Could a poor performance mean the end for Stacy?
This is it. The preseason is just about over and we're only about a week from the first game that means something. But before then, every team, including the Eagles, must cut their roster from 75 to 53 players.
In case you're mathematically challenged, that's 22 guys who must be let go by 6PM on Saturday, September 4th. You could field an entire team -- offense and defense -- with 22 guys, so it goes without saying just how difficult cutting loose that number of guys can be.
These are guys who have been a part of the locker room since March, April, or for some guys even earlier than that. Some of the guys who will be cut have been with the team for years. And if you're lucky enough to have seen any of the episodes of Hard Knocks, regardless of the team, you understand what these teams go through when they let these guys go.
The players must show everything they can every time they touch the field, and Thursday night will be the very last time some guys wear an Eagles uniform. Let's take a look at five guys who absolutely must make the most of their final opportunity.
Jorrick Calvin, CB
Calvin just came over from the Arizona Cardinals, so he probably has the most difficult job of any guy who will hit the field tonight. They've obviously seen what he can do on film, but there is no substitute for seeing what a guy can do with your own two eyes.
The rookie corner will play, obviously, corner against the Jets and will likely get an opportunity to return kicks and perhaps some punts as well. Chad Hall has been handling the punt return duties during the preseason, but his time might already be up.
There is a Mt. Everest sized mountain between Calvin and a spot on the final roster, so he's going to have to show something that makes Andy Reid and company believe he's got the potential to be a star in the near future.
Macho Harris, FS
Now that he's back to safety, I think there's a good chance Harris' time with Philadelphia is already up, but that doesn't have to necessarily be the case. I can't think of a time Reid has ever had a rookie starter he released the next season. In fact, I'm sure that's an incredibly rarity anywhere in the NFL.
Harris, however, has shown absolutely nothing in camp or the preseason. He'd been playing corner, which is his natural position, and couldn't get anything going there, either. He proved last year he doesn't have the hitting ability to play free safety and must have a huge game against the Jets if he wants any shot of sticking around.
Stacy Andrews, RG
For all the talk, Andrews really has not been that bad. He hasn't been great, but he's done well enough that the talk of cutting him is simply ridiculous. Even if he had been playing as poorly as what most are saying, he's making $5 million off the Eagles in 2010 whether he's playing in Philadelphia or elsewhere, so cutting him makes zero sense.
However, there is concern that Andrews could be outplayed by Nick Cole if Cole was actually healthy and on the field. I'm not a huge fan of Cole outside of his versatility and value as a backup on the interior of the line, and still believe Andrews will show up with the same sort of talent he displayed in Cincinnati.
UPDATE: I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I should have known Stacy wasn't going to play against the Jets. That could actually be a good thing for him. Had he played, it might have meant the team was thinking about cutting him.
Hank Baskett, WR
Surprisingly, most people believe Baskett will be the choice over Kelley Washington to be the fifth receiver. I'm not exactly sure what they're basing that on, but I just don't see it.
No matter which when makes the roster, neither will be asked to play receiver all that often unless an injury takes place. Baskett likely is the better athlete and receiver, but the fifth guy must be able to play special teams and Washington is the clear-cut better play in that aspect.
For me, Washington's ability to play special teams makes him indispensable to a team that will clearly struggle in the third phase of the game all season long.
King Dunlap, T
The Eagles look poised to keep undrafted rookie Austin Howard and appear ready to move on without Dunlap. So if King wants to stay in this castle, he's going to need a monster preseason finale and really turn some heads.
Dunlap is actually underweight and seems a bit soft, so he must find a bit of a nasty streak if he's going to convince the team he's worth keeping and a guy they could trust were something to happen to either Jason Peters or Winston Justice.
Guys who could still earn a job include...
Tracy White, Moise Fokou, Kurt Coleman, Jeff Owens, Cornelius Ingram, Martell Mallett
Guys inevitably getting the boot include...
Eric Moncour, Boo Robinson, Jordan Norwood, Dobson Collins, J.J. Arrington, Dallas Reynolds