Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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3 Things to watch Saturday

One preseason game down and 10 days until the next one against New England. What does that mean for the Eagles after last night’s 24-23 win over Pittsburgh?

3 Things to watch Saturday

If it’s Marvin McNutt vs. Chad Hall in a battle for the last receiving spot, then these next few weeks will be telling. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
If it’s Marvin McNutt vs. Chad Hall in a battle for the last receiving spot, then these next few weeks will be telling. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

One preseason game down and 10 days until the next one against New England. What does that mean for the Eagles after last night’s 24-23 win over Pittsburgh?

The competition for roster spots heats up. Here are three battles to watch starting Saturday as coach Andy Reid and his coaches practice for the first time after reviewing game tape.

Wide receiver: Third-year veteran Chad Hall vs. sixth-round pick Marvin McNutt vs. undrafted free agent Damaris Johnson. The Eagles will keep six receivers, but after DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, and injured Riley Cooper, only two of these three can stay.

Unless he gets a case of fumble-itis as a punt returner, Johnson seems set since he locked down the No. 1 punt-return spot on merit. That, however, hurts Hall’s chances since Brandon Boykin will handle the kick-return duties.

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If it’s McNutt vs. Hall strictly in a battle for the last receiving spot, then these next few weeks will be telling. Too early to call this one.

Linebacker: Akeem Jordan vs. Keenan Clayton. Does Reid keep the sixth-year veteran whose biggest value is on special teams, or the third-year former fourth-round draft pick who looked good at 2011 season’s end and may still hold promise?

That question doesn’t work in Jordan’s favor. And yet, Jordan is second team on the depth chart at strongside linebacker and Clayton is third team on the weakside.

The coaches know what they have in Jordan. What Clayton shows them in the days ahead will decide the winner.

The backfield: RB Chris Polk vs. FBs Stanley Havili or Emil Igwenagu. If the Eagles are gauging pure talent, Polk wins hands down. He’s a little behind Bryce Brown as a runner, but is adept at catching passes out of the backfield.

The questions: Do the Eagles need to keep a fullback just to have one? Or can they make Brown or Polk into some semblance of one?

What are your thoughts?

Other training camp numbers battles include one on the offensive line between left guard Julian Vandervelde, who also plays center, and center Dallas Reynolds; defensive ends Brandon Graham and Phillip Hunt; cornerbacks Brandon Hughes and new acquisition Kevin Thomas. Also, how does injured special-teams star safety Colt Anderson fit into the equation? 

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For news, stats, video, live chats and more, Red Zone is the place to find Eagles coverage you can't get anywhere else. Reach Jimmy at jkempski@philly.com.

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