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August 27, 2021

Five things to watch in the Eagles' third preseason game vs. the Jets

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Eagles_Cowboys_K'Von_Wallace_Week8_Kate_Frese_11022064.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Eagles safety K'Von Wallace.

In their third and final preseason game Friday night, the Philadelphia Eagles will head to MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Jets. Here are five things I'll be watching.

1) Will the starters even play?

The Eagles had an intense, physical practice on Wednesday, with a lot of red zone, goal line, and hurry-up scenarios, and they mostly looked crisp, which leads me to believe that they will be taking it easy in the game Friday night. As we noted in our training camp wrap-up post, the 2020 Eagles were without the following players Week 1 against Washington:

  1. RT Lane Johnson
  2. RG Brandon Brooks
  3. RB Miles Sanders
  4. DE Derek Barnett
  5. DT Javon Hargrave
  6. LT Andre Dillard
  7. WR Alshon Jeffery
  8. S Will Parks
  9. WR Quez Watkins

Priority No. 1 for this team throughout camp has been to be healthy for the games that actually matter, and the only players to have suffered any sort of serious injuries so far have been TE Tyree Jackson, LB Davion Taylor, and TE Jason Croom. The only starter who is currently in question for Week 1 is Rodney McLeod, and the Eagles want to keep it that way.

Priority No. 2 has been to not put anything on tape for the other 31 teams around the league to evaluate, as the Eagles want to preserve any mystery about the type of schemes they intend on running offensively and defensively. As such, you can bet that the game plan will be extremely vanilla, as it was during the first two preseason games.

UPDATE: It doesn't look like the starters — at least the majority of them — will suit up against the Jets.

2) Andre Dillard vs. Le'Raven Clark

Entering training camp, Dillard was competing with Jordan Mailata for the starting LT job. Now he's competing for the backup LT job with Clark, a player the Eagles signed in mid-May who just came off the PUP list 13 days ago.

In limited action, Clark has looked good in practice, and if he shows that he can perhaps be a versatile reserve (he has NFL experience at LT, RT, and RG), it would make it an even easier decision for the front office to trade Dillard.

MORE: WTS: Positive Eagles vibes only heading into preseason finale | Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles' 2021 training camp | How many games will the Eagles win this year? Like that even matters...

3) Can someone emerge at safety?

One of the battles heading into training camp was at safety, where K'Von Wallace, Marcus Epps, Andrew Adams, Elijah Riley, and Grayland Arnold were all vying for the opportunity to win the third safety role, AKA a starting role until McLeod returns to the lineup. 

None of them have made a strong case that they should be that guy. Friday night will be one last opportunity for each of them to do so.

4) Who are the Eagles hiding?

There are a number of players that have shown something during training camp and the Eagles would no doubt like to keep on their practice squad, but would be challenging to fit on their initial 53 man roster. 

The Eagles would prefer that these players not crush it in the final preseason game, and garner the attention of other teams around the league at waivers. Two such players, in my opinion, are OG Kayode Awosika and RB Jason Huntley.

Awosika is an undrafted rookie free agent who has had a strong camp, mostly playing RG, but who the team has played at RT during games, which is... interesting. He has only played 19 snaps through the first two preseason games, and I'll be curious to see if the team gives him a similarly low number of snaps against the Jets.

Huntley was a limited practice participant in joint practices this week, so it wouldn't be surprising if the Eagles just didn't play him at all.

5) The late Day 3 rookies, and remaining UDFAs

The Eagles selected four players in the last two rounds of the draft, in DT Marlon Tuipulotu, DE Tarron Jackson, LB JaCoby Stevens, and LB Patrick Johnson.

They also only have three remaining undrafted free agents that they signed immediately after the draft, in TE Jack Stoll, DE Jaquan Bailey, and Awosika.

Of that group, I like Johnson's chances of making the initial 53-man roster the best, followed by Stoll and Stevens. This will be these players' chances to make a strong final impression.

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