PHILADELPHIA - Almost all of the Eagles' starters will wear baseball caps instead of helmets during the team's presesaon finale at the New York Jets on Thursday night.
Coach Chip Kelly announced Monday that he will keep with tradition and rest quarterback Michael Vick, running back DeSean Jackson, linebacker Connor Barwin and others against the Jets.
The exception is the Eagles' secondary, where some of the starting cornerbacks and safeties likely will play a series or two.
"We have a lack of depth at cornerback," Kelly said before the team's final open practice at Lincoln Financial Field. "And we're not sure who our starting safeties are, yet."
At cornerback, Curtis Marsh and Brandon Hughes are both sidelined with broken hands, while Eddie Whitley was waived with an injury settlement Sunday after sustaining a knee injury during Saturday's preseason game at Jacksonville. As a result, the Eagles only have five healthy cornerbacks: starters Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams, plus Brandon Boykin, Trevard Lindley and rookie Jordan Poyer.
Fletcher and Williams likely won't play much Thursday. Boykin probably will have to handle the slot position for most of the game, while Lindley and Poyer vie for a spot on the regular-season roster.
The Eagles ended practice Monday with 76 players and must be at 75 by 4 p.m. today. After playing the Jets, they must make another round of cuts in order to be at 53 players by 6 p.m. Saturday.
"It's a very tough part of this job," said Kelly, who never had to make so many personnel moves at the University of Oregon. "Every one of these guys has given everything they have and we'll be cutting a bunch of really good guys. It's very difficult. It's a shame that we can't keep everybody. But we have to get from (the preseason limit of) 90 to 53."
Lindley, a fourth-round draft pick in 2010, made the team as a rookie but was released the following season. He tried out again in 2012 and was cut and then re-signed with the Eagles before camp this year in another attempt to return to the league.
Poyer was a seventh-round draft choice this year after playing against Kelly at Oregon State.
"It took me a little while to get use to the speed of the game, but I feel much more comfortable now," Poyer said after Monday's practice. "I feel like there's always something I can improve on, but I'm feeling more confident. I'm able to just play."
Kelly mentioned that his toughest cuts in the next few days would come at safety, tight end, offensive line and defensive line.
Even after releasing Kenny Phillips on Sunday, the Eagles still have six safeties on the team. The problem for Kelly and defensive coordinator Billy Davis is finding one good enough and reliable enough to start with Patrick Chung.
Chung, a former standout for New England, won't play against the Jets. Nate Allen and rookie Earl Wolff will continue their duel for the other starting job, while Colt Anderson, Kurt Coleman and David Sims fight for backup roles.
"We know there's competition there, but that makes both of us better," Allen said Monday. "Competition is nothing new. You've got to compete every year. Every day you go out there you're competing for a job.
"There's going to be some tension Thursday, but you can't sit there and worry about it or you'll go crazy and just play terrible. You've just got to play hard and let everything fall into place."
Allen's experience - he has started 38 games since joining the Eagles as a second-round draft pick in 2010 - should give him an edge over Wolff, a fifth-round draft pick from North Carolina State.
But the Eagles like Wolff's aggressiveness, even though it sometimes leads to mistakes. He was to blame for Jaguars running back Jordan Todman's 63-yard touchdown run Saturday.
"I'm not known for taking bad angles, but I was trying to be aggressive and it cost me," Wolff said Monday. "I just have to do my job and not try to do too much. I know I can play in this league. I just have to prove that I can be consistent."
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