The Eagles take on the Jets tonight in the preseason finale. Originally this looked like an interesting game because it would put Mark Sanchez up against Michael Vick…the former Jet against the former Eagle. But Chip Kelly ruined that by sitting Sanchez. Actually, Kelly may have done us a favor. The Sanchez/Vick angle would have been good for some casual fans, but would have annoyed other fans who are more interested in the young players that need tonight’s game to win a job.
Let’s talk about some of the guys who have a lot on the line tonght.
Matt Barkley – He will play most of the game. The Eagles want to see how he plays in an extended showing. Will this bring out the best in Barkley or will it expose him as being a mediocre player? Barkley can help himself if he just runs the offense and doesn’t try to force things. It will be a good sign if he’s willing to check the ball down to underneath receivers. Barkley can also help his reputation with some good intermediate or downfield throws that show some arm strength.
Arrelious Benn – On the bubble. Benn is a good STer. He can be a good blocker. But Benn has yet to show much as a receiver this preseason. He needs the ball to come his way tonight. I’d love to see some WR screens thrown to him so we can see his RAC skills. The Eagles will probably keep Brad Smith as the #5 WR, but things are wide open after that. Benn would make the most sense, but he’s got to play well tonight.
Ifeanyi Momah – I’m not real sure if Momah has much of a chance for the roster. He can catch. He can block. But we haven’t seen Momah do much on STs and that’s critical for a role player. Momah does have a real chance to make the practice squad. If he has a big game on offense and can show up on STs, maybe he does get roster discussion.
Trey Burton – Talented player with good potential, but not sure where he fits in for this year. Isn’t a functional blocker right now so couldn’t play in a real game as a true in-line TE. That said, Burton is an intriguing athlete who has shown serious potential as a pass catcher. If you value Burton’s potential enough, you might carry him on the roster as a project. A strong performance in Jets game could make the Eagles decision complicated.
Chris Polk – Will he play? Can he play well? Polk needs to do something to help his cause. I could write about all of the RBs since any of them could really help themselves. Polk is the biggest name and has the most on the line tonight.
Dennis Kelly – Kelly has played a good amount of reps already so I’m not sure how much he can help himself in one game. That said, with Lane Johnson going away for 4 games, Kelly could get that roster spot. Must play well enough to make the Eagles comfortable with him as an option on Sundays.
Marcus Smith – Get after the QB. Simple as that.
Travis Long – Will play ILB and OLB. A good game from him could be enough to make the Eagles want to keep him on the roster. Biggest thing is to play well on STs and to look comfortable and effective as an ILB.
Emmanuel Acho – After a great summer in 2013, Acho has been somewhat quiet this year. Not bad, but quiet. A big game from him tonight would go a long way to helping his cause. Biggest thing is to play smart and be active. Be in the right spots and make plays when the ball comes his way.
Ed Reynolds – Reynolds will be on the field a lot tonight. I’m curious to see how he looks. The Eagles will carry 4 Safeties for sure (Jenkins, Allen, Wolff, Maragos). They might keep 5, but only if the team feels Reynolds can either contribute this year or is too good to risk losing if cut. I don’t think he’s shown anything to make the Eagles fear losing him so his best bet is to shine tonight.
Jaylen Watkins – There is no question about Watkins making the team. He is trying to win playing time. Watkins has had some impressive moments this summer. Unfortunately he has had some rough moments and missed time due to injuries as well. More than anything, this game will be a measuring stick for where Watkins is. The better he plays, the more the coaches might look past the previous mistakes and see a player who is developing at a good pace.