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Eagles rookie storylines for the Vikings game

What can we expect from Jalen Carter? Will Nolan Smith play?

NFL: Preseason-Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles face a quick turnaround, playing the Minnesota Vikings only a few days after opening the season against the New England Patriots. The short week should be a unique challenge for Philadelphia’s rookies, who rarely had less than seven days between games in college. Here are some other things to look out for when it comes to the Eagles and their first year players.

How does Jalen Carter follow up his brilliant debut?

There are reasons to be worried after the Eagles’ first game but Jalen Carter’s play is not one of them. The ninth overall pick in 2023 draft generated 8 pressures on 40 total snaps against New England. This is an absurd rate of success for any player, let alone one playing his first full NFL game.

The Patriots offensive line was hamstrung coming into the showdown, starting two backups along their interior. It is fair to wonder how Carter plays against “starter quality” offensive linemen. The Vikings offense should be a more potent threat to the Eagles defense, especially throwing the football. The team will need Carter to deliver another big performance to keep Minnesota at bay.

Do we see any more Nolan Smith snaps?

Nolan Smith’s play against New England was limited, hardly a surprise for a guy who was always going to be deep in the pass rush rotation during his rookie year. However, the short term absence of Nakobe Dean might force the Eagles to get a bit more creative with Smith’s role. Smith saw some action playing off-ball in preseason and during training camp and he has the athleticism to thrive in space. It will be worth noting if they use Smith a bit more as a chess piece just to get their best defenders on the field. Considering who else they have at linebacker, it is not the worst idea...

We’re all waiting to see Sydney Brown

The early returns on the Justin Evans experiment are ... less than desirable. Evans looked out of place at safety on Sunday and that job seems as secure as the back end of Philadelphia’s defense. With news that Reed Blankenship will be missing Thursday’s game, the shakeups at the position are inevitable. Terrell Edmunds will get the start in Blankenship’s stead, but we are all waiting to see Sydney Brown.

The rookie third round pick looked fast, physical and fearless in preseason, generating some positivity he could start early in his career. Unsurprisingly for this coaching staff, the Eagles opted for veteran players so they could know exactly what they were getting on a weekly basis. That strategy might not hold for long in this case and the team might eventually just need to give Sydney Brown some snaps and let him learn on the fly.

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