In the first preseason game, there are dozens of players to watch; here are some
Let’ get right to it.
Who are some players to watch on Thursday night when the Eagles open the preseason at home against the Tennessee Titans?
Here you go:
Cody Kessler and Clayton Thorson. Nate Sudfeld will get the bulk of the QB reps, but Kessler and Thorson are fighting for a spot on the roster. If both of them play lights out, the Eagles may elect to part with them anyway if they decide to keep just two quarterbacks on the roster. Kessler has had the better camp, but Thorson, as he gets more acclimated with the NFL game and the offense, has come on lately. He is a fifth-round draft pick, so the odds of sticking for Thorson could be in his favor.
Asked what he wants to see from Thorson as the preseason games roll around, head coach Doug Pederson said: “Just to see where he is at mentally. We’ve thrown a lot of volume at these guys, really the whole playbook in training camp is available. Now we whittle it down to just a handful of plays. Just how he handles and commands the huddle, how he executes, and what he sees defensively. Just run the offense and that’s all we can ask for with a young quarterback in his first game.”
Carlton Agudosi (pictured above) and Greg Ward. You could throw Charles Johnson in here, too, a veteran receiver who has been steady, though he hasn’t made the flash plays like the 6-6 Agudosi and the shifty Ward have. Agudosi is a red zone threat, catching three touchdowns in one recent practice during goal line drills. All of them tough catches, too.
VIDEO: WR Charles Johnson talks about trying to make the team
“The Eagles are like football heaven,” said Agudosi, who was out of football last year after spending two training camps with the Arizona Cardinals. “You have everything you need. Facilities are top notch, coaches are great, everybody is working toward the common goal. They preach it then follow through with it. I’m in football heaven. This is the perfect place to develop and reach your potential.”
Miles Sanders and Donnel Pumphrey. Sanders will make the team; Pumphrey won’t unless there is a run of August injuries at the running back group, though he has had a pretty solid camp.
“I can’t wait,” said Pumphrey, who was drafted two years ago but has yet to play in a regular-season game. “It’s go hard or go home for me. That’s my mentality. When I first got here, I didn’t really know what to expect. Now I really know what to expect. I’m excited.”
Sanders has looked like the best runner on the roster, but it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the speed of the game, and even how much Pederson lets him play.
Andre Dillard and Jordan Mailata. With Jason Peters likely sit this one out, Dillard, the rookie first-round pick will see plenty of action. He has looked good in camp, and it will be good to see how he adjusts in a live game.
Mailata has appeared to struggle during camp as he transitions from left tackle to right tackle, but the coaches have spoken highly of him. He will get plenty of reps earlier in games this year as opposed to last season when he was still learning how to play football after spending his life on a rugby field.
“Our expectation is obviously a little bit higher and a little more for him, you know, because he's been here a year now, and he's getting a lot of time out here in practice and he's done some great things,” said Pederson. “This will be a great opportunity for him to get in the game and be able to kind of slow things down in his mind and just execute the calls, run or pass, and again, be a part of that evaluation of the offensive line.”
Orlando Scandrick and Johnathan Cyprien. These two defensive backs weren’t even on the roster a week ago yet they were both running with the second team during practice on Tuesday.
“Just (them) getting comfortable with the defense and being back out in the grass in a live setting like that in a game situation, and then their role on special teams, as well,” said Pederson. “I mean, they are older players that have to contribute both ways. You know, defensively and on special teams. It will be good for them to get out there, too, with a new set of guys, new team and just again execute the defense.”
Jeremiah McKinnon and Sidney Jones. Jones has had as good a camp as anyone, and he was working as a first-team cornerback this week. He is healthy and eager to finally be able to showcase his talent. McKinnon has flashed all camp long and, while a dark horse candidate to make the roster, he will be an interesting watch for fans and 31 other teams.
T.J. Edwards and Alex Singleton. One of these undrafted free agent linebackers has a real shot at making the roster, with Kaum Grugier-Hill out for at least the season opener and Paul Worrilow still sidelined with a knee injury. Let’s see which one, or both, rises to the challenge.
Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller. With the season-ending knee injury to Joe Ostman, there is an even greater sense of urgency for one or both – or even Daeshon Hall – to prove capable of holding down the fourth defensive end spot and be in the rotation utilized by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
Kevin Wilkins and Hassan Ridgeway. The Eagles are set at defensive tackle with Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan, but there is probably room for a fourth or even fifth. Wilkins is an undrafted free agent who is having a good camp and Ridgeway hasn’t stood out much after being acquired from the Colts during the draft. Then there’s Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector who cannot be discounted in a battle to make the roster.