BETHLEHEM -- Finally, a game. Not a real game, of course, but after more than two weeks at Lehigh, interrupted only by a Flight Night practice that really was just more of the same in a different setting, getting to evaluate players in a completely fresh context is going to be a blessing, for coaches and reporters.
Eagles coach Andy Reid reiterated today what he'd said previously -- that his starters will play a quarter in the preseason opener tomorrow night against Jacksonville at Lincoln Financial Field. This is what Reid always says before the preseason opener. If the past is any guide, the starters certainly won't play more than a quarter, and they might play considerably less, particularly the offense, if it puts a couple of extended drives together.
The spotlight will be on new starting quarterback Kevin Kolb, obviously, and on two high-profile rookies, first-round defensive end Brandon Graham and second-round free safety Nate Allen, but perhaps just as important to the team's long-term prospects will be the play of center Mike McGlynn.
McGlynn, a fourth-round pick two years ago out of Pitt, will start for the first time as an Eagle. Last season he was buried on the center depth chart behind Jamaal Jackson and Nick Cole, but right now, both those players are sidelined, and it's hard to say when they will play. Jackson, of course, had ACL surgery right after the 2009 season. He hopes to be back around the time of the regular season opener, but almost certainly will not be 100 percent by then. Cole has been sidelined about a week now with "knee swelling." The Eagles have offered no prognosis. But for a backup trying to win a starting job to miss this much training camp work, there must be a real problem.
''I'm excited for it," McGlynn said as the players exited the field house after a walkthrough on a dirzzly Lehigh late-morning. He said he hopes to "get out there and get everybody on the same page, and just do your job. "Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing ridiculous, just go out and play football ... I don't feel pressure. It's just football, going out there and playing."
Reid has indicated he feels McGlynn is certainly up to the task physically, but that making all the blocking calls for the o-line has been a challenge for a player who has seen action in only three regular-season NFL games so far in his career.
"I think the last four or five days, I've been doing really well at it," McGlynn said. "We haven't missed a beat with me being in there, and that's a good sign."
Reid spoke about the emotional level of a preseason game. If Flight Night showed anything, it was that a young team, at the Linc with uniforms on, is going to be fired up to the point of looking jittery, even if the outcome is meaningless.
"We're all creatures of habit," Reid said. "Players, they get in the stadium, and they're going to play. Their juices are going to flow. It doesn't matter if it's practice or a preseason game, regular season game, they're going to be ready to roll."
Kolb agreed. "Being flat is not going to be an issue," he said. "Guys were pumped yesterday, when we were doing the install."
Reid said RB Mike Bell (hamstring), RB J.J. Arrington (foot), DT Antonio Dixon (concussion), CB Macho Harris (hamstring) C Nick Cole (knee), OL Fenuki Tupou (ankle) and WR Hank Baskett (knee) will not play against the Jaguars, in addtion to C Jamaal Jackson (knee), DE Victor Abiamiri (knee) and LG Todd Herremans (foot), who have not yet practiced in camp, and are on the physically unable to perform list.
Reid said rookie Chad Hall will return punts and Quintin Demps will run back kicks.