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A Fine Way To Open Preseason

Posted Aug 11, 2011

All in all, a terrific opener in the 2011 preseason. Eagles football is back!! A 13-6 win, no major injuries and plenty of things to like from Thursday night. Let's review ...

  • Nice job by Alex Henery on the opening kickoff. He boomed it 7 yards deep into the end zone for a touchback. He followed with an extra point and a kickoff through the back of the end zone. I can’t believe I’m doing play-by-play on the kicking game, but there you go. Total for the night for Henery: Field goals of 35 yards and 24 yards and a converted PAT, with four kickoffs into the end zone. One of the kickoffs was returned.

  • Amazing adjustment on a fade pass from Michael Vick to Jason Avant, who contorted himself and nearly made a spectacular grab in the end zone on the Eagles’ first drive. Andy Reid challenged the call, the right thing to do in that situation.

  • Super performance from Vick, who completed 4 of 6 passes for 74 yards and had a passer rating of 148.6. He played one series, threw a TD pass to Brent Celek and called it a night.

  • Nice to see Riley Cooper go up and catch an early Vick pass for 42 yards. Cooper has had to live with that final play in the end zone against Green Bay, when Tramon Williams picked off Vick and ended the Eagles’ final-minute threat. Not saying Cooper should have gone up in that instance, but he would probably do things differently now. In that instance, he has to be a defensive player and not allow an interception.

  • The Eagles ended their first drive with a red-zone touchdown, a Vick pass to Celek. Nice. They ran once inside the 5-yard line and got stuffed behind Jason Peters and Todd Herremans. I want to see this team establish the ground game in goal-to-go situations.

  • Great job by the defensive front four of Trent Cole, Anthony Hargrove, Derek Landri and Jason Babin. Good pressure, excellent quickness. This is a relentless group. Landri is making a real run to make the roster and Hargrove is making a real run at being a starter.

  • One series, one touchdown for the starting offense. Terrific job by right tackle Ryan Harris and right guard Danny Watkins, who played a second series, too. Jamaal Jackson was strong for his first series since the opener in 2010.

  • Huge game for Darryl Tapp, who clearly fits what Jim Washburn wants from his defensive front. Tapp recorded a couple of sacks and was a force off the edge.

  • Really a huge difference from the Vince Young we have seen in training camp and then in game situations. He showed excellent instincts and he threw the ball with accuracy. Young completed 3 of 5 passes for 45 yards against heavy pressure.

  • OK, I know Mike Kafka threw a bad interception and that is something he has to work on. But he stared down a blitz and threw a bullet to Chad Hall in the third quarter for a 16-yard gain. Very impressive. Kafka did a nice job. And the way he stepped up against pressure on third-and-long from deep inside Eagles territory and completed an 18-yard pass to Gerald Jones was just perfect.

  • Ronnie Brown is much more effective as an inside runner. I want to see him in more short-yardage spots.

  • Speaking of Chad Hall, he is going to have a very tough time making this roster. But he was terrific in the preseason opener and he is certainly good enough to play in this league. Hall caught 5 passes for 82 yards and earned the right to rest in the fourth quarter.

  • Tough night for Austin Howard at left tackle. He did some good things and some not-so-good things. Consistency is the key for Howard.

  • Mike McGlynn gave up an apparent sack to Pernell McPhee and Kafka fumbled in the red zone. The ball was scooped up by the Ravens and returned 93 yards for a touchdown in third quarter. However, Reid challenged the call and the play was overturned. Still, it was a play that McGlynn would like to have back.

  • Dion Lewis showed up in a nice way with 14 yards on 4 rushes in the first half and a reception for 16 yards. He finished with 10 carries for 26 yards.

  • Great, great pooch punt by Chas Henry that should have been downed at the 1-yard line. His second punt was beautiful – great spiral, height, all that – and it went 52 yards into the end zone. Would have loved to see another pooch there. Same deal in the fourth quarter – gorgeous punt that went into the end zone for 54 yards gross, but only 34 yards net. Plus, Cornelius Ingram committed a face-mask penalty to give the Ravens another 15 yards. Henry, though, had a 28-yard effort in the fourth quarter and ended with a 38-yard gross and a 28-yard net on four punts.

  • It is difficult to comment accurately on the play of Casey Matthews, who played the first two series. The Ravens had some success moving the football and they went after Matthews with two blockers. I thought he played pretty well, actually.

  • Excellent, terrific job by the safeties. Kurt Coleman had fine coverage on a 27-yard completion on Baltimore’s first snap – Coleman needs to turn and make a play on the ball – and both Jaiquawn Jarrett and Jarrad Page had interceptions. Page’s pick came in the end zone and ended a Baltimore threat in the red zone. Hopefully that is a sign of things to come.

  • Phillip Hunt had a pressure on the pass that Page intercepted. Hunt is going to be tough to get rid of him. The kid has serious burst off the ball.

  • Think about this: The Ravens’ fine running back Ray Rice carried 5 times for 7 yards, a 1.4-yard average. Very nice job by the defense.

  • The Eagles recorded 6 quarterback sacks – two from Tapp, one from Landri and one from Trent Cole, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Phillip Hunt – and had a lot of pressure otherwise without doing much from a scheme standpoint.

  • Overall, the Eagles were impressive from the standpoint that they had no delay of games for not having the correct personnel on the field and that they had so few penalties. Eight penalties for 81 yards isn't bad after two weeks of practice.

  • For a lot of reasons, I like running back Craig Cooper. He goes after it in the blocking game and he had a really nice inside-out 8-yard run in the fourth quarter to get to the edge.

  • The linebackers did a very nice job in coverage. Keenan Clayton played well on the edges, as did Rashad Jeanty. A busted coverage early hurt the starting defense when Rice gained 21 yards on a swing pass.

  • David Akers used to spend the entire game kicking into a net on the sidelines. He must kick 1,000 balls per game. Henery, on the other hand, didn’t use the net much, if at all. Just something I noticed watching from the press box.

  • Newly signed defensive end Chris Wilson showed excellent burst off the left side of the line.

  • Veteran Evan Mathis played both right guard and right tackle. He seemed to do a nice job, and he could be the swing tackle-guard the team needs for depth.

  • Of the injuries, the twisted knee to offensive tackle King Dunlap sounds the most serious. Offensive tackle Fenuki Tupou has a sprained MCL and safety Jamar Wall has a hamstring injury.

  • Reid had no real update on the health questions about wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Maclin went back to his home of St. Louis for more tests. When will wide receiver Steve Smith be ready? Reid indicated it could be three or four weeks.

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