Eagles Wake-Up Call: What We’re Watching

 

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles host the Jets tonight at 7:00 at Lincoln Financial Field. Here’s what we’ll be keeping an eye on as Chip Kelly‘s club wraps up preseason play:


 Running back competition: Chris Polk said that his hamstring is at about 80 percent. He was able to get through practice this week and is hoping to play against New York. Injured bubble players face a difficult decision: Play it conservative and risk getting passed by, or push yourself and risk sustaining a more significant injury.

"I can't guarantee anything. Just have to play it smart because hamstring's are tricky, you don't want to go out there and turn a couple weeks into a few months," said Polk. "I think I'll make a decision Thursday and see how it goes."

LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles are expected to sit this one out. Matthew Tucker, Kenjon Barner and Henry Josey will have one last chance to show why they should be included on the final 53-man.

Kicker situation: We're just over a week away from the start of the regular season, and the kicker picture is still very cloudy. That's not good. Not sure what Cody Parkey can show in such a short period of time to convince the coaching staff that he's the guy. Keeping Alex Henery might not be the most popular decision but feels like the safer play. Then again, the team can watch only so many misfires in-game before pulling the plug. They would surely welcome a strong outing out of the former fourth-round pick.

Matt Barkley: Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez are not playing. Barkley is going to see a lot of time. He probably won't factor into this season much, but the Eagles need to determine at some point in the not so distant future whether the USC product can be relied upon as a backup. The NFL is rough in that reserves only get so many opportunities to state their case. Barkley needs to take advantage of the playing time he gets, no matter the circumstance.

Marcus Smith: The coaching staff seems to think that Smith played better against the Steelers than he had the previous two weeks. Plenty of work to be done still. Maybe he gets his first sack of the preseason tonight.

Receivers: Jeff Maehl walked through the NovaCare halls earlier this week with a pretty heavy limp. He has an ankle injury but is fighting through it as he tries to make the team. He says he is playing. Arrelious Benn (concussion) should be out there, too. For guys like Maehl, Benn, Ifeanyi Momah and Damaris Johnson, this is a final opportunity to get something on tape -- whether it be for this team or another -- before cut-down day.

WHAT YOU MISSED

"We had guys talking about knocking him out, taking his head off, doing X, Y and Z to him on the field, and none of that happened, out of respect for myself, I think." Michael Vick believes he saved Riley Cooper's career.

One last cameo for Lane Johnson before he's off to Dallas for a month.

"I had this feeling like I shouldn’t play," he recalled. "I don’t know why. Something in my mind was telling me, ‘Don’t play in this game.' "Sheil with a great feature on Brandon Boykin.

Cutting players is one of the most difficult parts of a coach's job. Here's how the Eagles handle it under Kelly.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Geoff Mosher calls Arrelious Benn "the happiest guy staring unemployment straight in the face."

“Just got out there and play. Who cares?” Benn said. “It’s not the end of the world. I’m not gonna die (if I get cut). I’ve got a family. Football isn’t everything. This is my fifth year in the league. I’ve seen guys come and go. It could happen to any guy. I got released earlier this year, so I’m not afraid of it.”

Benn, a former second-round pick by the Bucs, has already overcome his biggest obstacle. Aside from a minor head injury against the Steelers that forced him to miss one practice -- “bell rung,” is how he described it -- Benn has shown he can stay healthy through an entire camp.

The New York Times talked to Vick about his return to Philly.

He eagerly awaits the chance to see former teammates and members of an organization who welcomed him after he had been a polarizing figure. He is delighted to perform once more before fans willing to forgive his transgressions.

“I’m just looking forward to going back to Philadelphia and just enjoying that day and helping the young guys and hopefully watching them go out there and prosper and get better as a unit,” said Vick with a humility that became typical of him after his incarceration.

COMING UP

Eagles-Jets at 7 p.m. from the Linc. The last thing standing between you and the regular season.

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