Eagles start preseason vs. Packers as battle at receiver heats up

Shelton Gibson is likely competing for the sixth and final receiving spot on the Eagles. John Jones/Icon Sportswire

The Philadelphia Eagles open preseason play at the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night (8 ET). Here's what we'll be watching:

Receiver battle heating up

Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) has seen limited action and will likely be a scratch as a precautionary measure. There is still plenty to watch at the receiver position, however. While team members are reluctant to call it a competition, Nelson Agholor has been getting looks in the slot. If he continues to play well, he could challenge for some of Jordan Matthews' snaps. Matthews has been dealing with knee tendinitis but is practicing every day and remains on top of the Eagles' unofficial depth chart.

There is also a fight going on at the bottom of the roster. Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Matthews and Agholor are presumably the first four receivers to make the team barring a trade, and rookie Mack Hollins seems like a great bet given his special-teams prowess. The Eagles are unlikely to carry more than six receivers, so rookie Shelton Gibson and the surging Marcus Johnson could be fighting for the final spot. Johnson has had the better camp, but Gibson has shown improvement in recent days and can make a case for himself with a strong performance this preseason.

Wentz's cameo

While the Packers have opted to sit QB Aaron Rodgers, Eagles coach Doug Pederson is choosing to give QB Carson Wentz some work.

Wentz will start and likely will get a series or two before calling it a night.

"I'm excited for it," he said. "Obviously, out here [in practice] we're wearing red jerseys, you can't get hit, so to finally get that live action, kind of get used to it again before Week 1 comes around, it will be good for me and for everybody."

Wentz focused on improving his mechanics this offseason and has enjoyed the benefits of that in camp in the form of better accuracy and a more efficient release. Now it's time to see how it holds up in a game setting.

Corner competition

The Eagles are hoping one or two players emerge this preseason to help alleviate some serious concerns about the cornerback position. Patrick Robinson and Jalen Mills currently sit atop the depth chart, while Ron Brooks is the favorite to man the slot, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has made it quite clear that the competition is far from settled.

"I'd love to have some continuity there. But we also have to let it play," he said.

Robinson's post in particular is up for grabs after his shaky start to camp. While he has rebounded some, he could use a strong showing in these exhibition games. Second-year corner C.J. Smith -- Wentz's teammate at North Dakota State -- is in a good position to pounce if one of the starters stumbles. Rookie Rasul Douglas is a bit of a wild card. The third-round pick has plenty of natural ability and good instincts, but he is still raw. How quickly he'll develop is an unknown.

The Eagles are looking high and low on the open market for corner help, but it's unlikely they'll find a cure-all. A quality performance from this group Thursday would be welcome, even if it is against a Rodgers-less Packers attack.