Eagles Preseason Week 4: Your Last Chance to See A.Q. Shipley in Action

Eagles Preseason Week 4: Your Last Chance to See A.Q. Shipley in Action

If you have a soft spot for one or two of the training camp darlings, this is the game for you. If not... move along people, nothing to see here. Most of the starters will likely sit this one out against--who are they playing again? Ah, right--the New York Jets.

In all seriousness, these final preseason games can be oddly mesmerizing. Some promising young players will get lots of minutes they won't see during the regular season, while a bunch of relative unknowns will be busting their asses for the few roster spots still up for grabs, or maybe just the off-chance another team will take notice and give them a shot.

There will also be plenty of sloppy, ugly, reserve football, as these guys just don't get the same number of reps as the starters, and sometimes that can be fun too. There are a handful of interesting storylines left though, so let's take a look:

Vince Young/Mike Kafka
The Eagles have one game to win, and Mike Vick is hurt. Who ya got? Or, Vick is done for an extended period of time, and Andy Reid needs somebody to manage the club to the post-season. Still the same answer?

It's interesting. Young is an incredible athlete who the Eagles could put on the field in any situation and know they would have a shot to win. Then again, Kafka has been in the system for a year, and might be less likely to get out-schemed by the defense. The coaches don't have an easy decision to make with regard to their backup, so it's a good thing they don't make it tonight.

But my money is on the guy making $4 million.

Dion Lewis
Not surprisingly, the Pitt product has looked great when he's had the chance to play. He's shown a little bit of everything in the preseason: good speed and toughness, elusiveness in the open field, ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, and isn't afraid to get his nose in there on pass protection. He's going to be a solid NFL back, but his shot probably won't come until next season.

Danny Watkins
The first round pick requested he play in this game tonight, which is good news for those concerned with the big Canadian's preparation for Week 1. A guy like that probably just needs reps to get adjusted to the speed of the game, so the more he can take tonight, the better. My guess is we will also see Jason Kelce, or at least we better, as he looked like the bigger work in progress of the two last week.

Derek Landri
Here is a guy who has been having an outstanding preseason, and may even seal the deal on a roster spot. Landri had sacks against Baltimore and Cleveland, and also a tipped pass. He's been very adept at getting backfield penetration. Signed after Mike Patterson's seizure, the four-year veteran started 16 games for Carolina last year, notching three sacks.

Trevor Laws hasn't played at all yet this preseason, but he will tonight, so this could be a make or break performance for a pair of Golden Domers.

Joselio Hanson
After a solid five year run as the team's nickel corner, it appears Jose's time with the club could be coming to an end. With Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie joining Asante Samuel, not to mention developing projects Trevard Lindley and Curtis Marsh, holding on to Hanson at his $2.4 million cap figure doesn't make much sense.

The formerly undrafted player doesn't need much of audition for a new job--he's made 18 starts in his career--so maybe the Eagles will keep him out of harm's way and protect an asset rumored to be on the trading block. Or, like many of the camp bodies who helped the team get through a makeshift summer, tonight could be our last chance to see Hanson in a Birds uniform.

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry from how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 — the last time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a gigantic one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.