There are 2 groups that will have a big chance to help themselves on Friday night. First is the backup O-line. Those guys are fighting for roster spots and to try and establish some pecking order. But even if Matt Tobin or Andrew Gardner is lights out, they still aren’t guaranteed to see the field in 2014. They’ll only play on STs, due to injuries or in extreme blowouts.
The other group with a lot on the line is the WR corps. Jeremy Maclin will play 10 to 15 snaps, if that many. Riley Cooper is out. That means that Jordan Matthews, Brad Smith, Arrelious Benn, BJ Cunningham, Ifeanyi Momah and rookie Josh Huff will get a lot of playing time. I don’t know where Quron Pratt and Kadron Boone fall on the depth chart, but they could also get more reps.
These players have a chance to not only help their case of making the team, but they can show the coaches they are worthy of playing time. Obviously I don’t mean if you play well in the first preseason game that you suddenly get mixed into the gameplan. But you can get the coaches attention and lay the foundation for something like that.
Take Josh Huff for example. He’s been up and down in camp. One of his best qualities is being a good RAC receiver. That doesn’t show much in Training Camp where there is limited tackling. Huff could open some eyes with good RAC plays in Friday’s game. The coaches then feed him short passes in other preseason games and if Huff continues to impress, he could get mixed into the WR screen game during the regular season.
The WRs are trying to build trust with the coaches and QBs. WRs must show they will run the right routes, get open and catch the ball when it comes their way. They will get extra attention if they can make tough catches or if they can make plays after the catch. That is the kind of stuff that can separate one player from the next.
Coop and Mac are going to be the primary receivers this year. Matthews could be close to them. Smith will be more involved this year. After them, things are wide open. Players like Benn and Cunningham can’t afford bad games. One or two of them and they are potentially looking at the end of their careers. Both guys have been around the league a few years. They must show they are worthy of roster spots.
It sounds like Cunningham has had the better camp, but Benn has a better track record and is the bigger, more physical player. Each player can make a case for why he’s better than the other guy. Starting on Friday night, they’ll be able to put action behind those words. Everything they do well will help their case. That could be something on STs. It could be run blocking. Heck, the difference could be who runs better pass routes. WRs coach Bob Bicknell is going to keep 5 or 6 guys for the season. 4 of those spots are likely filled. That means some serious competition for the other spots and for practice squad spots.
Momah isn’t totally out of this, but I still see him as a major long shot. I’m sure he just wants to erase bad memories from last summer. He’s done that at camp, now is the time to do it in a game. Remember, the last game where he played and looked good was in September of 2011. That is so long ago that Casey Matthews still had a future at that point.
Huff is another player with a lot to gain. He will make the roster, but Huff needs to show if he can be a contributor in 2014 or if he’s a developmental prospect. Huff is ultra-competitive so I think games should bring out the best in him.
I’m also excited to see how Pratt plays. He has quietly had a good camp and could prove to be a better player than I anticipated.
* * * * *
There was a ton of talk on Wednesday about the kelly green uniforms. Les Bowen explains that the situation is more complex than you would imagine.
Go read the piece to get the insane details of why this is so complicated. Ugh.
I’m not a big uniform guy. I don’t mind the current look of the Eagles. If I could choose a look, I’d go for the uniforms from the early 1990′s. I love that kind of kelly green with silver pants.
I just think that is a great look. The black shoes are also very cool.
It doesn’t seem like Jeffrey Lurie has any interest in those uniforms. I think that’s a shame, but I’m not going to get too fired up about it. Go win games and wear some shade of green and I’ll be a happy camper.