NFL Preseason: 5 Philadelphia Eagles to Watch Against the Baltimore Ravens

Joe IannelloAnalyst IIIAugust 11, 2011

NFL Preseason: 5 Philadelphia Eagles to Watch Against the Baltimore Ravens

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    Are you ready for some football? The NFL Lockout can officially be described as painful now that it is finally over and tonight the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens will give fans a sneak preview of what is in store for this year. 

    The Ravens are well-coached by John Harbaugh and it seems as if they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders each year. The Eagles have announced to the rest of the country that they are "all-in" this year by the free agent signing's of Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Vince Young, Jason Babin, Ronnie Brown, Steve Smith and Cullen Jenkins.

    From an Eagles fan's perspective, mentioning all of those names at once still gives me the chills. The Eagles star additions must prove that they can mesh together quickly in a shortened offseason.

    Preseason games give fans the luxury of focusing on specific players and positions to watch instead of just the larger picture. Here are five Philadelphia Eagles that will have all eyes on them during their first preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens.

5. Jaiquawn Jarrett

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    If you have been to Lehigh already, there were two things that stick out right away with Jaiquwan Jarrett: The guy is extremely confident and he looks like he will be an intimidating hitter as he is pure muscle.

    When Jarrett was drafted in the second round out of Temple, Eagles Nation was told that he is a ferocious hitter that loves playing in the box. That seemed a bit concerning at the time considering we only had one legitimate cover corner in Asante Samuel.

    The additions of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will allow Jarrett to do what he does best in play close to line-of-scrimmage and tackle very well. Kurt Coleman has had a terrific camp, but Jarrett's star will shine bright now that he will actually be tackling.

    The Baltimore Ravens have a lot of weapons at running back and wide receiver and a strong-armed QB in Joe Flacco that can make almost any throw. Throw Jarrett out there early and let the kid make some plays.

4. Nnamdi Asomugha

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    You may reading this and saying, "why would I have to watch the best cornerback in the NFL Nnamdi Asomugha play in a preseason game." I will do my best to explain.

    Nnamdi will obviously not play much against the Baltimore Ravens and many Philadelphia Eagle fans may not have seen him play much as he played for the lowly Oakland Raiders for the better part of the decade. Take a few plays tonight and watch how precise Asomugha is with every movement.

    He does not waste a step and is the true definition of a shut-down corner. No other cornerback in the NFL (besides Darrelle Revis) has the fluidity in their hips that Nnamdi Asomugha has.

    Take the time during the Eagles' first preseason game to enjoy watching a true artist play his position.

3. Vince Young

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    We all remember Vince Young as the long and lean QB of the Texas Longhorns who seemingly single-handedly led his team to a national championship. Tonight we get to see Vince Young step in as the backup QB of the Philadelphia Eagles.

    There was talk all offseason of the potential trading of Kevin Kolb and how the Eagles needed to add a legitimate backup behind Michael Vick. That question was answered when the Eagles brought in a guy with a 30-17 career record in Vince Young. 

    Andy Reid and Marty Morningwheg may have a load of faults, but they definitely know how to coach up a quarterback. We saw Michael Vick have the best season of his career in 2010 and complete more than 60 percent of his passes, now let's see what Reid can do with Young. 

    Young still has a lot of doubters to prove, and he needs to "back up" his talk of a "dream team."

    Young has all of the tools in the world and he clearly is a winner. The old mantra of, "If your starting QB goes down you're not winning a Super Bowl" might apply to every team in the NFL.

    Except for the Philadelphia Eagles.

2. Ryan Harris

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    The acquisition of Ryan Harris understandably went under the radar a little with newcomers like Nnamdi Asomugha and Jason Babin coming to Philadelphia, but Harris could be the player that is most crucial. The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the best left-tackles in the game in Jason Peters (holding call or no holding call) but Winston Justice was clearly a problem on Michael Vick's blind side.

    In comes Ryan Harris from the Denver Broncos who has made 34 starts in the NFL and has impressed mightily at camp. If the Eagles have a guy in Harris that is capable of blocking pass-rushers one-on-one, then they will be able to get Brent Celek and their running backs out in more routes.

    Not to mention a healthy and happy Michael Vick.

1. Casey Matthews

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    There still seems to be a lot of uncertainty within Eagle Nation regarding Casey Matthews as the starting man in the middle as a rookie. There even may be uncertainty in the Eagles' front office.

    Matthews has shown that he is extremely intelligent (shouldn't come as a surprise) and that he has all of the confidence needed to play the position. The preseason will be a huge indicator of whether or not Matthews has the size and strength needed to shed blockers from the middle.

    All eyes will be on Casey Matthews tonight against the Baltimore Ravens and not because of his flowing hair.