With most of the starters unlikely to play in tonight's preseason finale, the focus shifts to the players fighting for spots on the 53-man roster with Saturday cuts looming. So who should you keep an eye on as the Eagles wrap up the preseason against the Jets? Here's one man's list, after Chris McPherson provided his earlier.
RB Graig Cooper – Cooper hasn't had much of a chance to show his stuff on the field in the preseason, notching only two carries for seven yards in the opener against the Ravens. The former Miami Hurricane who finished his career third on the school's all-time yards-from-scrimmage list, Cooper, 5-10, 205, isn't likely to make the roster ahead of a solid stable of LeSean McCoy, Ronnie Brown and Dion Lewis – not to mention special teams holdover Eldra Buckley. But Cooper does figure to get a lot of carries tonight with a chance to play his way onto the practice squad and open the eyes of teams around the league.
DE Phillip Hunt – One of the standout performers of this preseason, Hunt has 2.0 sacks to his name thus far and has taken well to Jim Washburn's scheme. The former Canadian Football League sack champion is fighting for what would be a fourth or fifth defensive end spot and is seemingly neck-and-neck with Daniel Te'o-Nesheim. Another performance tonight would go a long way ahead of Saturday's pending roster cuts.
LB Akeem Jordan – While the Eagles are plenty familiar with what Jordan brings to the table as the lone veteran backup linebacker with experience in the scheme, he would be well served to put something fresh in the minds of the decision makers against the Jets. Jordan is no stranger to performing in fourth preseason games, as he made the team as an undrafted rookie out of James Madison on the heels of a team-leading nine tackles in the 2007 preseason finale.
DT Trevor Laws – Coming into the year, Laws was considered a roster lock, as he finally shook the injury bug in 2010 and impressed a pass rushing defensive tackle, registering 4.0 sacks. But a hip injury has kept Laws on the shelf most of the preseason, allowing players like Anthony Hargrove and Derek Landri to impress in his absence. All of a sudden, Laws, making his 2011 debut, faces a very important game.
TE Donald Lee – Lee signed with the Eagles on the first official day of free agency, seemingly filling the role of veteran third tight end who can provide insurance in the pass game and block well. But the Eagles haven't felt the need to force a third tight end on the roster in recent years, and with the defense stacked in talent, they may look to go light on offense and keep only two tight ends. If that's the case, conventional wisdom is that Brent Celek and Clay Harbor would claim those two roles. Lee has a chance to prove his worth tonight.
CB Trevard Lindley – Through no fault of his own, Lindley finds himself among an incredibly deep group of cornerbacks. Beyond the big three and veteran nickel corner Joselio Hanson, Lindley is jockeying for position among fellow young corners Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes. Marsh figures to be a roster lock, so Lindley and Hughes are the players to watch fight for their spots against the Jets. A fourth-round pick in 2010, Lindley is a physical corner who still has a bright future.
WR Sinorice Moss – It's unclear whether the Eagles will keep five or six wide receivers, but Moss is in the mix along with Chad Hall and Johnnie Lee Higgins for what would be the sixth spot. Special teams is likely to be an important factor in that decision, and Moss will have an opportunity to prove himself as a returner of both kickoffs and punts tonight. Hall is considered by most to be slightly ahead at this point, but a big night could vault Moss onto the roster.
DT Cedric Thornton – Unfortunately for Thornton, there may be no position deeper on the current Eagles roster than defensive tackle. But the undrafted rookie has impressed as a force in the middle in the preseason, as has gotten snaps with the first-team defense at times as part of Washburn's noted rotation. It would be tough for Thornton to make his way onto the Eagles because of a tough numbers game, but he is a player to watch against the Jets.
OG Danny Watkins – Ask and ye shall receive for the Eagles' first-round pick. Watkins told coaches he wanted to play in the fourth preseason game to further his development and it appears Andy Reid and co. obliged the cherubic Canadian. Watkins has flashed his talent thus far as the starting right guard, but he still has plenty of learning to do. The Jets feature some depth on defense that figures to give Watkins a good test ahead of the season opener in St. Louis.
OT Reggie Wells – Wells figures to get the start at right tackle with a chance to fight his way onto the roster as a backup capable of playing anywhere along the offensive line. The Eagles know what they have in King Dunlap, so Wells and Austin Howard figure to get the bulk of the playing time at tackle. Wells didn't make an impact as a guard last season, but the coaches were intrigued enough with his talents to give him a look at tackle. He looked solid against the Cleveland Browns and another strong performance, with more playing time, will go a long way.