Tonight at eight o’ clock EST, the Philadelphia Eagles will play against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz field. The Eagles are coming into their second pre-season game, winning their first one by a score of 13-6 against the Baltimore Ravens.
As the Eagles approach this match-up against the reigning AFC champions, there are a myriad of story lines.
Next, DeSean Jackson will be making his first game appearance of the 2011 campaign. He looked good in training camp for the minimal time he had, but lets see if he is in game shape.
There are still major competitions going on, such as third string running back. The competition is primarily between the team’s fifth round pick, Dion Lewis, and hard working, special teams standout Eldra Buckley.
Since it was just announced yesterday that Jeremy Maclin was tested for multiple diseases but everything was negative, it puts a spin on the wide receiver competition. They may be inclined to keep six wide receivers so they can have a good kick returner. Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chad Hall will primarily fight for that spot. Since Steve Smith is on the physically unable to perform list, the team may keep someone at a different position, and cut the extra man once Smith gets back.
The biggest questions on the offensive line remain at center and Right Tackle. The question at center, is who will win the starting job. There are two viable candidates in rookie Jason Kelce, who has performed very well and has taken many reps on the first team, and Jamaal Jackson who has been the starting guy for many years. Jackson sat out last year with a torn ACL.
At Michael Vick’s blindside, the Eagles have struggled. They thought they solved the issue by bringing in Ryan Harris, but he has suffered from back spasms. The other candidates are Winston Justice who is currently on the PUP, King Dunlap, who is a mediocre backup, and Evan Mathis, who was a guard but has recently transitioned to second team tackle.
On defense, there is a huge defensive line struggle on who will make it. The Eagles will presumably keep around 10 players, so looking to make a difference tonight is Philip Hunt, Daniel T’eo Nesheim, Derek Landri, and Anthony Hargove. Those players are competing for what seems to be the last two or three spots.
At linebacker, watch Casey Matthews and Keenan Clayton tonight. Players like Akeem Jordan and Brian Rolle are trying to make the team, but Matthews and Clayton are trying to prove that they can handle the big time.
Curtis Marsh will be an interesting player to watch tonight, as he will most likely get the fourth or fifth spot, depending on whether Joselio Hansen is cut or traded. Last year’s fourth round pick Trevard Lindley is another guy to watch as he is also battling for a roster spot.
At the back end of the secondary, watch everyone, especially Jaiquawn Jarrett. Jarrett is not battling for a spot, but with his size and ability, he is looking for ways to contribute this year to the team.
As usual it is tremendously important to watch the kickers. Both kickers did fairly well last game, so just keep an eye on Henery, and Henry’s consistency.
Projected stars of the game:
Offense: Chad Hall
Defense: Daniel T’eo Nesheim