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Eagles Rookie Report Card: Jalen Carter impresses in regular season debut

Philadelphia’s first first-round pick looked excellent.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles eked out a win over the Patriots in the season opener. While it wasn’t pretty, there are some positive developments to take away from Week 1. The team’s rookie class did not collectively contribute a ton ... but one player did stand out.

Jalen Carter: A

It felt like months where there was nothing but buzz around the Eagles’ top pick from their 2023 class. Well, the buzz was warranted! On limited snaps against the Patriots, Carter was a constant force as a pass rusher, often generating pressure on Mac Jones when he was on the field. Though the Patriots mostly quelled Philadelphia’s ferocious pass rush, Carter finally got home with a sack on New England’s final drive. The Eagles sent a blitz and Mac Jones had no where else to go but into Jalen Carter’s arms.

Carter was mostly used on obvious passing downs and his snap count was relatively low while the Eagles rotated him in with the likes of Fletcher Cox, Jordan Davis, Milton Williams, and Marlon Tuipulotu. It’s a talented group and the team probably wants all players to stay fresh. It is encouraging how good Carter looked in a limited role.

Nolan Smith: C

Nolan Smith had a quiet debut, finishing the game with a single tackle. He only saw a few snaps on defense, exclusively on passing downs. His role could grow as the season goes on but he had little impact on this game.

Notes on the rest of the rookies

  • Sydney Brown only saw snaps on special teams, making a great tackle on punt coverage. His absence from the defense was surprising considering his encouraging play in preseason but Justin Evans was slotted in at safety next to Reed Blankenship. Even when Blankenship got hurt, Terrell Edmunds got in for a few snaps instead of Brown. Evans left a lot to be desired so I wouldn’t count Brown out from carving out a role sooner than later.
  • Kelee Ringo played solely as a special teamer. Even with James Bradberry’s late game exit, Ringo stayed on the sideline in favor of Josh Jobe. Not surprising.

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