With the first preseason game only two days away, the entire locker room is eager to get back into game action. While a majority of the team enters Thursday with some prior NFL experience, there are a select few who will walk through the tunnel at Lincoln Financial Field for the first time in a non-practice situation. The nerves and excitement levels are high, but rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is focused on football.
“It's going to be exciting, but it’s just a football game at the end of the day,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “I got to just go out there prepared mentally, physically, and go ball.”
Along with keeping the football mindset as the first priority, many new Eagles enlisted the help of veteran players to give them tips on playing their first game in the City of Brotherly Love. Quarterback Clayton Thorson utilized the resources he has in a knowledgeable room as well as former Eagle and Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles. The Northwestern product is excited about using all the advice he has received to take advantage of the opportunity he has on Thursday night.
“I think just keep getting better each day,” Thorson said when asked what advice the veterans provided. “Put the bad plays behind you, put the good plays behind you, and it's all about the next play. I read an article the other day, actually, (Nick) Foles was talking about how he stays in the moment in the fourth quarter. He's like, ‘My dad (Larry) taught me it's all about what's going on right there.’ So even though he's not here, I’m able to learn from him, learn from those experiences.”
The Eagles hosted their Training Camp practice at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday to a crowd of more than 40,000 fans. This environment did not disappoint, giving the rookies a sense of what it is like in Philadelphia on gamedays.
“It was an awesome experience; we were just talking about it,” Thorson said. “Just to go out there and get that experience before Thursday, kind of take some of those jitters out. We're excited. I think all the rookies really liked being out there. We talked a bunch of us about it, so we're just looking forward to Thursday.”
All of the rookies experienced the pressure and emotion of playing in a new environment with their first collegiate game. Rookie defensive end Shareef Miller remembers his first game at Penn State like it was yesterday. While the tens of thousands of people at Beaver Stadium was something Miller will never forget, playing at Lincoln Financial Field is an even bigger deal.
“My first game at Penn State, I think I had two sacks. I was nervous and anxious because I was the new guy playing in front of like 100,000 fans," said Miller, a native of Northeast Philadelphia. "It’s going to be a different feeling though playing for the Eagles, in the NFL. They were my favorite team growing up, so that’s going to be a different feeling.”
Fellow Penn State product Miles Sanders will also experience his first preseason game this Thursday. The running back has received a lot of attention throughout Training Camp and is ready to show the fans what he can do in live game action. Sanders stressed the importance of just playing the game and enjoying every moment.
“When it comes down to it, it’s just football at the end of the day," Sanders said. "I’ve been working hard my whole life for this moment. So, it’s going to be exciting."