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Eagles standout players through two weeks of preseason football

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They’ve been excellent through two games, but will they continue to play well?

Tennessee Titans v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Through two weeks of meaningless football, we are all, no doubt, giddy for the regular season to begin. For many players, however, these next two weeks could be the last NFL action they ever see. Generally speaking, little should be taken as truth from these exhibition games, but a handful of Eagles have been doing their best to get noticed. The following players have stood out from the pack through the first two games.

Offensive Line

Andre Dillard - OT
Through two weeks, Dillard’s PFF Grade of 83.8 leads all NFL tackles (min. 30 snaps). Dillard, along with Orlando Brown Jr. of the Ravens, is one of just two tackles with no allowed pressures and has been absolutely dominant. While Jason Peters will start the season out of respect, I am not at all convinced that he is still the best LT on the roster.

Keegan Render - OG
I’m sure you expected to see Andre Dillard on this list, but he is not the only offensive lineman with zero allowed pressures so far. For those unfamiliar with the former Iowa Hawkeye, he signed with the Eagles as a priority UDFA following the 2019 NFL Draft as a center and was considered a long shot to make the roster from day one, at best. Now, although I see reasons to be excited about Render, his performance through 27 snaps (9 at center, 18 at RG) is hardly a reason to rearrange the roster. Render is still a long shot to make the team, but if he keeps this up, he is looking like a prime practice squad candidate.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai - OG
Speaking of surprises, Big V has been dominating competition from the right guard position so far. Like Dillard and Render above, Vaitai has yet to allow a pressure this preseason and has looked very comfortable from the guard position. Depth along the trenches is one of the most important things a team can have and, as a guy who can play four of the five positions as needed, Big V is bringing that depth to the next level.

Defensive Line

Daeshon Hall - EDGE
If I was handing out awards today, Hall would be the team MVP by a mile. Hall, who was signed off of the Texans practice squad last year, has been electric since he arrived last fall and appears to have brought his high level of play into 2019. With eight total pressures, the third-year player trails just Chase Winovich of the Patriots for the overall lead in the league. If you’re one to trust PFF grades, however, Hall has the edge over Winovich with a grade of 93.1, which is good for first among all NFL edge defenders. We will always miss Chris Long’s personality, but if Hall keeps this up, we may not miss Long’s play as much as we initially thought.

Aziz Shittu - DT
Through just 16 snaps, Shittu has managed two quarterback pressures, two batted passes, and one tackle for a stop (or tackle that constitutes a “failure” for the opposing offense). Like Render above, conclusions cannot be drawn from such a small sample size but it’s always better to play well in a small sample size than to play poorly. With some big names ahead of him on the depth chart, in Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson, it’s comforting to know the Eagles have quality depth on the inside.

Linebackers

Alex Singleton - LB
Another under-the-radar guy who has been lighting up the field is the former CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Alex Singleton. After failing to get drafted by the NFL in 2015 and spending time on a handful of practice squads, Singleton was drafted sixth overall in the 2016 CFL draft and played three years with the Calgary Stampeders. In January, once it became evident that Jordan Hicks would not be returning, the Eagles signed the 25-year-old linebacker to give him another shot. It is players like this, who have been nonstop fighting for four years, that make the preseason interesting to me.

Zach Brown - LB
Brown is another linebacker I’ve been noticing lately. Through 23 coverage snaps, Brown has yet to be targeted, which is always a good sign. He has not really been used as a pass rusher by the team but seems to be doing everything else just fine. I am very curious to see how much Brown is used with the first-team defense in the “dress rehearsal” Thursday night.

Secondary

Trae Elston and Andrew Sendejo - S
I've grouped these two guys together because both were seemingly being ruled out by the fans, and both have been playing very well so far. Through 34 coverage snaps, the two have combined to allow just 1 reception for a 1 yard. When targeting Elston and Sendejo, QBs have thrown for a passer rating of 56.3 and 39.6 respectively. Safety has been a position to watch all offseason and the battle is only getting more interesting by the day.

Rasul Douglas - CB
Douglas, who has been getting recognition from Jim Schwartz all offseason, has been the team’s best CB through the first two preseason games. With 0 receptions allowed on 16 coverage snaps, residents have been reporting that a new landmass, “Sul Island” has emerged off the coast of Philadelphia. With Jalen Mills on the PUP list and Ronald Darby as a regular on the injury list, Douglas will have all of the opportunity in the world to prove he is a mainstay on this defensive unit and so far this year, he’s done exactly that.

Honorable Mentions

Dallas Goedert - TE
While I put him as an honorable mention due to a lack of sample size, Goedert absolutely has shown he deserves to be an NFL starter so far this preseason. His PFF grade of 92.3 leads all NFL tight ends through 2 weeks and it’ll be interesting to see what he can do come the regular season.

Jamalcolm “Jay” Liggins - CB
While he was unfortunately waived last Friday to make room for the Brett Toth signing, I think it’s necessary to give a tip of the hat to a cornerback who signed with a team that was loaded with talent at his position and has continued to fight for a job regardless. Liggins has a PFF grade of 83.4 through the first two games, which is good for 7th among qualified cornerbacks. He has been absolutely perfect in coverage so far and hopefully will get another shot this season with a different team.

The rest
The defense has been dominant through two games but the offense, except for the line, has been relatively lackluster. Now, with two QBs going down in two games, the struggle has been somewhat understandable, but it sure would be nice to see some skill position players step it up Thursday evening against the Ravens.