The finale of the preseason is here. The next time we watch Eagles football the gloves come off and the games count. This game is about 2-3 players still fighting to make the the roster. Pederson and the staff have a pretty good idea of where they’re going. There’s a good chance 49-51 of the roster is set. Here’s what we are looking forward to tonight:
Which reserve OL can make a push for the 53?
There are a number of guys to watch here. However they all aren’t very good. Barrett Jones is a name that intrigues me. The 3rd year center has done a decent job after being added to the practice squad last year. He is in a fight with Josh Andrews for a reserve spot. There’s a chance both could make it but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was one or the other. Andrews has the ability to play guard but Jones played well during the games. At 6’4″ 308 lbs Jones has the size and strength this new Eagles staff prefers.
Should Nelson Agholor and DGB play?
The starters won’t play much, if at all. We know Chase Daniel will start but how will the snaps break down at WR. Agholor has made 1 play this pre season. If I’m the coaching staff I’m playing him a long, long time. This cat needs a message sent to him. He’s been awful so far and it doesn’t look like he will ever get it. If he wasn’t a 1st round pick from last year he wouldn’t be on the team. I fell confident saying that. This could be another opportunity for DGB to get some extended reps. He’s still new to the west coast offense so this could be a good for him.
Can Paul Turner cement his roster spot?
I really want to see a lot of Paul Turner tonight. The Eagles clearly have faith in him after jettisoning both Ruben Randle and Chris Givens. Neither WR showed anything during his time here. I wonder if Randle’s lunch was canceled due to lack hustle? Heavyweights aside his effort was awful as Jimmy Kempski pointed out for the Philly Voice. Turner has a roster spot. The only way he loses it is injury or a cut from another team the Eagles could claim. This is a real possibility but if Turner really has another great game the Eagles have no choice.
Who wins the kicking battle?
We’ve covered this kicking battle through a number of angles. I expect each guy to get a fair opportunity tonight. I prefer Parkey over Sturgis but watching this competition unfold it looks like Sturgis will win the job. This game could go a long way in deciding the competition. One of these guys really struggles it could send a message to the coaching staff as this is the last game action these guys will see.
Will Thursday be the last game of the Marcus Smith era?
The Eagles are more than set at the defensive end position with Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin, and Brandon Graham set to take the lion’s share of regular season reps. Depth is key for any NFL team which is why the backup defensive end battle is important to watch. There’s no debating Smith has been outplayed by Steven Means this preseason, but will the Eagles be willing to part ways with the former first round pick heading into year three. The Louisville product never appeared comfortable as an outside backer in Bill Davis 3-4 scheme. The hiring of Jim Schwartz and subsequent switch to 4-3 looked to be an opportunity for Smith to salvage his career with the Eagles. Smith has shown signs of improvement, but the aforementioned trio and emergence of Means has put his roster spot in jeopardy. Fletcher Cox has even taken snaps at defensive end lessening the need for a fifth defensive end. Means played 30 snaps while Smith recorded 21 this past week against Indianapolis. I expect those figures to increase significantly with the starters resting this Thursday against the Jets.
Will the Eagles carry 5 defensive tackles?
The answer here will be a result of the defensive end quandary referenced in the first question. I don’t expect the Eagles to carry five players at both end and tackle on defense. Beau Allen is locked in as the third defensive tackle, and has been impressive converting from a 3-4 nose tackle. Taylor Hart left the Colts game with a knee sprain, but Doug Pederson indicated he expected Hart to be ready for the opener against the Browns. Many believe this statement from Pederson is a safe assumption that Hart has secured a roster spot on the 53. Hart has transitioned nicely into the 4-3 as well after being a disappointment his first two seasons in midnight green. Destiny Vaeao is the main candidate for the fifth defensive tackle spot. Vaeao has stood out during training camp, and held his own throughout the three preseason games as well. Vaeao and fellow rookie, Aziz Shittu, are expected to receive an overwhelming share of the reps on Thursday night. Shittu should wind up being a member of the practice squad.
How much will Mychal Kendricks play against the Jets?
Kendricks saw his first action of the preseason last week against the Colts, and played well into the 4th quarter much to his dismay. Reporters were snubbed after the game upon questioning Kendricks in regards to the extended playing time he received. A report surfaced that Kendricks threw his helmet out of frustration coming off the field at linebackers coach Ken Flajole. This report was obviously false despite Kendricks feelings towards his extended playing time. The play of Kendricks has been up and down in recent years, mostly down. The switch back to a 4-3 suits the strengths of Kendricks, and allows his playmaking ability to flourish. Former defensive coordinator, Bill Davis, called out Kendricks recently for his subpar play last season. Jim Schwartz won’t wait until the offseason to voice his opinion instead he’ll park Kendricks on the sidelines. The opportunity to play for Schwartz is a great opportunity to revitalize Kendricks career, and he should embrace it. I understand he doesn’t want to get injured in a meaningless game, but at the same time he needs to get in game shape or he’s doing a disservice to himself and teammates.
Will CJ Smith be the sixth corner?
Carson Wentz’s college teammate has slowly gained positive momentum throughout the preseason even earning first team reps against the Colts. Smith held his own facing off with the likes of TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief. The next question is if Smith’s improved play will lead to a roster spot or a place on the practice squad? Aaron Grymes and Denzel Rice were part of this week’s cuts leaving fewer cornerback options on the roster to cut into Smith’s playing time on Thursday. Smith along with Jalen Mills and Eric Rowe figure to see the majority of the work versus the Jets. He’s got good size for an outside cornerback and has demonstrated the ability to improve throughout camp. I would like to see the Eagles carry six corners based on the injury history of the two starters, Carroll and McKelvin, in addition to the question marks behind.
Offense written by Ryan/Defense written by Brian
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