Essentially no Eagles starters, no real refs, and no Tim Tebow (for those who don’t get enough of him on ESPN.). So what was the Eagles’ fourth preseason game against the New York Jets good for, except reminding people that Ray Rhodes once went 4-0 in the preseason?
Well, for 13 players teetering on the cut line of the team’s roster, the game meant everything, and, in some cases, could have been the last one of their careers.
The Eagles have to submit a 53-man roster by Friday at 9 p.m. Some of the players cut will end up on the practice squad, but the Eagles will be taking a risk if they get rid of players such as running back Chris Polk and hope to re-sign them.
Using as a guideline pre-game predicted cuts by Les Bowen and Jeff McLane, among others, here are 13 Eagles who needed to have a big final preseason game and how they fared. This isn’t what will happen, but perhaps what should.
Worth keeping on the 53-man roster: QB Trent Edwards, RB Chris Polk.
Edwards, much like new No. 2 quarterback Nick Foles, did it again. He went 22-for-32 for 197 yards and two touchdowns. He had no preseason interceptions and showed he deserves a spot over the other relatively weak-armed backup, Mike Kafka. If Reid really wants the best players, then he has to choose Edwards over Kafka.
“I thought Trent Edwards played well,” Reid said. “He had a lot of drives and a lot of touchdowns and you have to give him credit for that.”
All Polk did was flatten a defensive tackle who tried to tackle him. And pick up a first down on a shifty, instinctive move. And score a touchdown on a nice second-effort spin. After having a standout Lehigh training camp and preseason. If the Eagles cut Polk, they’ll be in a bidding war to get him onto the practice squad.
Worth keeping on the practice squad: WR Chad Hall, TE Brett Brackett, WR Marvin McNutt.
Hall, who still has practice-squad eligibility, showed exactly what he always has, with two slot-receiver catches in a row in the second quarter. That’s his strength. He also showed what he’s not: when split wide, he couldn’t get separation on a late-game end-zone throw. Getting separation on cornerbacks is his weakness, so why try?
Brackett is worth having for another round on the team’s practice squad. The former Penn State wide receiver caught a nice first-down pass and also scored his second touchdown in two weeks. He's seems to be learning the position well, so he's a keeper.
McNutt is a sure cut. The 6-foot-2, sixth-round pick did nothing to make the 53-man roster. But if the team is worried about its small receiving corps, then McNutt may be kept simply because he’s tall.
Cuts: WR Mardy Gilyard, S O.J. Atogwe, OG/C Dallas Reynolds, LB Keenan Clayton,
Others like Gilyard, but I don’t see it. He doesn’t catch the tough passes, such as the first-quarter bomb from Foles. Granted, he has more speed than most—he was two steps ahead of the defender on the underthrown pass—but when the defender closed, Gilyard dropped it. Same thing with a pass later in the game. And clearly Reid wasn’t happy with his little end-zone dance after his touchdown that cost the Eagles penalty yards that led to the Jets’ late first-half field goal.
Atogwe has been too injured and is too old. After missing preseason time with hamstring and groin injuries, he hurt his hamstring again. This after Reid said before the game, “I don’t want any setbacks with him. I want him to get out and have an opportunity to show.”
Clayton would appear to be a victim of the numbers. I can’t see the Eagles keeping seven linebackers on a weak unit when they have strength elsewhere at wide receiver, defensive line, and running back. If Reid wants to keep the best players, would he keep Clayton over Polk?
Reynolds gets squashed by the numbers crunch. He’s a potential practice squadder.
Up in the air: S Jaiquawn Jarrett, S Phillip Thomas, CB Brandon Hughes, OG Brandon Washington
None of the three who played in the game made a dramatic impact (Washington is out with a concussion). Thomas has a nose for the ball, and Hughes may get the edge because of his special teams play in the past. Jarrett is a 2011 second-rounder and Reid may not want to cut him yet. However, it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement when your coach praises you by saying, “He showed up tonight."