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15 players especially worth watching during the Eagles’ first preseason game

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Who are you most excited to see?

NFL: AUG 04 Eagles Training Camp Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Eagles will play a meaningless football game against the Tennesse Titans on Thursday evening. The final score won’t matter, no, but it’ll still be interesting to see how certain players perform. There are some roster spots and position battles to be won/lost this summer.

Here are the most interesting Eagles players to watch in the Titans game. Keep in mind the starters will probably only play for a series or two (at most). For your convenience, I’ve listed jersey numbers next to the names.

1 - Miles Sanders - #26

Easily the most intriguing player to watch. The Eagles’ second-round pick has been generating buzz for having a good camp. He’s clearly looked like the team’s most talented rusher. Now it’s time to see how he handles real game action. We know Sanders is a dynamic runner but can he earn the coaching staff’s trust when it comes to receiving, pass protection, and ball security? Durability is also worth mentioning given that Sanders was banged up in the spring and had an injury scare in camp. Now’s the time for Sanders to prove himself. It’d be great for the Eagles if he looks like he’s ready to be a major contributor.

2 - Nate Sudfeld - #7

Big summer for Studfeld as he steps up into the No. 2 quarterback role. Sudfeld’s been plagued by some inconsistency this offseason but he’s recently stacked some good practices heading into Thursday’s night game. Sudfeld can inspire confidence in his role as Carson Wentz’s backups if he can turn in a quality preseason performance.

3 - Sidney Jones - #22

Jones has been having a great camp. The 23-year-old is looking like a breakout candidate as he enters his second full season in the league. We’ll be watching to see if Jones can continue to show up in live game action. If he continues to shine, the Eagles will be forced to make him a starting cornerback. Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox will also be competing hard to make their cases for starting roles. It’ll be interesting to see how much they all play given that they’re currently working with the first team but the eventual return of Ronald Darby and/or Jalen Mills could impact things.

4 - Josh Sweat - #94

The hype train arrived early in camp but one can only glean so much about pass rushers when they’re not actually allowed to truly rush passers in practice settings. It’s time to see what Sweaty J can do now that he can really go after the quarterback. A strong summer from Sweat will do much to assuage concerns about the team’s defensive end depth.

5 - Andre Dillard - #77

The Eagles’ heir apparent at left tackle has looked good in camp. Now he’ll get a good dosage of actual NFL action since a 37-year-old Jason Peters shouldn’t be playing much, if at all. The Eagles are hoping that Dillard won’t have to play in the 2019 regular season but Peters’ injury history could force the team’s rookie first-round pick onto the field sooner than expected.

6 - Halapoulivaati Vaitai - #72

We already know what to expect from Big V playing tackle but Thursday will mark his first NFL game lining up as a guard. Can the Eagles count on Vaitai to be solid or will he be a liability? It might not matter a ton because Brandon Brooks is expected to be ready to play pretty early in the season. Still, it’ll be worth gauging how Big V fares at guard.

7 - JJ Arcega-Whiteside - #19

JJ’s had a quieter camp after previously standing out in spring practices. A rookie receiver taking time to adjust to the NFL is certainly not unheard of. It’d still be for JJ to flash in the preseason, especially when it comes to the red zone. We need to see at least one of his signature jump ball catches this summer.

8 - Clayton Thorson - #8

There’s no sugarcoating it: Thorson has looked pretty bad throughout the offseason. If you’re looking for a silver linining, well, it’s that the rookie quarterback had his best practice directly ahead of the team’s first preseason game. Maybe he can carry some of that positive momentum into Thursday night? I have my doubts. I’ll also be curious to see how much playing time he gets considering the Eagles have been splitting third team reps between Thorson and Cody Kessler.

9 - Jordan Mailata - #68

Mailata was fascinating to watch last summer because the 6-8, 346 pound behemoth had never played an American football game until August 2018. At the time, Mailata drew rave reviews despite his lack of experience. Now we’ll get to see what Mailata looks like after spending a full year in an NFL environment. Mailata has certainly struggled in camp but he’s also been playing at right tackle after only learning the left side last year. Does the 22-year-old Mailata show enough promise to justify a roster spot? Or does the team decide he’s not worth keeping around? There’s pressure on the Aussie to perform.

10 - Matt Pryor - #69

Pryor was getting some buzz in camp last year prior to struggling in the preseason games. The team’s 2018 sixth-round pick then didn’t play a single snap as a rookie. This offseason, Pryor has been taking reps at both tackle and guard. With Peters, Vaitai, and Wis likely not back with Philly in 2020, Pryor could be a valuable depth piece for the future. Kind of like the team’s next Allen Barbre.

11 - T.J. Edwards - #57

The entire linebacker situation is worth watching with Nigel Bradham still recovering and Kamu Grugier-Hill expected to miss time with a torn MCL. Nathan Gerry, Zach Brown, and L.J. Fort all deserve mention here. I’m specifically interested to see Edwards, though, since he’s been quiet since flashing a little in OTAs. The Wisconsin alumnus could be a player who stands out in actual game action. Can Edwards make the team and maybe even have a role? Or will the veterans easily beat him out?

12 - Johnathan Cyprien - #41

Cyppy Cuy will be playing in an Eagles preseason game less than one week after originally signing with team. The veteran has his work cut out for him but the 70-game starter should be able to make some plays against lesser competition. Maybe we can get a better idea of how the Eagles plan to use Cyprien. Or if he has a real chance to make the 53.

13 - Hassan Ridgeway - #64

The Eagles have Ridgeway ahead of playoff hero Treyvon Hester on their depth chart. Is that deserved? With Fletcher Cox recovering and the duo of Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan not expected to play much, Ridgeway should get plenty of snaps to show what he’s got. The fourth defensive tackle is hardly one of the most important players on the team but under Jim Schwartz’s rotation philosophy he is a guy who will get playing time.

14 - Carlton Agudosi - #14

The 6-6, 220 pound Agudosi should be hard to miss whether you’re watching on TV or attending the game live. The Rutgers alumnus has made a number of flashy plays during offseason practices. Now’s his chance to prove he can do it in the games as well. It feels like Agudosi will be a preseason quarterback’s best friend because even if they’re not very good they can just chuck the ball up to him and hope he comes down with it. Agudosi is likely playing for a practice squad job.

15 - Greg Ward - #6

This is Ward’s third preseason with the Eagles. He didn’t do much in his last two with the team. We’ll see if this year is any different given that he’s made some plays in camp. He could potentially win a spot on the roster as a sixth receiver.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Carson Wentz potentially playing for the first time since December has some significance. It’s just unclear if Doug Pederson will actually suit him up on Thursday. (If it was my call, Wentz would play no more than one series in each preseason game.)

Corey Clement and Mack Hollins will be worth watching as they come off injury. Not sure if they’ll be suiting up on Thursday night, though.

I’ll be a little interested to see who’s returning punts for the Eagles with Darren Sproles and DeSean Jackson (the team’s top two returners) likely not handling them. Boston Scott could be out as well. I think we’ll see DeAndre Thompkins break off a big return at some point this summer if he gets the chance.