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5 Things To Know Today: August 21

Posted Aug 21, 2014

The third preseason game is typically the most important of the preseason because the starters receive the most playing time before the season opener. In most cases, it is the last chance for the starters to get any type of game action before the start of the regular season. With that in mind, the Eagles host the Pittsburgh Steelers with kickoff set for 7:30 PM. The Eagles' first home game of the preseason can be watched locally on 6abc and nationally on NFL Network. You can also listen to the game with Merrill Reese and Mike Quick on 94WIP. Join us on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and on our app for complete coverage including an in-game chat, updates and live streaming of the post-game press conferences around 10:30 PM. Until then, here are the 5 Things To Know Today ...

1. The Boys Are Back Together

The Eagles are expected to have starting wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper on the field together for the first time this preseason. Cooper missed the first two games with a foot injury, while Maclin was sidelined vs. New England with an ailing hamstring. How will quarterback Nick Foles' timing and chemistry look in this "dress rehearsal" for the regular season? Rookie Jordan Matthews is also likely to be the top slot receiver with Brad Smith injured. Matthews had nine catches for 104 yards last week against the Patriots. Foles finished his last performance on a high note with a 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Ertz. Can he carry the momentum in front of the home crowd?

2. Can Allen Barbre Shore Up The Right Side?

Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland was effusive in his praise of Allen Barbre's transition from the left side of the line to right tackle in this year's Training Camp. Stoutland explained on Tuesday that Barbre has been more vocal and confident in his play in the past week. Barbre should get a good test against Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds, who had eight sacks and 29 quarterback pressures last season. The offensive line was key to the league's top-ranked rushing attack in 2013. Making sure Barbre is good to go would be a relief as the team has diligently prepared for Lane Johnson's four-game suspension.

3. Discipline On Defense

First, can the Eagles get off the field on third down? The Bears and the Patriots have combined to convert 20 out of 32 third-down attempts in the preseason, a success rate of 62.5 percent. Penalties play a big role in that as well. The Eagles have been flagged 19 times (not counting declined penalties) for 175 yards. Teams around the league are adjusting to the increased hands to the face penalties as well as the emphasis on illegal contact downfield. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis said on Tuesday that it will likely affect his game planning, but how much will he show tonight? Safety Malcolm Jenkins is confident that the defense will right itself, but did note that they must show some improvement on the field because you can't just turn on a switch and change everything when the regular season comes.

4. The Development Of Marcus Smith II

First-round pick Marcus Smith II played 81 total snaps (73 defense, eight on special teams) against the Patriots. Head coach Chip Kelly said he expected more production out of the rookie. Smith admitted that he was getting frustrated with his performance and he allowed it to affect his play on the field. Smith's athleticism is remarkable. He looks natural in coverage and at ease playing in space. His pass rush is a work in progress as he realizes that it takes technique and power to win instead of just speed off the edge. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans said this week that the game just has to slow down for Smith. Outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern said that Smith's development is simply a matter of time. How much will we see Smith tonight and will some of that increased development be evident?

5. Alex Henery's Reaction

Head coach Chip Kelly praised Alex Henery's Training Camp performance, but said that the fourth-year kicker has to make field goal attempts like the 47-yarder he missed in New England. After missing two kicks all through Training Camp, according to Kelly, Henery was unable to connect on his first try of the preseason hitting the ball wide right. Henery has also been good on his kickoffs with five of the 11 resulting in touchbacks. However, the Eagles acquired rookie kicker Cody Parkey from the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday. Let's see how Henery responds tonight.

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