Philadelphia Eagles News

All Systems Go In Preseason Opener

All things considered, Sunday's preseason opener was all-Eagles and all-perfect, relatively speaking. The Eagles throttled Indianapolis 36-10 and emerged from Week 1 of the preseason healthy and filled with momentum after the thorough drubbing.

The point of the preseason, of course, is to evaluate and ultimately select the best 53 players from the current 90-man lot. So instead of talking about Nelson Agholor's three catches and his touchdown catch-and-run, or the performances from a sideline that was totally into the preseason debut, let's break down it down into some observations from a job very well done.

  • The offensive line did a terrific job until the late going with some effective pass protection for quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley and some physical run blocking. Andrew Gardner acquitted himself nicely at right guard before giving way to John Moffitt. Matt Tobin played left tackle when he was on the field. It seems to be a two-man race right now for the right guard job between Gardner and Moffitt.
  • Jaylen Watkins took first-team reps at the nickel cornerback spot and later moved outside. He missed a couple of tackles and must improve in that area, but Watkins did fine. He's a different player from last year. The entire secondary was strong, and rookie Eric Rowe did some outstanding things – forcing a fumble, tackling well – and is off to a good start. E.J. Biggers ran well and covered well.
  • Safety Ed Reynolds had a remarkable fourth quarter with two interceptions and a big tackle on a kickoff return. He is suddenly in the mix as a backup in the secondary. Chris Maragos and Chris Prosinski were excellent on special teams and on defense.
  • Agholor's catch-and-run for a touchdown showed just how athletic he is – he went up and snatched a high Sanchez pass and turned and sprinted into the end zone. Fast and quick. Agholor has extremely quick feet. He had a drop and maybe another pass that he could have caught, but Agholor is going to be a player.
  • The entire wide receiver corps is deeper and more talented than it has been in years. Miles Austin went down the field and used his body to separate and make a big catch for 39 yards. Riley Cooper has his role and Josh Huff has had a terrific summer. Jordan Matthews is outstanding and was open in the middle of the field on just about every snap he played on Sunday. Agholor is on the right path. Rookie longshot Rasheed Bailey showed hands, athletic ability and toughness and stared down the huge leap from Division III football to the NFL's preseason.
  • This defensive front killed the Colts in the run game. Bennie Logan was dominating. Brandon Graham was physical and crashed the line of scrimmage. Terrific start from the front seven.
  • Let's talk about Marcus Smith, the 2014 first-round draft pick. He had a washout rookie season, but is certainly a different player now. He's stronger, more physical and he's got some confidence. Smith was around the football quite a bit. He had some success against the run game and dropped well in coverage. Good start.
  • An underrated name to remember: Linebacker Brad Jones. He's a veteran who can play inside and outside and he's a special teams standout. Jones had a good debut.
  • You didn't see it, but on the opening kickoff Seyi Ajirotutu knocked the living tar out of former Eagle Colt Anderson. The special teams are going to be very, very special once again.
  • Bryan Braman has some energy off the edge. He flashed in the fourth quarter.
  • Safety Earl Wolff was inactive and that's a blow to his chances of making the 53-man roster. It's now-or-never time for Wolff and he couldn't play on Sunday. Not a good sign.
  • Kenjon Barner made a great first-game impression with a touchdown run and a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown late in the first half. He's the fourth halfback here. DeMarco Murray didn't play (Chip Kelly decision, so don't worry. Nothing is wrong with Murray) and Ryan Mathews had some touches, gaining 18 yards in two carries in the first quarter. He has power and explosiveness.
  • Big kudos to the Eagles fans at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. There was great energy and the fans hung around until the end. The ovations – and there were several – were loud and long.
  • Cody Parkey had a strange game. He kicked three field goals of 40-plus yards, but missed a PAT and a 34-yard field goal. Both missed kicks strayed to the right. Kelly said after the game that he's not going to bring in competition for Parkey, and Kelly is taking the right approach. Parkey is a Pro Bowl kicker and he's going to be one for a long time. He gets solid contact on every kick. Parkey will be fine.
  • With Zach Ertz out for the preseason and Brent Celek in no need of many reps, some of the young players at the position are getting their shots. And taking advantage. Trey Burton, who was open just about every time he went out on a route, had a 21-yard reception. Eric Tomlinson had five catches for 61 yards. Burton has come a long way. He's improved a lot as a blocker.
  • There were no injuries. The Eagles looked to be in great condition. Let's keep it that way. Baltimore comes to the NovaCare Complex for some joint practices ahead of Saturday's 7 pPM kickoff. This is a big week for the Eagles. They get back to work after a day off on Monday.
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