August 24, 2023   5 MIN READ

Last Chance

DiCecco: Eyes On These Fringe Birds In Finale


The Eagles on Thursday close out the exhibition season against the Indianapolis Colts at the Linc.

The preseason finale, which typically showcases a host of unknowns as starters and key contributors watch from the sideline, is the final phase of the months-long evaluation process.

While some might do enough to incite deliberation as cutdowns loom, others will use Thursday as a springboard to showcase their talents to the rest of the NFL.

Here are five players I’ll be keeping a close eye on against the Colts.

Trey Sermon

GETTY IMAGES: Trey Sermon should see plenty of snaps in the preseason finale – and the rest of the NFL will be watching.

Trey Sermon

Sermon leads the Eagles this preseason with 75 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns on 14 carries and is primed to undergo another extensive audition. A prominent factor working in Sermon’s favor is his appealing cost-controlled rookie contract, especially when taking into account next season’s potential backfield conundrum. The 24-year-old running back returned noticeably leaner, quicker, and more decisive following his lone offseason with the team. He’s markedly improved in pass protection and has also tried returning kicks, perhaps enhancing his value. While I’m not sure he can find room on a loaded Eagles roster, Sermon will have an opportunity to showcase his talents for 31 other teams.

Eli Ricks

A training camp favorite, Ricks has enjoyed an inconsistent summer in his bid to make the roster as a rookie free agent. Yes, the Alabama product was once highly beloved in the draft community. And sure, his length, tantalizing play-making potential, and pedigree would appear to warrant a roster spot. But Ricks needs to rebound from his uneven home debut against the Browns to help his cause, and he will be afforded a full game’s worth of snaps to do so. Ricks’ skill set needs refinement, so he isn’t likely to pay immediate dividends, but the decision-making process could well come down to the viability of sneaking Ricks through waivers. Comparatively, Mario Goodrich has had the better camp.

Patrick Johnson

GETTY IMAGES: Eagles third-year LB Patrick Johnson will get a good opportunity for reps after being injured early in camp.

Patrick Johnson

Johnson, who missed the first two exhibition games and much of training camp with an ankle injury, is primed to make his preseason debut. Johnson has appeared in 33 games (two starts) for the Eagles since being drafted to the team in the seventh round in 2021, logging 324 defensive snaps as well as carving out a crucial role as a special teams performer. In 2022, Johnson accounted for 74% of the third-phase snaps. In light of the recent injuries sustained by special teams stalwarts Shaun Bradley and McPhearson, coordinator Michael Clay’s unit could use a familiar face. While Johnson isn’t one to turn heads with enticing measurables or otherworldly athleticism, the third-year edge rusher has proven to be dependable when called upon. Should the team elect to go heavy at the position, all things equal, I’m giving Johnson the nod.

Josh Sills

It was Sills who whiffed on a block that resulted in a safety against the Browns. I also found the rest of his evening to be rather unremarkable. That said, Sills, another Eagles rookie free agent success story, will be given every opportunity to catch on as a reserve guard for a second consecutive season. But when left guard Landon Dickerson missed some time earlier this month, it was fifth-year pro Sua Opeta – Sills’ primary challenger – tabbed as the immediate replacement. Opeta has been the steadier of the two, but Sills is also younger and perhaps more moldable under offensive line guru Jeff Stoutland. And when the team needed to create roster space late last season, they chose to move on from Opeta rather than the relatively anonymous Sills. Even given the depleted depth on the offensive line compared to recent years, however, Sills will need to be better.

GETTY IMAGES: TE Tyree Jackson, a QB convert, has one last chance to prove he belongs on the Eagles’ 53-man roster.

Tyree Jackson

Jackson got off to a hot start in his third summer with the team before subsequently petering out, only to regain a second wind in the final act as cutdowns near. Jackson, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound converted quarterback, has made remarkable strides in his game, but this feels like a make-or-break summer for the 25-year-old. Given the investment, one can surmise that the Eagles might show deference to second-year tight end Grant Calcaterra. Few would argue, however, that Jackson carries a decidedly greater upside. And if Jackson shows well against the Colts, he could conceivably force the Eagles’ hand.

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for

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