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Jets-Eagles: 5 things to watch

9/1/2011


This is the final preseason game -- Jets vs. Eagles, Thursday night at the Met -- and you know what that means: It'll be like open auditions for "American Idol," a bunch of wannabes trying to catch somebody's attention, trying to win a spot in the big show.

Rosters must be cut to 53 by Sunday, meaning the Jets to have cut 25 players. A couple of spots could be determined by what happens in the finale. This game is a scout's dream, because they'll get a long look at players that will be available in a matter of days.

What to expect:

1. Tired legs: The Jets lost two days because of tropical-storm Irene, which pushed their game against the Giants to Monday night, so you're talking about only two days rest. It means nothing to the starters, who will rest anyway, but it'll be a challenge for the 2s and 3 that played two quarters on Monday night.

2. D-Line preview: Aside from Mike DeVito and Sione Pouha, neither of whom will play, the Jets have a young, unproven defensive line -- and you're going to see a handful of final-roster players in this game. The spotlight will be on first-round DE Muhammad Wilkerson, coming off his Monday-night ejection for swinging at Brandon Jacobs. Wilkerson is having a solid preseason, but you'd like to see him do more in the pass rush.

3. O-Line scramble. The Jets are hurting for depth, and this is their final chance to evaluate the backups. Chances are, the starting lineup will look like this, left to right: Dennis Landolt, Zane Taylor, Robby Felix, Matt Kroul and Vladimir Ducasse. Ducasse is a lock to make the team, but the others are battling.

4. The McBackup QB. You have to like that rookie Greg McElroy has accomplished in the preseason -- 62-percent completion rate, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 90.6 rating. Sure, he's facing second- and third-stringers, but so what? He's demonstrating poise and moxie. With Mark Sanchez resting and Mark Brunell nursing a pulled calf, McElroy is expected to start.

5. The hot spots. The most competitive roster battles are: The fifth wide receiver (Patrick Turner the leading candidate now that Logan Payne is out after wrist surgery), backup inside linebacker (Josh Mauga, Nick Bellore, Brashton Satele), the last DB spots (Emanuel Cook, Donald Strickland, Julian Posey), and, of course, the aforementioned offensive line.