5 questions the Eagles need to answer in preseason clash vs Browns

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JULY 30: Philadelphia Eagles running back Kenneth Gainwell (14) during Philadelphia Eagles training camp on July 30, 2021 at Novacare Complex in Philadelphia, PA (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles are just hours away from hosting the Cleveland Browns in a preseason showdown. After a pair of joint practices, the Birds will take to Lincoln Financial Field for their second game of the preseason and there are plenty of questions yet to be answered.

Can Tanner McKee keep momentum rolling?

One of the biggest standouts in the preseason opener was 6th-round rookie QB Tanner McKee. Not many people had pegged McKee as a breakout candidate this Summer, but that notion quickly changed.

The Stanford product made an instant impact against the Ravens. Exuding the confidence of a starter, McKee balled out against Baltimore, putting up 148 passing yards while having a touchdown called back.

Marcus Mariota has hardly had an electric camp, although he did reportedly look better in joint practices against the Browns. Can McKee surpass Ian Book as the cemented QB3 and begin honing in on the former Falcons signal-caller? A big game here to double down on his earlier heroics would go a long way in securing his spot on the 53-man roster.

What does the future hold at the Eagles’ cornerback position?

The Eagles are extremely deep at cornerback. With a plethora of hungry young underdogs on the roster, it’s imperative for each player vying for a roster spot turns heads. Eli Ricks did exactly last that with an impressive pick-6 against the Ravens. The question is, who’s next?

Another strong day from Eli Ricks could see him really force himself into the conversation of being a primary backup, while the likes of Josh Jobe, Mehki Garner, and Mario Goodrich are all looking to secure roster spots of their own.

CLEVELAND, OH – JANUARY 09: Cleveland Browns cornerback Greedy Williams (26) leaves the field following the National Football League game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns on January 9, 2022, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

Cornerback might be the most exciting roster spot to watch on the field tonight due to the sheer number of exciting young players all looking to make their case. How many diamonds in the rough does Howie Roseman have, and which ones will be deemed as valuable enough to keep on the 53?

Has there been any progress for the Eagles at linebacker?

The Eagles LB spot was in a state of real uncertainty this time last week. Nakobe Dean had missed time with a minor injury, veteran reinforcements were brought in, and there was a real lack of direction given that the regular season is just a few short weeks away.

The opening preseason game didn’t change all that much. Nicholas Morrow looked fairly solid, as did Myles Jack. But both veterans are still very much in the mix for a starting role with nothing yet decided. A breakout game from any linebacker, regardless of it being MIKE, SAM, or WILL, could well be the difference in determining the starters for week 1.

Will the Eagles rotate their running backs?

Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott rode the pine in the preseason opener while Rashaad Penny, D’Andre Swift, and Trey Sermon all enjoyed productive days at the office. Swift was the most impressive of the trio and comes into this game not really needing to prove anything.

However, Nick Sirianni hinted that all of his running backs are pretty much equal at this point. The depth chart last week went as far as to list all of them as starters.

DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 02: Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (20) runs with the ball during the third quarter of an NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Detroit Lions on October 2, 2022 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)

So now we’ve seen Penny, Swift, and Sermon, is it now time to see a mix of Gainwell and Scott?

You wouldn’t think there would be much value in rolling out either given that the Eagles already know both players pretty well. But reps are important and so is morale. It would be beneficial for both players to get some carries this evening.

Can Ty Zentner become the Eagles’ starting punter?

This one slipped under the radar. It’s been the roster battle that I was most excited for and there has been little to no movement so far. However, it should be noted that Siposs had two punts for a combined 75 yards last week, whereas Ty Zentner had just one, but it went for 46 yards. In terms of average (in a skewed sample size), that’s over a 10-yard swing.

If Zentner gets some punting duties tonight and can really put some mustard on that ball, then this could be a fairly open-and-shut case for the Eagles.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire