Eagles-Patriots: Why we care

To quote the great Ice Cube, today is a good day.

A good day to be a Philadelphia sports fan.

At 2:20, we have afternoon baseball as the Phils try to sweep the Cubs with Cliff Lee on the mound. If you're stuck at work or class or whatever, you can join me for a live chat. I'll pretty much go pitch-by-pitch to keep you up on the action.

And as we know, this is a football blog. Tonight is the first day we get to see the Eagles in uniform against another team since their NFC championship loss to the Cardinals. Some may tell you that the game is meaningless, but it's not. Especially for guys looking to make an impression and take another step towards a dream of playing in the NFL.

Plus the Birds have several questions to answer before they take on the Panthers in their opener a month from now.

We'll continue the game chats from last year so you can join me for the Eagles-Patriots commentary at 7:30.

Here are some things we'll keep our eyes on tonight:

The running backs: This is our first chance to see LeSean McCoy in action. I think you'll like what you see. The other new addition to the backfield is fullback Leonard Weaver. As I've said before, the guy can do a lot of different things well and is a huge upgrade. Beyond that, has Lorenzo Booker improved like Marty Mornhinweg indicated? Or will he resemble the guy who couldn't get on the field in 2008?

Jeremy Maclin: How will the Eagles use him? How much of the offense has he picked up? I predict Maclin will make one play that wows you and shows why the Birds drafted him.

Wide receiver battle: Hank Baskett, Reggie Brown and Brandon Gibson. How many receivers will the Eagles keep, and which of these guys will stake a claim to be on the roster?

Winston Justice: He's the biggest question on tonight's makeshift offensive line. We'll get our first look at Jason Peters, but we saw Nick Cole and Max Jean-Gilles quite a bit last season.

Bryan Smith: With Trent Cole sidelined, Smith should see plenty of action. Has the second-year defensive end made strides since a year ago? Can he factor into the rotation even when everyone's healthy?

Joe Mays: This is his first game as starting middle linebacker, and I have a feeling Mays is going to be jacked to hit someone in another uniform. He made an impression on us last preseason and said his approach will be no different this year. How will he perform in pass coverage when he's matched up against running backs or tight ends?

The safety battle: We know Quintin Mikell has one spot, but who will win the other? Quentin Demps has a leg up, but is he a liability in coverage? The Birds brought Sean Jones in for a reason. Can he make enough of an impression to steal the starting job?

Below is our final camp video, where the Daily News' Les Bowen previewed tonight's game.


Some other things to get to.

First of all, as many of you noticed, I changed my blog and Twitter photo. I did not put on a suit because I am on some kind of ego trip, although I admit to being a little overexposed with the blog, chats, videos, etc.

I attended a wedding last weekend. There are only a couple days during the year when I am clean-shaven, wearing a suit and have recently had a haircut. Last Saturday was one of those days. The previous blog pic was from my days in Baltimore so I thought it was time for a change. Some of you have e-mailed, commented, Tweeted that it's a nice touch. Others do not like it. So let your voice be heard in SuitGate 2009. I'm open to suggestions here.

Secondly, I got a couple things wrong in the chat. I said the Eagles traded a third-round pick for Booker. They actually traded a fourth-rounder, but Booker was a third-round pick of the Dolphins. I was making the point that the Eagles would be admitting a mistake and would have given away the pick for nothing if they were to cut Booker.

And finally, tonight is the Eagles' official 'USA Football Month' game. USA Football is the NFL's youth football development partner, and the Birds will host 200 local youth players at the game. As far as I'm concerned, anything that promotes kids playing sports is a good thing so look out for the young ones tonight, and be sure to give them a nice hand.

Talk to everyone during today's chats.