Unlike the first three Eagles preseason games, the final one on Thursday at home against the New York Jets will carry little intrigue for most fans. None of the starters will even be in uniform and all of the key positional jobs have been locked up.
However, the preseason finale does carry plenty of interest to players who will be fighting for one of the few remaining spots on the opening day roster. They have 60 minutes left to prove themselves before the team must reduce the roster from 90 to the league maximum 53 by 4 p.m. Saturday.
While most of the guys slated to play have little shot at making the team and are either auditioning for other teams or hoping to latch on with the Eagles practice squad, the following players still have a chance but are on the outside looking in and desperately need a brilliant performance. All running backs were omitted since we already addressed them this week.
1. WR Marcus Wheaton
The veteran has not been active this month due to an injury, but returned to practice this week and should make his preseason debut. He has a mixed track record (44 receptions for 749 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2015) but might not have enough time to provide a realistic sample size of his possible production.
2. DE Joe Ostman
With three tackles against the Browns last week, the undrafted free agent didn’t hurt his chances but also didn’t exactly help them. Although he has shown glimpses of developing into a solid pass-rusher and is physical, Ostman plays a position where the team has considerable depth. Another consistent performance would likely guarantee him a job somewhere in the NFL.
Verdict: Eagles practice squad
3. DT Elijah Qualls
The optics don’t look good for the 2017 sixth round pick when undrafted rookie Bruce Hector is getting playing time ahead of him. It also hasn’t helped that Qualls has been unimpressive when given a chance. He played in just six games last year and the team had high hopes for him entering training camp. Qualls needs to make multiple stops and create big plays to probably remain an Eagle.
Verdict: Eagles practice squad
4. CB De’Vante Bausby
After spending last year on the Eagles practice squad, the second-year player has fallen even deeper down the depth chart behind fourth-round pick Avonte Maddox. The Eagles need to see a true breakout game, or someone ahead of him to suffer an injury, to consider even debating whether or not to retain him – on the practice squad.
5. OL Jordan Mailata
Admit it, the 6-foot-8, 350-pound Australian is intriguing and fun to watch. Despite not playing football before this year, the former rugby player and seventh-round draft pick has impressed the coaching staff with the speed at which he’s picked up the position, his potential, and athleticism. The problem is that so has the rest of the league.
Even though the Eagles would prefer to keep on their practice squad, Mailata might get claimed on waivers by another team before they have the chance. Better to avoid the risk.
Verdict: Eagles roster