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Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Five Players, Five Things to Watch

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COMMENTARY | Will Michael Vick play for the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend? Will Nick Foles get a start and possibly impress enough to create a serious quarterback controversy in Philadelphia? Will new head coach Chip Kelly get his team to .500 at the one-third point of the NFL season?

Maybe this stuff matters to Eagles Nation. But trust me, the majority of the country will be much more interested in latest installment of the soap opera taking place in Tampa, Fla., when the Eagles take on their second straight winless opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on Sunday at 1 p.m., televised by FOX.

This game will mark the second installment of the Mike Glennon era. The rookie from North Carolina State was handed the starting job two weeks ago in lieu of the embattled Josh Freeman, who struggled on the field and apparently alienated teammates and coaches alike off of it, particularly head coach Greg Schiano. Freeman was released by the Bucs during their bye week and now belongs to the Minnesota Vikings.

Meanwhile, Schiano is under the gun after losing nine of his last 10 games. His most recent critic is Bucs' legend and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Warren Sapp, who this week called Schiano's disciplined coaching approach "mafia-style." This is the same Sapp who is due to be inducted into the Bucs' Ring of Honor next month.

It should be a drama-filled Sunday at Raymond James Stadoum. Oh, and they're playing a game that day too.

The Eagles enter the game with road wins over two NFC East division rivals, the Washington Redskins and New York Giants, along with two losses at home and one on the road to the San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos, all of the AFC West.

The Bucs have lost two home and two road games to the New York Jets, New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals. The loss at New England was a 23-3 blowout. The other three losses were by a total of six points.

Five Players to Watch

DeSean Jackson, Eagles - The wide receiver has been in the news this week saying he's too fast for perennial shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is in his first year in Tampa Bay after coming over from the Jets. Jackson has caught 28 passes, three for touchdowns, and he is among the NFL leaders in yards per catch.

Darrelle Revis, Bucs - Revis has 16 tackles and an interception thus far and he's usually up for a challenge from any wide receiver. Knowing how Jackson likes to woof with opponents, this could make for an interesting sideshow on Sunday. More drama, that's all the Bucs need.

Nick Foles, Eagles - He was brilliant in relief of Vick last Sunday, completing 16 of 25 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. But that was against the Giants, who have the 28th-ranked defense in the league. If he starts this week, he faces a Tampa Bay defense ranked fourth overall and yields 17.5 points per game.

Mike Glennon, Bucs - Talk about being under the gun, here's a rookie third-round pick who didn't even start at North Carolina State until he was a junior. After all the craziness that went on with Freeman, Glennon played one game in his stead and went a serviceable 24 for 43 passing for 193 yards and a touchdown, with an interception and two sacks taken. Now Freeman is gone and suddenly Glennon is the man, ahead of 30-year-old journeyman Dan Orlovsky on the Bucs' depth chart.

Mychal Kendricks, Eagles - The second-year linebacker out of California is second on the team in tackles with 35. He had only 75 tackles all of last season. Kendricks also has recovered three fumbles and intercepted a pass in five games this year. And the best news of all for the Eagles, he's only 23 years old.

Five Things to Watch

Tampa Bay fans - After all that's transpired with the Josh Freeman saga, it's difficult to know whether they'll support the Glennon-led Bucs or just turn on them unmercifully. The Bucs are 0-4 coming in. If the Eagles start fast, it could get ugly.

Michael Vick's leg - After the way Foles played against the Giants, it's probably a good bet Vick will do everything he can to be back from a hamstring injury to get behind center against Tampa Bay, if for no other reason than job security. Personally, I don't think he should worry. Even as well as Foles played, the running option Vick presents gives the Eagles a dimension that Foles can't.

Mike Glennon's nerves - This is Glennon's team now for the rest of this season. He could evolve into a Tom Brady surprise success story (Brady was a sixth-round pick) or into another journeyman backup. A golden opportunity has fallen into his lap. His performance this week could go a long way in charting that course.

Tampa's rays - It's going to be sunny and 87 degrees with a real feel temperature of 91 in Tampa on Sunday. Some Eagles reported sucking wind in Denver's high altitude a few weeks back. Running back LeSean McCoy said he felt it on the first series against the Broncos. Will the Florida heat cause the same problems?

Bill Davis' game plan - When your defense is statistically last in the entire NFL, most people would be talking about the Eagles' offense making the difference. But Tampa Bay's offense is also statistically last in the NFL. Doug Martin has carried on all but 11 of the Bucs' running plays this year and only averages 3.4 per carry. Tampa Bay has connected on only 49 percent of passes attempted, the longest going for just 39 yards. If Eagles are going to shut down an offense this year, this is the game for defensive coordinator Davis and his group to do it.

Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Eagles follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards.

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