The Eagles take on a familiar foe in tonight's penultimate preseason game at Lincoln Financial field. The Eagles and Jets usually get together late in preseason thanks to the short drive between Philly and the Meadowlands.
It's unlikely that those who do show up tonight will see many starters for either team including... Brett Favre. Despite the fact the he won't play much if at all, who wants to bet we hear about him 500 times through the course of the game?
As I said, it's unlikely we'll see much if anything from the Eagles starters but there are a few Birds we definintely won't be seeing .Defensive ends Victor Abiamiri (wrist) & Chris Clemons (calf), safety Brian Dawkins (ankle), WR Kevin Curtis (sports hernia), and running back Ryan Moats (ankle) are all out for tonight's game. That's realy tough luck for Moats who hurt his ankle on a meaningless final play against the Patriots that wouldn't have even happened had Bill Belicheck not called timeouts to force his backup D to take a few more reps. Moats probably would have gotten a lot of carries tonight and would have had been able to give the rest of the leauge a real good look at him.
Thought the starters won't play, it doesn't mean the game will be meaningless. There are still a few jobs on the line tonight that will be worth watching. Rookie WR Shaheer McBride knows the importance of this last game.
"Ain't no tomorrow, pretty much," said Eagles rookie Shaheer McBride, the product of Chester High and Delaware State. "Really my focus isn't going to change a lot from the other three games. But there is kind of more of a sense of urgency knowing that it's the last preseason game and the cuts are coming Saturday."
There are always battles for spots in the trenches going into this final game and this year is no different. On the offensive line it seems to me that the only backup who is a lock at this point is C Nick Cole. Considering Cole has taken all the snaps at backup C, the Eagles really can't cut himat his point. That means Max Jean-Gilles, Winston Justice, Scott Young, King Dunlap, Mike McGlynn, and Mike Gibson are all fighting for the last 3, possibly 4 spots. While I think Max is the closest of that group to being assured a spot, the rest are really up in the air.
This battle should be really fun to watch because there's probably more guys deserving a roster spot here than in the other contested positions around the team. Especially at DE. It would appear from Jim Johnsons' comments earlier this week about Joe Klecko that the 4 DTs are set. At the very least, the top 3 are set in stone. Defensive end is where it gets tricky. Trent Cole is a lock, Juqua Parker is a lock. Pretty much all reports suggest that Victor Abiamiri is getting better after the surgery on his wrist and won't be placed on IR. If he's not, it's probably safe to say he's a lock. So that leaves free agent acquistion Chris Clemons, rookie Brian Smith, veteran Darren Howard, and Jerome McDougle left to battle over the last 3 spots. There's always a chance the Eagles could try to come up with some way to keep 7 DEs... but the likelihood is that not all of these guys make. Chris Clemons won't play tonight for the 3rd straight game but does that hurt his chances? The Eagles quickly moved to swoop him up on the first day of free agency and gave him a decent signing bonus. They did that because he's coming a off an 8 sack year... I just don't think that a few injuries in preseason are enough to make the Eagles give up on him. Then there's Brian Smith, who as a rookie third round pick should clearly be making the roster. How can you cut a third round pick before ever giving him a chance to develop. There's Darren Howard, the veteran who can play inside or out and on both sides of the line has a good shot thanks to his versatility... and finally there's the man that has made this DE battle so dramatic, Jerome McDougle. The former first round pick has looked really good in all three preseason games and not just against backups. He registered a sack against the Pats starting RT last week.
Do the Eagles go light at another position and keep all 7 guys? If not, out of McDougle, Clemons, and Howard who is out of a job? Tonight should help make that more clear.
Quintin Demps is a lock. He certainly won't be the first safety off the bench if a starter is hurt, but his skills on special teams have guaranteed him a roster spot. So that leaves Sean Considine and JR Reed left to battle it out for what will likely be just one roster spot if the Eagles keep just 4 safeties. So far I have to give the edge to Considine in the field and JR Reed on special teams. Obviously special teams play is important for any backup... but with Dawk's injuries there is a very real need for a backup safety that is ready to step in and play. For that reason I could see Considine winning this job. Both guys will get lots of time back there tonight and could certainly win or lose themselves a job.
It's possible that there's only one job up for grabs here, but it's one that should be hotly contested. We know who the three starters are... It seems like Akeen Jordan has a spot. Rookie Joe Mays has drawn considerable praise from Jim Johnson and honestly has looked like our best linebacker in preseason period. Starters included... I have to think that Mays has won himself a spot on the 53. So that leaves Rocky Boiman, Andy Studebaker, Pago Togafau, and Justin Roland fighting it out for what will probably be only one spot. Special teams play will go a long way in determing that, which means that veteran Rocky Boiman probably has the inside track. Boiman was brought in to be primarily a special teams contributor. As far as preseason performance, Andy Studebaker has been the most impressive of the group in my opinion. Studebaker also saw time at DE against the Pats and Jim Johnson said in his press conference this week that he will see more time there this week.
This is probably the only starting job that's still up for grabs. Tony Hunt, Jason Davis, and Jed Collins should all see time as a lead blocker and all three will get plenty of chances to impress on special teams. I really think this is anyone's job, although I'm sure the Eagles are hoping Tony Hunt shows enough to win it.
So those are the positions and players worth keeping an eye on tonight. As always it'll be interesting to see how Kevin Kolb plays since he'll be taking the majority of the snaps. No big names tonight, but there will be a lot of guys out there fighting in their last shot to make it in the NFL.