They engaged in two days of collaborative practice sessions, and now the focus shifts to the preseason matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cleveland Browns tonight (kickoff at 7:30 PM, broadcasted on NBC10 locally and NFL Network) at Lincoln Financial Field. What’s on the line?
Certainly, a lot.
With less than two weeks remaining (until August 29, to be precise) before the Eagles, like the rest of the NFL teams, trim down their roster from 90 players to 53, there are significant battles for positions and spots on the roster. Here are several aspects to keep an eye on in the second Preseason Game…
Running Back Dynamics
Head Coach Nick Sirianni mixed D’Andre Swift, Rashaad Penny, Trey Sermon, and Kennedy Brooks in the running back position during the initial preseason game, giving Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott some rest. Sirianni has expressed the intention to subject his running backs to some tackling in the preseason to prepare for the regular season. As a result, Gainwell and Scott might get some playing time against Cleveland, ensuring they’re ready for the regular season kickoff on September 10 in New England. This group, highlighted by Sirianni since spring, has all displayed their strengths during Training Camp. The question remains how many running backs will earn spots on the 53-man roster – while history suggests four is the norm, there’s no certainty.
Wide Receiver Competition
The likes of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith are well-known stars. Despite Quez Watkins’ impressive summer, a hamstring injury has momentarily slowed him down, yet it’s not expected to linger into the regular season. Britain Covey’s been dealing with a hamstring injury too. Olamide Zaccheaus has showcased solid blocking, short-area speed, and receiving skills, but what comes after these four? Tyrie Cleveland put up a strong performance against Baltimore and continued with positive practices against Cleveland. Greg Ward has followed a similar pattern. Devon Allen, Jadon Haselwood, Johnny King, and Joseph Ngata are all seeking opportunities to make big plays against the Browns.
Increased Quarterback Reps
More repetitions equate to better performance. Jalen Hurts delivered an impressive performance against Cleveland, particularly on Tuesday. However, his participation in this game is uncertain (possibly unlikely). Marcus Mariota, Ian Book, and Tanner McKee are in line to gain valuable playing time against Cleveland’s formidable defense.
Offensive Line Position Battles
The Eagles possess a robust offensive line unit, and intense competition is underway for roster spots. Considering two physically demanding days against Cleveland, the starters, including Jordan Mailata, Landon Dickerson, Jason Kelce, Cam Jurgens, and Lane Johnson, might not play. This creates an opportunity for the remaining linemen to showcase their skills and vie for backup positions.
Nakobe Dean is back in good health and performed well against Cleveland in practice. He might see his first preseason action, and it’s possible that all linebackers, excluding Haason Reddick, will get playing time. Veterans like Nicholas Morrow, Myles Jack, and Zach Cunningham are still adapting to the system, rookie Nolan Smith is difficult to keep off the field, and Christian Elliss aims to continue his impressive performance from the summer.
Emerging Young Cornerbacks
Josh Jobe has been actively participating and consistently playing strong football throughout the month. He concluded Tuesday’s joint practice with an interception. Additionally, fourth-round draft pick Kelee Ringo continues to develop. Alongside these two, including former Brown Greedy Williams and a few others, the Eagles are navigating a talented young cornerback group to finalize the five or six players (speculative roster number) who will make the cut.
Safety Rotation Continues
Several players are getting first-team reps as the Eagles experiment with different combinations at safety. Reed Blankenship stood out by snagging three interceptions in two practice days against Cleveland’s quarterback Deshaun Watson. The other players have been performing well and will continue to receive game time, highlighting the ongoing evaluation process for this position. K’Von Wallace, Terrell Edmunds, Justin Evans, and rookie Sydney Brown have all stepped up, creating a challenging decision-making process for the coaching staff and Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman – exactly what a team aspires to achieve.