The Eagles will play host to Baltimore later tonight in their third preseason contest. This is often the game that decides many of the major roster battles and as a result, there will be plenty to pay attention to.
The Thorson pressure cooker
It’s unlikely we see a lot from Josh McCown tonight and it’s not yet known how much Kessler will play, although the previously concussed QB has returned to practice. Regardless of that, the pressure on Thorson has mounted significantly since the signing of a fourth quarterback.
If Thorson has any chance of convincing the Eagles that he’s too valuable to be exposed to the waiver wire, he has to build on his 16/26, 175-yard outing last week. It’s a big week for the Northwestern product and a subtle slip here may be all it takes for the Eagles QB depth chart to seamlessly fall into place. Watch for the young signal-caller to play safely, taking what the defense gives him and refusing to take any unnecessary risks.
Marken Michel and Greg Ward Jr both have touchdowns to their names this preseason and if it’s presumed that the Eagles will keep five receivers around, that leaves an all-out scrap between those two, Mack Hollins, and Carlton Agudosi. All of the receivers simply have to be at their best, but some need this more than others.
Hollins really hasn’t done much to stand out, Charles Johnson did well to bounce back from a drop-plagued week one, and Agudosi is trending in the right direction but could do with kicking on.
Keep a close eye on the wideouts as they try to do anything they can to separate themselves from the crowd.
The release of Paul Worrilow partnered with Kamu Grugier-Hill’s injury has opened up a huge window for guys like Alex Singleton and T.J Edwards. L.J Fort has been really impressive so far and the team are high on Nate Gerry, but they may now be convinced to carry an extra linebacker due to the depth concerns.
Singleton has a high special teams upside but Edwards was among the most sought after undrafted free agents and finally settled in last week, turning in a solid performance against the Jags.
Pay extra close attention to the linebackers this week. The team showed an intent to blitz linebackers one week ago and a flash in the backfield or a pick in coverage could do wonders for a player on the outside looking in.
Offensive line discipline
Matt Pryor has struggled with penalties in both games so far and is now firmly out of the picture. Because of his slow development, Stefen Wisniewski has been pushed back outside to guard where he may, just may be able to save his spot on the roster. Discipline across the board could be the difference-maker here. Whether it’s Wis, Pryor, Jordan Mailata or even one of the younger centers like Keegan Render, discipline in terms of both penalties and composure, will carry significant weight as the roster battles rampant.
A return on an investment
The Eagles running back battle appears to have come to a close if Corey Clement can get himself back into the mix after returning to practice, or so we think. There’s a chance that the Eagles do want an insurance policy at kick returner, opening the door for both Boston Scott (who scored a touchdown last week) and Donnel Pumphrey who has shockingly started to pick up some momentum.
Both backs helped sustain a run-only drive in the fourth quarter that ended in a score, while Wendell Smallwood appears to have dropped down the pecking order and is now fighting for a future of his own. Special teams prowess could be the difference this week if there’s nothing to choose the backs in terms of production. As a result, we can expect quite an intense night from the Eagles backfield.
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Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
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