Pregame News & Notes: Eagles vs. Patriots

Michael Vick will get the start at QB; fans should keep a close eye on OT Lane Johnson, S Kenny Phillips, and RB Chris Polk.

RB Chris Polk could challenge for the #2 RB job with a strong preseason

RB Chris Polk could challenge for the #2 RB job with a strong preseason

The Eagles will kick off their season at 7:30 Friday night, when they will host the New England Patriots.

What you need to know:

  • Michael Vick will start at QB. Chip Kelly insists that Friday is merely Vick’s day in the rotation and that he did not earn the start by outplaying Foles. Foles will start the next preseason game, and Kelly says that he and Vick are dead even in their QB competition.
  • Chip Kelly described the Eagles’ receiving corps in groups of three. DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, and Riley Cooper are the top guys. Damaris Johnson, Russell Shepard, and Ifeanyi Momah make up the second tier, and Greg Salas headlines the bottom group.
  • OT Jason Peters will not play due to injury. He will be replaced by Allen Barbre in the starting lineup. Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, and Lane Johnson round out the front five.
  • CB Cary Williams will also sit out. Brandon Boykin will get a chance to start across from Bradley Fletcher. Though he’s undersized for a boundary corner, Boykin has a good chance of winning a starting job in the preseason.

Watch list:

  • RB Chris Polk. In 2012, Polk looked fat and slow. After dropping 15 pounds in the offseason, he looks much more explosive and has emerged as a serious contender for the second running back job. Bryce Brown is officially on notice.
  • OT Lane Johnson. The fourth overall pick is already entrenched as the team’s starting right tackle, but he’s the only unproven player among the Eagles’ front five. How quickly can he shed the ‘raw’ label that was stuck to him during the pre-draft process?
  • S Kenny Phillips. When he’s 100% healthy, Phillips is a Pro Bowl caliber safety. Seeing as he’s still stuck behind Nate Allen on the depth chart, though, he’s nowhere near the player he once was. I want to see how fast his knee will allow him to move in live game action.
  • OLB Brandon Graham. Graham’s transition from defensive end to outside linebacker has not gone smoothly. An excellent pure pass rusher, it would be such a shame to see Graham’s talent wasted in Billy Davis’ 3-4 scheme.
  • ILB Mychal Kendricks. While the Eagles’ new 3-4 defense hurt Graham’s stock, it should help Kendricks’. Kendricks was a beast in Cal’s 3-4 system and has the pass rush ability, range, and cover skills to thrive in his new role. He could emerge as the Eagles’ best defensive player in 2013.
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