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Top 3 players who must shine against Eagles

Sep 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; The New York Jets scramble for a fumble during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Jets 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Steven Ryan-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; The New York Jets scramble for a fumble during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Jets 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Steven Ryan-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Jets hit the road to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in their preseason final. These top three players on Gang Green must shine if they want to stick around.

Sep 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; The New York Jets scramble for a fumble during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Jets 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Steven Ryan-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets will be taking on the Philadelphia Eagles in their annual meeting to conclude the preseason. Of course in this contest, you barely see any significant players hit the field. The final preseason outing is predominately meant for fringe players to get their last chance at impressing the staff in order to crack the 53-man roster. The third game is where you see the starters play an extended period of time.

Related Story: Jets should not trade a single quarterback away

Gang Green had plenty of key players in action vs. the New York Giants this past Saturday, however a number of them sat out. Brandon Marshall, Quincy Enunwa, Kenbrell Thompkins, and rookie Jordan Jenkins all took the night off. The Jets struggled mightily in the second half due to the absence of these guys. The young quarterbacks were short on weapons and the weak pass rush gave quarterback Ryan Nassib all day to stand in the pocket. Nonetheless, head coach Todd Bowles‘ group has an opportunity to redeem themselves against a rebuilding Eagles team.

Philadelphia has looked solid like they do every preseason, although there’s no hiding the obvious issues at several positions. The lack of quality depth in the backfield has to be a concern considering their disappointing run game in 2015 and their secondary is going through a complete makeover. For the time being, head coach Doug Pederson and defensive coordinator Jeff Schwartz seem to be the offense/defense regime the Eagles were looking for, but it won’t be a quick fix. This is a franchise that’s a couple years away from being a contender again.

New York has several guys on the bubble and this final tune-up is ultimately centered around them. Some have been underrated throughout the summer while others have regressed from what they were last season. General manager Mike Maccagnan will be a busy man this week, so it’ll be interesting to see who the next 22 cuts will be. Without further ado, here are top three Jets who must shine against the Birds.

Next: 3. A linebacker with everything to prove

3. Linebacker Bruce Carter

Gang Green has a stout group of inside linebackers and Bruce Carter is one of many reasons why. The veteran has five years under his belt and he made an impact in all but one of them. When you take his rookie campaign out of the equation, the UNC product has 281 tackles, five sacks, and five interceptions in a mere four seasons in the league. Not to mention, he’s missed a number of games due to injury.

Since joining the Jets, Carter has done nothing but impress as the team’s No. 4 inside linebacker. In the three preseason contests, he’s racked up five tackles and a blocked punt doing most of his work on special teams. New York’s special teams was abysmal last year, so any signs of improvement are greatly appreciated by the coaching staff. Linebacker Erin Henderson ended up being a pleasant surprise in 2015 and the Jets are hoping Carter can provide them with a similar impact.

Linebacker Taiwan Jones is breathing down his neck, which means he isn’t necessarily a lock to make the final 53. Bowles loves what Jones brings to the table as a tackler and believe it or not, comparisons to linebacker David Harris are being made. The Jets do have their fair share of experience at inside linebacker and they could choose to cut Carter if they’re looking to get younger. Let’s see if the 28-year-old can hang onto his roster spot.

Next: 2. A wide receiver in a crowded situation

Aug 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (83) carries the ball against the New York Giants during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Giants won 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

2. Wide Receiver Robby Anderson

Not many people knew about wide receiver Robby Anderson entering the offseason, but most do now. The Temple Owl was an undrafted free agent and New York had a ton of talent at receiver already in place. In terms of how the depth chart looked, you could say that he was buried behind eight wideouts before the start of training camp. Currently, he’s fighting for a chance to make the team.

In the three exhibition games, he’s racked up 11 catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns working with mostly the second and third stringers. In last week’s matchup vs. Big Blue, he helped rookie quarterback Christian Hackenberg get in a groove on his first drive. The drive, of course, ended with Anderson hauling in a 10-yard strike to re-take the lead 17-14. The outing in Philadelphia will essentially be his final test.

Since Marshall, Eric Decker, Enunwa, and Thompkins should all make the roster, that leaves two spots left for a handful of receivers to fight for. Charone Peake is a tough guy to cut because he’s in this year’s draft class and Jalin Marshall has been unbelievably impressive as well. Anderson is capable of edging out Jeremy Ross and Chandler Worthy, however, if he fails to beat out Marshall, he may very well end up on the practice squad or cut.

Next: 1. All eyes will be on this quarterback

Aug 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) looks to pass against the New York Giants during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Giants won 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

1. Quarterback Bryce Petty

This is it for quarterback Bryce Petty. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith are resting, so the two youngsters will be the ones under center for the Jets in Philadelphia. If the Baylor graduate fails to impress, he’ll either be released during the weekend or traded to a team willing to give up a draft pick in return. According to CBS New York, Gang Green has begun fielding calls from teams inquiring about Petty.

So far, he hasn’t looked too shabby outside of a pick six against the Giants on a deserted screen pass that somehow didn’t hit the ground. In preseason Weeks 1-3, he completed 28 of 50 throws for 394 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception working alongside players who probably won’t make the roster. Petty hasn’t exactly been put in the best situation to succeed, yet he has still put up respectable numbers and made a case for the Jets to keep four quarterbacks.

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Even though it’s highly unlikely, there’s always a chance New York keeps all four guys. Fitzpatrick and Hackenberg are locked while Smith’s night off seems to mean he’s safe for the time being. A stellar performance from Petty puts Maccagnan in a tough situation. Do you part ways with the experienced backup or do you quit on the fourth-round pick after one season? We’ll see how things unfold in a matter of no time.

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