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Eagles preseason stock report, Week 2: Mychal Kendricks up, LeGarrette Blount down

Eagles preseason stock report, Week 2: Mychal Kendricks up, LeGarrette Blount down

Carson Wentz was impressive in the Eagles’ second preseason contest against the Bills on Thursday. While he did not look sharp early in the game, the way he was able to bounce back and finish strong was very encouraging.

Wentz missed two of his first three passes, badly overthrowing the intended receiver on both plays. He scrambled for a short gain on another play where he easily could’ve unloaded the football for a bigger chunk. Not coincidentally, the Eagles failed to record a first down on their opening three drives.

That easily could’ve been it, but Wentz went back out for a fourth series and played better, completing five of his last six attempts for 45 yards. The drive ended with a fumble, but Wentz showed resilience.

Sometimes we forget Wentz is a second-year quarterback. There are still going to be ups and downs this season – stretches of series and perhaps even games where he doesn’t find his rhythm. However, he also showed an ability to let it go and stop pressing here when the game didn’t get off to the start everybody would hope.

While not his best evening from a numbers standpoint, Wentz’s stock is still very much on the rise. Unfortunately, not too many of his teammates on offense could say the same after this effort.

STOCK UP

Mychal Kendricks
Preseason or not, Kendricks was everywhere. The sixth-year linebacker saw extensive playing time, finishing with two tackles for loss, 1.0 sack and one interception. The crazy part is the numbers don’t really do the performance justice. Kendricks was rushing the passer, providing sound coverage and just generally in position to make plays. One good outing may not translate into more snaps come the regular season, but Kendricks managed to rebuild some confidence in his ability. Who knows, it may have been enough to entice a team to make a trade offer the Eagles can’t refuse.

Ronald Darby
This should go without saying, but Darby was impressive in his Eagles debut. In fact, the most disappoint aspect of his night may have been when he dropped a likely pick-six. He of course made up for it later with a 48-yard interception return. Darby’s speed and instincts were on display for both plays. He was patient and in sound position, as opposed to some overly aggressive ballhawks that gamble, and had the athleticism to close on the football and finish the play. If this preview was any indication of what’s to come, Darby could feast behind the Eagles' front four.

Corey Graham
With Ron Brooks nursing a hamstring injury, the Eagles used Malcolm Jenkins at nickel cornerback and brought in Graham to play safety. That could also be a package the Eagles go with depending on the match-up, with the 32-year-old defensive back showing he still has something left. Graham finished with five tackles, at one point coming up from his spot at safety to make a nice stop in the backfield. He hit hard and demonstrated some value on special teams. Signed two weeks ago, it’s clear Graham has already overtaken Terrence Brooks and Jaylen Watkins on the depth chart.

Corey Clement
Clement has been the most productive running back on the team through two preseason games. The undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin rushed eight times for 34 yards and one touchdown versus the Bills, and his 24-yard carry is the Eagles’ longest of the summer. Yet, the area where Clement has been most impressive is in the passing game. He’s shown some ability as a receiver, but more important, he’s been willing and effective in pass protection. Given all the issues in the Eagles' backfield, Clement is going to have a legitimate shot to make the 53-man roster should this continue.

Alshon Jeffery
It was only two receptions for 24 yards, but with that, Jeffery was able to provide a glimpse into why the Eagles have kept him in bubble wrap this summer. His 14-yard slant was especially exciting. While the grab was as easy as it gets in the NFL, Jeffery showed a little explosiveness after the catch. Everybody talks about the highlight-reel catches, but Jeffery is an all-around weapon who can get it done on short and intermediate routes as well. This was a nice preview that should leave people wanting to see more.

STOCK DOWN

LeGarrette Blount
Through two games, Blount has 17 yards rushing. To put that in perspective, he also has 15 yards receiving. In Blount’s defense, the offensive line has not given him much room to run. At the same time, the 30-year-old back doesn’t look like a great fit for the offense. He’s slow to the corner, he’s not really a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, and he’s not great in pass protection, either. Add a drive-killing fumble to Blount’s preseason resume as well. With Clement’s emergence, Blount’s roster spot might be up for grabs, especially if Wendell Smallwood can show anything.

Lane Johnson
Johnson played poorly, with the caveat that he was starting at left tackle rather than the right. Of course, Johnson is the emergency option there, so it’s not as if he gets a pass. There were at least three plays where the fifth-year lineman was beaten badly, resulting in a run getting stuffed in the backfield, a quarterback sack and a holding penalty. He was only in for 18 snaps. It’s not as if this was the first time Johnson played the position, either. Granted, Johnson would no doubt improve if he were on the left full-time, but in a pinch, he’s still a little scary.

Matt McGloin
The Eagles won’t feel the need to carry three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Most of McGloin’s passes down the field are errant at best, with too many balls being forced into double coverage. One such attempt resulted in an easy interception on Thursday. McGloin simply doesn’t have the arm strength to get away with those mistakes. He doesn’t look comfortable in the pocket, either, a combination that tends to result in a lot of check downs. Fortunately for the Eagles, Nick Foles is healthy and expected to play next week.

