August 30, 2018
Mercifully, the Philadelphia Eagles' 2018 preseason will come to end Thursday night, when the Birds take on their usual Week 4 opponent, the New York Jets. Here are five things I'll be watching.
The guess here is that Halapoulivaati Vaitai will see some early action, especially after disappointing performances against the Patriots and Browns, but he should give way quickly to Mailata, who I, for selfish reasons, would like to see play the majority of this game, just so there more of him to evaluate.
The progress Mailata has made from the start of camp through until his third preseason game has been remarkable, and the more playing time he can get in live action, the better for his development.
There are a number of players who have not been able to play this preseason, namely Donnel Pumphrey and Markus Wheaton, who will have one last chance to show the coaching staff that they are worthy of a roster spot.
Pumphrey missed the first three preseason games with a setback to the same hamstring injury that landed him on IR last season. The Eagles traded up in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft to select Pumphrey, but he disappointed both in training camp and the preseason. He was better in this year's camp, but he hasn't played, and is now a long shot to make the team. He'll need a monster performance to have even a sliver of a chance to make the final 53.
Wheaton, meanwhile, is a veteran with some upside who made sense as a low-cost signing. He too is dealing with a hamstring injury. While Pumphrey is going to play Thursday barring a setback, Wheaton's availability is less certain. Wheaton looked the part early in camp, but again, it's hard to make a compelling case to make the roster as a bubble player without showing anything in the preseason games.
This is the preseason game for the bubble boys. On Sunday, we identified 16 bubble players fighting for roughly four roster spots. Here are they are, with my ranking in order of likelihood of making the team:
Pumphrey and Wheaton aside, of particular interest to me will be Adams, Carter, Smallwood, Perkins (if he even plays), Killings, and both Sullivans.
Earlier this week, Doug Pederson noted that Adams should get a lot of work.
Last Thursday against the Browns, the Eagles put Wentz through a pretty rigorous workout on the field prior to the game. I kinda feel like that's more interesting to watch than a bunch of guys who aren't going to make the team.
And really, Wentz and his availability (or lack thereof) for Week 1 is all anybody cares about right now anyway.
I'm legitimately curious to see what ol' Hack can do.
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