Based on how they handled the preseason opener and based on the workload distribution in practice, don’t expect to see the Eagles’ starters play very much — if at all — against the Jaguars Thursday night.
The second preseason game is going to be a chance for some younger players to get snaps and try to make the team.
We’ll start with a guy who became important late in the second quarter last week:
QB Cody Kessler
With Nate Sudfeld out until possibly October, expect Kessler to start this game and to likely be the Eagles’ backup quarterback heading into the 2019 season. The former third-round pick didn’t do much in the preseason opener to instill much confidence — 3 of 6 for 12 yards — but against the Jaguars, he’ll be with the Eagles’ second team instead of the third team. That should make a big difference. If Kessler has time to throw and his receivers can catch the ball, he’ll likely put together a decent performance.
QB Clayton Thorson
There’s no sugarcoating this: Thorson was dreadful in his first NFL game last week. He was 2 for 9 for seven yards with an interception and he was even worse than those numbers suggest. And he’s barely gotten any reps in practice over the last week. But this is a chance for him to get those reps in game action and a chance for him to bounce back after last week. We’ll learn a lot about him.
OT Jordan Mailata
Mailata played 53 snaps — more than any other Eagle on offense — in the preseason opener. It’s the second-most snaps he’s ever played in a football game and he performed well. I want to see if he can stack another good game. He’ll get the start at right tackle again.
WR Charles Johnson
Marken Michel had a big 80-yard touchdown catch in the preseason opener, while Johnson had a drop and failed to get a catch on his three targets. He did, however, make a nice tackle on special teams. Johnson, 30, can make this team, but it would be nice to see him have a couple big games in the preseason.
TE Josh Perkins
Perkins has very quietly put together a nice training camp and Richard Rodgers is hurt again. I don’t think it’s crazy to start wondering if Perkins can make this team as the third tight end. It happened last year when Rodgers went on IR. This injury doesn’t seem as severe, but after thinking Rodgers was a lock for weeks, I’m not so sure anymore.
DE Shareef Miller
Miller had three tackles, a sack and a QB hit in last week’s game, but I’m still not sure how much he’ll be able to help in his rookie season. All training camp he’s been my leading candidate to suffer a phantom injury and find his way to IR. But during these games we’ll get an idea about how ready he is to play in his rookie season.
LB Nathan Gerry
The third-year linebacker didn’t have a great preseason opener and that touchdown he gave up in coverage stands out. Depending on when Nigel Bradham returns, Gerry could end up having a significant role in the Eagles’ defense and we haven’t seen enough from him to know how he’ll handle it. He did have a nice interception this week in practice, but I want to see it in a game situation.
LB T.J. Edwards
I thought the rookie linebacker had a typical rookie game last week. He looked fine at times, but he made a few mistakes too. We haven’t talked a ton about him — aside from my Surviving Camp series — but the Eagles would probably really like if the rookie from Wisconsin started to stand out.
S Johnathan Cyprien
For not playing in a year, the veteran safety had an active game last week. Blake Countess is hurt and Tre Sullivan didn’t have a good performance against the Titans, so Cyprien could really make this team. I’m not sure how the Eagles would feel about guaranteeing his contract by keeping him on the initial roster, but he would be a guy worth keeping around.
DT Treyvon Hester
Hassan Ridgeway has been dealing with a concussion, so Hester might be able to make up some ground in this competition. He had a good training camp and even blocked another field goal against the Titans. His special teams contributions alone make me wonder if he’s worthy of a roster spot.
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