A surprising Eagle keeps getting drug tested

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Jake Elliott IG

A surprising Eagle keeps getting drug tested

Jake Elliott has been a revelation for the Philadelphia Eagles after Caleb Sturgis went down with an injury early in the season.

But has he been too good...

The rook has made 12 of his 14 attempts for the Birds this season.

If you're looking for a good laugh today, go check out this reddit thread that starts with a photo from Elliott's Instagram story in which he points out he got flagged for his third drug test in two weeks!

The comment section is as good as a Jake Elliott 61 yarder.

"Well, he does bleed green...," abenyishay says..

"Is kickers doping really a thing?" ChaosFinalForm wonders, as do we.

What do you think? Just the way the random drug draw fell the last few weeks, or does the NFL think Jake Elliott is into something?

76ers Season Opener: One more moral victory before we start winning for real

76ers Season Opener: One more moral victory before we start winning for real

We've all been so excited about the start of the Philadelphia 76ers season that it feels like nobody even bothered to look at the first three games on the schedule this year: At Washington, home for Boston, at Toronto. The Sixers may be the fifth best team in the Eastern Conference when healthy this season -- Jeff Van Gundy thinks so, at least, as he kept gushing last night on the ESPN (!!) broadcast of 76ers-Wizards -- but they play three of the four teams ahead of them to kick off the season, their first after the supposed summation of The Process. It's a pretty cold way to welcome the Sixers to the land of the NBA living, really. 

So yeah, the Sixers lost last night in their season opener for the fourth time in four seasons -- and forever shout out to Michael Carter-Williams, Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, and the rest of the squad that pulled off arguably the greatest regular-season upset in franchise history against LeBron and the Heatles on opening night, 2013. But the Sixers lost last night merely because they were playing the Washington Wizards, arguably the second-best team in the East last season and only stronger in the new year, in DC. And they still came a couple late-game deflections away from walking away with more wins than losses on their docket for the first time since... hey, don't forget James Anderson and Tony Wroten on that '13-'14 squad, either. Remember James Anderson? 

No, you don't, of course, because the Sixers don't have any James Andersons anymore: They have 10 professional basketball players, and arguably even more on the bench who might not crack the rotation this year until things go very south. (I'd take Furkan Korkmaz over all but maybe three players on the '15-'16 squad; we might not even see him on the court until we reach the deepest recesses of December garbage time.) And all of 'em looked good last night -- except for Amir Johnson, who went 2 for 27 from within three feet of the basket and somehow fouled out in 15 minutes. Even he should have nothing on the infuriating Sixers of years past: Brandon Davies ain't walking through that door anytime soon.

Everyone else was beautiful. Ben Simmons had a sparkling debut, posting an 18-10-5 with just one turnover, with shocking efficiency for a ball-handler who didn't attempt a shot outside six feet. Markelle Fultz was really impressive making plays for himself and others around the basket -- though he similarly balked at shooting from any kind of range, and his free-throw motion still looks disturbingly close to my fourth-grade form -- and fought on defense, generally showing that he can be a positive contributor even while he works on fixing his busted jumper. And we probably should've known that Joel Embiid's minutes limit was just a red herring: He played 27, posted 18 and 13, and got the crowd chanting "Trust the Process" like the Verizon Center was just an oversized Chickie's and Pete's. Dario Saric played unexceptionally -- 3 points on 1-5 shooting -- but he's Dario, so he's beautiful by default. 

But the real difference was in the wings. Robert Covington and J.J. Redick combined for an absolutely staggering 11 triples on 19 attempts -- the Sixers routinely went entire months at the beginning of the Process without the team making double-digit threes in a single game, now we have two guys doing it entirely on their own. Covington was of course the real superstar, accounting for seven of those triples on his way to a game-high 29 points with typically exceptional D. But man, when Redick pulls up into a quick-trigger three off the dribble... it's like, you didn't even know players were allowed to do that. Not Sixers players, anyway. 

And even with all that, the Sixers still lost, 120-115. Oh well. If Bayless can get the ball to an open Simmons under the basket in the final minute, or if Covington can swing a pass to an open Bayless in the corner a possession later -- both passes were deflected and stolen -- the game may have ended very differently. But it also may not have -- the Wizards have John Wall, they have late-game experience, and they have organizational consistency: In other words, they should win games like this, even against a team as improved (but still as green) as the Sixers. It's fine. It's great, honestly.

Of course, Redick and Covington won't always combine for 11 three-pointers, Embiid won't always be available for 27 minutes a night, and Simmons won't maintain a 5:1 assist:turnover ratio for the entire season. But it's not like any of that won't ever happen again, either: This is just a good team of good players now, and there will be games where they hang in against teams they shouldn't be hanging in against, and even escaping with the win on occasion. 

Will it happen in any of the team's first three? Maybe, maybe not -- it's a little frustrating that the Ballers might not get to demonstrate how improved they are in their W-L record for the season's first stretch, and you have to hope the team (and fanbase) don't fall into some Same Old Sixers malaise as they scrap against the conference elite. But watching the team last night in Washington, the feeling couldn't have been more different than even last year, when they nearly scraped together an opening-night win against an undermanned OKC team. It's not gonna be long before the Philadelphia 76ers are the team that makes the rest of the East go "Oh crap, we have to play them on opening night?"