Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field was a good show of Eagles football, a great crowd of over 40,000 fans, and positive energy as the team turns its attention to a short week of work before Thursday night’s preseason opener against Tennessee.
Where do the Eagles stand with preseason football on the horizon? They’ve collectively been impressive in this 2019 Training Camp, but it’s sure going to be nice to see another team on the other side of the line of scrimmage. There is only so much evaluation to be done with Eagles vs. Eagles.
With that in mind, here are some State of the Team thoughts with camp at its midway point …
Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill suffered what head coach Doug Pederson called a “lower-body” injury in Saturday’s practice. The team has not officially updated the status of Grugier-Hill, nor have the Eagles address reports that he suffered an MCL injury in his left knee. Grugier-Hill, cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, and defensive end Joe Ostman – who was carted off the field Sunday night – are the three players who will miss time because of Training Camp injuries.
Linebacker Paul Worrilow has been out of practice for the last several days as he recovers from last year’s knee injury. Running back Corey Clement and safety Rodney McLeod are doing more and more in practice and both are hopeful of returning to full activity soon. Ditto defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, defensive end Derek Barnett, cornerback Ronald Darby, and linebacker Nigel Bradham, who seem to be on track for action when the regular season starts. Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks continues to work in practice and looks to be making remarkable progress after suffering a torn Achilles tendon in January’s playoff loss against New Orleans.
Wide receiver Mack Hollins has been out of practice the last few days with a lower-body injury and tight end Richard Rogers is a day-to-day situation with a foot injury.
Cornerback Jalen Mills remains on PUP with a foot injury suffered in London last year.
ROSTER QUESTION MARKS
There are always some, right? And, actually, there are enough here that the four preseason games are going to be very important to provide answers. Some of the questions that need answers …
- ·And at middle linebacker is, who? It could be Nathan Gerry, who has taken first-team reps in camp to date. It could be Bradham, as he did in 2017 when Jordan Hicks, now in Arizona, was injured. It could be someone else from a linebacker room that has some uncertainty with the injuries.
- Who makes the 53-man roster from a crowded running back room? Jordan Howard and rookie Miles Sanders are going to make this team. They’ve both had strong summers. Clement is coming back and confident that he’ll contribute on special teams and in the backfield. Darren Sproles looks every bit as quick and sharp cutting as always. Does a fifth running back make the team? If so, who? Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams are playing well in camp. Boston Scott is looking for a chance to impress. Same with Donnel Pumphrey.
- What gives at cornerback? Darby hasn’t gone through a full practice. Mills is on PUP. LeBlanc is out with no timetable to return. The Eagles are going with Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, and Rasul Douglas as the top three cornerbacks, with Orlando Scandrick getting a long look at the nickel position. Players like Josh Hawkins, Jay Liggins, and Jeremiah McKinnon will get enough reps in preseason games to give the coaching staff something to think about.
- At wide receiver, it’s pretty much a given that Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside are going to make the 53-man roster. Who is the fifth receiver? Something has to give in the preseason games. A couple of big moments and solid play on special teams is what the Eagles are looking for to separate the group.
- In his second season, offensive tackle Jordan Mailata is playing on the right side after playing last year on the left side. He’s had some good moments in camp and he’s also had the anticipated inconsistency. The preseason is going to tell a lot about the progress he’s made.
- Who will contribute from the rookie class? Sanders and Arcega-Whiteside have stepped up in practice. Top pick Andre Dillard is developing at left tackle. Defensive end Shareef Miller is going to have a chance to show his game in the preseason. Same with quarterback Clayton Thorson, who is battling with Cody Kessler for the No. 3 quarterback job, if the Eagles decide to carry three on the 53-man roster.
- Speaking of quarterback, Nate Sudfeld figures to get a lot of reps in the preseason as the Eagles try to get him as ready as possible, just in case.
- Miller, along with Josh Sweat, Daeshon Hall, and Joe Ostman, are working to earn the coaching staff’s trust and provide depth at defensive end. The Eagles feel good about Barnett, Brandon Graham, and Vinny Curry. Who else can help with the pass rush off the edge?
- With Cox, Malik Jackson, and Tim Jernigan, the Eagles have as good a three-man rotation at defensive tackle as any team in the league. What roles, if any, do players like Hasson Ridgeway, Treyvon Hester, Bruce Hector, and Kevin Wilkins have here? Again, the preseason games are going to matter.
- As McLeod works his way back to full health, the Eagles are going with Malcolm Jenkins and Andrew Sendejo as the starters at safety. Johnathan Cyprien is here and has a month to show what he can do. Blake Countess has to step up. Tre Sullivan wants to remind everyone that he played and more than held his own last season. Deiondre’ Hall knows the system and wants to carve out a niche here.
- Finally, two veterans the Eagles signed as free agents have a chance in the preseason to solidify situations, and both are linebackers. L.J. Fort runs well and we’ll see how he looks in coverage and on special teams. Zach Brown needs to be consistently on top of his game in a scheme he’s still learning, so the preseason is important for him. Given the injuries to Grugier-Hill and Worrilow, both Fort and Brown are pretty key players in the big picture defensively.