We’re just one day away from the Eagles preseason opener and it’s time to start printing out depth charts and circling players to watch. Here are five under-the-radar players who are worth keeping a firm eye on tomorrow night against the Titans.
CB Rasul Douglas
The man who led the Eagles in interceptions last year has enjoyed a strong offseason. Douglas and Jones continue to make regular plays during Training Camp and with Jalen Mills on the PUP list, there’s a starting role to be won. If we assume Ronald Darby has a padlock on CB1, that leaves Douglas, Maddox, and Jones, to battle it out for the two remaining spots.
For whatever reason, Douglas has always been on the outside looking in when it comes to situations like this, but last season’s aggressive play and late breakout helped surge the Birds to the playoffs when the secondary began to falter.
If Douglas can make a splash in preseason, maybe picking off a pass or simply showing improvements in coverage, then Schwarz may be left with no choice but to let Douglas thrive in a starting role.
That all starts against a Titans team that brings talent like UDFA Anthony Ratliff-Williams, who’s enjoying a strong camp of his own, alongside the bigger players like Corey Davis. There will be plenty of opportunities for Douglas to turn heads.
QB Clayton Thorson
He may be the fourth QB on the depth chart, but Thorson may get the most exposure of any Eagles quarterback this offseason. Keen to see what they have in their fifth-round pick, the Birds will be hoping to see a little more than they have in Training Camp so far.
Thorson has been worryingly inconsistent up to this point but if all of that changes in live-game scenarios, the Eagles may be convinced to keep him on the final 53.
He’s not the most accurate of quarterbacks and has a worrying TD-INT record, but if Thorson can show an ability to manage the game and chip his way down the field, then the Northwestern product still has every chance of forcing his way onto the final roster spot in a bid not to be exposed to the waiver wire.
WR Marken Michel
Michel is listed as the primary slot backup ahead of Thursday night which is huge for the former CFL star who has quietly had an impressive Summer. But how has he pushed ahead of guys like Greg Ward Jr.?
Well, the Eagles want players who can let it rip in open space, Cc: Golden Tate, who had 54.4% of his receiving yards before joining Philly last season come after the catch.
394 of Michel;’s 1,215 receiving yards (or 32.4%) in the CFL came after the catch. He also managed 11.8 yards per carry in his young career. He’s a jack-of-all-trades player that would intrigue any NFL scout and has some interesting special teams ability.
He can run the ball on sweeps, catch screens, and pick up those valuable YAC with ease. Watch for Michel to get plenty of attention on Thursday night.
LB Alex Singleton
Kamu Grugier-Hill is injured and Paul Worrilow is still battling knee problems. There will be a huge window of opportunity for another CFL export who has flashed plenty of potential up to this point.
After going undrafted in 2015, the 6’2, 232 lbs, linebacker bounced around NFL practice squads before landing in Calgary, wherein three seasons he recorded 311 tackles, 4 sacks, one interception, and forced six fumbles.
Named a CFL All-Star in both of his last two seasons, he was also given the CFL’s ‘Most Outstanding Defensive player’ in 2017, leading the league in tackles one year later.
The Eagles aren’t exactly inundated with LB depth right now and if Singleton can prove upon his return to the NFL that he can cut it with the big boys, his chances of securing a roster spot will skyrocket.
Watch for an impact on special teams too, an area of focus for the linebackers and one of strength for Singleton, who amassed 29 ST tackles in two years.
DE Shareef Miller
Joe Ostman’s injury has thrown a spanner in the works of the Eagles DE group and with depth now minimal, a lot of focus is being focused on Josh Sweat, but it’s rookie Shareef Miller who perhaps carries the most intrigue.
I’m a fan of Miller’s game but his skillset was one dimensional coming out of college, without much in the way of pass-rushing moves at his disposal. How much can change in one Summer? We’re about to find out and if the answer is ‘a lot’, then the Eagles DE spot may not be so bleak behind the starters after all.
Who are you looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments!
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