3 things to watch: Eagles versus Browns edition


The Philadelphia Eagles face off against the Cleveland Browns tonight in their third contest this preseason. While the third game is typically the most important for teams, with starters seeing their most playing time until the start of the regular season, that will not be the case for the Birds tonight.

As the Browns will be Philadelphia’s  Week 1 opponent, plans to keep their cards close to their chests. Starters will play a quarter at most and the rest of the game will be an opportunity for the rest of the team to fight for their chance to make the team.

I know, it doesn’t sound terribly exciting. So why should you watch?

1. Another challenge for Foles. With Mike Vick sitting out this game and likely the remainder of the preseason and with Mike Kafka still out with a broken hand,  all eyes are on  rookie Nick Foles. Friday will mark his biggest challenge to date, for the first time going against a starting NFL defense. Andy Reid plans to play Foles for a half and Trent Edwards will take the remaining time. With the lack of time Kafka has seen this preseason a very real fight for the #2 spot is underway.

2. King Dunlap and Demetress Bell. Dunlap is still the starter but Reid has stressed that a very close competition is underway for who will ultimately win the top spot at left tackle. Bell did nothing to improve his status with the 2s after Monday’s game against the Patriots. If he came to Philadelphia to win a starting job he needs to decisively show why he deserves the role tonight.

3. The safeties. Jaiquawn Jarrett was the name on everyone’s lips after the Eagles opener against the Steelers for all of the wrong reasons. He should see a lot of playing time tonight and the 2nd-roudn 2011 draft pick needs to show that he has improved and deserves a roster spot. Let’s also see how veteran O.J. Atogwe, signed just before training camp, is coming long in terms grasping Philadelphia’s defense.

What will also be good: Seeing more of  how Bryce Brown and Chris Polk perform for the final RB spot as well as the significant challenge rookie Brandon Boykin has mounted against Joselio Hanson for nickel corner.

Note: 5th-round draft pick Dennis Kelly will start at right tackle in place of Todd Herremans tonight. Herremans will not be at the game to a death in the family.

Rest in peace: As we prepare to watch a chapter that will help to create the script for the 2012 season for the Philadelphia Eagles, please take a moment to remember a man whose named is frequently mentioned in the annals of Eagles history, Steve Van Buren, who passed away at 91-years of age after battling pneumonia.Below is the image being used on the official Eagles website to commemorate the late great and his contributions to the franchise.

Van Buren was a key factor in leading the Birds to straight division titles and back-to-back NFL championships in 1948 and 1949.  He currently ranks 3rd on the Eagles all-time list with 5,860 yards and was the NFL’s leading rusher four times (1945, 1947-49), a feat that has never again been accomplished by an Eagle.

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