By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Normally, it’s the third pre-season game that is considered the most important. This year, since the Eagles did not play in week two of the pre-season, and week one was something of a disaster, it seems like tonight’s game against the Patriots is the most important.
So it’s game two, week three, that feels like game three, week three. Make sense? Good.
In any case, the starters will play into the second half according to Big Red, and here’s what you should be watching for:
Demetress Bell & King Dunlap: If you’ll remember, everyone, including Howard Mudd, was telling us that Bell would be just fine replacing Jason Peters at left tackle. Then after one week of pre-season football, he had been replaced by King Dunlap. That’s not what you’d call a great sign. In any case, as Sheil Kapadia of Birds 24/7 told me, the Eagles want Bell to win the job, and he’ll have every opportunity to do so. Tonight would be a good start.
DeMeco Ryans: It’s just the pre-season, but Ryans didn’t look great in that Steelers game. Normally it wouldn’t be much of a concern, but with some questions about Ryans post-Achilles surgery, it’d be great to see him show a little more and prove that is decreased playing time and production in Houston was in fact due to the scheme.
Nate Allen: Allen didn’t play in the Steelers game, and Jaiquan Jarrett took his place. Jarrett did nothing to impress, well, actually he was horrible. Jarrett found himself practicing with the second and third teams in camp in the following days. If Allen doesn’t look good, the 2012 Eagles safety situation could be this year’s version of the 2011 Eagles middle linebackers.
The Quarterbacks, All Of Them: Here’s what I’d like to see out of Mike Vick tonight; one or two solid scoring drives, and no ice, gauze, trainers or worse. I get the feeling that it’s going to be this way the entire season. As for the other guys, you normally don’t lose your job because of injury in the NFL, but Mike Kafka’s spot as the second QB for the Eagles seems like it’s up for grabs and Nick Foles took a step in grabbing it against the Steelers.
The Replacement Refs: There haven’t been rave reviews of the replacement referees who have been playing during the NFL officials work-stoppage. But let’s be honest with ourselves, did we ever have rave reviews of the regular refs? That said, every mistake they make will be a focus, especially if there are injuries that people feel could have been prevented. As has been stated, in a league where protecting the players seems more important than ever, replacement refs seem like a bad way to accomplish that task.
What are you looking for in tonight’s game?