Football / Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles' Arrelious Benn leaps into the crowd after his 43-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against the New York Jets at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. (Ron Cortes/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT)

Barkley's on the mark as Eagles batter Jets in preseason game

NEW YORK -- Matt Barkley did not create a backup quarterback controversy in his first start in an Eagles uniform. But if Thursday night's 37-7 win over the New York Jets in the preseason finale was an opportunity for the Eagles to measure the progress of the 2013 fourth-round pick, they can be encouraged by his improvement from last year.

The Eagles sat almost every starter and a few top reserves, leaving the game relevant only to coaches, opposing scouts, and devoted fans who will spend the next 36 hours predicting the Eagles' 53-man roster before it must be set Saturday at 4 p.m.

The draw of Thursday's game was measuring Barkley's progress and determining the Eagles' competition at kicker.

Cody Parkey made a strong case to be the team's kicker after connecting on three field goals, including a 53-yarder and a 54-yarder. Alex Henery, who did not attempt a field goal, entered the game 1 of 3 in the preseason with a career long of 51 yards.

Barkley received the most playing time in his two preseasons in Philadelphia. He finished 21 of 33 for 253 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for a score. Barkley finished the preseason 41 of 65 (63.1 percent) for 495 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. It was a marked improvement from a year ago, when Barkley completed only 50.8 percent of his passes and averaged 4.9 yards per attempt.

When Barkley arrived in Philadelphia, he thought he would compete with Nick Foles and Michael Vick for the starting job. The competition turned out to be between Vick and Foles. All three were at Thursday's game. Foles remained on the sideline while the Eagles' starters sat. Vick took one snap for the Jets before Jets coach Rex Ryan called a timeout and pulled him from the game for recognition from the half-full crowd at Lincoln Financial Field.

Vick received a standing ovation. He tipped his cap to the fans.

Barkley stayed in the game into the fourth quarter. When he first drove the team near the goal line, an apparent miscommunication with Quron Pratt resulted in an interception in the end zone.

Barkley rebounded on his next drive, connecting with Arrelious Benn for a 43-yard score. Benn, a former Tampa Bay second-round pick trying to compel the Eagles to keep him, caught his second touchdown pass of the preseason. The team's top receiver was Jeff Maehl, who finished with four catches for 84 yards in his bid to remain on the roster.

All the scoring in the second quarter came from Parkey, who added his third field goal in the third period. Barkley's rushing touchdown was a 7-yard fourth-quarter scamper to punctuate his performance.

Fourth-string quarterback G.J. Kinne relieved Barkley and led the Eagles on two touchdown drives. The first score was a 21-yard pass to Trey Burton. The second was a 46-yard rush by Damaris Johnson, who has had a strong preseason.

Johnson played running back because Matthew Tucker (shoulder) and Kenjon Barner (ankle) both left the game with injuries. Chris Polk (hamstring) was sidelined, and LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles sat with the starters. That meant the only healthy running back by the second half was Henry Josey, who continued to make the most of the opportunity. Josey finished with 22 carries for 121 yards, which does not include a 33-yard run that was nullified by penalty. He entered the game averaging 8.4 yards per carry.

On defense, outside linebackers Travis Long and Bryan Braman recorded sacks. Safety Earl Wolff and defensive lineman Taylor Hart forced fumbles.

The Eagles finished 2-2 in the preseason. What matters is the season that begins when the Eagles host the Jacksonville Jaguars in 10 days.

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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