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Jets - Eagles Preview
By James J. Parziale
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
September 1st, 2005
If you are looking for Terrell Owens tonight he'll be on the sideline, probably with his mouth open.
If you are looking for Terrell Owens tonight he'll be on the sideline, probably with his mouth open.
If there was a preseason game that takes the crown for least importance and interest, it’s the finale.

The names like Chad Pennington, Curtis Martin, Laveranues Coles, Ty Law Shaun Ellis – just to name a few – will not be on the field long enough to break a sweat against the Eagles tonight. The starters are merely window dressing for fans that were forced to buy exhibition game tickets as a part of a season package (Some would call it extortion).

So with less than nothing on the line for all the marquee names besides avoiding injury during their limited action, why should anyone watch? What could possibly be on the line? Well, according to C Kevin Mawae, it’s like watching reality shows. Someone is always fighting for something.

“It’s tough for the younger guys,” the 12-year veteran said. “There are a lot of young guys trying to make the cut. There are 20 guys that probably won’t be around next Monday.”

In other words, no matter how many passes the Chas Gessners of the world catch in practices, they need to strut on the field and make plays. It’s their Super Bowl.

“There’s a lot of stress put on those guys that are on the bubble trying to make the 45-man roster, but from the stand point of the starters, we just want to go out and have a good workout,” Mawae said.

The ones getting the workout are the rookies and backups. And head coach Herman Edwards catered to they youngsters more this week by allowing them more practice time. As always, he’s a players coach.

“It’s always a difficult week. The guys’ ability to make this team is really going to weigh on this game for some guys at certain positions,” Edwards said. “I think it’s always interesting in this league going into this last game. A lot of people look at the last preseason game as if it’s not important. Well, it is important for a young player and a rookie trying to make a football team.”

Some of the bubble players to watch are Gessner, LBs Ryan Myers and Mark Brown, DT Tim McGill and WR Harry Williams Jr., who is returning from a knee injury. Williams’ position could be the most intriguing since he seems to be the favorite for the fifth receiver, but a poor showing could prompt the Jets (2-1) to start scanning the waiver wire.

The others listed are fighting to make the practice squad. Once WR Jonathan Carter was released, while Williams Jr. was out with a sprained knee ligament no-less, Gessner seemed to be the leading candidate to make the 45-man roster. However, he has dropped everything thrown to him this preseason, sinking his chances.

Another rookie to zoom in on is CB Justin Miller, who at the start of training camp raised eyebrows but since has had fans shaking their heads. His playing time has been scaled back significantly since the first preseason game against the Lions.

He was lost on the field and fumbled a punt, something he developed a propensity for during the rest of training camp. After he dropped four consecutive punts, Edwards started looking to other options. The recently cut DeCory Birmingham was explosive, but with such high expectations on Miller and a glut of running backpacks, Birmingham was released.

Though Edwards hasn’t said it, he will likely have a short leash with Miller. Jerricho Cochery could handle kickoffs and punts and had a lot of reps toward the end of training camp.

With the Eagles (2-1) resting virtually all their starters this week, once third-stringer Brooks Bollinger enters the game he will have more trouble reading the numbers than the actual defenses.

But Bollinger is locked into the No. 3 QB slot and though he played against the Cardinals after Quincy Carter was injured during a 13-3 win last year. It’s an awkward position for a quarterback since he knows he will likely never see the light of day during a game unless an injury occurs when the games count. But when the games are meaningless, he is counted on when others can’t get hurt.

“In the preseason he plays with the [second and third stringers] and half the time those teams start blitzing and those guys aren’t real good at reading it and can’t step up,” Edwards said. “It’s almost like he is getting murdered in the preseason and he just gets up.”

Edwards made Bollinger’s role clear to him early in the preseason.

“He knows he is like the demolition man; he’s like one of those stunt guys in Hollywood, you know the movie stars don’t do all the stunts,” Edwards said.

Yet, Bollinger still has a roster spot while the players that will be out there are battling for jobs.

“Most teams have to cut down 18 or 15 players and bring eight of them back,” Edwards said. “So, I think it will be a very competitive game for the most part and I look forward to see these young guys play.

INSIDER TIDBITS

-The Jets are plus-4 in turnovers this preseason. That puts them in a tie for fourth.
-QB Chad Pennington ahs a QB Rating of 59.7 this preseason, just seven points higher than Brooks Bollinger.
-P Ben Graham has the third highest net average of any punter (39.6) but has kicked for the second most yards (607).
-Despite all of his struggles, CB/KR Justin Miller ranks sixth on the kickoff return list with 26.5 yards per return.

Kickoff is at 7:30 PM EST. Local TV for tonight’s game is on CBS 2 and local radio broadcast is on ESPN Radio 1050 AM.

INJURY REPORT

-DT Dewayne Robertson (hand): Out
-FB Jerald Sowell (ribs): Out
-CB Derrick Strait (groin): day-to-day
-RB Cedric Houston (shoulder): day-to-day

Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for a full recap of the Jets-Eagles matchup.