The all-important third preseason game has arrived.
Normally, the third of four preseason games is the closest thing teams get to a dress rehearsal during the preseason. Starters normally play into the third quarter, so we'll see plenty of Carson Wentz and the starters on Thursday night against the Dolphins (7 p.m./NBC10).
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We know you're going to watch Wentz, so here are 10 other Eagles to watch at the Linc.
Smallwood finally returned to practice recently after getting over a hamstring injury. And since getting back on the practice field, he has looked dynamic. There are plenty of fears about the Eagles' running attack and Smallwood might end up playing a bigger role than many expect. While LeGarrette Blount will probably get a chance to be the team's primary runner, Smallwood might be the Eagles' best running back between the 20s. Heck, he might be their best overall back. He just needs to stay healthy.
This week, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Barnett has put himself in contention to become a starter and it's no surprise. Three sacks in the first two preseason games will do that. But it's more than the sacks; Barnett has been all-around good so far. And with Brandon Graham likely to miss this one, Barnett will get extended reps even if he doesn't start. He can earn himself that starting gig or at least more playing time with another strong performance.
Doug Pederson pretty much squashed the talk about possibly cutting Blount when he said the veteran will have a big role in the offense this season. But that won't do anything to alleviate fears of plenty of fans who have watched Blount look worn and slow this preseason. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. There's a chance we won't know until the regular season starts, but with the first unit's extended time on Thursday, we'll see plenty of Blount.
Jordan Hicks has a quad injury, so we probably won't see him against the Dolphins. Based on training camp practices, Najee Goode is the next guy up at the MIKE position. But after seeing Goode for several years, it's safe to say we all know what he is. Walker is more interesting. He was set to be the team's backup middle linebacker as a rookie before tearing his ACL in the preseason. He'll get plenty of chances on Thursday night. Villanova product Don Cherry has been pushing him for a roster spot.
It'll be interesting to see how the cornerbacks look against the Dolphins. Ron Brooks is finally healthy again, but it was still Robinson who took reps with the first-team defense in the nickel package. Robinson might be able to salvage a spot on the 53-man roster if he performs well in the slot. He has played it before and has looked decent there since the Ronald Darby trade.
Treggs had a great first preseason game, despite a $25,000 fine, with seven catches for 91 yards. He was once kind of the forgotten man in the receiving corps, but now appears to have a decent chance at making the roster. Nothing is solidified yet, though, and he'll need to have a good showing in the next two preseason games.
Maybe it's nothing to worry about, but Smith doesn't have a catch in the first two preseason games. Smith certainly doesn't seem worried about it, but what if he doesn't get one in two-plus quarters on Thursday night? Then maybe things change a little. Let's keep an eye on him against the Dolphins.
So far, on merit alone, Steven Means appears to be ahead of McCalister for the fifth defensive end spot. It seems likely only one will make the roster and Means has also shown the ability to play defensive tackle. But McCalister is younger, a draft pick last year, and might have more upside. He needs to show that to have a chance to beat out Means for a roster spot.
Brooks once looked to be a roster lock, but then the Eagles went out and signed Corey Graham, who is pretty clearly making the team. Now, it'll depend on how many safeties the team will keep. The two starters - Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod - Graham and special teams ace Chris Maragos are pretty safe bets. If the team keeps five, Brooks is likely the guy.
Sure, this is cheating a little bit, but why single out one offensive lineman? Together, the unit is supposed to be one of the strongest groups in the NFL ... it's just that we haven't seen that yet. Going against the Miami D-line will be as good a test as any.