Philadelphia Eagles News

Two Down, Two to Go And ...

The Eagles received the news they expected to get on Tuesday on Michael Vick, who took the hard shot to the ribs against New England, left the game and has been X rayed and scanned and MRI'd and treated with tender, loving care since. He's fine, just sore and with some healing to do before he returns to the playing field.

When will that be? Certainly, he won't play Friday night in Cleveland. There's no reason he should practice on Wednesday, although knowing Vick and his tolerance for pain and his love of the game, he might try to give it a go.

More likely, Vick will practice as early as the weekend, but that's just a guess from this perspective. Obviously, the Vick Watch is going to continue all year, for the rest of his career as an Eagle and, as we hope, for many years to come.

Meanwhile, the Eagles are two games into the preseason with games against Cleveland on Friday and then home against the Jets next Thursday.

How good is this football team? Here are some thoughts ...

  • I think it's time to appreciate the depth the Eagles have and the core of young, talented players on this roster. The Eagles have played very strong football in the second half of wins over Pittsburgh and New England, so that counts for something. On both sides of the football and on special teams, the Eagles have outplayed their opponents for most of three quarters in each of the preseason games. There is a lot of talent here, some of which is not going to make the 53-man roster.
  • Let's discuss the line of scrimmage. The defensive line deserves its high praise, as it has gotten off the ball with relentless aggressiveness and has really demonstrated great pursuit to the football. Lost in all of the sacks and quarterback hurries has been some pretty fine play against the run. Pittsburgh needed 39 rushing attempts to gain 131 yards, an average of 3.4 yards per carry. New England had 29 carries and 60 yards. That's good stuff. That's rallying to the football. The offensive line, however, has not been as in sync as we all thought it would be right out of the chute. King Dunlap played a good game at left tackle on Monday night. The Eagles haven't, though, been as consistent from guard to guard as they need to be. And where is the depth on this team? How is the roster going to shake out?
  • It is quite clear that the Eagles are in a good situation at halfback, with LeSean McCoy, Dion Lewis and probably Bryce Brown as the lead three. If the Eagles want to direct the offense just a bit more in the direction of the running game, they have the horses. Brown has shown so much in a short period of time, and he's going to get a lot of looks, along with Lewis and the talented Chris Polk, in the final couple of preseason games.
  • The emergence of Clay Harbor as a big-play tight end is not a mirage, and it's huge for the offense. The Eagles have a lot more versatility when they can use two tight ends and really go at both Harbor and Brent Celek in the passing game, particularly in the red zone. While the Eagles haven't radically upgraded the physical stature of their wide receivers, the idea that they can use two tight ends in the red zone opens up some opens for Vick and the offense.
  • As we have chronicled since training camp, and maybe prior, the Eagles are going to get immediate help from their rookie class. First-round pick Fletcher Cox started against New England with Cullen Jenkins lining up at left end. Cox is progressing rapidly and has the look of a big-time player. Vinny Curry had five tackles against New England and looks better and better off the edge. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks is a starter on the strong side and is all over the field. Brandon Boykin is challenging at the nickel cornerback position is the team's kickoff return man. Nick Foles -- more on him in a minute -- is having a lights-out summer. Brown has the right stuff at running back and Damaris Johnson, coming off a so-so outing at the Patriots, is making a strong bid for a roster spot.
  • Now, about Foles. His 118.4 passer rating leads the NFL in the preseason so he is worth getting excited about. Yeah, it's early. And, sure, he's going to have plenty of peaks and valleys before we truly know what he is all about. Foles has four touchdown passes and one interception -- a poor throw, in the red zone on Monday night -- and he has made all the throws and has shown all the poise and confidence that you want in a leader. He deserves strong consideration to enter the season as the No. 2 quarterback behind Vick, no matter how healthy Mike Kafka is. Foles has been that impressive.
  • It's hard to get a read on the defense beyond the front four to this point, because I know how little Juan Castillo is scheming. New England's screen game provided a lot of problems and lessons for Castillo and his players. Castillo understands that teams are going to combat the pass rush and the blitz with screens and quick drops and draws and all of that stuff. The defense has been dominant at times and poor at other times.
  • DeMeco Ryans? I'll wait until the regular season to evaluate Ryans, who has been on and off in the two games. Ryans knows when to get his game going, so Cleveland on September 9 is when the grades count.
  • I'm very high on what I've seen from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Nnamdi Asomugha and Curtis Marsh outside at the cornerback positions. Those three, plus Boykin, will make the roster. Joselio Hanson is a proven veteran who can play inside and outside. Brandon Hughes is a good prospect. The Eagles have good size and depth here, as evidenced by the shutdown performances late in the first two preseason games.
  • Nate Allen impressed against New England and Kurt Coleman is a solid, good football player. Beyond those two, though, what do the Eagles have at safety? Is Oshiomogho Atogwe healthy and a good fit for the defense? Is Jaiquawn Jarrett coming around at all in his second season? Is Tom Nelson, who has a high ankle sprain, and even Phillip Thomas, a good option for depth?
  • Chas Henry has become almost an afterthought, but that shouldn't be the case. He is very much pushing Mat McBriar for the punter job, and the fact is that both are kicking the ball very well.
  • It wouldn't surprise me if both defensive tackle Mike Patterson and safety Colt Anderson begin the season on a reserve list, and thus wouldn't be eligible to play until the middle of the season. Neither has practiced and there is no indication that either is going to be ready any time soon.
  • The final two preseason games are, of course, important to determine the course of the 53-man roster. A glut of talented wide receivers has provided great competition. Both Foles and Trent Edwards should get a ton of snaps at quarterback. And so on and so on. Keep your fingers crossed that the Eagles can avoid major injuries heading into September 9.
  • A shout out to Akeem Jordan, who has played very well at linebacker and on special teams. Nobody ever talks about him.
  • Boykin's play as a gunner on special teams makes him more and more valuable. He and Hanson appear to be very close in the push for the nickel cornerback job, and the more Boykin can contribute, the more valuable he is to the roster.
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