Philly Front Office - Eagles

Preseason Week 1: What To Watch For

The Philadelphia Eagles play football this week, folks. Based on the madness that occurred when 40,000 fans showed up to a practice, I’d say it’s a safe bet that this game will have the atmosphere of a regular season one. I say that even while considering that Carson Wentz and Nick Foles are unlikely to play. Wentz will probably miss all of the preseason, and Nick Foles is dealing with neck/shoulder muscle spasms that should warrant him some precautionary rest. Even without the star power of the potential league MVP and reigning Super Bowl MVP, fans will be ecstatic to see their team back on the field, and there’s no shortage of preseason storylines to watch out for either.

 

Who Starts at the WILL Linebacker Position?

The Eagles’ website’s practice report from August 6th has Nathan Gerry as the “odds-on favorite to win the weak side spot to open the year.” I wrote about Gerry earlier in training camp as a player to watch out for this preseason as a whole, and getting a starting nod on Thursday over Corey Nelson and Kamu Grugier-Hill would indicate he’s trending in the right direction. Nevertheless, Grugier-Hill has reportedly had a very nice camp, and Nelson is a veteran who should see a decent number of snaps regardless, so don’t expect that position battle to be anywhere near decided just yet. Linebacker play, outside of Hicks and Bradham, is something to watch closely this Thursday.

 

The Play of Nate Sudfeld

You can read more about Sudfeld in our article debating what to do with Nick Foles, but in regards to this Thursday, I’ll be watching him more in terms of his development into our backup quarterback next season. Foles isn’t going to be around forever, and someone is likely to pay him a good bit of money this offseason when his contract expires. Getting experience, confidence, and improving now could pay dividends for Sudfeld next season when he’s only one spot behind Carson Wentz on the depth chart. Last season when he played, we saw a lot of short throws well in front of the first down markers. It would be nice to see Sudfeld connect with playmakers downfield more and show us a wider range of throws he can make this preseason.

 

Slot Corner Position Battle

Sidney Jones and De’Vante Bausby have both been getting reps at slot corner in camp with some Jalen Mills and Malcolm Jenkins sprinkled in between. Seeing where the corners line up on Thursday will be one of the notable things to keep watch of. Even if Bausby gets the start over Jones against the Steelers (which I don’t think he will), it’s no reason to get down on Jones. If anything, Bausby commanding snaps shows that the Birds may be deeper at corner than we expected. Jones, however, is the one really worth keeping an eye on given the hype surrounding last year’s 2nd round draft pick. In college, Jones was a playmaker who seemed to have a knack for finding the ball in the air, leading to deflections or interceptions. With Landry Jones starting at QB for the Steelers, it could be an opportunity for Sidney to showcase some of what he can offer the Eagles once the season actually kicks off.

 

The Fourth Running Back Spot

Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and Darren Sproles are locks to make the team, but the fourth spot is still up for grabs. Donnell Pumphrey, Matt Jones, and rookie Josh Adams will have opportunities this preseason to show why they’re deserving of that spot. Pumphrey showed little to nothing in the small amount of playing time he saw last preseason, so this year will be make or break for the second year back coming off essentially a red shirt year. Matt Jones had success in Washington before and will be looking to prove he’s deserving of a spot on this roster. Josh Adams is a bit of a wildcard. After a successful college career at Notre Dame, he went undrafted before landing with the Eagles, and it will be worth noting what he’s capable of in an NFL offense. Be sure to let EaglesFrontOffice know which running back you think is deserving of making the team after Thursday’s game, as well as telling us your thoughts on the rest of the positional battles!

 

 

Shane Sullivan

Recently graduated from the establishment formerly known as Philadelphia University. Diehard Philadelphia sports fan who was regrettably pessimistic about Nick Foles (I'm sorry, Nick) and was thankfully optimistic about The Process (thank you, Sam Hinkie). Movie lover, book nerd, and horror game enthusiast. I would've eventually won on the show WipeOut if it didn't get cancelled.

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