One of the byproducts of so much youth and so much change on the Eagles this year is that the bottom of the roster is less settled going into Thursday's final preseason game against the Jets than it might have been other years.
Eagles coach Andy Reid emphasized that "there are some spots -- I'm telling you, there are spots," that will be determined by the final preseason game, and presumably by who gets cut elsewhere this weekend, when teams whittle the rosters from 75 to 53. "There's a couple different spots, I'm not going to get into those. I think it's important that all the guys have an opportunity to play, play like they have an opportunity to make this football team. In essence, they do."
"You want to make sure you're right," Reid said, when asked about the importance of the preseason finale in these calculations.
Most of the players the coaches will be deciding on, they've been watching practice and play for more than a month now. That's not the case for everyone, though. Jorrick Calvin practiced with the Birds for the first time today after arriving in a Monday trade with Arizona, the teams swapping sixth-round rookies, running back Charles Scott going to the Cardinals. Calvin is a corner and return man whom the Eagles thought highly enough of to bring in for a predraft visit last spring. Reid indicated Calvin will have a chance to return kicks and/or punts against the Jets.
Other guys on the fringe might not have arrived just this week, but perhaps have been slowed by injury -- such as running back J.J. Arrington, acquired back on July 30 from Denver. Arrington, bothered by a foot/ankle problem, and coming off microfracture surgery that kept him out of the league in 2009, hasn't gotten a lot of reps in practice or in games. This week of practice -- in which the normal starters get the fewest reps, leading up to a game they won't play in at all -- and this game are Arrington's last, best chance to make an impression.
"Show 'em my burst, blocking and stuff, show 'em that I'm picking up the playbook pretty well -- of course it's not going to be great, because I haven't been here that long, but it's coming together," Arrington said. He was a second-round pick of Arizona in 2005 who now finds himself clinging to an outside chance at making a roster.
Asked if he thought the Eagles had seen enough of what he can do so far to make a fair evaluation of him, Arrington said, "honestly, probably not.. Not right now. That's what this week is for."
Reid said Michael Vick will play the first half against the Jets and Mike Kafka will play the second half, perhaps their last extended game action for quite a while. Reid said rookie DE Ricky Sapp might need knee surgery.
He said DeSean Jackson is "a little swollen and sore" after having his wisdom teeth removed, but "his back is feeling a little bit better, though."
Reid said center Jamaal Jackson's knee "didn't swell, it's not sore, so he's feeling pretty good," after a full practice, with contact, on Monday. Jackson was on the field today for a less demanding workout. "He's sore, from his body being hit so much yesterday, but the actual knee is well, and he feels strong," Reid said.