One more week, Eagles fans. One more week until the lights shine down on a brand new season of NFL action. Before we get to the eagerly awaited season opener against Atlanta, there is one more game left on the calendar and for these five players, it could be the biggest of their lives.
The former Eagles draftee hasn’t exactly emerged as a frontrunner in the battle for the DT4 spot, which in is disappointing by itself, but considering that the role could see defensive snap counts of up to 40% this season given Jernigan’s injury, the durability concerns surrounding Ngata and the amount Schwartz rotates his defensive linemen, it’s even more so. Qualls has been surpassed by the likes of Winston Craig and Bruce Hector and coming into tonight, all eyes will be on the defensive front. If Qualls fails to flash in the way he did at Washington alongside Sidney Jones, then this may be the first of the 2017 Eagles draft class to fall through the cracks.
‘Outstanding’ may be the only word that does the progress of Jordan Mailata any justice. Since being drafted by the Eagles in the bottom of the 7th round, Mailata has gone from a 6’8, rugby star who had never played Football before, to keeping former second-round pick, Nate Orchard, in his back pocket.
Mailata was never expected to break onto the Eagles final 53-man roster, but given how quickly he’s been able to learn the fundamentals and how impressively he’s played with all things considered, one more positive showing could be all it takes for Pederson and Stoutland to realize that the ceiling Mailata has is just too high to risk exposing to the Waiver wire, securing his place on the final 53.
The battle at running back was always primed to be an exciting one, but it underwhelmed in every aspect of the word. The team’s RB4 spot was hanging in the balance and with two main contenders (Pumphrey and Adams) missing extensive time due to injury, the reps fell to Wendell Smallwood and Matt Jones and were squandered as a result. Adams, for the second time in as many preseason appearances, outshone Wendell Smallwood and if he can hit the ground running against the Jets and prove that he is the superior back, it may be all it takes for the Eagles to feel confident enough in keeping the undrafted free agent around.
Second to only Shelton Gibson in team receiving yards, Carter has been the most pleasant of offseason surprises. The wide receiver has shown a great catch radius and blistering speed on the outside throughout the preseason and is now faced with a unique opportunity. Alshon Jeffery could be set to miss 2+ weeks and Hollins, Agholor and Wallace have all missed time during this offseason with injury. Is it too farfetched to think that the Eagles keep an extra, fit, wide receiver who could step in late-game if needed? Another stunning reception could just seal that fate.
The Safety out of South Alabama has been another of this year’s big surprises. Competing with Tre Sullivan, Reaves has hit with menace and made big plays since the beginning of Training Camp. The signing of Corey Graham may have put a dent in his stock, but with Maragos still on the ‘PUP’ list, the Eagles could work some magic to bring extra Safety and special teams depth into the new season.