The Eagles dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend, to the tune of a complete 35-13 beating. After improving to 7-0 for the third time in team history, the Eagles will look to go 8-0 for the first time. However, there isn’t much time to get ready for the next game.
They travel to Houston to face the 1-5-1 Texans on Thursday Night Football. On paper, this should be an easy game, but the schedule and timing of the game make it a little more interesting. Before the game later this week, here are some players to watch out for.
This is probably an obvious answer but A.J. is a player to watch every single time he steps on the field. Brown was one of the key factors when it came to beating the Steelers this weekend. He hauled in 3 touchdowns for 156 yards and tormented the Pittsburgh secondary, specifically Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ahkello Witherspoon. Brown has been special since the second he put on midnight green, piling up 659 receiving yards, and is surely going to be the first Eagle to break the 1,000-yard boundary since Jeremy Maclin in 2014.
Houston is pretty bad in most areas but their secondary is middle of the pack in passing yards allowed, at 217 yards per game, thanks in part to rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. The LSU star has had a productive rookie season with an interception, 5 passes defended, and a sack. This will be one of the youngest defenders that Brown will go up against this season, so he could be taken advantage of. Brown is going to get catches no matter what but if the secondary isn’t elite, he can easily take over a game.
With Jordan Davis going down, I expect all the defensive tackles to see an increase in snaps for the foreseeable future. Milton Williams, along with Davis, is one of the younger backup tackles the Eagles hope to anchor the defense for years to come. He started the year slow, but just got his first sack of the season last week, is healthier than he’s been most of the season, and will see a significant bump in playing time.
While he doesn’t have the pure size and strength of Davis, he is a good, developing player and has more of an opportunity to play now than he ever has in his career. Over this game and the coming weeks, Williams could solidify himself as a long-term piece for the team.
Britain Covey has been pretty ineffective for the Eagles to start the season. I don’t know how much is solely him and how much is just that the Eagles have one of the worst special teams units in the NFL. Covey is quick and shifty but he hasn’t had much of an opportunity to show off his skill set. When he catches the ball on punts, he’s only averaging 6.5 yards per return.
That is pretty horrific, even for a rookie, but he also hasn’t had very many open lanes to run through. The Texans are a great opponent to try and get this special teams unit some much needed confidence. Covey can return but has yet to show it. If he can break a return, not even for a touchdown, but more than a minimal gain, that will be a good sign.
Robert Quinn finds himself on this list for the second consecutive week. In his Eagles debut, he was pretty quiet, with his only official state being 1 quarterback hit. The defensive line depth will be tested this week, and along with Williams, can help fill the hole. Quinn gets a pass for the first couple of weeks with the Eagles since it’s a hectic time when you first get moved to a new area and try to learn a new scheme.
With more practice and time to get comfortable, there’s a better chance that he can make an impact in Houston. The running game for Houston is good, but their offensive line is beatable, so with increased snaps, he could be able to break through more for the Eagles this week.
A rookie running back out of Florida, Dameon Pierce has been the Texans best offensive player this year. After getting just 11 carries for 33 yards in week 1, Lovie Smith made it a point to get him the ball more. In the six games after that, he has gained 502 yards on the ground and 3 touchdowns, while averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
That’s an average of 84 yards per game as the offense continues to work around him. These are almost elite numbers for any player, let alone a rookie who hasn’t even played half an NFL season. The Eagles may not be very familiar with Pierce, but if they don’t contain him, he is already good enough to make them pay for it.
AP Photo/Derik Hamilton