The Eagles' final preseason game on against the New York Jets on Thursday is one of the most important, if not the most important, games for the players who have not yet claimed their spot on the roster.
Rookie defensive back Denzel Rice and rookie tight end Eric Tomlinson are just two of the players fighting for a roster spot on the team this week. Both are prepared for a lot of playing time on Thursday with hopes of making a lasting impression on the coaches before the final decisions have to be made by 4 PM on Saturday.
"We have a short week so we have to kind of enter the mental state earlier. From that part, I'm just looking at a little bit more film, trying to polish off my skills before the game on Thursday," Rice said.
The team, only having had three practices this week after their game against Green Bay on Saturday, felt the pressure as they prepared to prove themselves on Thursday.
"I'm feeling good," Tomlinson said. "I'm anxious, excited and I'm going to be playing most of the game, all the younger guys are, so it's really just an opportunity to showcase what you can do."
It is understood that most veterans do not see much playing time, if any at all, during the last preseason game of the year so the new players will be in the spotlight for a majority of the time.
"I'm just treating it like every other preseason game, getting my mind right for a lot more reps I would say," Tomlinson said. "I'm focusing on getting all my assignments right, doing all the right things and just giving it my best effort."
Players are always looking to improve at every aspect of their game, especially the rookies, as this is just the beginning of their NFL careers. They've learned how to prepare and how to approach something as significant as this last preseason game.
"No differently than any other game," Rice said. "My preparation is the same, my mentality is the same. I'm just trying to get better every day."
As the roster cuts have already begun, players have had to see some of their teammates leave.
"It's kind of hard, especially seeing the guys from your position get cut that you've grown pretty close to. It's difficult but it is part of the job," Tomlinson said. "You know it's coming so you've just got to work through it."
Safety Ed Reynolds knows first-hand what it feels like to see the guys he's become close friends with get cut from the squad. He also knows what it feels like to get the dreaded phone call that your NFL dream is put on hold. Reynolds is entering his second year in the NFL. He spent last season on the Eagles' practice squad after being selected by Philadelphia in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
"On this team, you earn it," Reynolds said. "I didn't do enough last year to really earn that spot and the numbers game kind of didn't fall my way, so my goal all year was just to develop as a player and work on the weaknesses every day.
"When I get the chance to get out there and ball, (I'm going to) make it hard for them to cut me."