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The Battle For Starting Positions

We know the Eagles ramp up the battle for roster spots with tonight's preseason opener, but what starting jobs are up for grabs? Are there any, realistically? Let's take a look ...

  • Free safety has to be one of those positions. While Quintin Demps is running with the starters, he has nothing guaranteed. Demps needs to run to the ball tonight and make plays against Tom Brady and that wide-open passing game. Would anyone be surprised to see Brady go deep for Randy Moss on the first play of the game? Demps needs to make sure he is there to help over the top. Rashad Baker is the No. 2 free safety on the depth chart and Sean Jones is the No. 2 strong safety on the depth chart, and both of those players are eager to make a move.
  • Middle linebacker continues to be a focal point here given the loss of Stewart Bradley. Joe Mays has the responsibiilty in the base defense, and he is also on the second-team nickel defense. The combination of Mays, Omar Gaither and Matt Wilhelm appears, on paper, to be enough to get the job done, but the Eagles don't really know about Mays in this situation and they have never had Wilhelm in game action. Mays wears the speaker helmet to get the sideline call from the defensive coaches, so he has a lot of responsibility right away. He has to make plays, lead the huddle and be the eyes and ears of the front seven.
  • Right tackle is open only because Shawn Andrews hasn't practiced. Winston Justice is the guy at right tackle. After a strong camp, Justice now looks to continue his improvement against a tough 3-4 alignment that likes to blitz. It is a great test for Justice to see just where he is in his game. The Eagles say Andrews is making progress recovering from his back injury and they are hopeful he will soon be ready to practice. Until then, Justice is the right tackle. After three unproductive seasons, is Justice ready to blossom?

-- Posted by Dave Spadaro, 7:09 a.m., August 13

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