PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – In the same hotel where the team stayed for Super Bowl XXXIX, the Eagles arrived in steamy North Florida on Wednesday afternoon with their sights set on preseason game No. 2. The players picked up their room keys and enjoyed some downtime before meetings ate up some of their night hours. Head coach Doug Pederson headed into a production meeting for the television broadcast (tune in to NBC10 for the 7 p.m. kickoff; coverage on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and the official app begins at 6:30 p.m.) The first road trip of the season was well underway.
This one continues the theme of the preseason, which is this: The Eagles are in the business of evaluating their 90-man roster. They’re going to have plenty of chances to do that against Jacksonville, particularly those who are on the younger side and those on the roster “bubble.” Players to watch? I’ve got my list for Game 2 …
Cody Kessler/Clayton Thorson, QBs
With Nate Sudfeld out as he recovers from left wrist surgery, the backup quarterback position has clearly come into focus. The Eagles are confident that Sudfeld will return at the start of the regular season or shortly thereafter, but who really knows with a bone injury? In the meantime, Cody Kessler and Clayton Thorson will get their preseason reps. They didn’t put points on the board last week, but they’ve both had their practice reps increased in the last week, so they should be improved. The Eagles really want to see something here. It’s a big moment for both, Kessler particularly.
Andre Dillard/Jordan Mailata, OTs
Both had strong performances last week and now they need to continue to take steps forward. Dillard is so technically sound and precise in his movements and he’s come a long way in a short period of time. Mailata is going to get a ton of reps with Lane Johnson out of the entire preseason and we can monitor the progress he makes. Just think how successful this preseason will be if the Eagles come away convinced they’ve got two young, rising offensive tackles to build around in the future? That would be huge.
Johnathan Cyprien, S
Let’s see if Johnathan Cyprien continues to push for a roster spot. He did a good job last week after having been in, what, three practices? The Eagles love their depth at safety and Cyprien is part of that picture at the moment. He’ll get some reps in this game.
Alex Ellis, TE
The Eagles are stacked at tight end and there isn’t much room to make it, but the Eagles are always looking for players to develop. Alex Ellis has good size and he’s picked up the system quickly. He has been noticed in Training Camp. With both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert likely not going to play much in the preseason – Goedert is out, for sure – Ellis has a chance to get some time. You never know.
Eli Harold, DE
The clock is ticking on Eli Harold, acquired in a trade last week from Buffalo. He’s got burst, he’s long and gangly, and he has had some pass-rush success in the NFL. Now he jumps into the mix with players like Daeshon Hall and Josh Sweat, both of whom played well last week against Tennessee.
Orlando Scandrick, CB
With some time in the system under his belt, Orlando Scandrick has a chance to make it as a nickel cornerback. He was around the football last week and has to keep up his production. Scandrick may not run as well as he did in the past, but he’s crafty and smart and he knows when to peak.
Sidney Jones, CB
Sidney Jones played only a handful of snaps last week, so it was tough to give him a grade. Maybe he gets more reps in this game. Jones is making his push and he’s done a good job in Training Camp. Is Jones ready to take that next, significant step? It’s a big question that needs to be answered.
Josh Adams, RB
In a very crowded running back room, Josh Adams has to make something happen in this preseason game. He had a fumble last week, a bad turnover. With Wendell Smallwood delivering every day and with Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders impressing, Adams has a tough battle. He and Boston Scott will look to make some big plays in the running game.
Marken Michel, WR
That 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown last week opened some eyes, so what does Marken Michel do for an encore? Could he be a strong candidate for the fifth wide receiver job? Michel has to keep doing it, as he has some good competition for a roster spot. Nothing is a given here, and Michel knows it. He showed his explosiveness on that play and has been a playmaker throughout Training Camp.
Zach Brown, LB
In his second game of the preseason, is Zach Brown ready to nail down a starting job at a linebacker position that is still very much up in the air across the board? Brown is a tackling machine and he showed that last week. He’ll get a chance against a run-heavy Jacksonville offense (Nick Foles isn’t playing, folks). This is just about the time when a veteran like Brown starts to elevate his game as he begins to eye the start of the regular season …