The Philadelphia Eagles will face off against the New York Jets tonight at the Linc to end their 2014 preseason. While the game will have little bearing on the regular season, it will make an impact on dozens of lives. Players on both sides of the ball must fight with everything they have to gain a spot on the 53-man roster. Can they be good enough, strong enough, and fast enough? Their life’s work depends on it.
Between the end of tonight’s game and Saturday at 4 pm, the Eagles must trim their roster from 75 to 53 players. While some of these men may get a chance with other teams, this is as far as the NFL road goes for many. It will be a bittersweet night that will see Labor Day weekend begin with layoffs for 22 men in Philadelphia.
Chip Kelly doesn’t like this part of the game, but it’s his reality as an NFL coach.
As we told these guys from Day 1, Goal 1 for us is that you make this football team,” said the coach. “But then Goal 2 for us is that you make another football team with the exposure you get here. Hopefully, we prepared you for that. Hopefully, those guys get a chance to catch on . . . That’s what it’s about.
There are plenty of Eagles players who are on the cusp and whose performance in this game will decide their futures in Philadelphia. Here 5 such players:
LB Emmanuel Acho: He’s been in this very spot before. Acho didn’t make the 53-man roster last preseason, but was brought in late October after injuries on the team and played in six games. Has he shown the Eagles enough to make the cut this year?
WR Ifeanyi Momah: Another player brought to Philadelphia in the 2013 preseason only to be cut. Momah used the time last season to keep working and training. The diligence earned him a return invitation to the Birds for the 2014 offseason. The 6’7 wideout’s size continues to make him an interesting option who may find an opportunity on special teams.
S Ed Reynolds: This year’s fifth-round draft pick has averaged only 15 snaps in the first three preseason games. That’s not much to go on. Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen have their starting spots reserved. Earl Wolff and Chris Maragos will be back. Where does this leave Reynolds? He’s going to have to show the Eagles coaches tonight a glimmer of something that indicates he’s a keeper.
CB Curtis Marsh: Marsh is another player familiar with the Eagles. Drafted by the Birds in 2011, he was released last year and signed by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013. Back in green in 2014, he’s seen stud performances in practice overshadowed by disastrous in-game outings. Will he show something versus the Jets to show Philadelphia he’s worth another shot?
WR Damaris Johnson – His speed and agility caught everyone’s attention when he joined the Eagles in 2012, but tonight may be a wrap for Johnson on the Birds’ 53-man roster. If cut, don’t be surprised to see him return to Philadelphia’s practice squad.