Let’s face it, there are a ton of guys on this roster that will be fighting for something on Thursday night. New coach, new schemes, no favorites. Depth chart written in sand, etc. That’s part of what makes this Eagles preseason so interesting.
Some have more riding on tonight’s tilt against the Panthers than others. Here are the five with the most to gain/lose, in one man’s humble opinion:
Both quarterbacks played well against the Patriots, though you would have to give Round 1 to Michael Vick. Foles will start against Carolina and has the opportunity to turn the heat up in this quarterback competition.
Chip Kelly will not rush his decision, but there is an advantage to having a starting quarterback named prior to the third preseason game. That is the dress rehearsal; it can only benefit the first unit if the leader is in place for it.
If Vick outshines Foles against the Panthers, there is a chance that Kelly makes up his mind sooner rather than later.
The first three tight end slots are spoken for. If Kelly chooses to only keep three, Harbor doesn’t have a real chance of beating out Brent Celek, James Casey or Zach Ertz. Fortunately for the former fourth-round pick, the new head coach is tight-end centric. That means Harbor still has a shot to make it. But it’s no lock. The Missouri State grad had three grabs for 47 yards against the Pats. Another showing like that, and he may convince Kelly to carry four tight ends. (And no, I don’t think he makes it as a receiver.)
Shepard, aka Sheil’s camp crush, had a real strong start to the summer. He has cooled of late. Meanwhile, Greg Salas has really come on. He led the Eagles with three catches for 54 yards and a touchdown against New England and has had a strong showing on the NovaCare practice fields as well. Right now DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant and Damaris Johnson are the top four receivers. If the Eagles decide to keep six , Shepard and Salas can both make it. If they go with five, they need to choose one, and Salas appears to be ahead.
The 6-8, 340-pound d-lineman seems to have the coaching staff intrigued, but intrigue will only take you so far. With the likes of Bennie Logan, Damion Square and Vinny Curry coming on strong, defensive line spots will be at a premium. Geathers needs to prove he belongs.
The rookie safety ran with ones some this week. Defensive coordinator Billy Davis would not be opposed if Wolff rose up and snatched one of the starting safety jobs. This is his chance to prove that he deserves legitimate consideration.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Kapadia, after a thorough defeat last year, attempts to predict the 53-man roster.
Kelly is expecting Jason Kelce to lead the offensive line.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Kent Babb of the Washington Post wonders how successful Kelly’s up-tempo approach will be without an elite QB.
It was successful in New England, which had 92 offensive snaps in a December 2012 game, because Tom Brady is the league’s best quarterback. Without an elite passer, can Kelly lead a proper revolution?
When the league watches, deciding whether to copy the trend, coaches and executives will look first at the quarterbacks. After all, this is what these innovations are meant for: A way into the postseason for teams without one of the NFL’s best dozen passers. Kelly has a quarterback problem — Vick is 33 and injury prone, Nick Foles lacks mobility, and Matt Barkley is a rookie — so the spotlight will be on how teachable his offense can be.
The Eagles are the seventh most valuable team in the NFL at $1.3 billion, according to Forbes. The top 6? Cowboys (2.3), Patriots (1.8), Redskins (1.7), Giants (1.55), Texans (1.45) and the Jets (1.38).
The NFL’s 32 teams are worth, on average, $1.17 billion, 5% more than last year. The Cleveland Browns, a lousy team for years in a midsize market, sold for almost $1 billion last year.
In contrast, the world’s top 20 soccer teams have a mean value of $968 million. The average worth of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams is $744 million. And average values for the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League, also each with 30 teams, are $509 million and $282 million, respectively.
Game day. Eagles-Panthers, 7:30 from the Linc. We’ll get you ready.