Friday, August 13, 2010

What to Watch Tonight

Eagles fans everywhere will be watching Kevin Kolb tonight, naturally. We'll be keeping a close eye on first-time starting center Mike McGlynn, who's been elevated because of injuries to Jamal Jackson and Nick Cole. Are Steward Bradley and Ellis Hobbs recovered from injury? Is Nate Allen the second coming of Wes Hopkins or Macho Harris? Has Asante Samuel learned how to tackle? Is Stacey Andrews the Pro Bowl lineman of two years ago, or will he be getting his Phelps on with his brother?

But alas, all of these questions will be answered (at least for tonight) by the end of the first quarter. The starters aren't expected to play any more than that. But there's plenty of interesting battles for the bottom of the roster to keep fans awake into the fourth quarter.

  • RB - Eldra Buckley vs. Charles Scott vs. Martell Mallet - Buckley is the best special teams player who has run like a truck in traning camp, and he's the only one with NFL experience in this group. But the coaches like Mallet's hands, and Scott's a sixth-round pick. Both of them will have to do something special to supplant Buckley, or convince the coaches to keep an extra RB. Expect Scott to see time at FB and HB.
  • WR - Riley Cooper vs. Kelley Washington vs. Hank Baskett vs. Chad Hall - So far through camp, Cooper has looked like the Eagles fourth-best WR. But he'll need to prove he can play in a game to claim that spot. Washington and Baskett are probably fighting it out for fifth, and their performance on special teams is likely the deciding factor. Hall is a small, quick, punt-return type (think Danny Amendola) who has to show something special to make the team.
  • TE - Clay Harbor vs. Cornelius Ingram vs. Paul Lawrie - Harbor has looked better than Ingram so far in camp, and has a real chance to win the second TE spot. Lawrie is a darkhorse - as the best blocking TE on the roster, he might stick if Ingram doesn't regain his explosiveness after two knee surgeries.
  • OL - King Dunlap vs. Austin Howard - Dunlap's shown little improvement in two full seasons, while the undrafted rookie (Howard) has impressed respected Eagles watchers Merril Reese and Ray Didinger. I'm anxious to get my first look at the kid, to see if he's really an answer at the back-up tackle spot.
  • DL - Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Trevor Laws - If these two are as good as they've looked so far in camp, they both should dominate against the Jags' backups. I don't think either one is in danger of being cut, so it's not really a battle, but in order to make an impact this season, they should be winning one-on-one battles consistently tonight.
  • LB - Omar Gaither vs. Jamar Cheney vs. Tracy White vs. Keenan Clayton - Cheney and Clayton are young, fast rookies that have a chance to unseat versatile veterans Gaither and White. Both are probably fighting an uphill battle, since Gaither and White are trusted special-teamers, but tonight is their first opportunity to make a statement. I'm also curious to see how the Eagles play Moises Fokou - he went from starting SAM to back-up DE just a few days into training camp, after being praised all off-season for his film study and workout dedication. Not sure if he's fallen out of favor, or if the coaches are just looking for more ways to get him on the field.
  • DB - I don't see any battles here, with 5 CBs (Samuel, Hobbs, Hanson, Lindley, Patterson) and 4 Safeties (Allen, Mikell, Demps, Coleman) that should make the team, barring injury. Lindley and Coleman are both promising rookies who have looked better-than-advertised so far in camp. We'll see tonight how they hold up in game situations.
  • P - Wait, punter? Yes, punter. Ken Parrish vs. Sav Rocca - Parrish can kick-off as well, which gives him an edge, because the Eagles would like to save David Akers' leg for field goals.


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