After a short offseason, the Eagles will play a game Thursday night for the first time since Feb. 4, when they beat the Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII.
Anyway, it’s a new season with the “new norm” and all that. The real season doesn’t begin for another four weeks, but the preseason starts tonight with the first of four games. The Eagles host the Steelers, but it doesn’t really matter who they’re playing or even if they win.
The preseason is all about evaluating players, staying healthy and finding some rhythm. We’re going to focus on the evaluating players bit. We already asked some veterans who they want to watch (see story).
Here is my list of 10 Eagles:
You don’t really have much of a choice on this one. Sudfeld is going to play and he’s going to play a lot. Not just in this game, but in the preseason. But that’s not a bad thing either. This is our first glimpse of a guy the Eagles really think has the stuff to be a more long-term backup for Carson Wentz once Nick Foles eventually moves on. The Eagles got Suds from Washington and haven’t let him leave. They even promoted him to the active roster last year to protect him from poachers. Sudfeld is lanky with a huge arm but has been inconsistent in camp. Here’s his first chance to show us what he’s got.
The rookie running back from Notre Dame missed all of the spring with a stress fracture in his foot but has done some nice things in training camp. Guys like Donnel Pumphrey, Wendell Smallwood and Matt Jones are probably still ahead of Adams, but with a big preseason, he could land on the roster. If nothing else, he can show off enough to make a practice squad or a different NFL roster.
Pump was bad in training camp last year, but he was awful in the preseason, averaging fewer than two yards per carry. The Eagles like the idea of him being more of a Darren Sproles-type running back, who can run and catch, but that’s been an adjustment. Pump was a between-the-tackles guy in college. He has looked much, much better this training camp, so we’ll see if he can carry it over to game action.
I’ve already seen enough of this kid during training camp to think he’s going to be special. I’m excited for everyone else to see what I mean. Jones obviously fell to the Eagles at 43 last year thanks to that Achilles tear, but he still has that first-round talent inside of him. After seeing him for just 29 snaps last season after plenty of rust, I want to see him fully healthy and ready to go.
Just about every day in training camp, Goedert has been pulling down touchdown passes. I’m not surprised by that. He’s a big body, with good hands and great body control. The red zone is where he can make his biggest impact. Expect to see him get some good time in his first-ever NFL game.
Not sure how much Bennett will play tonight, but if he gets out there, he’s worth watching. The Eagles brought in the Pro Bowler via trade and made their already-deep defensive end group even deeper. And I just love watching Bennett play. He plays the position so loose. If you haven’t seen much of him before, you’ll see what I mean soon enough.
Hicks has been a full participant all training camp and even looks like he’s bulked up. Not sure if we’ll see Jason Peters in this game, but I’d expect to see at least a little bit of Hicks. Him returning from that Achilles injury is a huge deal, especially as he enters a contract year.
Gibson was having a great camp before it got a little off track thanks to a concussion he suffered in practice. Luckily for him, he was able to return this week and should be good to go for the game. The Eagles kept Gibson on the roster last year after a terrible training camp, but it now appears that patience is paying off. Gibson looks like a different dude this time around.
The sixth-round offensive lineman from TCU has been a training camp revelation. He’s pretty close to being a lock on the roster already. That’s how good he’s been over the first couple of weeks. I know I’m asking you to watch an offensive guard and that doesn’t sound fun, but he might be the real deal.
Nate Gerry has been working with the first team at WILL, which means KGH will probably not start. But after watching him make play after play at the NovaCare Complex, I want to see if he can do it across the street in a game. I really think KGH deserves more time with the starters.