Eagles tie with Browns in chaotic preseason clash: Injury updates & analysis

Nolan Smith
Newly drafted Philadelphia Eagles’ Nolan Smith speaks during a news conference at the NFL football team’s training facility, Friday, April 28, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia Eagles hosted the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, playing at Lincoln Financial Field for the first time since they won the NFC Championship. Unfortunately, that’s where the good stuff ends. This was a grueling game from both injury and overall game perspectives.

Eagles injuries

Where do we start?

Nolan Smith, Olamide Zaccheaus, and Zech McPhearson all suffered what appeared to be minor injuries. Moro Ojomo and Tyrie Cleveland were both carted off the field with neck injuries.

McPhearson was the first Eagle to go down. He left the field of his own power but was struggling to put weight down on his right foot. Prior to that, he was finding a groove on the field. After a shaky start that saw Browns QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson bully him on the outside, the Texas Tech product made some disruptive plays at the catch point and was beginning to really build some momentum, fighting back against relentless air strikes from the Browns QB. Hopefully, he’s okay and the injury is only minor, but it was encouraging to see him leave of his own accord.

Prized rookie Nolan Smith was then seen walking into the locker room. He did have a smile on his face, so there’s that. It looked like a shoulder injury for Smith, who was previously ripping the Browns’ O-line to shreds. There’s no need to see Smith play another preseason game, we know exactly how good he can be and there’s nothing left to prove.

Eagles WR Olamide Zaccheaus then left the game with a shoulder injury after finally making some noise on the field. He was very quiet in the preseason opener and had it not been for Marcus Mariota sending passes to the shadow realm, he would’ve had a very productive day until the injury. With Quez Watkins already down, depth at the Y receiver spot is going to be sparse over the next couple of weeks. Greg Ward Jr. your time is now!

Tyrie Cleveland’s injury was the scariest. He was twisting his body while trying to make a catch and landed extremely awkwardly. Players and coaches from both teams surrounded him while the medical team arrived and he was carted off after some time. The Eagles would later tweet (or X? The Eagles would X? Stupid app.) that he does have feeling in all his extremities, so hopefully he makes a full recovery! The fourth-year player had a great preseason opener and it would be a real shame for his opportunity of making this roster to be taken away.

Finally, Moro Ojomo, another Eagles rookie, was also carted off the field. He attempted to leap at Kellen Mond but landed awkwardly. He was quickly carted away and again, the Eagles would later report that he does have feeling in all of his extremities which is at least a positive sign.

I know preseason is important and they’ve already reduced the schedule, but nights like tonight really make you question just how crucial it really is. Hopefully all of the aforementioned names can make full recoveries and be back in action soon.

Is Tanner McKee really going to unseat Marcus Mariota for the Eagles’ QB2 spot?

Marcus Mariota really struggled. Like, really struggled. Every pass felt like it was about 8ft too high and the former Titans QB just couldn’t find a consistent rhythm, looking skittish in the pocket and making awkward throwing motions as a result. Mariota ended his night completing 9/17 passes for 86 yards and a pick. For context, just remember that Tanner McKee threw one more pass than Mariota when reading the next part.

Eagles nfl preseason
ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 06: Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota (1) watches the game clock run out from the sidelines during the 2nd half of Sunday afternoon NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Chargers on November 6, 2022 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire)

In stepped Tanner McKee.

After stealing the spotlight in the preseason opener, McKee ended his day with 147 yards, a touchdown, and no picks. His TD pass to Brady Russell was just beautiful, and the game really appears to be slowing down for him. There’s a fearlessness in his play which just has to be admired. He’ll be just fine in Philadelphia.

Quick-hitting notes for an article written at 11:26PM (Or 4:26AM my time)

  • It was great to see Eagles TE Tyree Jackson turning heads. It’s been a bumpy road for the former Bills quarterback, but his 41 receiving yards led the team and that’s got to count for something. Jackson is still in the TE3 mix, nestled in behind Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra. It’s not over yet…
  • Trey Sermon had a rollercoaster game. A couple of crucial errors early were redeemed by a rushing touchdown and a 54-yard game. Sermon looked really good between the tackles which might even throw the Cat among the Pigeons in this running back royale we seem to have going on.
  • The young cornerbacks had ups and downs, as is to be expected with any game. Eli Ricks made a couple of impressive plays, while 4th round pick Kelee Ringo was caught napping on a deep completion after looking great in coverage in the plays that led up to that moment. Development is the name of the game here.
  • Sydney Brown is a homing missile. He loves hitting, you can just see it. It was clear on his college tape and it’s clear at the NFL level. The Eagles could have a real baller there.
  • Tyler Steen ended up cross-training the entire offensive line?? I didn’t realise at the time but he did the exact same against Baltimore. The issue is that going from RG to LT or whatever roulette wheel he spins, requires a lot. He was getting walked back into Marcus Mariota for a huge chunk of his stretch on the outside. The Eagles are clearly experimenting, but he seems to fare much better at guard.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum