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Eagles roster bubble: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward among 7 players who need strong preseason performances vs. Patriots


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Eagles roster bubble: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward among 7 players who need strong preseason performances vs. Patriots

By Mike Kaye | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The Eagles will host the New England Patriots on Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field for their second preseason game.

After a pair of joint practices, the Eagles will look to push the Patriots in a live setting. Both coaching staffs will try to evaluate their respective rosters before cutting their depth charts down to 80 players next Tuesday.

As the Eagles prepare for their second exhibition matchup, here are seven players on the roster bubble who need to stand out against New England in prime time:

WR John Hightower

Hightower made his return to team drills on Tuesday after missing more than a week with a groin injury. Hightower, last year’s fifth-round pick, appears to be outside of the top six wideouts on the depth chart to this point. However, a strong showing -- especially on special teams -- against the Patriots could go a long way into pushing him into that group. Hightower’s main competition is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.


PRACTICE OBSERVATIONS: Practice 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

Joint Practice 1: Offense | Defense | Joint Practice 2: Offense | Defense


WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Like Hightower, Arcega-Whiteside needs a strong preseason slate. The former second-round pick has had a solid camp, but he needs to show something tangible in a game-like atmosphere to stay on the roster. Arcega-Whiteside made a nice stop on kickoff coverage against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, and he will need to keep making plays to hold off Hightower, who has impressive speed.

G Sua Opeta

After starting last week, Opeta will need to continue to make progress with the second-team offensive line against the Patriots. The Eagles cut backup lineman Luke Juriga earlier this week, so Opeta’s path to the roster is a bit clearer. He needs to hold off fellow young linemen like Brett Toth, Matt Pryor and Ross Pierschbacher to claim his roster spot.

CB Michael Jacquet

Jacquet had a tough week in coverage against the Patriots’ wide receivers. Jacquet tends to hold his opponents quite often, and when he doesn’t, they tend to blow past him. Jacquet responded well to adversity against the Steelers. It’ll be interesting to see if he can bounce back against New England this week.

WR Greg Ward

Ward feels like the forgotten man in the wideout room. While he’s the oldest and most experienced player at the position, that’s a pretty low bar to set. Ward has been a leader, but his lack of versatility could end up hurting him. He needs to make some dynamic plays in the preseason to hold onto a game-day roster spot. Arcega-Whiteside and/or Hightower could push him off the depth chart.

DT Hassan Ridgeway

With Javon Hargrave (ankle) temporarily sidelined, Ridgeway is in a great position to take advantage of some extra playing time. Ridgeway filled in for Hargrave on Tuesday, and he had a pair of nice practices against the Patriots. If he can carry over that standout streak to the preseason matchup, his shot at a roster spot will look even better.

LB Patrick Johnson

With Joe Ostman (concussion) and Genard Avery (groin) battling injuries, Johnson should see some work with the first- and second-team units. The seventh-round pick has started to show some promise in practice as a SAM linebacker, and he was among the few Eagles standouts in the second half of last week’s loss to the Steelers. Johnson could be a dark horse for a roster spot.


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