The 2019 NFL preseason schedule concludes on Thursday night with the Philadelphia Eagles set to face the New York Jets. In order to find some meaning in the most meaningless game the Eagles will play this year, here are the players to watch out for as there are still some roster spots and/or position battles to be won this summer.
Keep in mind the Eagles’ starters won’t play at all in this game. This is the annual backup bowl.
For your convenience, I’ve listed jersey numbers next to player names.
Greg Ward - #6
Ward ranks second on the Eagles in receiving this preseason with six catches for 87 yards (14.5 average) and one touchdown. It’s been nice to see him shine in the preseason games in addition to the practice setting.
Has Ward done enough to unseat Mack Hollins as the No. 5 wide receiver? It’s possible but I don’t think it’s likely. Hollins is the superior special teams contributor, which matters for a guy who’s mostly play there and not so much on offense.
Ward could do his best to convince the Eagles to keep six receivers with a strong showing tonight.
Clayton Thorson - #8
Thorson was a total disaster in his first preseason game before bouncing back in his second showing. Thorson didn’t get to play much last week since the game was called early due to a storm.
The Eagles should really give Thorson 100% of the quarterback snaps tonight. Josh McCown already showed enough last week; the 40-year-old doesn’t need to be in this game. Playing Cody Kessler, who clearly isn’t going to make the team, is just a waste of time.
The Eagles should allow their developmental quarterback to soak up as many snaps as possible before likely sticking him on the practice squad in the regular season.
Mack Hollins - #16
Hollins only has three receptions for 20 yards this summer. His special teams prowess will likely earn him a spot on the 53 but it’d be nice to see a little more offensive production out of him.
Rudy Ford - #46
Ford is the safety the Eagles acquired by trading Bruce Hector to the Cardinals last week. Ford’s special teams ability might land him on the roster as a fourth or fifth safety. Let’s see if he can make any plays tonight.
(Side note: I believe Ford is the first Eagles player to wear No. 46 since Jon Dorenbos last wore it in 2017.)
Alex Ellis - #48
Ellis had a nice touchdown reception last week in addition to a great special teams tackle on kickoff coverage. I still think he’s behind Joshua Perkins on the depth chart but he can try to make his case for a roster spot tonight.
T.J. Edwards - #57
For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus has graded Edwards as the NFL’s 10th best rookie in the preseson so far. Edwards seems firmly on the roster bubble; I could go either way with keeping him or leaving him off my 53. The Eagles might want to keep Edwards around with Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill both still working their way back from injury. A strong showing from Edwards can only improve his roster bid.
Alex Singleton deserves mention here since he’s had some nice preseason moments. But I just feel like the Eagles would go with Edwards over him. Edwards turned 23 a couple weeks ago while Singleton turns 26 this season.
Brett Toth - #66
The former Army offensive tackle didn’t get to play in the Eagles’ storm-shortened third preseason game. Toth will make his NFL debut tonight instead. Can Toth do enough to earn a practice squad spot after playing in just one preseason game?
Nate Herbig - #67
Edwards and Herbig are the Eagles’ undrafted rookie free agent signings with the best chances of making the roster. Herbig is pushing for a reserve interior spot with the Eagles giving him playing time over Stefen Wisniewski at center. Herbig can probably be stashed on the practice squad but will the Eagles risk it?
Matt Pryor - #69
Pryor hasn’t had a great preseason. He’s struggled and he’s been flagged like a billion times. Despite this, I think Jeff Stoutland still believes in the Eagles’ 2018 sixth-round pick as a developmental project. Pryor can prove he’s worth keeping around by cleaning up his mistakes and turning in a good performance tonight. The lower level of competition could help him.
Joshua Perkins - #83
Perkins seems like the favorite to be the Eagles’ third tight end with Richard Rodgers injured. Will he justify his roster spot or just win the job by default? Even if the Eagles do keep Perkins on the original 53, they could always claim another tight end on waivers to replace him. Perkins could stand to benefit by showing something against the Jets.
It doesn’t seem like Jordan Mailata, who missed practice this week with a back injury, is going to play. Mailata went on injured reserve last year with a back injury so this situation bears monitoring.
How much is Daeshon Hall going to play? He should already have the No. 4 defensive end spot locked up given the way he’s played this summer. Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller should be battling it out for the No. 5 spot, with the former favored to win. I’m sure the Eagles wouldn’t mind seeing Miller suffer a stubbed toe that’ll allow them to stash the rookie on injured reserve for the 2019 season.
Is Johnathan Cyprien a lock to make the team? He seems like the favorite for the fourth safety job but he hasn’t been overly impressive or anything.
The Eagles’ top four running backs (Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement) seem locked in. Can the Eagles manage to trade one of their rushers playing in tonight’s game? Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams, Boston Scott, and Donnel Pumphrey are fighting to earn a spot on another team’s 53-man roster.
The Eagles will probably keep at least one cornerback on the practice squad. Can one of Sojourn Shelton or Ajene Harris step up and earn that spot?
The Eagles acquired three new players this week to fill snaps in Thursday’s game: linebacker Hayes Pullard, safety Jason Thompson, and offensive tackle Riley Mayfield. The team hasn’t posted their jersey numbers.