FOXBORO, Mass. -- Ifeanyi Momah looked like a completely different receiver this week and everyone noticed. Now he's set to see a lot of time tonight against New England. Can he really make this team?
It's a question many observers asked during the three days of joint practices against New England. There was Momah down the field, separating and catching passes. There he was in the back of the end zone, going up and using his 6-foot-7 frame to haul in touchdowns. There he was catching and running across the middle.
All of a sudden, Momah is in the conversation to make the 53-man roster. With a banged-up receiving corps likely to be without Riley Cooper (foot) and Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) for the second preseason game of the summer, Momah may see reps with the starters and have a chance to build on his two-catch performance in limited time last week in Chicago.
"I'm excited to play every day," said Momah. "I'm doing everything I can to take advantage of this opportunity. It isn't often you get a second chance."
Momah's story is one you probably know: He tore up his knee as a Boston College senior, in the opening game of that season, and missed the next two years of football. The Eagles signed him after attending his 2013 Pro Day, and Momah played with the team in the preseason last summer.
He was raw, gangly, unsure of himself. And after the Eagles released Momah last August, he looked back on his experience and realized he didn't give enough of himself to take advantage of the moment.
"There were things I could have done to help myself become a better player," he said. "Thankfully, I've gotten a second chance and I'm making the most of it."
The Eagles signed Momah again in early January and here he is, a totally different player. He's more fluid, more confident, stronger. He's using his body to box out defenders and make catches. He looks like he can play in the NFL, whereas last summer he was overmatched.
"I hadn't played football in two years, so I had a lot of time to make up for," said Momah. "I've worked really hard and I'm glad to get every rep I can get and we'll see what happens."
Pencil in -- at least from this sole perspective -- five roster spots at wide receiver for Maclin, Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff and Brad Smith. Who is the sixth receiver here? Is it Momah? Arrelious Benn? Jeff Maehl? Damaris Johnson?
"I'm not looking at that," said Momah. "I'm just having fun going out there and improving every day."
THINGS TO WATCH TONIGHT
- The starting offensive line did not play well in Chicago so tonight is a chance to take a needed step forward. Keep an eye on the battle between Jason Kelce and Vince Wilfork, who has been a dominating interior defensive lineman in his career. Evan Mathis had two holding calls last week. Allen Barbre continues as the starter at right tackle. It's a big game, as far as big games are factored in the preseason.
- A strong performance from Nate Allen could solidify his starting job at safety. Allen took most of the first-team reps in the joint practices alongside Malcolm Jenkins and has had a good preseason. Earl Wolff and Chris Maragos and Keelan Johnson are working in with some reps as well.
- Brendan Bair is a name you need to know. He's been talked up by the coaching staff for his performance as a defensive lineman and he's got a real shot to make this 53-man roster if he continues his strong play. Bair will be 30 years old in November and he's got a great story: Former player at Oregon who is an astute businessman who has played briefly in Oakland and Kansas City and has served a two-year Mormon Mission. He's been impressive.
- How will the offense function if neither Maclin nor Cooper play? Really interested to see quarterback Nick Foles rebound from the two-interception performance in Chicago. Foles has looked really good against New England in practice. He's now got to take that into the game tonight.