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.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Just pitch.
 
Don’t worry about the role.
 
Just pitch.
 
That’s Adam Morgan’s mindset this spring.
 
“I’m just trying to show whoever needs to see it that I can be an asset to this team,” the left-hander said after his spring debut against the New York Yankees on Saturday (see story). “I’m just keeping it simple that way. I’m not trying to go out for that fifth (starting) spot. If the fifth spot opens up, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want to put me in the bullpen, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want me to be the backup catcher, I’ll be the backup catcher.”
 
The Phillies have plenty of candidates for backup catcher.
 
And the top five spots in their starting rotation, barring an unforeseen development, are accounted for.
 
But there is a way for Morgan to make this team.
 
“He’s definitely a bullpen candidate,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
Mackanin is on record as saying he’d like to have two lefties in what likely will be a seven-man bullpen. It might not work out that way, but that would be Mackanin’s preference.
 
Morgan is one of what appears to be four candidates along with Joely Rodriguez, Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett. Ramos and Burnett are experienced major-league veterans in camp on minor-league contracts. Rodriguez is the only pure lefty reliever on the 40-man roster. Morgan, of course, is on the 40-man roster, but he’s mainly been a starter in his career.

There’s a long way to go in spring training and it would not be surprising to see general manager Matt Klentak add to the list of lefty relief candidates with some type of pickup before the end of camp.
 
But for now, it’s just these four.
 
Morgan, who turns 27 on Monday, started and pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees on Saturday and will likely continue to have his innings stretched out throughout the Grapefruit League season, just in case he’s needed as a starter.

Ramos and Rodriguez both pitched an inning Saturday. Ramos allowed a hit and a run. Rodriguez had a clean inning. Burnett was tagged for two hits and two runs on Friday.
 
Morgan made 21 starts for the Phillies last season. He also made two relief appearances and finished the season with a 6.04 ERA. He was sent to Triple A in July and returned in mid-August. He made nine starts after returning and pitched at least six innings and gave up two or fewer earned runs in four of them.
 
During his time in Triple A, Morgan started throwing a two-seam fastball or sinker. He’s continued to throw it this spring and believes it will help him.
 
“I learned to trust the two-seamer last year and that’s what I hope to keep moving forward with,” he said.
 
Will it take him to the Phillies’ bullpen?
 
He hopes so. He got a taste of relieving last season and liked it.
 
“Oh, yeah, I loved it,” he said. “Every time the phone rang down there, I was on high alert. It was awesome. It’s a rush.
 
“But wherever I land, I land. I’d be willing to play anywhere on this team.”

Instant Replay: Villanova topples Creighton, clinches Big East title outright

Instant Replay: Villanova topples Creighton, clinches Big East title outright

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Sophomore transfer Eric Paschall scored a team-high 19 points – including five dunks – and Kris Jenkins added 15, as No. 2 Villanova pulled away late to beat No. 23 Creighton, 79-63, and clinch the 2017 Big East Conference regular-season title outright.

Paschall, starting during Darryll Reynolds’ injury absence, shot 8 for 12 from the field and added six rebounds.

Creighton’s last lead was 45-43 six minutes into the second half, but a Paschall slam and Jenkins’ first three after five misses sparked a 16-4 run that gave the Wildcats a 59-49 lead with 8 ½ minutes left. Creighton got no closer than seven the rest of the way.

Paschall’s career high is a 31-point game for Fordham against NYIT on Nov. 14, 2014.

Villanova again struggled from three-point range but had tremendous success attacking the basket, especially in the second half of the final game at the Pavilion for two years.

The Wildcats shot just 17 percent from three (3 for 18) but 69 percent from 2 (24 for 35) and repeatedly got to the foul line in the second half, when they were 14 for 18.

Jenkins again struggled from three (1 for 7) yet still finished with 15 points to go with four rebounds and three assists.

Josh Hart shot 7 for 11 for 16 points and added seven rebounds and three assists.

Villanova opened a streaky first half by taking a 7-0 lead, but Creighton hit four straight threes in less than two minutes and led by three. Villanova then went on a 17-2 run and led by as many as 10 points before Creighton finished the half on a 13-3 run to tie the game at 33.

There were seven lead changes in the first seven minutes of the second half, but Villanova finally pulled away and outscored Creighton 36-18 over the last 14 minutes.

Mikal Bridges added 11 points and eight rebounds for Villanova, while Jalen Brunson had nine points and three assists.

Freshman Dante DiVincenzo came off the bench to contribute nine points and four rebounds for Villanova.

What it means
Villanova improved to 27-3 overall and 14-3 in the Big East, clinching the conference title outright. Entering play Saturday, only Villanova or Butler was in position to win the conference title, with Villanova holding a magic number of one.

Villanova, which lost to Butler on Wednesday, has now won 12 straight games immediately following losses (15 if you carry over to the next year).

The Wildcats last lost consecutive games at the end of the 2012-2013 season, when they fell to Louisville in the Big East quarterfinals and to North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Creighton fell to 22-7 overall and 9-7 in the Big East. The Bluejays are 4-6 since an 18-1 start.

Stat of the day
Marcus Foster had 25 points and eight assists, becoming the first player with 25 points and five assists against Villanova since Ben Hansbrough of Notre Dame, who had 30 points and 10 rebounds (and five steals) in a 93-72 win over Villanova on Feb. 28, 2011 at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind.

Turning point 
Villanova led by one at 48-47 when Jenkins finally buried a three for a four-point lead.

Moving out
This was Villanova’s last game at the Pavilion for about 20 months. Villanova will play most of its home games at the Wells Fargo Center next year while renovations are made to the Pavilion.

Villanova is 293-62 all-time at the Pavilion, which opened in 1985. That includes a 131-12 mark since the start of the 2004-2005 season.

By the numbers
Khyri Thomas scored 17 points for the Bluejays … Creighton was 7 for 14 from three in the first half but 4 for 13 in the second half ... Villanova has won six straight against Creighton since a 101-80 loss in February of 2014 when Doug McDermott scored 39 … Reynolds, Villanova’s second-leading rebounder at 5.5 per game, sat out a fifth straight game with a rib injury.  

What's next
Villanova has a week off before facing Georgetown at the Verizon Center in Washington at noon Saturday. Georgetown is 14-15 overall and 5-11 in the Big East.