By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
Ladies and gentlemen, the regular season is almost here. A week from now, we’ll be discussing the Eagles week one contest against the Redskins. Unfortunately, there is still one more week of preseason to get through.
The birds will travel two hours north to East Rutherford to take on the New York Jets on Thursday night. The final week of the preseason is typically the game that decides the fate of the guys at the bottom of the depth chart and who will make the final 53-man roster.
All 32 NFL teams must have their final rosters set by Saturday at 4 p.m. So, let’s take a look at some roster competitions that should yield a winner after Thursday night.
Who Will Get the Final Defensive End Spots?
Last season, the Eagles kept five defensive ends on their final roster, and I expect them to do the same this season. There are only three of those five spots that I think are secured: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Vinny Curry. I expect there to be three guys competing for the final two spots.
If preseason performances mean anything, then Daeshon Hall should be feeling pretty good about his chances. There could be a serious debate made that Hall has had the best preseason performance of any Eagle defensive player. Hall leads the team in sacks (three) as well as forced fumbles (two) this preseason.
If Hall doesn’t make this team, then he must have had a dramatically different performance on the practice field. The only way Hall doesn’t make this team is if he has a disastrous final preseason game.
Where we’ve seen Miller make the most strides has been rushing the passer. Miller was not known as much for his pass rush coming out of Penn State. Yet, he is second only to Hall in sacks for the Eagles this preseason, with two. If he has a decent game Thursday, he should lock up a roster spot.
As for 2018 fourth-round pick Josh Sweat, he has done next to nothing this preseason. After contributing two tackles in week one, Sweat has yet to appear on the stat sheet in weeks two or three. While Sweat did appear on the Eagles unofficial injury report after week two, he still played the following week, leading me to believe the injury was insignificant.
Sweat was reportedly having a good start to training camp, but unfortunately for him, he has not translated that to the game field. He is going to have to play very well Thursday night and hope one of either Miller or Hall doesn’t if he wants to make the final roster.
Who Makes the Cut at Wide Receiver?
In 2018, the Eagles held onto six receivers on their final roster. I think that five of those six spots are locked up: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Mack Hollins.
Arcega-Whiteside had a heck of a performance last week, topping 100 yards with a touchdown, so he’s shown more than enough. I believe that Hollins provides too much value on special teams for the Eagles to cut him.
The final spot should come down to Greg Ward, Marken Michel and Carlton Agudosi. Agudosi has dropped a few passes and has at times looked lost on offense. While he does have good size at 6’6”, the Eagles have not seen nearly enough from him to keep him on the roster.
Michel had a 75-yard touchdown in week one against Titans starting cornerback Adoree Jackson. While that was quite impressive, considering he outran a player known for his speed, we haven’t seen much of Michel since then. Following that touchdown, he has recorded just one catch for 12 yards.
Heading into the final preseason game, I think the final spot is Greg Ward’s to lose. Ward is second on the team in receptions (6) and yards (87) this preseason. With the explosiveness that we’ve seen from Ward, especially on his touchdown in week two against Jacksonville, along with what he could add on special teams, he is the front-runner. While he is currently in the lead, this race is close enough that a strong performance this week from any of these three guys could catapult them onto the roster.
Time: 7:00 p.m.
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