JACKSONVILLE – In his NFL preseason debut, quarterback Clayton Thorson recounted almost immediately after the Eagles lost to Tennessee, he rushed things, never got settled, and was unable to establish any kind of base. As a result, Thorson pretty much had a stinker of a first game in the preseason.
On Thursday night in Jacksonville, Thorson turned it all around.
Rushed into the game after starter Cody Kessler was drilled on the seventh play from scrimmage and sent to sidelines with a concussion, Thorson looked totally different than he had a week earlier. He was calm. He was composed. He threw the ball on time and, for the most part, accurately. Thorson's line, then, was much more pleasing: He completed 16 of 26 passes for 175 yards, one touchdown and one interception in leading the Eagles to a 24-10 victory. Thorson led touchdown drives of 95 yards and 85 yards and gave himself a huge boost of confidence in the process.
"It was just a matter of slowing things down," Thorson said. "That first game, everything felt rushed. I knew it. It was something I addressed right away and something I worked on all week in practice. I had a few more reps in practice and that helped and then tonight, I was able to get into the flow and play my game."
The Eagles have only Thorson and Carson Wentz healthy at the moment at the game's most important position with Kessler in concussion protocol and Nate Sudfeld recovering from surgery on his broken left wrist. Baltimore comes to the NovaCare Complex on Monday for two days of joint practices ahead of Thursday's preseason game.
"We'll see what happens when it happens. Right now, I just feel good about helping the team tonight and playing better football than I did last week," Thorson said. "No question, the game slowed down for me. I expect that to happen. It was a big difference from the Tennessee game. The offensive line was great and we ran the ball, and that helped a lot. I know I have to be patient with all of this. That's part of how it works in the NFL."
The Eagles didn't get down on Thorson after the loss to the Titans, knowing that they've fed him huge volumes of information that can be overwhelming for young quarterbacks. No doubt, though, the team knows that in Jacksonville it saw the kind of player taken in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft – a quarterback who shows resourcefulness, leadership, and a winning hand.
Thorson was all of that against the Jaguars.
"It was fun out there. I played a lot and I got into a rhythm and stayed that way," said Thorson, who completed all eight of his passes on a 12-play, 85-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter that ended with running back Josh Adams barreling into the end zone from 1 yard out. "The receivers did a great job. It just all came together. It was a great experience out there for me."
Who knows how it's all going to shake out for Thorson and the quarterbacks this week, but he's ready if needed to take more reps. The more work he gets, the better Thorson will be. That's the name of the game. And in this game, Thorson left the field smiling with his first preseason win in the books.