Philadelphia Eagles News

Observations from the sidelines in preseason-opening defeat

It wasn't a particularly pretty way to open the preseason – it's hard to sugarcoat a 27-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans – but in the big picture what matters is that the Eagles are going to evaluate each player and come up with the best 53 players on the roster to open the regular season on September 8 against Washington. With that in mind, here are some observations from the sidelines at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night …

1. Safety Andrew Sendejo buzzed around the football and had a couple of pass breakups as a starter in the defensive secondary. Sendejo has impressed the Eagles since Day 1. He's going to be a valuable piece of the safety puzzle. Good start for him.

2. Tight end Dallas Goedert looked terrific, and that's not the least bit surprising. He's been on point all spring and summer. Goedert is just so big and strong and he catches the ball well and when he has it in his hands, well, he's fantastic. The anticipated 1-2 tight end punch of Zach Ertz and Goedert is going to be a huge part of this offense.

3. The running game didn't do enough – just 37 yards on 17 carries – so that's an area to work on. Jordan Howard split time with Miles Sanders in the first quarter – Pederson said he just wanted to see Howard and Sanders in live action -- and Howard had 8 yards on three carries while Sanders gained 3 yards on the same number of carries. Wendell Smallwood had one punishing inside run and gained 11 yards on four carries. Josh Adams lost the football at midfield, a costly turnover in the first half. Donnel Pumphrey ran hard between the tackles.

4. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside caught two passes for 23 yards on four targets and nearly had a spectacular diving catch on the second offensive play from scrimmage. "Dang, I almost made that catch," he said. "That would have been a great way to start in the NFL. I'll get it next time."

5. Marken Michel has some speed, doesn't he? The Eagles don't have a set fifth receiver, and Michel has opened eyes in the summer and he certainly did his part on Thursday night.

6. Daeshon Hall had this stat line from the defensive end position: six total tackles, one quarterback sack, three tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries, and a forced fumble. Um, that's a really nice start as the Eagles look for depth at the position.

7. Tough night for cornerback Josh Hawkins, who played a bunch of reps but didn't make the step forward he wanted to take.

8. I liked safety Johnathan Cyprien, who had a pass defensed, four tackles, and one tackle on special teams. Did he take the lead for the fourth safety spot?

9. Cameron Johnson averaged 49 yards on six punts. Didn't it seem like he punted a whole lot more than that?

10. The wide receivers, other than Michel and Arcega-Whiteside, didn't help themselves a whole lot. DeAndre Thompkins had a drop on what should have been an easy catch and Charles Johnson left the game with a foot injury. Mack Hollins didn't play. Shelton Gibson didn't play, both because of injuries. Braxton Miller had one catch for a gain of 7 yards. Carlton Agudosi had one target and no catches.

11. Linebacker L.J. Fort was beaten in pass coverage by tight end Anthony Firkser, who ran right past Fort, but it was tough to tell whether Fort was supposed to get help over the top from a safety. So let's not make a call here until we know the coverage the Eagles were supposed to play.

12. A very nice job – at first glance – from first-round draft pick Andre Dillard at left tackle and second-year man Jordan Mailata on the right side. It wasn't perfect, by no means, but they both played pretty darn well, it seemed. Dillard was particularly impressive with his athleticism and technique. Mailata handled one-on-one pass rushing well. The Titans had success on Mailata's side on one blitz and sacked Sudfeld, but I'm not sure that was all on Mailata.

13. Second-year lineman Matt Pryor played a ton of snaps at left guard and left tackle. The more versatility he can show the Eagles, the better it is for his roster situation.

14. Jake Elliott boomed a 53-yard field goal and then hit the right upright on a 40-yard attempt late in the first half.

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