The Eagles shut out the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night coming away with a 17-0 victory to improve to 2-0 in the preseason. Here's a look at the big storylines as well as the players who helped themselves the most, whether it's battling for a roster spot or starting job, in 5 Things to Know for this Friday, August 19 ...
1. CB Nolan Carroll Shines Defensively
Nolan Carroll is making a strong case to become the Eagles’ starting cornerback. Thursday's shutout orchestrated by the defense was led by Carroll, who came away with an interception and returned it 38 yards to give the Eagles their first touchdown. In addition, on the game's first play from the line of scrimmage, Carroll broke up a deep pass intended for Steelers' receiver Sammie Coates and later drew a pass interference call later in the first quarter.
"Nolan Carroll, the way he started the game and the way he played it's great to see him play like that," head coach Doug Pederson said.
"I feel really good about where I am and what this defense is all about," Carroll said. "We have a lot of players who are hungry to get out there and play hard and get to the football. It's been fun. We have a lot of camaraderie and we're taking the football away a lot these first two preseason games. We've got to keep getting after it."
2. Defense Forcing Turnovers
The Eagles have forced nine turnovers, eight by the defense, in their first two preseason games. Against Pittsburgh, the Birds swarmed the ball to come away with four interceptions – all in the first half. In addition to Carroll's interception, safety Malcolm Jenkins came away with a pick on a pass tipped by cornerback Leodis McKelvin in the first quarter while cornerback Aaron Grymes and safety Jaylen Watkins took the ball away from the Steelers in the second quarter. The Eagles allowed only 207 net total yards.
"We’re attacking. That’s what we’re doing," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "It's a big difference from last year. We weren't attacking last season. That's what we're all about now."
There is some really strong depth up front defensively for the Eagles as well. Marcus Smith showed up with a quarterback sack and four total tackles and Steven Means continued to play very well off the edge. Inside, Beau Allen, Taylor Hart and Destiny Vaeao were among those who controlled the line of scrimmage.
3. Dorial Green-Beckham Makes His Debut
After wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was acquired by the Eagles in a trade on Tuesday, head coach Doug Pederson said the tall wideout wouldn't play in Thursday's game in Pittsburgh. But after a change of heart, Pederson sent the former second-round pick into the fray of game action.
"My decision was to let him play and just see what he could do and just coach him up on a couple of routes and a couple plays in there," Pederson said. "We had a chance to give him a throw in the end zone, just a little bit underthrown, but I think it was a good start for him to get his feet wet. We have a long way to go with him learning our playbook, but it was good to get him some snaps."
The way DGB met the media after the game and answered every question maturely and patiently was impressive. Good start for the second-year receiver. There are no guarantees with him here. He has to earn it.
"I think this is a fresh start for me," Green-Beckham said. "It's a new team, new teammates, a new family and a great family atmosphere, so I feel like it's a brand new start."
4. Penalties Hinder Big Plays
The Eagles accumulated 12 penalties resulting in a loss of 96 yards. The penalties hindered some big-time plays by the offense. An offensive pass interference by Zach Ertz stymied a big pick up by wide receiver Rueben Randle while an offensive holding call on rookie guard Isaac Seumalo brought back a 23-yard gain by running back Darren Sproles.
"Some of the things we have to clean up obviously are the penalties," Pederson said. "Those things are killing some explosive plays right now offensively and we've just got to make sure our alignments are right."
On the positive side, the new-look offensive line with Allen Barbre moving from left guard to right tackle and Seumalo playing left guard did a solid job. They need more time together and they will get it in the next three weeks before the regular season begins.
When asked after the game about the change in the offensive line, quarterback Sam Bradford offered his approval.
"I thought those guys did a great job tonight. I barely got touched," he said.
5. Bright Spots On Offense
After playing the entire first half, Bradford completed 14-of-19 passes with a couple of drops in there and looked good. He threw the ball very well, very crisply. A six-play, 33-yard drive in 32 seconds at the end of the first end resulted in a Cody Parkey 40-yard field goal to make it 10-0 at the half and it was a thing of beauty.
Wide receiver Nelson Agholor had a pair of catches for 30 yards, including a terrific, leaping catch for a first down.
Rookie receiver Paul Turner continues to impress as he fetched in 44 yards on three receptions. He made a remarkable one-handed catch for 23 yards down the sideline and is serving notice that he has a chance to make it here in some capacity.
Kenjon Barner had a good game running the football finishing with 41 rushing yards on six attempts, averaging 6.8 yards per attempt.