Skip to main content
Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles News

Spadaro: 6 storylines to follow Thursday night vs. Texans

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

On the road again, this time taking flight on Wednesday for Thursday night's game at Houston. The players are feeling it, but thanks to their commitment and the team's instant reaction in the post-game locker room on Sunday when players took massages, jumped in the cold tubs, had leg-compression devices, and stationary bicycles available, the Eagles should be as fresh as possible for the Houston Texans.

Some things to know about this game ...

1. The Eagles won't have rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis, who has a high-ankle sprain. While he rehabs, the Eagles will rely on its depth at a position that, when you look around the league, doesn't have a lot. Fortunately, Philadelphia is well-stocked at defensive tackle, and Davis' absence means that second-year man Marlon Tuipulotu could play a larger role. He's already been a big part of the tackle rotation, taking in 169 defensive snaps (36 percent of the team's defensive snaps) and he is playing very well with 10 total tackles and a quarterback sack.

"He has a really good anchor," Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon said. "He was one of the guys way back when they leave here for the summer, we kind of give them a plan, this is what you need to improve. I thought that he's improved what we wanted him to improve at a pretty high clip. So, feel really good about Marlon. He gives you anchor, he gives you versatility along the lines in the three- and four-down stuff. You saw he's rushing better this year. Feel really good about him."

2. Houston is a young team in a transition period and one of the foundation pieces for the Texans' defense is rookie cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr., the No. 3 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. Some thoughts on his game from Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown: "He's a good talent. He got drafted that high for a reason. Whoever we're playing, we've got to come to work. They've got (Steven) Nelson (former Eagle) out there. He's been doing a really good job, too. Great matchup. We've got to play."

Houston also starts a second rookie, Jalen Pitre, in the secondary at the safety position and a third rookie, Christian Harris, starts at linebacker. Defensive tackle Thomas Booker has been in the rotation as a rookie as well and could see significant time on Thursday night.

3. Speaking of rookies for the Texans, their featured running back is Dameon Pierce. He leads the team with 539 yards, averages 4.4 yards per carry with three touchdowns, and he has the Eagles' attention.

"Good player, man. I mean, really good player. Got a high opinion of him. He jumps off the tape," Gannon said. "Typically, I don't put up a lot of backs in front of the room and say, 'Hey, guys, this is a challenge ahead.' He was one of them. He's tough. He has vision. He's explosive. He breaks tackles. He runs violently. Can catch it out of the backfield. They deploy him in a good way. The run schemes that they use, they accentuate his skill set, which is pretty cool, and we've got a big-time challenge."

4. The series history between these teams tilts completely in the favor of the Eagles, who are 5-0 against Houston (the Eagles are also 12-0 against the New York Jets). The last time the teams played was in 2018 at Lincoln Financial Field, with the Eagles winning 32-30 in a wild one. The last time in Houston: November 2, 2014 (weird, right?) and the Eagles captured that one 31-21 as Mark Sanchez replaced Nick Foles at quarterback and threw for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Oh, how times have changed ...

5. The Eagles have an interesting and promising situation at tight end with Dallas Goedert, of course, a Pro Bowl-level player. Behind him, they are young with second-year man Jack Stoll, rookie Grant Calcaterra and, with his practice window open now as he works his way back from Injured Reserve, Tyree Jackson.

A scouting report from Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen: "It's been great. Jack Stoll has done a heck of a job in the run game. Does anything and everything that's asked of him. Then Grant has done a really nice job coming along too in the pass game as well. The way he's able to run routes. Tyree is continuing to improve and getting back in this thing. Overall, it's a great group. Really excited about the tight ends. (Tight Ends Coach) Jason Michael does a great job getting those guys prepared every day. In the meetings, on the practice field, they're continuing to grow."

6. In the passing game, Houston's best receiver is Brandin Cooks, who has 32 receptions for 354 yards and a touchdown this season working with quarterback Davis Mills. Cooks, a first-round draft pick by New Orleans in 2014, is with his fourth NFL team. "He's a good receiver who is on his routes and makes plays," cornerback Avonte Maddox said. "He's a veteran. He knows how to get open and he's explosive, so he is definitely somebody we have to watch."

Related Content