Here are some news and notes from the starters' first-half performance Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers ...
Even though Jason Peters did not play with the hamstring injury, the offensive line was borderline dominant up front providing both Nick Foles and Michael Vick time in the pocket to make throws while opening holes in the run game for LeSean McCoy and Chris Polk. Allen Barbre started at left tackle for Peters.
Foles got to utilize the hurry-up offense and led the Eagles deep into Panthers territory on both of his drives. Foles made a lot of quick throws as the Panthers rushed a blitzer off the edge on a number of snaps. Foles' first drive ended after he fumbled a shotgun snap and attempted to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone, but it wasn't far enough and it was picked off by cornerback Josh Thomas.
Just like he did in the preseason opener, Foles rallied on his second drive engineering a five-play, 39-yard drive which ended with a 7-yard touchdown scramble by the quarterback. Riley Cooper made a key block to spring Foles for the score. Foles finished 6-of-8 for 53 yards with the touchdown rush and an interception.
The key play on that touchdown drive was a 21-yard run by McCoy. The All-Pro back simply embarrassed cornerback Drayton Florence with a cut back towards the middle of the field which also left linebacker Thomas Davis spinning. McCoy got plenty of work in his preseason debut as he gained 47 rushing yards on eight carries and had three catches for 16 yards. He capped off his night with a 1-yard touchdown run to the far left side. It looks like by all accounts that McCoy is poised to flourish in this offense.
Vick came into the game in the second quarter and immediately led the Eagles into Panthers territory. This was Vick's first chance to run the up-tempo offense and he thrived. On a third-and-12, Vick did a great job looking off the defense before firing a laser to Jason Avant for a 15-yard gain. On the next play, Vick connected with tight end Emil Igwenagu for another 15-yard gain. The Eagles were rolling until Polk fumbled the ball on a strip by Davis.
On the second drive for Vick, the quarterback utilized his legs to make big plays. He bought time in the pocket spinning defensive end Frank Alexander around before hitting Cooper for a 22-yard gain. Vick got the Eagles to the 1-yard line with a 14-yard and a 6-yard scramble before McCoy cashed in with the score.
Vick completed his first nine passes going 9-of-10 for 105 yards with an interception, which came on a prayer at the end of the first half.
Avant led all receivers in the first half with four catches for 42 yards.
Overall, the Eagles moved the ball with aplomb, but turnovers limited the team to 14 points.
First and foremost, defensive coordinator Bill Davis will be much more pleased with the execution displayed on Thursday night compared to the preseason opener.
Cornerback Cary Williams made his debut for the Eagles after missing the preseason opener with a hamstring injury. Williams mixed it up with Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith after the wideout slammed him to the ground. Williams was tied with starting safety Patrick Chung for the team lead with four tackles in the first half. Chung did an outstanding job working the box. Nate Allen and Bradley Fletcher were the other starters in the backfield.
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks made his presence felt being utilized as a blitzer. On the first series of the game, Kendricks flushed quarterback Cam Newton out of the pocket as defensive end Fletcher Cox hurried Newton to force the incompletion. In the second quarter, Kendricks stopped running back DeAngelo Williams for a loss of 1 yard. He also came free up the middle on an A-gap blitz and drilled Newton as he threw the ball.
Cedric Thornton was credited with a quarterback hurry on the opening drive and registered a tackle for loss of 5 yards getting to Williams as soon as he was handed the ball out of the shotgun.
The first-team defensive line consisted of Cox, Isaac Sopoaga and Thornton. The second-team defensive line rotated in with the first-team defense. That unit featured Damion Square, Bennie Logan and Clifton Geathers.
The rest of the second-team defense was: Jake Knott and Jamar Chaney at inside linebacker, Brandon Graham and Chris McCoy at outside linebacker, Brandon Boykin and Brandon Hughes at corner and Kurt Coleman and Earl Wolff at safety.
Alex Henery had two deep kickoffs to start the game.
Damaris Johnson continues to impress in the return game. He had an 18-yard punt return and a 30-yard kick return. Boykin added a 41-yard kickoff return of his own early in the second half.
In addition to Peters, the following Eagles did not participate in Thursday's game: running back Bryce Brown, tackle Dennis Kelly, tackle Ed Wang, guard Danny Watkins, linebackers Phillip Hunt and Casey Matthews, safety Kenny Phillips and long snapper Jon Dorenbos.
Tight end Emil Igwenagu suffered a head injury in the first half and was done for the night.
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