6 biggest winners and Losers from Eagles preseason finale

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Cleveland Browns wide receiver Anthony Schwartz (10) runs for a first down in front of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Ben VanSumeren (57) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The 2023 preseason has concluded for the Philadelphia Eagles and while most fans and analysts have turned their attention to the start of the regular season, there are still matters in front of the team before they play New England.

Philadelphia needs to trim its roster to 53 men by Tuesday at 4:00 pm – ET and has plenty of difficult decisions to make. Luckily, some of those decisions became easier following their 27-13 loss to the Colts on Thursday. There were very clear winners and losers from the Eagles’ preseason finale so let’s break down each here.

Winner – Tanner McKee

There has not been a bigger winner throughout the Eagles’ preseason slate than their rookie sixth-round quarterback. McKee was solid again Thursday passing for over 150 yards in a half of play while completing 55% of his passes with multiple drops and a fumble going against him. In three preseason games, McKee has completed 39-of-72 passes for 453 yards with a touchdown and no picks. He was Philadelphia’s best player this preseason slate and showed he is far more along than many analysts may have thought when he came out of Stanford.

Loser – Trey Sermon

It certainly seems like the Eagles have made up their mind at the running back position. Trey Sermon split reps with Kennedy Brooks and were the only two running backs to play on Thursday. Sermon may have scored a touchdown but he simply didn’t do enough to warrant a spot on the 53-man roster. He’s certainly a practice squad candidate but his preseason performances were not enough to beat out other backs on the roster.

HOUSTON, TX – AUGUST 25: San Francisco 49ers running back Trey Sermon (28) carries the ball in the second quarter during the NFL preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans on August 25, 2022, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

Winner – Eli Ricks

Ricks looked like the best corner on Thursday and has made the Eagles’ decision at corner even more difficult. Ricks was excellent in coverage with a couple of pass break-ups and he was also physical against the run. There may not seem like a role for Ricks once the 53-man roster is announced, but he certainly looked the part of another diamond in the rough, undrafted corner that the Eagles plucked out of the air.

Loser – Joseph Ngata

Ngata was touted by many reporters as a training camp winner. He has gotten open consistently and made plays during practice. The issue for him is that he hasn’t been able to tally that up in games. Thursday was easily his worst. Plagued by drops and a bad fumble to end the half, Ngata hurt his chances to make the final roster by Tuesday. The team could decide to move forward with him as the fifth receiver anyway, but it’s hard to see how the Eagles came away impressed enough after a quiet preseason game slate.

Winner – Ben VanSumeren

VanSumeren was all over the football on Thursday. He recorded a team-high 17 tackles with 12 of them being solo. He was very good on special teams and charts as an ace of the group with the loss of Shaun Bradley. If VanSumeren can produce well on kick and punt coverages, the Eagles could have a much better group than they had last season. As of now though, it’s easy to see how Thursday’s game might have sealed VanSumeren’s spot on the final roster to start the season.

Loser – Kelee Ringo

As good as Eli Ricks was during the final preseason game, Ringo looked like quite the opposite. Ringo looked a little lost at times in coverage while being surprisingly poor against the run. Ringo was drafted in the mid-rounds as a developmental corner and that certainly looks to be the case here, but for a player that was thought to be a steal when he was drafted, it looks like he’ll be spending most of the 2023 season as one of the seven inactive.

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AP Photo/Chris Szagola