CLEVELAND -- Just over two weeks away from the season opener against the Cleveland Browns, the Eagles play their third preseason game tonight - against the Cleveland Browns. As a result, this will not be the team's "dress rehearsal," and the expectation should be for exceedingly "vanilla" game plans from both teams. Still, the game provides another useful opportunity for the coaches to evaluate individual players who are fighting either for increased roles or for spots on the 53-man roster period. With that in mind, let's begin on offense with five players who matter tonight.
Quarterback Nick Foles - Well, duh. After two impressive games that have landed Foles atop the all-important preseason passer ratings, the third-round pick will get his first start tonight with the quarterbacks Mike (Vick and Kafka) sidelined by injury. Foles may only play about one quarter tonight, but this will be his first game action against a first-team defense. If he can excel against the Browns like he did against the Steelers and Patriots, the Eagles will have to seriously consider giving the rookie the keys to the No. 2 job.
Right tackle Dennis Kelly - With Todd Herremans absent attending a family funeral, Kelly, the rookie fifth-round pick our Purdue, will get the start at right tackle. Charged with protecting Foles' front side, Kelly also will face a live first-team defense for the first time, and the Chicago native will do it with some family in attendance. With the Eagles' left tackle job still up in the air between King Dunlap and Demetress Bell, offensive line depth is an area of focus. If the 6-8 Kelly can really impress, maybe he makes his case for being the top backup tackle. Of course, you'll also want to pay close attention to how Dunlap and Bell perform.
Quarterback Trent Edwards - Once Foles was drafted in April, Edwards was all but written off from making the 53-man roster. Surely, Vick and Foles were locks and the veteran wasn't given much chance to supplant Kafka, internally thought of very highly as a prospect in his own right. But with Kafka sidelined the last couple weeks, Edwards has made his case for inclusion - if not with the Eagles, then perhaps elsewhere in a sometimes quarterback-starved league. In his two games thus far, Edwards has shown that he can run the offense efficiently, an impressive feat considering the lack of experience usually surrounding him on the third- and fourth-team offense. The book on Edwards, in line to get the bulk of the action tonight, has long been that he's too willing to dump the ball off to checkdown receivers. If he can generate some plays down the field, Edwards' case will be even stronger.
Wide receiver Marvin McNutt - When the pads first went on during Training Camp, McNutt all of a sudden became one of the team's more impressive receivers, making difficult catches in the air and showing a willingness to go over the middle. But he hasn't done much in two preseason games, in fact he hasn't recorded a catch yet. In fairness, McNutt has impressed as a blocker during the games, but he won't be making the active roster on the strength of that alone. The sixth-round pick out of Iowa needs to make a move soon if he's going to force his way onto the roster, otherwise he risks being overtaken by the likes of Chad Hall, Mardy Gilyard and Jamel Hamler.
Running back Chris Polk - It's been a bit of an uphill battle for the hard-charging Polk, stuck fourth on the depth chart behind a trio of impressive young running backs in LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis and Bryce Brown. If he were on most other teams in the NFL, Polk may have already locked up a roster spot, though he's certainly already on the NFL radar. Polk, 5-11, 222, was given a fourth-round grade on the Eagles' draft board in April, but he went undrafted because of concern over a shoulder injury. He's been able to play through that in the preseason thus far, and he figures to get the ball a good amount tonight against the Browns. If he does well enough, perhaps Polk will make the Eagles search for a way to include the former Washington standout on the roster. Is four running backs really that much of a stretch?
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