For the last time this summer, the Eagles are set to play a meaningless football game tonight. This preseason game against the New York Jets projects to be the least meaningful game since the starters will not play at all. It’s the annual backup bowl.
The final score doesn't matter at all, but it’ll still be interesting to see how certain players perform given that roster spots are up for grabs. For many players, this is their last chance to impress before roster cuts take place by 4:00 PM ET on Saturday, Sept. 2.
Here are the 13 most interesting Eagles players to watch in tonight's game. Jersey numbers are listed next to the names of players for your convenience.
Donnel Pumphrey - No. 34
Doug Pederson mentioned the running back spot as an interesting battle to watch, but I think the battle has already been decided. I don’t see the Eagles cutting Pumphrey after trading up in the fourth round to select him in the 2017 NFL Draft. Of course, the caveat is that Pumphrey could suffer an injury in tonight’s game and get stashed on injured reserve. Expect Pumphrey to get a lot of playing time tonight. Maybe he’ll finally show something after not looking very explosive at all this summer.
Corey Clement - No. 30
The feeling here is Clement’s roster hopes rely on Pumphrey getting hurt. He can try to change the Eagles’ minds by running really hard tonight, but I still think he’s bound for the practice squad. Or it’s possible he plays well enough that another team picks up on him waivers.
Dexter McDougle - No. 36
Thursday night marks McDougle’s first game with the Eagles since being traded to Philadelphia on Sunday. By all accounts, he’s looked good while playing for the team the Eagles are facing tonight. A strong showing from McDougle in this game could have them keeping him around as a backup nickel cornerback. Perhaps he could even push for starting playing time as the season goes on.
Beau Allen - No. 94
Allen is set to play in his first game since suffering an injury earlier this year in April. Allen is likely a lock to make the team as the third defensive tackle. He doesn’t need this game to make the roster. It’ll just be nice to see him out there again.
Elijah Qualls - No. 98
Qualls has graded out as one of the most productive defensive tackles in the league this preseason, per Pro Football Focus. He’s pushing for a spot as the fifth defensive end. Qualls faces stiff competition; Justin Hamilton has been ahead of him on the depth chart and hasn’t been bad. Both Hamilton and Qualls will have a chance to shine tonight. Qualls could have the edge since he’s two years younger and the Eagles spent a 2017 sixth-round pick on him.
Taylor Hart - No. 77
Hart’s conversion from defensive tackle to offensive tackle actually hasn’t gone too poorly. The 2014 fifth-round pick could potentially win a reserve spot on the roster if he continues to show promise.
Billy Brown - No. 85
Brown is right on the roster bubble. It’s difficult to determine if the Eagles should keep four tight ends or not. On one hand, he’s still a rookie transitioning from wide receiver to tight end. He needs time to develop and improve his blocking. On the other hand, the Eagles will likely cut Brent Celek after this season and Trey Burton will be a free agent. Having Brown would be ideal but he might get picked up on waivers. A strong showing from Brown tonight could make the Eagles’ decision easier to make.
Bryce Treggs and Greg Ward and Shelton Gibson - No. 16 and No. 89 and No. 18
It feels like these guys are all competing for a sixth wide receiver spot. Treggs has had the best summer. There’s a feeling he could be trade bait if he plays well, though, because the Eagles are high on Ward. The progress Ward made while transitioning from quarterback to wide receiver this offseason is impressive. He’s not ready to be a major contributor by any means but he gives the Eagles depth in the slot. Gibson hasn’t struggled as much recently as he did earlier in camp. He’s still likely on the outs, though, but maybe a strong showing could change the Eagles’ mind.
Mychal Kendricks - No. 95
I’m interested to see how many snaps Kendricks plays tonight. He’s had a good preseason so far, no doubt. But if he’s such an important player to the team, they won’t put him out there much tonight. Conversely, if he’s playing a lot in the fourth preseason game, well, that tells you how Philadelphia values him. I still think there’s a decent chance this could be his last game with the Eagles. Never rule out a trade with Howie Roseman in charge.
Joe Walker and Kamu Grugier-Hill and Don Cherry - No. 59 and No. 54 and No. 48
I’m lumping this group of linebackers into one because there’s so much up in the air at this spot. Nathan Gerry seems unlikely to play since he didn’t practice this week. Maybe the Eagles try to place him on injured reserve. Whether Gerry’s in or out, there are still depth jobs to be determined at this spot. None of these players have obviously separated themselves from the others. This is their chance to do that tonight.
Rick Lovato - No. 45
Lovato is more of a player NOT to watch. It’ll be a good thing if the Eagles’ new long snapper doesn’t stand out at all. This game will be Lovato’s first chance to work on snapping to Donnie Jones (both as a punter and kick holder) since the end of the 2016 season.