Preseason action returns tonight against the Jets! It’s really weird that this is the first preseason game, rather than the customary preseason finale. It just feels wrong, these teams traditionally play each other in the preseason finale, not opener.
In absolutely no order, here are players or positions that I’m looking at during preseason games, that aren’t the obvious ones of Jalen Hurts and the competitions at safety and linebacker (with one exception).
The Eagles brought in no competition for Siposs, which was curious. They say he’s improved the hangtime on his punts. Let’s see it. (I am prepared for the Eagles preseason offense to be either unstoppable or a turnover machine and he’ll punt like five times total.)
Should we be concerned that we have barely heard a peep out of Reddick so far in camp? No, we should not, because he has gone up against Lane Johnson and because there isn’t much reason for a veteran like Reddick to go 100% at this stage of camp.
Should we be concerned if we barely hear a peep out of Reddick against a Jets offensive line that was bad last year and is already down a starter at tackle? I wouldn’t blame you if you were slightly concerned.
Every year there is a mid or late round pick that everyone is unjustifiably excited about. It’s a training camp tradition. Zech McPhearson and K’Von Wallace are a couple of recent ones.
Nakobe Dean qualifies in that he was a 3rd round pick, but he was supposed to be different. So far, he hasn’t been. Dean has looked like, well, a rookie taken in the 3rd round, and not the supposed 1st round talent some thought he was if not for his medical concerns. We are way, way too early to enter a stage of worrying, but making some plays against the backups of a bad Jets team would certainly be a confidence booster.
Let’s feed the narrative beast and talk about backup QBs in Philly!
Seriously though, this is a real area of interest. Gardner Minshew has had an erratic camp so far, and Reid Stinnett has had a good one. Do either of those translate to preseason game action? If Minshew struggles you can probably kiss any possibility of trading him for value goodbye. If Stinnett looks competent he could easily force The QB Factory to carry a 3rd QB on the 53 man roster, which will shorten another position’s depth chart.
This year’s apparent training camp breakout has a real chance to make the roster because he can potentially contribute in two roles that the Eagles lack. One is as the stereotypical short shifty slot WR. Greg Ward did an admirable job of it in the past, but Nick Sirianni barely played him in 2021. The other is as a returner, which we’ll get to next. Covey should get his chances to do both in the preseason.
A punt and kick returner
Jalen Reagor is awful as a punt returner. The Eagles were 26th in yards per punt returns (but somehow 13th in DVOA) and Reagor returned all but two punts. Eight different players returned a kick last year, the team was 29th in yards per kickoff return and 30th in DVOA. Mere competence will be a boost. Someone, anyone, please step up.
Probably the hardest position to judge in the preseason. The Eagles have seven guys competing for what is likely one spot behind Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, and Zech McPhearson. They’ve got three routes they can take:
1. A slot-only corner to backup Maddox.
2. Best Cornerback Available, and if that means Maddox is the only pure slot guy, so be it.
3. A hybrid corner/safety, giving them a bit of cover at both positions but someone who may not be the best option at either.
No one is making the team tonight of course, but tonight they can really start to make their case.
I would love to see Jordan Davis just devour the interior of the Jets line and then never play another preseason snap for the gamesmanship of not putting anything else on tape for opponents to deal with to start the season. The Eagles interior offensive line is so talented and deep that he’ll face better competition in practice than he will against backups on the Browns and Dolphins (the remaining two preseason games) anyway.
Can Derek Barnett go an entire preseason with not committing a penalty? If so he might make the team!
I doubt the next two guys even play against the Jets, but I’ll put it out there.
I have absolutely no expectations for Allen’s NFL career. He last played football in 2016 and had all of seven touches that year. He is unlikely to even make someone’s practice squad.
I just want to see him blow past some poor defensive back for a touchdown.
Unfortunately that dream may never get a chance. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t get any playing time against the Jets due to the starters playing and reducing the amount of possessions available for everyone else. He might not even be around for the next preseason game, as roster cuts start on the 16th and Allen hasn’t separated himself from the competition–he didn’t even make the team’s unofficial depth chart.
The Eagles took three medical risks in the draft in Dean, Grant Calcaterra (who was retired for two seasons) and Carson Strong. Fortunately the risk with Strong is inconsequential, as he was an undrafted free agent. If not for the medical risk, he probably would have been drafted.
Expectations should be low even if his knee is fine. If his medical issues can be minimal going forward, and unfortunately there is no reason to believe so given that we’re talking about a rookie who has already had two knee surgeries, the Eagles have an interesting prospect. He has a skillset that Jalen Hurts and Gardner Minshew don’t.
Before camp started I would have said he’s likely headed for the practice squad but a strong pre-season might make the team think about carrying a 3rd QB. But Strong’s camp so far has been weak (pun intended, sorry) while it is Reid Sinnett who has so far given the team reason to consider carrying three QBs.