The Philadelphia Eagles finally took to the field after a long summer without football. The long-awaited return to the gridiron did not go without a hitch. In fact, overall, it was a pretty messy game for the boys in midnight green. Still, the whole purpose of the preseason is to separate the pretenders from the real players. While the team as a whole looked less-than-stellar, a few names shone brighter than others. On the contrary, some didn’t take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. So, what did we learn from the Eagles clash with the Titans and what will it mean to the depth chart. Following the first preseason game, here is how I see the lineup shaking out:
|Greg Ward Jr.|
(Names in bold are projected to make the final 53-man roster)
No movement at this position. Charles Johnson did himself no favors; neither did Carlton Agudosi. Both have the size the Eagles covet at the wide-out position and will get chances to redeem themselves before the preseason is over. It’s fair to mention, with Nate Sudfeld on the sidelines, the entire offense stalled. Hearing that his broken wrist will keep him out for a while is not good news for any of the receivers fighting for a roster spot. Their opportunities will be limited and they will have to show some contested-catch fortitude and the ability to adjust to poorly thrown passes. If the Eagles keep six receivers, Marken Michel is the obvious choice.
Expect Braxton Miller, Greg Ward Jr. and DeAndre Thompkins to get more looks in the preseason games to come. None of these three really had the opportunity to raise their stock. Thompkins has an edge due to his returning ability.
|Jason Peters||Lane Johnson|
|Andre Dillard||Halapoulivaati Vaitai|
|Ryan Bates||Jordan Mailata|
No changes at this position either. Dillard looked every bit the part of a first-round tackle. His post step is lightning quick and his length and anchor really showed on tape. He even showed some improved run blocking. Mailata, on the other hand, made it clear just how fresh he is to the position. If Lane Johnson misses any snaps it likely will be Vaitai slotting in at right tackle, at least for this season.
|Isaac Seumalo||Jason Kelce||Brandon Brooks|
|Stefen Wisniewski||Isaac Seumalo||Halapoulivaati Vaitai|
|Sua Opeta||Stefen Wisniewski||Stefen Wisniewski|
|Anthony Fabiano||Keegan Render||Matt Pryor|
The first position group with some movement from the unofficial depth chart. Wis’ name is featured three times on this list. He should be the first backup off the bench until Brandon Brooks returns from injury. However, he has not shown the ability to snap the ball with any consistency this summer. During the game, the ball was constantly low and caused timing problems for the offense. Seumalo has taken reps at center for the Eagles before and if Kelce spends any time on the sidelines, the team should be much more comfortable with Wis at guard.
Matt Pryor made a ton of mental mistakes last night. He’s a massive dude and has all the physical tools to be an NFL guard, but will have to get the other side of the game down before he can be a dependable backup. For now, Wisniewski should be the first option off the bench at both guard positions.
No changes here; nobody outside of Dallas Goedert really made an impact. Staying on Goedert, he is the real deal — smart, strong and smooth. The combo of he and Zach Ertz will be a nightmare for opponents all season. Perkins had a nice reception, but will have to show quite a bit of improvement to unseat Rodgers. The only time we heard Alex Ellis’ name was for a holding call, and that’s not good news for anyone trying to make an NFL roster.
Some movement on this list. Josh Adams looked determined to make the roster until a costly fumble. This has been an issue for Adams throughout his career and will be held against him come cut day. Wendell Smallwood ran very well last night, including a very physical run up the middle in which he broke a few tackles. He will be hard to keep off the roster, especially considering how loved he is by the coaching staff and around the locker room. However, not seeing Corey Clement and Boston Scott makes this a very difficult list to lock-in. Any three of those names could be on the chopping block, although Clement has the inside track. Donnel Pumphrey actually ran pretty well against the third strings, but has too large a mountain to climb to make this roster. He may stick to the practice squad if he keeps it up.
An important note: Jordan Howard is the first name on this list. Even with the backup offensive line in, Howard ran for gains on all of his handoffs. That is what he is known for. He fits this offense a lot better than people give him credit for and will feast behind the best offensive line in the game. Add that to the fact that Miles Sanders’ debut was less-than-impressive. He looked indecisive with the ball in his hands and he failed to recognize blitzes in pass protection.
No surprises here. Thorson looked downright awful. Kessler was not impressive by any stretch of the imagination either. With Sudfeld down, the Eagles should really look to bring in a vet to back up Wentz. On Sudfeld, he showed off his mobility in and outside of the pocket. His arm seemed a tad off, but he made no major mistakes and finished the game with a nice stat line.
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