Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Under deadline pressure, Eagles lose to Jets

Posted by Eric Fisher On August 31

The preseason is over.

And not a moment too soon.

An Eagles comeback fell short Thursday night in a 16-10 loss to the host Jets that wasn’t decided until Dane Evans’ fourth-down pass fell incomplete in the end zone with four seconds remaining.

Despite the outcome being in doubt until the end, the final preseason game was a listless affair. Not only didn’t the Eagles’ first team play, but some of the veteran second-teamers didn’t play, either.

With a Saturday deadline (4 p.m.) for reducing the roster to 53 players looming, the next two days will be filled with more anticipation and drama than Thursday’s loss.

There were several interesting injuries which could have an impact on the Eagles’ roster decisions. Fourth-round draft pick Donnel Pumphrey, who had an unimpressive preseason, including Thursday’s outing (7 carries for 10 yards and 1 catch for 3 yards) against the Jets, left the game to undergo the concussion protocol. If the Eagles place Pumphrey on the injured list, they could keep running back Corey Clement.

Defensive end Alex McCalister, who seemed to be the odd man out at defensive end after Steven Means signed a 1-year contract earlier this week, left the game with a hamstring injury after a fairly strong first half. Jaylen Watkins, who is battling for a spot in the secondary, left the game with a left foot injury. The Eagles could use these injuries to stash players on injured reserve without losing them.

There remains a question about what the Eagles are going to do at quarterback. They’re not going to keep Evans, who, in a nice moment, ran down to get the football from the referee after making a nice play to find Marcus Johnson behind the defense for a 41-yard touchdown – the Eagles’ only touchdown of the game – with 7 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Matt McGloin completed 14 of 21 passes for 90 yards and, for the first time during preseason, did not throw an interception. McGloin’s fate may be tied to Nick Foles’ health. Foles did not play in a preseason game and barely practiced during training camp due to a sore elbow. If the Eagles aren’t confident that Foles is healthy, they may have to keep McGloin, who engaged in a battle of former Penn State quarterbacks with Christian Hackenberg during Thursday’s second quarter, as an insurance policy.

In the running back battle, Clement made his case with four carries for 16 yards during the first quarter. He has outplayed Pumphrey during the preseason and deserves a roster spot. The best numbers belonged to Byron Marshall, but, despite carrying 15 times for 56 yards during the second half, he has very little chance of making the 53-man roster.

Johnson caught the touchdown pass, but the Eagles’ leading receiver was Bryce Treggs, who made four catches for 41 yards. Fifth-round pick Shelton Gibson caught four passes for 40 yards, but also had one pass bounces off his shoulder pads. Johnson, Treggs and Gibson are battling for either one or two roster spots.

Defensive tackle Beau Allen, who missed five months during the offseason due to a pectoral injury, played well Thursday in his return. The Eagles must decide between sixth-round draft pick Elijah Qualls and Justin Hamilton – assuming they keep five defensive tackles. Both Qualls and Hamilton played well against the Jets.

Patrick Robinson didn’t play against the Jets, which probably means he has made the team as the slot cornerback. Dexter McDougle was good in coverage, but missed a tackle or two against his former team. He is competing with Watkins, Aaron Grymes and C.J. Smith, who had a solid game, for backup cornerback spots. Before getting injured, Watkins led the Eagles with five tackles, but he dropped a potential “pick 6” interception.

Middle linebacker Joe Walker made some nice plays, including a hit on Jets quarterback Josh McCown, causing McCown to leave the field with an injury and Jets’ fans to hold their collective breath until McCown came back on the field one player later. Kamu Grugier-Hill played aggressively, as usual. Villanova product Don Cherry was victimized in the passing game, but made a solid tackle on special teams, which might be his ticket to making the final roster.

After watching the Eagles fail to register a first down during their first six possessions of the second half, with the Jets only having one first down during the third quarter, perhaps the best thing that can be said about the preseason is that it’s over.

It’s time for the real games, with starters trading in their baseball caps and visors for football helmets, to begin.

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