The Eagles have plenty of stars and front-line talent. They've also got a roster deep with many other players who will play roles that are more complementary, and they are thus in the 'X Factor' category. A look at some of the players who may not be gaining all of the attention from the media this week, but who are being counted on by the coaching staff for key roles against Jacksonville on Sunday.
NOLAN CARROLL II, CORNERBACK/KICKOFF RETURNER
Healthy after a bumpy preseason,
The question is: How can the Eagles use him? Would they take a safety or a linebacker off the field and move Carroll around and match him up against, say, Jacksonville tight end Marcedes Lewis? Could he track a running back in the passing game? Would the Eagles use Carroll as a "cover linebacker" in certain instances?
Having Carroll affords coordinator Bill Davis a lot of flexibility. The Eagles are four-deep at cornerback with starters
BRANDON GRAHAM, OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
A year in the scheme has made a world of difference for
Graham has worked hard and deserves credit for his development. He's in a backup role, but he will rotate in and get his chances. Making the most of them will make a difference in this defense.
ALLEN BARBRE, RIGHT TACKLE
We all know the story:
The Game 1 matchup is tough: Speed rusher Chris Clemons brings an array of moves and a strong track record and he will be a handful for Barbre. Clemons is quick off the ball and very aggressive. Jacksonville could also use Red Bryant, a 320-plus pounder and he's got some quickness to go along with power.
JON DORENBOS/DONNIE JONES, SPECIAL TEAMS
The focus on special teams has been, rightly so, on placekicker
Jones, of course, is coming off one of the best seasons of his career and was simply brilliant in the preseason. Dorenbos doesn't get much attention for the job he does on the field, but the Eagles are fortunate to have someone so precise with his performance.
BEAU ALLEN, NOSE TACKLE
Can Allen make a quick transition to the regular season tempo and intensity? He's going to get his shot and is expected to anchor the middle of the defense. Jacksonville wants to slow the game and play keep-away from the Eagles' offense, so the more effective the Eagles are at stopping the run, the more quickly
Allen made huge strides in the preseason. Suddenly, he's being counted on as a key part of the interior defense.
JORDAN MATTHEWS, WIDE RECEIVER
After a very strong preseason,
Matthews is also good catching bubble screens and showed that he can block in the preseason. The Eagles wanted a bigger target in the slot than last year, and Matthews is that presence as he makes the move from preseason football to regular season games.
NATE ALLEN, SAFETY
The Eagles need him to be a strong tackler and to be in the right position to make plays. When he has a play on the ball, Allen has to get it done. That's a critical next step in his career.
Allen beat out