What to Watch for as the Birds Open the Preseason

Preseason football can be a brutal thing to watch but fans who do tune in for the Eagles preseason opener against the Patriots Thursday night should be on the lookout for these five things.

1. Tom Brady’s knee

It’s tough to start a Birds fans to watch list with something about the opponent. But when the opponent is the poster boy of the NFL, hasn’t played in about 11 months and is coming back from major knee surgery than the interest level should be high.

Let’s see what Brady does and how hard the eager Birds defense will be to knock Brady on his back.

2. The Birds in the middle

With Stewart Bradley on the shelf the battle to start at middle linebacker has heated up between Joe Mays and Omar Gaither.

Mays has the inside track to start and should see reps with the first team. But the battle definitely remains open and Gaither could see some early action if Eagles Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott runs early defensive switches.

Gaither could make his presence felt especially in pass coverage where he may have a leg up on Mays.

3. Jeremy Maclin’s presence

The Eagles No.1 draft pick was a late arrival at Lehigh so it will be interesting to see how much time the Birds’ newest wideout will get on the field.

He won't be starting, but it sure would be exciting if Maclin makes a big play at some point during the game. Give those fans sitting through a meaningless football game at the Linc something to cheer about.

4. McNabb’s back under center

Another year and another preseason opener for Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. It will be interesting to see how he does and the accuracy on his shorter throws.

Also, with a makeshift offensive line protecting McNabb keep an eye out to see how mobile the once run-happy McNabb is out on the field.

5. Will DiMichele get his moment in the spotlight?

Fans who can actually bear watching this game to the end may get a special local treat at the end. Former Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele could make his pro debut late in the game.

DiMichele is listed as the third-string QB for the game but might not get into the game because he only had one day of practice to prepare after the Eagles needed an emergency QB to take snaps after backup Kevin Kolb went down to injury.

This stop on the Eagles roster likely won’t last long for DiMichele even if he gets into the game late and makes a few plays. He likely won’t make the Birds opening day roster because A.J. Feeley and Kolb are cemented as the backups. But the moment to take the field as an NFL player should be a special one for the young QB.

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