On the bubble: Ten Eagles in need of a big showing in preseason finale against Jets

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We’re almost there. Football season is just around the corner and with the Eagles rounding out their preseason campaign tomorrow, it means that the roster cutdown is imminent. Thursday night may be the last chance that many of those on the current roster have to prove their worth to the Eagles coaching staff and make a statement. For some, that chance is all-or-nothing.

 

Dane Evans
The former Tulsa QB tried out with the Eagles during rookie minicamp and was later signed as the team’s fourth quarterback. While his arm-strength was on display throughout training camp, Evans struggled to see any playing time during preseason as the Matt McGloin show rolled on. In the absence of Nick Foles, it would have been easy to assume Evans would see significant playing time. Instead, the team continued to throw the bulk of snaps over to the former Raiders quarterback, leaving Evans with the scraps.

To put it simply if the Dane Train is every really going to leave the station it has to be tomorrow. Finally, the Tulsa QB should be on pace to play in more than just the garbage time drives, giving him one final shot to prove to the coaching staff that he has the confidence, arm strength and leadership to elevate those around him.

 

Shelton GIbson
Gibson’s offseason struggles have been well documented by now, but preseason hasn’t exactly been a complete turnaround. There have been improvements, including Gibson’s eye-catching near-catch that sent the Eagles surging to the one-yard line due to a PI call. But after a quiet night against the Dolphins and clearly frustrated by it, Gibson is running out of time.

The practice squad may be calling for the Eagles draftee, but if he can muster up a strong outing against the Jets, then he may just be able to show enough to convince the Eagles to keep him on the final 53 instead. It’s a tall Mountain to climb, but never say never to a player who simply dominated the competition at WVU.

 

Jaylen Watkins
The road to a spot on the final 53 certainly brightened for Watkins when the Eagles traded Terrence Brooks. His versatility has been spoken extremely highly of, and coming off of a game in which he hauled in a huge interception and made a big open-field tackle, it’s easy to see why he’s trending in the right direction…but the battle isn’t won yet.

The Eagles signed Corey Graham just a few short weeks ago, meaning that the team still have five Safeties left on the roster when you remember special teams ace Chris Maragos. The Eagles are likely going to have to decide between special teams production and the defensive production of a Safety who appeared in over 40% of snaps just one year ago. A big night against the Jets will only help his case.

 

Beau Allen
The goldest locks on the roster have been missing from Training Camp after Allen tore his pectoral muscle earlier this year. In fact, this week is the first since the injury that Allen is practicing with the team. It’s not clear how much action Allen will (or won’t see) against the Jets, but with such stiff competition over his old roster spot…he’s going to need to make the most of every snap he receives in order to show the Eagles that despite missing the entire offseason, he’s still the best option alongside Destiny Vaeao.

 

C.J Smith
The former NDSU product has had a strong offseason, but there’s no doubting that the arrival of Ronald Darby hurt his chances of making the roster. Smith’s best hope is to make the final 53 as the part of the second pairing along with Rasul Douglas, but there’s still a lot of competition for that spot. If Smith can play with the consistency and effort he’s sow since arriving in Philadelphia last season, his chances of earning that spot will only improve.

 

Corey Clement
The former Wisconsin Badger has had one of the more impressive offseasons among Eagles running backs, but Wendell Smallwood’s change of heart and the signing of LeGarrette Blount made life difficult from the moment the NovaCare gates opened. This hasn’t stopped Clement scoring two touchdowns and exploding onto the scene, drawing direct contrasts to Blount who hasn’t had the easiest preseason period.

As things stand, Clement is staring at a likely spot on the practice squad, but only if he clears waivers…which at this stage seems incredibly unlikely given how many teams could benefit from his physical style of rushing in their rotation. Clement needs a big game not only to improve his chances of forcing his way onto the rear end of the Eagles depth chart, but improving his reputation should the Eagles decide to risk waiving him in the hopes of bringing him back.

 

Victor Salako
The Eagles are incredibly light on tackle depth and with Salako at the bottom of the pile, the UDFA needs to stand out from what’s a relatively empty crowd. Jason Peters will be a non-factor, leaving the likes of Big V and Dillon Gordon to fight it out. If Salako has any hopes of being bought back onto the practice squad as depth, he needs to find a level of consistency that unfortunately hasn’t been present up until this point.

 

Rick Lovato
Lovato is no stranger to the Eagles franchise, nor a stranger to NFL experience. But the trading of Jon Dorenbos has elevated his role to a starter which of course brings an entirely different spotlight and kind of pressure. All eyes will be on the Eagles replacement for the “Magic man” tomorrow night as fans want to get a microscopic look at the man the Eagles have decided to pass some incredibly big boots to. Lovato doesn’t have anything to prove as such after a strong offseason, but there’s an incentive to hit the ground running.

 

Greg Ward Jr.
Another wide receiver in need of one last burst is Greg Ward Jr. The former University of Houston QB has been one of the biggest offseason surprises, stealing the Training Camp spotlight on many occasions. In preseason however, Ward Jr has been quiet for the most part, receiving for 46 yards in three games.

As things stand, Ward Jr is listed behind Bryce Treggs in the backup slot role and if he is to make a name for himself outside or bump a trending Treggs out of that spot, he’s going to need to flash the explosiveness we’ve grown so accustomed to hearing about in Training Camp.

 

Billy Brown
Brown has received for the same amount of yards as Ward Jr in a preseason campaign that’s been strong, but not strong enough to dethrone Trey Burton. Brown was another big surprise during Camp, but the Shepherd product hasn’t exploded in preseason as he arguably needed to. The Eagles have kept four tight ends on the roster before and the soft hands of Brown have been praised for a while now. If that is to become a reality however, Brown will simply need to flourish in his last live-game opportunity with the Eagles.

 

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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