Philadelphia Eagles: Spotlight on Starting Jobs to be Won

By Bob Francis
Earl Wolff
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest decision in the balance has already been made by Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles when earlier this week they named Michael Vick the starting quarterback. However, many other positions have battles going on which will most likely be determined by play in the third preseason game, on Saturday, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The safety spot has been a question in Philadelphia since the departure of future hall of famer Brian Dawkins. Patrick Chung, a free agent signing who previously spent time with the New England Patriots, has solidified himself as one starter, leaving only one spot open. Nate Allen has been given one chance after another by the Eagles over the past four years since he was drafted, and still leaves many questions each time he takes the field about if he can actually take the reigns of a role that he seems to have been slotted for each year. Rookie Earl Wolff seems like the best option at this point to match up with Chung, covering ground both in the pass and run games. His ability to tackle, something that has been a question mark for Allen and something which the Eagles are in desperate need, is one of the strong points of his game. Look for the rookie to outplay the other options and take the starting role at the other safety position.

The other position which seems to be in flux is defensive line. Although the players who have shown promise there are all going to stick around and be part of the rotation, the starting role will mean more reps and more opportunity to continue to shine. Fletcher Cox will return as a mainstay on a line which he will be thrust into the leadership role. The other two spots will be shared by veteran nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, second-year men Vinny Curry and Cedric Thornton and impressive rookies Damian Square and Bennie Logan. That leaves just two starting spots to be shared between at least five players. The stakes are high headed into the most meaningful of the preseason games, but with the depth at defensive line, regardless of who wins the starting jobs, the Eagles will be stronger than last year.

Saturday’s game will be an interesting one in that not only will the first half provide the drama of players earning the remaining starting spots, but the second half will feature many players who are playing to continue to stay with the team. With NFL rosters being cut down next week, players on the bubble will feel the pressure as the night progresses and they try to find the opportunity one last time to standout for Kelly and his staff, in order to make the final cut.

Bob Francis is a Philadelphia Eagles contributor for  Follow him on Twitter @rfrancisjr, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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