The team first practiced on a Thursday afternoon late in July, with almost all of the Eagles' 90-man roster taking part in a workout that lasted just more than an hour at Lehigh University. Nearly half of those players were roster hopefuls, a collection of rookies and some veterans who arrived at camp unsure of whether they would be in uniform when the Eagles opened in Cleveland on Sept. 9.

The roster has since been trimmed to 75, providing a sigh of relief for some players that their time with the Eagles could be extended at least one more week.

On Thursday, the bubble players and longshots will have one last chance to try to make the Eagles when the starters sit in the final preseason game against the visiting New York Jets, and all four quarters will be played by reserves.

"It's a great opportunity for these guys to show," coach Andy Reid said. "They were told when they came here they were going to have an opportunity to play and put film out there. If they make our team, more power to them. If they don't, it gives them an opportunity to catch on with somebody else, and that's what this is all about."

For those players, a game that might seem meaningless to others is the most meaningful night of the summer. The Eagles won't make roster decisions based entirely on Thursday, but the competition for the No. 3 running back spot between Bryce Brown and Chris Polk, for the No. 6 linebacker spot as well as other positions such as fullback and backup center require evaluations gleaned in this, the fourth preseason game.

Veteran safety O.J. Atogwe will receive much-needed snaps at safety along with 2011 second-round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett. One is trying to prove he can still play, the other is trying to prove he can play at all.

The most compelling player to watch might be quarterback Trent Edwards, a veteran with 33 career starts who will play the final three quarters on Thursday. Edwards is competing for the No. 3 job with Mike Kafka, who won't play on Thursday because of a fractured left hand. Edwards has demonstrated a command of the offense throughout the preseason. If he continues on Thursday, he'll make it difficult for the Eagles to justify releasing him.

"It's still a preseason game, and I have put as much importance on the first three games as I have Thursday's game," Edwards said. "It's all the same to me."

The same goes for wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, a 2010 fourth-round pick by the Rams who has had trouble finding an NFL home. He's a talented pass catcher who is in a numbers crunch in Philadelphia. To make the roster, he'd need to beat out players ahead of him on the depth chart who have more time with the Birds - an unlikely proposition but one Gilyard is trying to accomplish.

"It's part of the business," Gilyard said. "I just look at it like another day at work. I try not to get caught up in the numbers game because, at the end of the day, I don't have no say-so about what goes on in the office."

Then there are players such as Ryan Rau, an undrafted linebacker from Portland State who made the training camp roster after a tryout. Rau tried to learn the defense and find his spot on special teams, but he came to the roster with odds against him to make the roster.

The coaches have taken notice to him – and frankly, for a player to make the cut from 90 to 75, a player is already on the radar. But the next cut is the one that matters, and Thursday is the final chance to persuade the coaches before cuts are due on Friday evening.

"I think about it a little bit, but I try not to let it get to me," Rau said. "If you're doing good and you understand the system and putting your best foot forward, it makes you feel a little bit more easy about the whole situation."

McBriar expects release

It looks like one decision has already been made. The punting competition between Mat McBriar and Chas Henry will go to Henry, barring anything dramatic occurring on Thursday.

McBriar's agent, Jack Bechta, wrote on his Twitter account that McBriar will be released. The Eagles did not make the move on Wednesday, but McBriar will not punt in Thursday's game.

No Tebow for Jets

This is a just a reminder that Jets quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are not scheduled to play against the Eagles. Greg McElroy and Matt Simms will be the Jets quarterbacks.

Vick guarantee

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick endorses Unequal Technologies, a company that makes protective gear, and he will wear a Kevlar flak jacket made by the company when the season starts.

On Wednesday, Rob Vito, CEO of Unequal Technologies, told ESPN.com that Vick will definitely not hurt his ribs wearing the new jacket.

"I guarantee he will not get hurt," Vito said.

Vito added that Vick was not wearing the company's equipment when he bruised his ribs in the second preseason game.