The 2019 NFL preseason schedule continues on Thursday night with the Philadelphia Eagles set to face the Jacksonville Jaguars. In order to find some meaning in a meaningless game, here are the most important players to watch out for as there are some roster spots and position battles to be won/lost this summer.
Keep in mind the Eagles’ starters won’t play much, if at all. For your convenience, I’ve listed jersey numbers next to names.
1 - Cody Kessler - #2
Reports indicate that Nate Sudfeld won’t be ready to return to action until some point between Week 3 through Week 5. As long as Sudfeld is hurt, Kessler is going to be Carson Wentz’s primary backup. It’d sure be nice to see more out of him this week after only going 3/6 for 12 yards against the Titans last Thursday. It’s not like Kessler is being expected to look awesome. But please just show some kind of ability to run the offense and lead some drives.
2 - Clayton Thorson - #8
Thorson’s NFL preseason debut was nothing short of a disaster: 2/9, 7 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT. And those numbers don’t even account for the dropped picks he threw. The Eagles chalked up Thorson’s struggles to him being nervous in his first NFL game. I don’t really buy that because he’s also looked pretty bad in practice. Let’s see if Thorson can look any better this week. Even a mediocre outing would be a step in the right direction.
3 - Mack Hollins - #16
I’m not sure if Hollins will be playing but he has been practicing in 11-on-11 so it seems like there’s a chance he’ll suit up. If he does, it’ll be Hollins’ first real action since the Eagles’ first preseason game against the Steelers last summer (August 9, 2018). Hollins hasn’t logged an actual game reception since the Eagles’ Divisional Round win over the Falcons (January 13, 2018). As it currently stands, I don’t think Hollins is in much danger of getting cut. It’d still be good for him to eliminate that doubt by making some plays — whether on offense or special teams — and staying healthy.
4 - JJ Arcega-Whiteside - #19
The Eagles’ rookie wide receiver has been coming on a little bit after getting off to a slow start in camp. Kessler has been frequently targeting JJ in practice so I imagine we’ll see that show up in the game as well. It’d be nice to see JJ come down with one of those signature jump ball catches.
5 - Corey Clement - #30
Clement’s in the same boat as Hollins in that I’m not sure if he’ll be playing despite his return to practice. The Eagles might hold him out as a precaution. If not, well, it’ll be great to see Clement back on the field. He’s looked faster than I remember when I’ve watched him during practice. It’ll be interesting to see if that translates to game action. Clement’s become something of an afterthought with the Eagles bringing in Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders but the third-year player can refresh everyone’s memories with a good preseason showing. He’s the clear favorite for the fourth running back spot.
6 - Johnathan Cyprien - #41
The Eagles waiving Blake Countess is a great develeopment for Cyppy Cup; the veteran safety’s chances of making the 53-man roster just went up. (No rhyme intended.) Cyprien looked okay against the Titans last week but he did have a miscommunication that allowed a wide open touchdown. Cyprien needs to cut down on the mental mistakes as he gets more time with the playbook. He also needs to continue to outshine the struggling Tre Sullivan.
7 - Nathan Gerry - #47
Gerry really struggled against the Titans. Was that just one bad game or a sign of things to come? I think he makes the Eagles’ roster regardless since the coaching staff likes him, but, man ... he needs to step up.
8 - Alex Ellis - #48
Wait, who? Easily the least recognizable name on this list, Ellis only joined the Eagles’ roster on August 2. The third-year tight end is probably just a camp body but he’s had some recent flashes in practice. Can Ellis unseat Richard Rodgers, who has missed more than a week with a foot injury? I wouldn’t count on it. Could he earn a fourth tight end spot if the Eagles keep that many? Also not likely, but maybe not impossible.
9 - Paul Worrilow - #52
I’ll put Worrilow in the same boat as Hollins and Clement; I’m not sure if he’ll actually play. If he does suit up, it’ll be Worrilow’s first ever game with the Eagles. It’ll also be his first NFL game action since December 31, 2017. Worrilow’s injury history is concerning but he does offer versatility and experience as a backup linebacker. He’ll do his best to push for a roster spot.
10 - Eli Harold - #59
The Eagles sent Ryan Bates to the Bills in exchange for Harold last Friday. Less than one week later, Harold will be suiting up with Philly for the first time. The odds are stacked against Harold making the team but it’ll be worth seeing if he can offer any pass rush juice.
11 - Jordan Mailata - #68
Mailata had his fair share of struggles last week but he also flashed the potential that makes the 22-year-old so dang intriguing. With Lane Johnson out for the preseason, Mailata figures to be “starting” in his place. These game snaps are especially value to someone as inexperienced as Mailata. He needs to soak them up and continue to show the Eagles he’s worth developing.
12 - Matt Pryor - #69
Pryor clearly needs to cut back on the penalties after getting flagged three times last week. A cleaner performance this week should help his chances of making the team.
There's been a lot of talk about #Eagles 2nd-year OL Matt Pryor and his performance on Thursday. I think he was a bit better than he's being talked about. Strong, powerful and versatile. It's been fun to watch him play 4 different spots this summer up front. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/v23Zv8DiFL— Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 12, 2019
13 - Daeshon Hall - #74
Hall had a great game last week. How will he follow it up, especially after missing some practice time with a shoulder injury? Friend of BGN Tommy Lawlor recently wrote that Hall looked good enough to legitimately be the Eagles’ fourth defensive end. Let’s see if he can continue on that path as he goes up against the Jaguars.
14 - Marken Michel - #80
Michel looked great in the spring but he’s been relatively quiet in camp. He did show up in last week’s preseason game with a 75-yard touchdown reception on a play where he burned Titans starting cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. It’s going to be tough for Michel to make those kind of plays moving forward. Whereas Sudfeld is aggressive and not afraid to throw down the field, Kessler’s arm strength is ... suspect. Can Michel find a way to stand out while Kessler is checking down into oblivion?
15 - Joshua Perkins - #83
Can Perkins — whom Doug Pederson notably referred to as “Perk” — crack the roster as a fourth tight end? Might he even unseat the injured Richard Rodgers as a third tight team? With Zach Ertz unlikely to play and Dallas Goedert out, Perkins will be the Eagles’ “starting” tight end. And with Kessler favoring shorter throws, Perkins could see a number of targets. We’ll see how he handles those.
16 - Josh Sweat - #94
Sweaty J did some good things against the Titans. But he also had some quite stretches and he wasn’t as dominant as Hall was. In fairness to Sweat, he did have to take some snaps against a Pro Bowl tackle in Taylor Lewan last week. Sweat needs to take advantage of lesser competition in this game as he aims to be the Eagles’ fourth option in the defensive end rotation.
Andre Dillard is an obvious name to watch as the Eagles’ first-round pick. He also looked good last week so let’s see if he can keep that up.
Miles Sanders only played six offensive snaps during the Eagles’ first preseason game. I can’t imagine we see much more of him this week. So that’s why he’s not on the list.
Can Greg Ward do anything? Or is it going to be just another year where he flashes in camp before becoming invisible in the preseason games?
Donnel Pumphrey has apparently been moved to wide receiver. Can’t imagine that’ll save his career but it can’t hurt at this point.
Undrafted rookie free agent Jay Liggins didn’t look as bad as the Eagles’ other backup corners last week. Let’s see if the Dickinson State (NAIA) alumnus can continue to push for a practice squad spot.
PFF graded out Alex Singleton as the top performer from last week’s game. Can the former CFL linebacker actually push for a job on the 53?
Boston Scott figures to make his Eagles preseason debut after missing last week’s game with an ankle injury.