Preseason Game 3 means something, even in these times when head coaches use practices as reps for the starters and the increased usage of two teams practicing together are simulated games. When the Eagles play Baltimore at Lincoln Financial Field (7:30 p.m. kickoff, NBC 10 in Philadelphia, 7 p.m. for Kickoff Show presented by Axalta on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and the official Eagles app), you're going to see some players on the field who really need the work.
While the Eagles are likely to use much of the game to continue their evaluation of the 90-man roster, some of the frontline players are going to play. Here is a list of some of the players to keep an eye on against the Ravens …
RB Corey Clement
After a very strong two days of practice against the Ravens, Corey Clement hopes he gets some real playing time in this game. Clement suffered a season-ending knee injury in Dallas last year and he's worked hard to get back to this point. He's looked very good in practice, but the game will be at a different tempo. I outlined the crowded running back picture earlier in the week, so nothing is really etched in stone other than Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, and Darren Sproles making this team. Is Clement a legitimate No. 4 running back? If he can play like he did before the injury, the answer is yes. Clement is a do-it-all kind of back, including his contributions on special teams. Let's see how he looks in a game situation.
S Rodney McLeod
Another player coming back from an injury, Rodney McLeod has taken a hard-working, measured approach to his rehab. He has gradually increased his workload in practice and now, here he is, eager to get some reps in a preseason game. A healthy McLeod means so much to the secondary. We saw how his injury last year altered the rotation and forced the Eagles to adjust on the fly. McLeod needs to show that he can run and cover when the game is live.
LT Jason Peters
Few players on this roster have been more impressive than Jason Peters this spring and summer. He's been on the field virtually every day and he's taken a ton of reps. What an amazing player. Peters looks great at left tackle and he said this week that he expects to play as much as a full half against Baltimore. The Eagles "managed" Peters last summer as he worked to recover from a 2017 season-ending injury, but Peters has been full go this time around and the difference is obvious. He looks dominating.
QB Josh McCown
How much time Josh McCown actually gets – and it's not exactly a given that he's going to play, but I'm taking an educated guess here – remains to be seen, but McCown is expected to go out and execute the portion of the offense that he feels comfortable with. It's possible that he plays about a quarter and keeps it simple. The Eagles want to see him run the huddle, operate the offense, get the football out quickly, and make good decisions and accurate throws.
WR Mack Hollins
How great was it to see Mack Hollins on the field last week after a full year injured? He's a hard-working, upbeat kid who deserves to have a chance to make this team. Hollins immediately made his presence known on special teams in Jacksonville and he ran well this week in practice. Hollins could very well have the edge as the team's No. 5 wide receiver based on his dominance on special teams. A couple of receptions to remind everyone what a weapon he can be in the passing game wouldn't hurt, either.
OL Nate Herbig
A rookie from Stanford signed after the 2019 NFL Draft, Nate Herbig has taken some quality reps in practice and through the two preseason games. He's played mostly guard, but Herbig has also done some work at center and could see action there on Thursday night. Can he make the 53-man roster? This is a classic example of why the preseason games are so important, to evaluate a player like Herbig for four games.
DE Daeshon Hall
Is what we're seeing from Hall – three quarterback sacks, two forced fumbles, an NFL-best grade through two preseason games, according to Pro Football Focus – the real deal? Let's see Hall again in this one against an offensive line that's had two practices to study him, feel out his moves, and prepare for his get-off ability at the snap of the football. Hall is playing his way into the defensive end picture in a big, big way. A huge game here might earn Hall some time off for great play in next week's preseason game against the Jets.
QB Clayton Thorson
The picture at quarterback changed with the addition of McCown, of course, so where does that leave rookie Clayton Thorson in the rotation? We'll find out as Thorson looks to build on a much-improved outing in Jacksonville. That performance seemed to boost his confidence and his demeanor during a week of good post-game practices.
RB Boston Scott
Boston Scott had a big fourth quarter in Jacksonville and followed up that with a strong week against Baltimore. Thus, Scott is in the conversation at running back as the Eagles try to navigate a talented room. Scott has speed and power and he's likely to get some carries in this preseason matchup.
TE Josh Perkins
An injury to Richard Rodgers, and we're waiting to hear the severity of it, opens things up for Josh Perkins and Will Tye and Alex Ellis as they battle for roster spots at tight end. Perkins is athletic, he catches the ball well, and he does good things with the football in his hands. Perkins chipped in early last season for the Eagles' offense, so he's got a lot going for him. The Eagles know what they have with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert and they feel great about Rodgers, when he's healthy. That's been a challenge for Rodgers since he joined the Eagles prior to the 2018 season. The next man up is Perkins, who looks for a chance to shine against the Ravens.