The Philadelphia Eagles are scheduled to play a meaningless preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night. But while the final score doesn't count, it will still be interesting to see how the team's players perform as they prepare for the 2015 NFL regular season.
Here are the 10 Eagles players to watch in tonight's game. Keep in mind the starters will likely only play 15 to 20 snaps or so.
1) Sam Bradford
Nowhere else to start but here. It's been nearly a full year since Bradford has played in real game action. All eyes will be on Bradford as he makes his Eagles debut. The key thing is watching how he responds to pressure. If given time, one would think Bradford should excel. He's had a good summer. Now let's see how he handles a pass rush. The quarterback said he's ready to take a hit. It's time for him to prove it.
2) Vinny Curry
Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said the team is going to "accelerate" Curry's role at outside linebacker now that Marcus Smith is expected to miss a few weeks. The 6-3, 280 pound Curry has been extremely effective at rushing the passer from the 3-4 defensive end position. Now he needs to show he can handle the responsibilities of a 3-4 outside linebacker. The Eagles will want Curry rushing the passer more than he's dropping into coverage, but the preseason gives them the luxury of experimenting with his role.
3) Walter Thurmond
Thurmond has a pretty quiet game against the Colts. He only played 17 snaps. He didn't make a tackle and he wasn't targeted once. That isn't necessarily a bad thing because he could have had good coverage. Thurmond made a lot of big plays during spring and summer practices so there are reasons to be optimistic about his position change. Still, it would be nice for him to get tested a little more in the preseason.
4) Josh Huff
Huff also had a quiet game last week. With so many viable targets to spread the ball around to, he just didn't get targeted very often. The only play where Huff did get targeted was when Matt Barkley threw a pass that got tipped by a defensive lineman and intercepted. Huff was wide open for a first down on a crossing route on the play. The Eagles should look to force it to Huff at least once or twice in this game.
5) Kiko Alonso and/or DeMarco Murray?
Two of the Eagles' biggest offseason acquisitions were inactive last week. It's unclear if either player will suit up. Alonso returned to practice earlier this week after missing two weeks recovering from a concussion. Murray seemed to be full go in practice against the Ravens but wasn't seen working with the first team group at running back during Friday's walk-through.
6) Ed Reynolds
From an outside perspective, at least, Reynolds went from being an afterthought to a player seriously pushing for a roster spot at safety after his two-interception performance against the Colts. Reynolds also shined on special teams, which is critical for depth players. The Eagles' safety depth is light, especially now that Earl Wolff has been waived. It's up to Reynolds to show his performance against the Colts wasn't a fluke.
7) E.J. Biggers
Chip Kelly referred to the veteran Biggers as "Bigs" a few times in his press conference this week. While that may seem trivial, many reporters will note how Kelly tends to give nicknames to the players the team is high on. Biggers has had a strong showing this summer. He can contribute on special teams and has the versatility to play outside cornerback, nickel, and safety. Biggers really struggled in the past with Washington and Tampa Bay. He's been playing the best football of his career with the Eagles so let's see if he can keep it up.
8) Brad Jones
Jones looked pretty good against the Colts last week. He got the start at inside linebacker and led the team in tackles. He made several solid open field solo stops, including a few on special teams. With Marcus Smith out, however, Bill Davis said he intends to get Jones some work at outside linebacker. Jones originally started his career on the outside so he has experience there.
9) Andrew Gardner
Chip Kelly denied there's a front-runner in the competition for the starting right guard spot, but it seems pretty clear Andrew Gardner is the favorite. He started against the Colts and he's been taking all of the first team reps in practice lately. With that said, Gardner could easily be pulled if he struggles. John Moffitt could still be in the mix for the starting job if he's able to continue to shake off the rust.
10) TIM TEBOW
The battle for the third string quarterback job continues this week. Matt Barkley looked better than expected against the Colts while Tebow looked rusty. While it might seem like Barkley is ahead, recent reports indicate Chip Kelly is becoming "increasingly excited" with Tebow. Tebow might be able to win the third string quarterback job despite not clearing beating out Barkley. As Dave Mangels pointed out, the difference between third string quarterbacks is marginal. The Eagles have shown a willingness to move on from Barkley in the past. Tebow is certainly the more popular of the two QB options right now.