Good morning, Eagles fans! The Eagles are in New England to take on the Patriots. Our live coverage begins with The Kickoff Show presented by Axalta at 7 p.m. The battle between the two Super Bowl LII participants - and top two teams in ESPN's Power Rankings - starts at 7:30 p.m. and can be seen in the Philadelphia market on NBC10 Philadelphia. If you're in the surrounding region, check your local listings. You can also listen to the Eagles Hall of Fame duo of Merrill Reese and Mike Quick on SportsRadio 94WIP or PhiladelphiaEagles.com. Once the action on the field is over, join me and former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese here on the Postgame Show presented by Ricoh.
Until then, here's what you need to know to get ready for the day in our Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft.
1. Wide Receiver Position Goes Under The Microscope
Dave Spadaro details the battle at wide receiver with three preseason games remaining. Alshon Jeffery remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Nelson Agholor is out with a lower-body injury. Who will step up? Spadaro begins with Mike Wallace, the free agent addition who is set to make his preseason debut tonight:
Maybe the Eagles can feature Wallace early in the game just to put the football in his hands as an appetizer for the regular season. Wallace's role in the offense will be similar to what Torrey Smith did last year, and it was a valuable part: Take the top off the defense and open things up underneath for crossing routes from other receivers and tight ends, and attack matchups that favor the Eagles if cornerbacks line up in off coverage.
Check out some of the best catches during training camp from both sides of the ball.
2. Nelson Agholor Eyes Monster 2018 Season
After a breakout 2017 campaign, Nelson Agholor was recently named one of the 10 best deep threats at wide receiver in the entire NFL.
And he wants more this year. Graham Foley has more:
"The only thing last season did was lay a foundation, something to build on," Agholor said. "It's great that we got a chance to see what the big game is like, do what we needed to do there, but that doesn't mean we're done. We laid the foundation, that is the expectation - to work hard and focus in so you can have a chance to be there."
He said that maintaining his level of production this season would be a regression.
"You have to get better each day and you've got to get better each year and I thought that every year I played in this league, I got better," Agholor said. "Now, I had a chance to take a substantial jump a year ago, but now it's time for me to get better again. It doesn't change."
3. Lane Johnson Ready For Warm Welcome
As the Eagles travel to New England to take on the Patriots in the second game of the preseason, one Eagles player Patriots fans may have their eye on is tackle Lane Johnson. Fielding questions at his locker on Tuesday in an Eagles Super Bowl Champions T-shirt, Johnson addressed playing the Patriots again.
"I'm excited," Johnson said after looking down at his shirt. "They say it's preseason but any time you get to play a good team like that, it should bring out the best in all of us."
Johnson said he is far removed from the Super Bowl and is focusing on his day-to-day work in practice. He said that he expects the reception for quarterback Nick Foles, who is playing Thursday for the first time in a game since the Super Bowl, to be "pretty good" but he doesn't know for sure about his own.
"I think I'll get a lot of applause," Johnson said sarcastically. "I think it will be really fun." – Graham Foley
4. Schedule Highlights Challenge To Repeating
ESPN announced its preseason NFL power rankings on August 14, and the Eagles took the No. 1 spot.
In the list created by more than 80 writers and media members at ESPN, the defending Super Bowl Champions were followed by the New England Patriots at No. 2, the New Orleans Saints at No. 3, the Minnesota Vikings at No. 4, and the Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 5.
The Eagles were the only NFC East team ranked in the top 10 with the Dallas Cowboys coming in as the highest-ranked divisional foe at No. 13. The Washington Redskins were ranked 19th, and the New York Giants were 23rd.
The rankings also showed the tough task ahead of the Eagles in their quest to repeat. Six of the other nine teams in the top 10 are from the NFC including the Eagles' opening night opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, who ranked ninth. – Graham Foley
5. Jalen Ramsey Calls Carson Wentz A Future MVP
Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey didn't hold back in a recent _GQ_ interview about different quarterbacks in the NFL. The 23-year-old, who is well-known for his trash talk, gave brutally honest criticism of each and every one of them. His openness is what made the 2017 Pro Bowl and All-Pro corner's comments about Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz very intriguing.
"Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans), he'll be the league MVP in a couple years," Ramsey said. "One hundred percent. There's not even a debate about that. Him and Carson Wentz, for every year starting now until five to 10 years, it's gonna be them two. They're that good." – Graham Foley
6. Another Milestone For Jordan Hicks
Last Thursday, linebacker Jordan Hicks played in his first live football game since tearing his Achilles against the Washington Redskins on October 23, 2017. The recovery was long and difficult, especially for a player who has dealt with season-ending injuries before. Getting back on the field for the preseason opener was a rewarding experience for Hicks.
"It was very emotional, and it was more than just testing my Achilles," Hicks said. "It was really just getting back into the swing of things, into game speed, and being out there in front of fans and at the Linc. It was very special for me."
Hicks said that when the Eagles take on the Patriots tonight, he will have the same mindset as usual, focusing on the defense and how it can be improved. But it will be easy for him to think back to how far he has come since his season-ending injury like he did last week.
"You think about all those times you have to overcome, and you have to push through those tough thoughts and everything that comes with a season-ending injury rehab," Hicks said. "So for me, it was an accumulation of all of that, and that emotion, and thinking about getting to that point so many times and finally being there was special." – Graham Foley