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Eagles rookies to watch in the Colts preseason game

Cleveland Browns v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The NFL preseason is almost at a close for the Philadelphia Eagles as they are set to take on the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday evening. It is unclear if Nick Sirianni will have starters out on the field in this matchup (he probably won’t!), but there are still battles to be won for many of the Eagles first-year players. Here are some things to watch…

Quantity and quality of snaps for Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith

The Eagles have arguably seen enough from Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith ahead of the regular season. Carter has been dominating practice and has looked impressive in limited time in preseason games. Nolan Smith has seen many more snaps and shown some bright moments. If the Eagles are resting starters in the game and the two first rounders are held out, it’s a good indicator the Eagles will feature them heavily in their plans early in the season.

Carter’s path to a big role is more clear than Nolan Smith’s. Carter could easily take over Javon Hargrave’s snaps from last year but the Eagles have clear cut starters on the edge. Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat are Edge 1 and 2 while Brandon Graham remains a reliable contributor. Smith could be seeing more preseason snaps for the expressed reason that his rookie year might not feature a lot of playing time.

Battle in the secondary

Greedy Williams was cut and Zech McPhearson reverted to injured reserve last week, clearing up the picture in the Eagles talented and crowded secondary. Kelee Ringo, Eli Ricks, and Mekhi Gardner all have had encouraging preseasons but they are up against an upcoming Josh Jobe and a veteran in Josiah Scott for a roster spot. All three rookie cornerbacks should see a heavy dose of playing time against the Colts and it is their last shot to make a good impression on the front office.

Is there a chance Tanner McKee can push for QB2?

In short, no. At least not immediately. Tanner McKee has been impressive in preseason, far more so than Marcus Mariota has been. However, Mariota is a veteran and the team (rightfully) believes he would be a fine spot starter if he had to play with the 1s in the regular season. That being said, McKee has another shot in preseason to put more great play on tape and put himself on a path to pressure Mariota for that backup position.

Regardless, the Eagles should be encouraged by McKee’s evident development. He has shown he has the arm and mindset to be an NFL passer.

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