Week 3 marks the final meaningful preseason game, as if there even was such a thing. This is the last time you'll see the starters in any kind of serious action until the regular season begins. For three quarters, Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook will lead a band of castoffs against the defense from the New England Retirement Home.
The focus of this game now shifts squarely to the wide receivers. Besides Curtis, Reggie Brown will also miss the game due to the hamstring injury he suffered last week, so Donovan is going to get some serious time in with the B-team. Tonight's match-up will give us an indication of whether or not they have any chance at making this work. It's also important for the tight ends to get involved more. They've been missing in the passing game so far, and it's noticeable.
Tom Brady isn't expected to play, making Matt Cassel the Patriots starter. Cassel has been under intense scrutiny this week from the NFL Network's Sterling Sharpe for a poor outing last week against the Bucs. It's important the Eagles show they can put pressure on the quarterback, and in the process demonstrate they have the ability to create turnovers.
Among the players to watch this week will be Tony Hunt at fullback. On running plays, look for Hunt to take defenders out of the play, not necessarily with crushing hits, but with solid blocks that open holes for the runner. This will also be Shawn Andrews first game since rejoining the team. The reports say he is in shape, so bank on The Big Kid quickly returning to the dominant form we're used to.
Along the defensive line, somebody needs to stand out at left defensive end. Darren Howard will see some time there, and he'll battle it out with Juqua Parker and Jerome McDougle for the starting job. The interior linemen have all been solid, but without pressure from the ends, opposing quarterbacks will eventually pick even the best secondary apart.
Also of note, Quintin "Don't Call Me Will" Demps takes over kick return duties with the first team.