Philadelphia Eagles Face Cleveland Browns in Preseason Week 3: What to Watch for

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 24, 2012

Aug 20, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) throws a pass against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

Don't expect to see Philadelphia Eagles starters for very long Friday night in Cleveland. The Eagles will be back in that city 16 days from now for the regular season opener, and they don't want to reveal too many secrets. Plus, they're operating on only three days' rest, so the goal here might be to come get in and out of Cleveland without injury. 

Then again, isn't that everyone's goal when traveling to Cleveland?

Here's what we'll be watching tonight.


Nick Foles

This one's obvious. Foles has been the star of Philly's preseason thus far, but he's yet to go up against a first-team defense. That'll change tonight, with the rookie third-round pick starting in place of Michael Vick. And with Vick and Mike Kafka both hurt, we'll likely get our longest look yet at the Arizona product. 

I wrote on Thursday that Eagles fans could be getting their hopes up with Foles. But a strong performance against the Browns could mean the big man is simply better than any of us thought.


Brandon Boykin vs. Joselio Hanson

The rookie Boykin has outplayed the veteran Hanson in the battle for the nickel cornerback spot. Expect both to have a chance to show off their versatility with reps all over the field Friday night. Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie aren't likely to play much, so we'll get a complete look at Boykin, Hanson and presumed No. 4 corner Curtis Marsh against the Browns.

Hanson is still ahead of Boykin on the depth chart, mainly because the staff knows what it has with him. But if the 22-year-old Georgia product keeps outdoing Hanson, Andy Reid might not have a choice. And due to Marsh's presence, Hanson could actually be fighting to keep his roster spot.


King Dunlap vs. Demetress Bell

It looks like the starting left tackle job is Dunlap's to lose, but we've also yet to see the four-year veteran against first-team defenders. The tables will be turned on on players Friday night, as Dunlap will have to battle legit starters early, while Bell will have a chance to boost his profile against scrubs later.

Regardless, if he can hold up in front of Foles against Cleveland, Dunlap lock up the job for the start of the season.


Phillip Hunt and Brandon Graham

They've emerged as the team's top two defensive ends not named Babin or Cole, which is a big deal when you consider Jim Washburn's active rotation. 

This was supposed to be Graham's breakout preseason as he attempts to avoid the bust label. The former first-round pick hasn't been bad, but Hunt has been tearing it up. In fact, the former CFL star has probably been the best defensive player on the field thus far in the preseason.

Both will get plenty of reps against the Browns' first-team offensive line tonight, which could help determine who lands a higher spot on the depth chart.


I'll also be keeping a close eye on Damaris Johnson, who is on the bubble as a receiver, and Dennis Kelly, who will start in place of Todd Herremans at right tackle. Check back Saturday for a full recap.