Eagles Wake-Up Call: What To Watch For vs. NYJ
Despite most of the Eagles’ starters sitting for tonight’s game, there will still be several interesting players to keep an eye on as the Birds host the Jets at 7 p.m.:
Fighting For A Roster Spot
Surprisingly, Carson Wentz isn’t the Eagles rookie from North Dakota State who has made the most noise this preseason. While the quarterback has missed the last three games, undrafted free agent C.J. Smith has worked his way up the cornerback depth chart. After Aaron Grymes’ injury and subsequent departure, Smith is the favorite to make the 53-man roster if the Eagles keep six corners.
Another undrafted free agent, Paul Turner, could survive final cuts as well. Although I included him in my most recent 53-man roster projection, I’d now bet it’s more likely he doesn’t make the roster than he does. I expect Howie Roseman to try to pick up another receiver who doesn’t make another team, but Turner is on the bubble and could use his extended playing time to make a stronger case. Regardless, Turner — like Smith — is a very strong candidate to make the practice squad.
One of the most interesting decisions the Eagles will have to make when trimming the roster is which defensive ends they keep. Is Marcus Smith finally cut? Or has he shown enough potential this preseason to make Jim Schwartz think he’s capable of developing into a good threat off the edge? If they keep Smith, do they cut Steven Means, who has had a better training camp and preseason? Or do they keep both and cut special teams standout Bryan Braman, or perhaps keep six defensive ends? There are a lot of questions tonight’s game could help answer.
Fighting For A Starting Spot
After the Eagles’ second preseason game, Isaac Seumalo had a huge advantage in his competition against Stefen Wisniewski to start at left guard when Allen Barbre moves over to right tackle. Seumalo was once again set to get all of the first-team reps both in practice and against Indianapolis, but then he got hurt, opening up the door for the veteran who has started 77 games in the NFL.
Seumalo still has the clear edge, but Wisniewski was significantly better against the Colts than Seumalo was against the Steelers. If Wisniewski has another strong outing tonight, the Eagles may want to plug him in next week against the Browns instead of the rookie.
Dorial Green-Beckham has been included on this list multiple times now since the Eagles traded for him, but his role tonight will be the biggest one he’s had all preseason. The receiver still doesn’t have the entire playbook opened up to him, but he knows more than he did last week, and you can bet Doug Pederson will want to target him again in the red zone. Green-Beckham will be hurt a bit by playing with Chase Daniel instead of Sam Bradford, but he also won’t face top-tier cornerbacks.
You could potentially add Josh Huff and Mychal Kendricks to the list of guys to keep an eye on, but it’s unclear how much they’ll play. It’ll be more interesting to hear from Kendricks after the game about how his feelings on playing in the fourth quarter last week and having to participate in the fourth preseason game this week, if he decides to address the media.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Will Marcus Smith make the roster once again, or does the time come that he gets cut?
“He’s more prepared to play than a typical rookie QB.” What They’re Saying.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The NFL will officially announce that Philadelphia will host the 2017 NFL Draft today at noon, writes Zach Berman of the Inquirer.
On Wednesday, the NFL said it will make a “major announcement” on Thursday at noon at City Hall. The league had no further comment, and city spokesman Mike Dunn said, “At the moment we’re not at liberty to provide specifics.”
Representatives of the NFL, the city, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Eagles are expected to attend the announcement.
Next year’s draft is scheduled for April 27-29. Brady said in July that a temporary stage and arena is to be built on the Ben Franklin Parkway with seating for about 3,000 spectators. The draft has been in Chicago the last two years and was previously in New York.
Philadelphia last hosted the draft in 1960 at the Warwick Hotel in Center City.
Although most of them have very little experience, the wide receivers are embracing being one of the youngest group at the position in modern history, pens Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com.
[Jordan] Matthews and [Josh] Huff are 24. Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and Paul Turner are 23. David Watford, Cayleb Jones and Marcus Johnson are all 22 or 23.
Of this group, only Matthews has more than 35 career receptions.
When the Eagles released Rueben Randle and Chris Givens earlier this week, it left them without a wide receiver older than 24.
“It’s crazy,” Matthews said. “My rookie year I was the youngest dude on the whole team. Now, me and Josh are the oldest. It’s kind of different but I like it.
“I like situations where everybody feels like they’ve got to go get it. Where everybody feels like they have to work. When guys get to year nine, year 10, you see that, like, ‘OK, I got this.’ And that works for some people. But me personally? I like rooms where everybody feels like, ‘I’ve got to go get it.’”
The Eagles host the Jets for their final preseason game at 7 p.m.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.