Earlier, Chris McPherson previewed the 10 players he'll be keeping a close eye on throughout tonight's nationally televised contest between the Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here's another man's opinion …
1. RT King Dunlap – With the constant rotation at right tackle since training camp opened, it's easy to forget that Dunlap is actually the one who finished last season for the Eagles at right tackle, after he replaced Winston Justice midway through the season-ending loss to the Green Bay Packers. With Justice still working his way back from a knee injury and last week's starter Ryan Harris on the mend from back spasms, Dunlap has a chance to stake a claim to the job of protecting 's blindside. He'll have his hands full with a vaunted Steelers pass rush, but that also means a good night's work would be all the more impressive.
2. WR DeSean Jackson – Jackson will hit the field for the first time of this 2011 season in Heinz Field. It took Jackson all of 10 seconds into his first training camp practice to showcase his unmatched speed and he'll have a chance to exhibit it against an opponent for the first time. With Jeremy Maclin on the way back, Jason Avant established as a premier slot receiver and Pro Bowler Steve Smith rounding into health, the Eagles have a chance to employ the best stable of receivers in the league.
3. C Jamaal Jackson – All the focus of the battle for the starting center job has, well, centered on Jason Kelce, the sixth-round rookie from Cincinnati. While Kelce will likely have a chance to work with the ones tonight, Jackson gets the start and remains a slight favorite for the position. Like last week's opener against the Ravens, Jackson will be going one-on-one with a 3-4 nose tackle – good preparation for a 2011 schedule that features 10 games against 3-4 defenses.
4. DT Derek Landri – Landri showed up big time in the first preseason game, basically living in the Ravens backfield and making a very strong case to be included on the 53-man roster. If everyone's healthy, the Eagles have six quality defensive tackle in Landri, Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson, Antonio Dixon, Anthony Hargrove and Trevor Laws – but it's unlikely that the team can keep all six on the active roster. The good news for Landri is that he's going back to Heinz Field, where he's had plenty of success in his career. He notched a sack in December of 2010 in Pittsburgh, while perhaps the best game of his career came at Heinz Field in the 2007 playoffs for the Jacksonville Jaguars, when he scored a sack and an interception.
5. OL Evan Mathis – While Dunlap will work with the first-team offense, expect Mathis to get a crack at right tackle in the second half. Mathis is a proven offensive lineman whose athleticism makes him a good fit for Howard Mudd's scheme. While he's played mostly guard in the past, his versatility to play on the outside makes him a possibility to emerge from the murky right tackle waters.
6. MLB Casey Matthews – Matthews will once again be under the microscope as he continues to remain the starting middle linebacker. The fourth-round rookie said he was a bit disappointed he didn't get to play more than a few snaps last week, so he'll be ramped up to play a full half tonight. Keep an eye on Matthews' ability to shed blockers against the run and his skill in coverage.
7. RB LeSean McCoy – One of the most promising young running backs in the league and a key to the team's season, McCoy doesn't necessarily need the wear and tear of too many preseason carries. But tonight is special for the third-year running back as he returns to Pittsburgh, where starred for the University of Pittsburgh for two seasons. There's no doubt Shady would like to do something a little special in front of friends and family.
8. S Jarrad Page – Page appears to be locked in a competition with Colt Anderson for the fourth safety spot. The 26-year-old veteran impressed last week with a sterling interception in the end zone and will have an opportunity again tonight. But keep an eye on Page on special teams as well. If he can provide a reasonable facsimile of Anderson's standout abilities on special teams, it could give Page a slight edge.
9. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – Expect Rodgers-Cromartie to get plenty of work with the first-team defense as he could slide inside on the nickel and work on the outside. Rodgers-Cromartie has the best pure speed of the three Pro Bowl corners, which could mean he gets matched up on Mike Wallace, the Steelers' speed threat on the outside.
10. DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim – The 2010 third-round pick has stepped up his game over the last week or so of training camp as he appears to be taking well to Jim Washburn's coaching. Te'o-Nesheim has also looked to have a bit more spring in his rush from the right side than the left side, and he's also an option to rush from the inside on passing downs. With a frustrating rookie season behind him, Te'o-Nesheim has a chance to continue an upward trend into his second season.