The 2013 preseason draws to a conclusion tonight as the Eagles and Jets fight it out for all the marbles. Literally. They are playing for a handful of marbles.
Preseason games mean virtually nothing and the finale is the epitome of that. Only a handful of starters will hit the field. And frankly, those guys will only play because the coaches aren’t completely sold on them as starters.
This is a huge game in the lives of some young men. Without trying to be too melodramatic, lives can be altered in the preseason finale. Most guys have made the team, but there are some on the bubble. Priest Holmes had a good showing for the Baltimore Raven in their 1997 preseason finale and coach Ted Marchibroda decided to keep him. In 1998, Holmes rushed for 1,000 yards and eventually he became a Pro Bowl player with the Chiefs. If he’s cut, who knows what happens. Holmes might bounce around from team to team. Maybe things work out the same, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Let’s focus on the most interesting Eagles to watch tonight.
* Nate Allen – We need to see him make some tackles. He hasn’t missed any in the last 2 weeks, but we need to see him getting guys down to have any type of confidence in him as a starter.
* Earl Wolff – Don’t make mental mistakes. Be in the right place at the right time. Take good angles to the football. We know Earl can tackle. We need to see if he’s ready for the mental challenge of playing Safety as a rookie.
* Julian Vandervelde – Right now Vandy looks like the backup C. He really struggled to anchor vs the Pats, but that hasn’t been an issue the last 2 weeks. If he is just solid tonight, he’ll get the job.
* Clifton Geathers – Does he make the team? Is he a key part of the rotation? Geathers flashes big ability at times, but must be more consistent. He’ll play a lot tonight.
* Antonio Dixon – Dixon was rusty vs CAR. He was better last week, but not good enough. He’ll need a great game to make the coaches even consider him for the final roster.
* The ILBs – Jake Knott stood out on STs last week. That’s a boost for him. Casey Matthews is more physical right now as a run defender. I think Emmanuel Acho is the best of the trio. All 3 can make the team, but a bad finale wouldn’t help the situation.
* Russell Shepard – Finally flahsed big time athleticism last week. Always good on STs, but finally looked like an offensive weapon. Another strong game from him will really push Salas. Anything less and Shepard may be stuck on the practice squad.
* Greg Salas – Great summer, but has some physical limitations which make you wonder if he’s worth keeping. Could he ever start in the NFL? Looks like another Jason Avant, which is good and bad. Smart, polished receiver, but also one that lacks speed and dynamic ability.
* Vinny Curry – I’m curious to see if he plays and how much.
* Matt Tucker – Tucker has had a good summer, but I’m not sure he’s shown enough to make the team. He’ll get a lot of work tonight.
* Michael Bamiro – A good game from him will mean he’s making the roster. Bamiro has really come on the last 2 weeks. Great size. NFL coaching is making a difference in his game, but pass blocking still needs a lot of work. Has shown big promise.
* Matt Barkley – I’d love to see him hit on deep ball.
* Everette Brown – He had a good game last week. If he plays well again, do you consider keeping him? Is this just fool’s gold since he’s desperate to make a team?
* Chris McCoy – Coming off a bad game. Has to play stronger and be more physical.
* Danny Watkins – I think he’s got a good chance to make the team, but there will be competition. Danny can’t afford a mediocre or bad showing.
* Joe Kruger – Right now I think he’s headed for the P-squad. Needs to get bigger, stronger before he’s ready for the NFL.
* CBs – We need someone to step up. Jordan Poyer now looks like P-squad material. We still need a #4 CB. The answer could easily come from another roster.
* Adrian Robinson – Makes his Eagles debut tonight. Keep your expectations low.
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A few of you have asked about Ras-I Dowling, the CB the Patriots recently cut.
If the Eagles want to keep 5 CBs, they could sign him. Dowling his hurt right now and won’t be full speed for a few weeks. He has battled injuries the last couple of years and that’s what led the Pats to cut him.
The Eagles need a reliable #4 CB right now. Could be Brandon Hughes. Might be a player from some other team. Won’t be Dowling.
The Eagles might choose to keep 5 Safeties and go light at CB. They could then put Nate or Patrick Chung in the slot if needed and shift Boykin to the outside.