments after he threw a complete pass) he was pretty anonymous. The buzzword this year is playmaking linebackers, so let's see one make a play! Jim Johnson said this week he pulled Gocong early Monday because he planned to play him alot tonight, so he'll get his opportunities.

One of the few standouts from Monday's game was rookie CB Rashad Barksdale, who by several accounts and his own admission had not had a great camp. However, he turned things around and was one of more solid players on an otherwise poor defense. Jim Johnson even saw fit to single out Rashad for compliments on his performance and Johnson admitted he's been tough on the kid in camp. With a poor showing from Will James in the first game, who knows where Barksdale could find himself with a few more nice preseason games? Also, with Moats done for the year(who was the main returner backup) Barksdale will get some looks returning kicks tonight.

Speaking of Will James he's really a guy that we should be watching. He didn't just have an off night, he was making rookie mistakes. He was getting spun around, outrun, and generally got abused. With the way he came into camp talking big and telling us he'd be starting... he's got alot to prove after that performance. Plus, he's supposed to be an important contributor on this defense this year. The nickel corner plays alot in Jim Johnson's scheme and right now that's going to be Will James. He needs to be solid.

Finally, how about Mike Patterson? He's kinda flew under the radar with so much other stuff going on along the defensive line. The Bunkley saga, the Kearse injury, the Howard disappointment, the struggles of Darwin Walker... Mike Patterson was basically a guy that wasn't at the center of any news and while he wasn't bad he wasn't particularly good last year either. As a former first round pick, Patterson still has some expectations to fulfill. In fact, in his praise of Bunkley's performance Jim Johnson seemed to take a few subtle digs at Patterson... With solid veterans(albiet injured veterans) like Montae Reagor and Ian Scott on the squad Patterson's spot in the starting lineup may not be as secure as he thinks.

Team-wise I'd like to just see a more mistake free and crisp performance. With the first teamers likely to play most or all of the first half hopefully we'll see that. Jim Johnson said that after studying the film of the Ravens game he saw an "amazing" 6 mental mistakes. Obviously that must be corrected.