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Which Non-Headliner Emerges As Hero?

Most of the established storylines for Sunday's game vs. New York revolve around the Donovan McNabbs and Brian Westbrooks and DeSean Jacksons and the other headline names on this Eagles roster. You could even make a case that players like right tackle Winston Justice, not exactly a prime-time name, is one of the central figures in this huge NFC East contest at Lincoln Financial Field.

Who among the lesser lights -- not the lesser players, mind you, but the lesser lights -- will emerge as a difference maker on Sunday? Maybe it is a play we're talking about, or a series, or maybe a player is thrust into a larger-than-expected role and he responds with a dominating game.

Here is a list of players to consider filling that role for the Eagles ...

**SEAN JONES, safety


He seems to be coming around in this scheme after signing a one-year deal with the Eagles in the off-season. Jones had a very good game against Washington, recovering a fumble on special teams and buzzing around the ball on defense in place of the injured Macho Harris. Jones earned some trust from the coaching staff, which recognizes the talents he brings to the table. Jones is best suited to play in the box, or near the line of scrimmage. He seems to have a great feel for where the football is and where he can get his hands on the ball. Jones is big enough to support the run, which will come in handy against New York's very physical ground game.

Harris is probably going to play, but Jones could very well see some action as the Eagles look to move him around the defense and try to use his size to their advantage.

**JASON AVANT, wide receiver


Where has he been in the offense the last few weeks? Avant has been the invisible man and perhaps not coincidentally, the Eagles have been terrible at keeping drives alive. The Eagles have to find a way to get Avant back into the offense. He is so good at controlling the middle of the field and catching the ball with his strong hands in traffic.

New York's secondary has been stretched thin by injury all year, so it is logical to think that the Eagles will, at times, spread the field and look for good matchups. Avant really needs to be in the mix in some way.

**CHRIS GOCONG, SAM linebacker


As you may have heard, covering the tight end has been a challenge at times for the defense this season. While Kevin Boss doesn't have the glittering numbers of Monday's opponent, Chris Cooley, or the well-deserved reputation of next week's tight end, Jason Witten, he is a crafty player very much in the mold of Brent Celek. Boss is especially good in the red zone, and there will be times when Gocong is lined up over Boss and will have the chore of jamming him and keeping him out of his routes.

Gocong also has to get after it against the run. He played great, physical football in the two Eagles wins last year over New York, and a repeat performance is vital here. Gocong has to be fast, physical and a sure tackler.

**JUQUA PARKER, defensive end


Working against right tackle Kareem McKenzie, Parker has to set a strong edge and, with extended snaps, provide a consistent pass rush. The Eagles will rotate players in there -- Jason Babin had an excellent game at left end and in the nickel inside against Washington -- but Parker is really going to have to come up big. He is having a quiet, yet very good, first half of the season.

Parker's effort and his reliability are two huge pluses for the defense. Trent Cole has 6 1/2 sacks and he has been outstanding this season, but the Eagles sure do need to find another consistent threat. Parker must step up in a big spot.

**LEONARD WEAVER, fullback


In many ways, Weaver is as key as any back on either team here. He has to help protect Donovan McNabb in the passing game. He has to be a threat catching the football and Weaver has to give the Eagles the "big-back" look they need in short-yardage situations. With the Giants so aggressive and so confounding with their blitz packages, Weaver's experience at reading the pressure is key.

This game is the kind of matchup where Weaver's addition in the off-season can earn a victory. For the first time in a long time, having a true fullback can aid the Eagles immensely.

**ANTONIO DIXON, defensive tackle


Yes, starters Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson are going to be huge in this game against New York's terrific interior offensive linemen. You figure the Giants want to pound the football and test Will Witherspoon, who is not exactly the bulky middle linebacker the NFC East demands. The Eagles love their starters, and they are clearly gaining confidence in the young Dixon, whom they signed off of waivers prior to the start of the regular season.

Dixon is far from the complete package. He has a lot to learn with his hands and his feet and his down-to-down technique, but he is making plays with his great strength and his "big tackle" presence. We have talked about the Eagles having a big-body tackle to provide a different look, and Dixon fits that bill.

He even played in the nickel last week as the Eagles went with a bigger look inside on passing downs. Sean McDermott is trying a lot of different combinations on defense to find the right mix.

**MICHAEL VICK, quarterback


Despite less-than-stellar numbers, the Eagles aren't giving up on Vick. They still want to work him into the offensive picture. Vick probably won't play more than a handful of snaps, and he is going to have to be quicker and more decisive than he has shown for much of this season. The Eagles are looking for any way to garner some rushing yards.

How can the Eagles best utilize Vick? Not quite sure. He completed a nice pass last week to Celek, so teams at least know he is a threat to throw the football. Maybe that threat will open up the running lanes. The Eagles also got Vick into space on the edge, and with the help of a fine Todd Herremans block, Vick gained a first down and looked fast doing it.

There are many other candidates to think about. While the stars are the ones garnering the headlines, and those who touch the ball are the players attracting so much attention, there are plenty of other ways a game can be won. Somebody will come from nowhere -- relatively speaking -- and help steal the show.

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