The best news from Saturday is that the Eagles have back the services of defensive tackle Mike Patterson, a remarkable story who is on the field three weeks after he suffered a seizure on the practice field at Lehigh University.
Just as encouraging, the Eagles welcomed with open arms the return to the team of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. He faces a week of conditioning and then, if all goes well, he will practice after that. Maclin insists that he will be on the field for the opener in St. Louis on September 11.
All good. The Eagles are a relatively healthy team through two preseason games and three weeks of practices. They have a lot of work ahead of them, but the big-picture good news is that of a positive health story.
Otherwise, there are many things to discuss. Including, but not limited to ...
- The team signed veteran Reggie Wells on Saturday to add depth to the group. He can play some tackle and the Eagles want to take a look at him there. Is right tackle a major concern? Maybe not major, but it has to be a concern. King Dunlap played well on Thursday in Pittsburgh, restoring confidence after a so-so preseason to date. Ryan Harris returned to the practice field on Saturday after missing a week with back spasms. Winston Justice is a couple of days, at least it seems, away from practicing. The Eagles would like someone to step up and establish himself at that position.
- Trevor Laws is on the practice field again. He has a big game coming against Cleveland. The Eagles have a lot of talent at defensive tackle with veterans Anthony Hargrove and Derek Landri in the mix, so Laws needs to play well to make this team.
- I don't think Howard Mudd is done tinkering along the offensive line. He wants to keep looking at rookie Jason Kelce at center, so it's conceivable that Kelce could get some reps with the starters this week. Jamaal Jackson seemed to play well against Pittsburgh, but I'm not so sure that Jackson is etched in stone as the starter at center.
- Casey Matthews is the starter at middle linebacker, and while that seems to have some Eagles fans in a state of panic, the coaches aren't worried at all. They want the fourth-round draft pick to get as many reps as possible running the defense. Clearly, Matthews didn't play a great game on Thursday -- nobody did on defense, or on offense for that matter -- but just as obviously the coaches aren't down on him. They know where Matthews is at the moment and they know where they hope he is in a matter of weeks and months.
- The truth is, the Eagles could have made depth-chart changes that we just don't yet know about. The team had a 10-10-10 practice on Saturday (shorter segments for the offense, defense and special teams) that was closed to the media. If Andy Reid made changes, we may not know about them quite yet.
- They didn't have a great game on Thursday, but safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman are going to be excellent performers this season. I like that safety group a lot. Give them a minute or two to get it all together, please.
- Starting to believe that defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins is going to have as significant an impact as any Eagles newcomer. He is so disruptive up front, and is as nasty as they come. Plus, Jenkins is already seen as a leader for this defense after winning the Super Bowl last year in Green Bay. Very, very good player.
- When the Eagles get Maclin and Steve Smith on the field, joining DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, how are the personnel groupings going to work? The Eagles are going to use a lot of combinations and they will use a lot of four wide receiver sets. That talented group is going to be extremely difficult to cover. So if the Eagles do a good job against the blitz, the passing game is going to have a terrific chance of success.