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Eagles rookie storylines entering the Lions game

Week 8 preview.

Philadelphia Eagles v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

The Eagles have a bounce-back opportunity against the Detroit Lions this Sunday and, with that, the rookies should look forward to this game as a chance to get back on track. Here are some things to watch from the 2021 NFL Draft class entering Sunday’s game.

Can DeVonta Smith, Jalen Hurts, and Nick Sirianni get on the same page?

DeVonta Smith’s rookie season is going fine, but it is obvious that there are a lot of plays being left on the field for him. Partially due to his mistakes, but largely because of misfires from Jalen Hurts and the offense not maximizing Smith as a big play threat.

Smith isn’t just a player for the Eagles to throw short passes to. Though he is a YAC threat, using him largely on screens, drags, slants and RPOs really minimizes his ceilin. Smith can make big things happen down the field and has flashed when the Eagles target him there.

The Lions’ pass defense is among the most vulnerable in the league. If the Eagles can’t figure out that DeVonta Smith can deliver big plays for them Sunday, I don’t know if they’re going to ever figure it out.

Landon Dickerson desperately needs to show something.

Landon Dickerson deserves some slack given he didn’t have much of an offseason, is playing in a new position, and constantly has the line shuffling around him. That being said, he has been inconsistent at best during his rookie season and really needs to start showing signs of the player the Eagles hoped to be a building block on their offensive line.

While the Detroit front seven isn’t overly talented, they play a very hard, very physical style of football.

They’re going to challenge Dickerson on every down.

Milton Williams also needs a few big plays.

Similar to Dickerson, Milton Williams’ peaks this season have just been average. While he is still a rotational piece, Williams is on the field enough that he should be showing high impact plays at least occasionally.

That has not happened yet.

The Lions offense could be a chance to get right for Williams. Their line is only okay and the offensive execution on a weekly basis tends to make the team open to big plays from the defense. Williams could show something, anything, against the Lions to give some hope he can be a contributor down the line.

Kenneth Gainwell. Lead Back.

Miles Sanders is out for an unforeseen amount of time, leaving the running game in the hands of Kenneth Gainwell. Gainwell has only carried the ball 26 times this season, with nine of those totes coming against Atlanta in week one. That being said, the rookie running back still looks like a playmaker and it will be enlightening to see what happens when he gets a larger chunk of the carries.

The Eagles have been pretty bad about getting their running game going, but looked a bit more committed to it against the Raiders last week. Here is hoping we get a heavy dose of Kenny G and the rookie can deliver with this chance.

How will the Eagles inject some life into their front seven?

The Eagles defense stinks and is boring. That much is clear. The question remains if they’re going to do the same-old, same-old against the Lions or are they going to make some meaningful personnel changes.

Tarron Jackson and Patrick Johnson haven’t been splashy players this season, but it might be worth giving them snaps over others considering how disastrous those players have been for the last few weeks.

The team should consider getting snaps for young guys instead of losing with bad, known entities. It makes more sense to have a bad defense if you’re at least getting playing time for developing defenders.

Does Jack Stoll remain the number two tight end?

Jack Stoll is technically the second tight end in this offense. However, the team barely used 12 personnel looks last week and the UDFA barely saw the field. Who knows what approach the team will use this week, but Stoll could continue to get chances to make an impact as an extra blocker and safety valve in the passing game. Stoll’s role could also be affected when Tyree Jackson returns from injured reserve, which might be soon as this Sunday.