Philadelphia's first preseason game is on Friday and everyone is anxious to see the team play against another squad. The Eagles will face the Bears in Chicago and will look to put their young players to the test. Several players are competing for just a handful of spots, so it's important that they step up against the Bears. BGN is excited for the game as well and Kaye and Klausner are back to preview the first preseason contest of the season.
What matchup(s) are you hoping to see on Friday night?
Mike Kaye: I really, really, really want to see Jordan Matthews against Kyle Fuller. Matthews has been fantastic in camp but can he productive against the cornerback that a lot of the fanbase wanted in the first round of this year's draft? Fuller, from all reports, sounds like he is really doing well in Chicago and we all know they need that help in the defensive backfield. I think both players will get some quality time on Friday to get use to the NFL game and will move all around, so chances are that this will happen at some point, if even for just a few plays.
Dan Klausner: I would love for Matthews to get first-team reps and go up against a grizzled vet like Charles Tillman or Tim Jennings. Instead, as Mike said, he'll likely get second-team reps and thus match with fellow rookie Fuller. Jeremy Maclin has been battling leg soreness -- that's restricted him from finishing practice recently -- but is expected to play. He is the wide receiver who will go up against Tillman or Jennings in his first game action since 2012, which is certainly worth monitoring. Seeing Jared Allen against Jason Peters for a series will be fun, and I'll also be keeping an eye on Trent Cole against Jermon Bushrod in the vice versa matchup. Hey, maybe Cary Williams and Brandon Marshall will get into a fistfight on the very first snap! (Note: I swear I wrote this before reading Mike's next answer)
The Eagles destroyed the Bears last season, do you think there will be some hangover from that as far physicality? If so is that a good thing for the young players on the team?
MK: Yes and no. I think the starters will only play two or three series so they won't really have the opportunity to take shots at each. That said, things could get chippy. It will be interesting to see the matchup between Brandon Marshall and Cary Williams. I don't think that too much physicality helps anyone. No need to risk an injury for either team.
DK: Nope and nope. This is a Grotz-level question, Mike.
Which depth position needs to set up immediately for the Eagles in the preseason? Who needs to prove themselves the most to make this roster?
MK: Believe it or not, I am concerned about running back. I think there needs to be a fourth guy with the way Chris Polk has handled injuries and Darren Sproles' age, because if McCoy somehow went down, the team's season will probably not be all that successful moving forward. I am a fan of Matthew Tucker but reporters make it sound like someone mysteriously cut off his hands. He, David Fluellen and Henry Josey need to make an impact this preseason.
The other area is the offensive line. This team needs quality backups, especially with Lane Johnson out for four games. I think Matt Tobin is a lock and Dennis Kelly will make the team, but the backup centers and the other camp bodies need to step up. I like what I am hearing about Kevin Graf, so hopefully he can carry his performance over to games.
DK: Offensive line is an obvious choice here, but I'm most interested in how the depth at LB (both inside and outside) shakes out. Who's going to step up among the group of Najee Goode, Jake Knott, Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith II, Travis Long, etc.?
The Vikings sit Adrian Peterson during the preseason, do you think the Eagles should start taking that approach with LeSean McCoy?
MK: I have been asked this a few times, which is why we chose to include this question. At this point, McCoy doesn't need to sit. AP has a much bigger history of injuries and is older. McCoy is just hitting his prime and now has Sproles to spell him. An injury would be devastating but sitting him out the entire preseason isn't the answer. Players need to practice together in games to be successful and McCoy is the best on the roster.
DK: Honestly, yes, I'd prefer Shady sit out the entire preseason at this point in his career. He's not a rookie and he's not a new player being integrated into the offense, trying to get a feel for his teammates. McCoy is the bell cow, the motor that makes this offense hum, and while not injury prone, I'd rather not risk something catastrophic so he can get into a rhythm or get into game shape or whatever other cliche.
What do you make of the Nick Foles interceptions in training camp? Do you think it carries over to the season?
MK: Foles has been trying out new passes in practice and has been going up against the same defense every day. Both sides know each other and both will learn each other's habits. Familiarity will make both successful in practice, but 31 other teams aren't getting the chance to get to know the Eagles the way their own roster has. Foles is also likely testing his receivers to see if they can handle certain situations. That is the whole point of training camp. I don't see it really transferring to games, although I do see him throwing more than two interceptions this season.
DK: Foles got away with a number of dangerous throws last season -- it's a blessing and a curse, I like that he's willing to let his receiver go make a play on the ball -- and won't be so lucky again. He is going to throw double-digit interceptions in 2014 (my prediction is in the 12-15 range). Deal with it.