Thursday, July 30, 2015

Eagles-Jets quick hits

The Eagles´ Brandon Graham. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
The Eagles' Brandon Graham. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

Kicker competition

Alex Henery has missed 2 of 3 field- goal attempts this preseason, and he enters the fourth preseason game kicking to keep his job. The Eagles will likely check out Cody Parkey on field goals after using him on kickoffs last week. Game performance is weighed more than practice performance.


Barkley time

With starters and selected backups sitting Thursday, Matt Barkley will start at quarterback for the Eagles. The 2013 fourth-round pick has looked better this summer than he did a year ago, but he still has not lived up to the all-American reputation that preceded him. Barkley had the full week to prepare for the start, and Thursday's game will be the most extensive look at him in an NFL game.

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    Running back roulette

    The Eagles are still figuring out which running backs they will keep behind LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles. Chris Polk, Matthew Tucker, Henry Josey, and Kenjon Barner are in competition for one or two spots. Polk and Tucker were on the roster last season. Josey has averaged 8.7 yards on 12 carries this preseason. Barber has been on the team only for a week, but coach Chip Kelly knows him from Oregon and values his special-teams contributions.


    Players to watch

    Brandon Graham: The 2010 first-round pick has two sacks this preseason. He's still not an ideal fit for the scheme, but he can get to the quarterback, and the Eagles need pass rushers. The Eagles have a logjam at outside linebacker, but Graham's pass-rushing skills could be too valuable to lose. It will be important to see how Graham does when he drops into coverage and plays in the open field.

    Chris Polk: The running back was not positive he would make his preseason debut, but he likely needs to play if he hopes to keep his spot. The third-year rusher is more experienced than the other three running backs he's competing against, but his hamstring injury has hurt his stock. As long as he resembles the player who scored three touchdowns last year, he could do enough to keep his locker.

    Matt Tobin: The second-year offensive lineman plays guard and tackle. With Lane Johnson suspended for the first four games, Tobin will be active on game days and fill Allen Barbre's usual role of top reserve. The Eagles are high on the 2013 undrafted free agent, who was active for one regular-season game and the playoff game last season.


    Positions to watch

    Linebacker: The Eagles kept five inside linebackers and three outside linebackers last season. They could keep as many as six outside linebackers this season with only three inside linebackers. Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith, Travis Long, Bryan Braman, and Josh Kaddu are the outside linebackers who will play Thursday. Najee Goode, Casey Matthews, and Emmanuel Acho are the inside linebackers to watch. The Eagles will keep four or five from that group.

    Wide receiver: The Eagles are trying to figure out who their sixth wide receiver will be, if they keep that many. Jeff Maehl, Arrellious Benn, and Damaris Johnson are the most experienced of the candidates. Ifeanyi Momah has taken first-team snaps this summer. Will Murphy and Quron Pratt will also try to impress.

    Defensive line: Brandon Bair's strong training camp has pushed him into serious roster consideration, and the Eagles need to determine if that comes at Damion Square's expense. Square was the backup nose tackle last season. Seventh-round pick Beau Allen could earn that role this season. Square is versatile and valuable, and could force the Eagles to keep eight defensive lineman. Vinny Curry is expected to make the team, and Bair and Taylor Hart are natural two-gap defensive ends.


    Inquirer Staff Writer
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