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10 Things to Watch for in the Philadelphia Eagles' Preseason Finale

Bernie OllilaContributor IIIMay 31, 2016

10 Things to Watch for in the Philadelphia Eagles' Preseason Finale

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    Doubtlessly, the emergence of Nick Foles has been the biggest story of the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2012 preseason.

    But, he isn’t the only overachieving rookie who flew under the radar.

    This preseason, the Birds have seen the likes of undrafted and late-round players from this year and last rise to the occasion and compete for roster spots.

    However, they aren’t the only ones making things interesting.

    The Eagles’ preseason storylines have also been focused on a few veterans, some looking for a shot to play, and others looking to stay in the league.

    For the team’s fringe players, this is likely their last chance to showcase their abilities and prove through their efforts that they belong on the team. For others, it may likely be their last chance to make an NFL roster.

    In any case, Thursday’s preseason finale against the Jets has a lot to offer. Here are a few things to look for. 

Rookie Running Backs

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    The Eagles’ rookie running backs have been impressive thus far. It wouldn’t be surprising to see both Chris Polk and Bryce Brown make the team, especially since Andy Reid has indicated that he doesn’t mind being stacked at a given position if the players are good enough. That’s exactly what he has on his hands in this case.

    Bryce Brown is deceptively quick, big and powerful. As of now, he’s probably ahead of Polk on the depth chart. Look for Brown to catch the ball and fight his way forward on the ground.

    On the other hand, Chris Polk certainly has the ability to come up big in the preseason finale. Even though he hasn’t been particularly outstanding, with a big game he could find himself ahead of Brown. Look for Polk to showcase his ability to work between the tackles and bruise his way forward.

Linebackers

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    The Eagles' linebacking core was an Achilles heel for the team last season. Regardless of what the reason was, the linebackers need to be better if the team wants to have chance to outperform last year’s 8-8 record.

    So far, Mychal Kendricks has been a pleasant surprise. But, against the Jets, keep your eye on Brian Rolle and Jamar Chaney.

    Another thing to watch for will be recently designated starter Akeem Jordan’s play. Andy Reid said Jordan will see some time, and that could end up being a significant amount. Watch to see if he continues to warrant his starter status. 

Quarterbacks

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    Nick Foles will start on Thursday and Trent Edwards will play the final three quarters.

    This will be our final look at Nick Foles until Mike Vick gets hurt. We know what he can do when he throws the ball from the pocket. But, he’s also been surprisingly good under pressure. Pay close attention to when he scrambles to make plays to see if that part of his game is actually developing.

    Going into the final game of the preseason, it appears as though the only Eagles QB whose job is in jeopardy is Mike Kafka. And, the guy threatening to take his place is Trent Edwards.

    Edwards will play three quarters on Thursday, which should be more than enough time for Andy Reid and his staff to determine whether or not he should be the third man on the depth chart.

    Edwards is a veteran who hasn't been unimpressive up to this point. Don’t be surprised if he has a great game and ends up making the team at the expense of Mike Kafka.  

Penalties

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    The Eagles, especially the defense, haven’t exhibited the kind of discipline one would like to see this preseason, and that has led to several unnecessary penalties. Truthfully, those calls can't be attributed to the poor officiating.

    The Eagles have made some bad in-game decisions, which have cost them. Even though it’s only the preseason, that kind of play isn’t something you like to see going into the regular season.

    Watch to see if the Eagles’ mistakes continue to cost them. Worry if they do. 

Wide Receivers

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    It may seem like the Eagles are deep at the wide receiver position. But, a closer look shows the contrary.

    Two reasons are the injury to Riley Cooper and the lackluster performance of Marvin McNutt, who hasn’t been impressive so far.

    Look for McNutt to turn things around on Thursday. If he doesn’t, he could find himself cut, and the team could find itself stuck with the likes of Chad Hall.

    Damaris Johnson has looked good returning punts, and that alone is reason enough to assume his spot is safe. But, he could ultimately end up as the team’s No. 4 receiver if Jackson, Maclin, Avant or Cooper gets hurt. Keep an eye on him.

Demetress Bell

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    It was surprising to find out that King Dunlap had outperformed Demetress Bell for the starting LT job, especially considering the contract Bell signed with the Birds in the offseason

    However, it will be more surprising if Bell can put together a solid game.

    It’s hard to think Bell will be behind Dunlap all season, but he is for the time being, and for good reason. Look for No. 77 on the offensive line, and watch to see if he is play is consistent. 

Officiating

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    So far, the poor refereeing has been a cause for concern for the NFL.

    Keep your eye out for any particularly bad calls, and watch to see if these guys can get to the bottom of a dog pile in under 10 minutes. 

Jaiquawn Jarrett

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    Since his forgettable performance in the preseason opener against the Steelers, Jaiquawn Jarrett’s play has gone from awful to mediocre. By that, I mean the more we see him, the less lost he looks.

    Although he hasn’t been anything special, Jaiquawn Jarrett has looked better and better with each game.

    He’ll play the majority of the snaps on Thursday, and it will be interesting to see if he can continue to look more fundamentally sound, with a firm grasp of the defense.

    Look for him to continue to avoid getting burned by any receivers, or found out of position.

Vinny Curry

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    The Eagles are a young team. Curry, this year’s second-round pick, is among the many new faces on the Eagles.

    The rookie defensive end will see a lot of playing time on Thursday. With a team that relies heavily on its defensive ends, Curry could possibly end up playing an important role in the coming season if one of the team’s starters goes down. 

Defensive Tackles

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    Having a team’s defensive line be its strongest point is a very good thing, especially when that team has some of the NFL’s premier players on the other side of the ball.

    The Eagles’ D-line is deep and fierce. With the starters not playing, look for Antonio Dixon and “Swamp Thing” Cedric Thornton to solidify the hype about the D-line by beasting through the opposition. 

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