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Tim Tebow vs. Matt Barkley battle for third string quarterback will take place in Eagles-Jets game

Two men enter, but will even one survive?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The fourth NFL preseason game is always the most boring football game of the entire year. It's the Backup Bowl. A bunch of players who won't even be in the NFL this season will be playing against each other trying to earn a roster spot before final cuts take place. The Eagles typically play the Jets in this game each year, and this year will be no different.

What WILL be different is the potential added intrigue thanks to the Matt Barkley versus Tim Tebow battle for third string quarterback. Doesn't merely reading that sentence get you excited?

OK, probably not. And it shouldn't. Third string quarterbacks are basically irrelevant. People can debate Tebow versus Barkley all they want: the truth is the Eagles are toast if either player has to see any kind of major playing time. With that said, it's still a battle worth watching since there isn't anything else all that interesting taking place in the final preseason game.

For those who care, Barkley will start against the Jets. Last year Barkley played three quarters before G.J. Kinne (the GOAT) came in to play the fourth quarter. One would think the reps might be closer to 50/50 this year, with Barkley getting the first half and Tebow getting the second half. Chip Kelly didn't offer a hint at the rotation, so it'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

And by "interesting" I probably mean "painful" because neither Tebow nor Barkley has looked good at all this summer. In fairness to them, they've mostly been playing with a backup offensive line and receivers who aren't even on the team anymore, but there's barely been any kind of promising signs. One could argue the Eagles should only two keep quarterbacks.

While it's possible the Eagles don't keep Barkley or Tebow, it seems unlikely considering how the Eagles have always kept three the past two seasons. Kelly seems to like having a third guy around, especially when the Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez have dealt with injury issues in the past.

Based on all the talk about how the Eagles have tried to move on from Barkley, it's hard to think the team is going to keep him around for another season. The difference between Barkley and Tebow has looked slim, which is a really bad sign for Barkley. He's the guy with three years of experience in the system. Tebow is the guy who has been out of the league entirely for two seasons. That kind of context could make a difference in the decision making process.

The good news for Eagles fans is that after Thursday night, all this talk about the irrelevant third string quarterback battle will soon be over. The deadline for final cuts down to the 53-man roster is on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 4:00 PM EST. We'll know for sure by then what the Eagles decide to do.

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