Good morning, Eagles fans! The first preseason game is in the books. The Eagles came out on the losing end of a 31-14 score, but the individual evaluations are essential as the team works toward getting to the 53-man roster limit. Here are the stories that you need to know in our Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft.
1. Dallas Goedert's Outstanding Debut
The Eagles' first draft pick had four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. He was also utilized extensively as a run blocker, something he didn't do at South Dakota State. Graham Foley has more on the rookie's big night:
With just more than 10 minutes left in the second quarter, rookie tight end Dallas Goedert ran a strong route to the goal line, eluded defenders, and found himself wide open for a 15-yard strike from scrambling quarterback Nate Sudfeld.
Within seconds, Goedert slapped the hand of running back Wendell Smallwood, chest-bumped Sudfeld, and became surrounded by the rest of the offense slapping his helmet and celebrating his first touchdown at the NFL level.
“It was really cool,” Goedert told reporters in the locker room after the game. “The whole team was there pretty quick. The guy tackled me in the end zone. And just celebrating with my teammates, Nate was pretty happy, and just celebrating with all the O-lineman, all the wide receivers, (Zach) Ertz and (Richard) Rodgers and other tight ends came in and supported me, so that was really cool.”
2. Nate Sudfeld Leads Dave Spadaro's Observations
After working the sidelines for the Eagles Network telecast, Dave Spadaro offered 17 notes from Thursday featuring Nate Sudfeld, who started at quarterback:
Nate Sudfeld completed 10 of 14 passes, threw two sweet touchdown passes – one on a move-in-the-pocket throw to tight end Dallas Goedert and one on a “go” route to wide receiver Shelton Gibson. That’s the best news. Sudfeld also struggled with two interceptions – one into a bait-and-switch coverage from Pittsburgh and one on a throw that he did not give wide receiver Bryce Treggs time to complete his route. So it was an up-and-down night for Sudfeld.
“That first interception was just a bad decision and a bad throw on my part. I expected one coverage and they gave me another coverage late in the route,” Sudfeld said. “I’m glad I was able to bounce back on that and make some plays. But I have to see film. I want to watch it right away and see how it went.”
3. Shelton Gibson Burns Steelers Secondary
Second-year wide receiver Shelton Gibson hauled in a 63-yard touchdown pass from Sudfeld with 1:58 left in the first half. Sudfeld told Gibson on Wednesday that if they line up in press coverage against him, he will take a shot down the field. And it clicked. Gibson earned a role on special team late in his rookie season. His most extensive action on offense came in the regular-season finale when he had two catches for 11 yards. He explained the most significant difference between his rookie season and going into this year's preseason.
“It’s just confidence, man. It’s just confidence – going out there and playing and having fun instead of just going out there to impress the coaches," Gibson said. "No, just go out there and have fun."
Gibson also was the first kickoff returner for the Eagles - note that Nelson Agholor and Darren Sproles didn't play. He showed some flash with two returns for 53 yards.
4. Seth Joyner, Clyde Simmons To Enter Eagles Hall Of Fame
Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie announced at halftime that two members of the famed 1991 Gang Green defense - linebacker Seth Joyner and defensive end Clyde Simmons - will comprise the Eagles Hall of Fame Class of 2018. They will be inducted on September 23 when the Eagles host the Indianapolis Colts.
“Seth Joyner was one of the most talented and fearless outside linebackers of his era, and the way he committed his heart and soul on every play spoke volumes about his love for the game,” said Lurie. “Seth epitomized the complete defensive player – dominant against the run, extremely skilled in coverage, and relentless in how he blitzed. Seth is one of the all-time greats in our franchise’s history and he set a powerful example for the generations of players that followed him at his position.”
“Clyde Simmons was one of the most feared pass rushers ever to play in Philadelphia, but he was also ferocious against the run and made his presence felt each and every week in the trenches,” Lurie added. “He was a pillar on one of the best defenses in NFL history and an integral part of the team’s success for many years. Clyde’s explosive and aggressive style of play resonated with our fans and also allowed him to become a dominant defensive lineman over the course of his career.”
Check out the best photos from Thursday's preseason opener against the Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field.
5. Players Of The Game
Vaughn Johnson cited seven Eagles from the game, including defensive tackle Fletcher Cox:
The perennial Pro Bowl standout looked to be primed for another dominant season Thursday night, as he recorded a sack on the game’s opening possession.
Head coach Doug Pederson was pleased what he saw not just from Cox, but the entire first-team defense.
"I thought the defensive line really came off the ball early," Pederson said. "Two three-and-outs which is exciting to see. I thought they played really aggressive and really fast. Something you want to see from your defensive, especially early in games."
6. Jordan Mailata Gets First Football Game Under His Belt
Seventh-round pick Jordan Mailata played in his first football game Thursday night. Not just his first NFL exhibition game. His first football game, period. He had a rough start. His first pass protection snap resulted in quarterback Joe Callahan getting sacked and losing the ball.
“You always have to have that next play mentality," Mailata said. "Having your first play be a sack, it’s a massive learning curve. I’ll learn from that, try to play on and put up some good minutes."
His teammates supported him, and the former Australian rugby player rebounded. He even had the awareness to move to force a neutral zone infraction penalty against the Steelers in the fourth quarter. Thursday added to the foundation Mailata has been building since the spring.
“Going into next week’s game against the Patriots, I think I’ll feel a bit more comfortable," he said. "I obviously had some jelly legs out there on my first snap, so now that I got the first game out of the way, the only way to go is up."
7. 2017 Draft Class Corners In Spotlight
Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas were both noteworthy on Thursday night.
Jones started as the nickel cornerback. The team's second-round pick in 2017 only played in the regular-season finale against Dallas as a rookie after he rehabbed from a pre-draft ruptured Achilles tendon. Jones was aggressive, not hesitating to get in on the action. He had the tackle on the opening kickoff. He was also flagged for illegally using his helmet to initiate contact with an opponent. There was a scary moment, however, where his left foot - the one that incurred the Achilles injury - was hit by linebacker Nathan Gerry while making a tackle attempt. Jones suffered a low ankle sprain but said he was OK after the game.
Douglas, a third-round selection last year, saw extensive time as a rookie when Ronald Darby was injured in the season opener. Douglas was beat for a 71-yard touchdown in the first quarter when he got in position to play the ball and mistimed the jump. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster caught the pass and took it to the house. Douglas had two picks as a rookie and got one later in this game off quarterback Joshua Dobbs when he recognized the route and undercut the pass. He also had a nice pass breakup in the end zone on a third-and-goal play that was wiped out by defensive end Josh Sweat's roughing the passer penalty. Douglas was in the vicinity of a 29-yard touchdown late in the first half. He said that he played with outside technique on the play expecting safety help. The safety got pulled which opened up the middle of the field. With his 6-2 frame, Douglas was still almost able to make a play on the ball.