10 players to watch in Eagles' second preseason game of 2019

10 players to watch in Eagles' second preseason game of 2019

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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Should Eagles be interested in a trade for Jalen Ramsey?

Should Eagles be interested in a trade for Jalen Ramsey?

Another good player might become available in a trade, so Howie Roseman and the Eagles’ front office should at least look at the possibility. 

Just like we talked about with Minkah Fitzpatrick last week, the Eagles are never shy about kicking tires when a quality player might be up for grabs. 

That should be no different with Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who would absolutely help the Eagles. 

We’ve seen the Eagles’ struggles early this season to defend the pass. They’ve given up 680 passing yards in two games, the second-most they’ve ever given up in the first two games of a season. The Eagles have been rotating their outside corners with varied results. Ronald Darby, coming back from a torn ACL in 2018, has struggled early this season. 

Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Ramsey was the fifth-overall pick in 2016 and has been a Pro Bowler in each of the last two years and was an All-Pro in 2017. To put it simply, he’s good. And he’s much better than anyone the Eagles have right now. 

It’s also worth pointing out that the Jaguars lose plenty of leverage because this rocky relationship between Ramsey and the team is so public. That doesn’t help them get the best possible haul, but they should start by looking for a first-round pick. 

Unlike Fitzpatrick, whom the Eagles would have cost-controlled through 2022 with a fifth-year option, Ramsey is in the final year of his four-year rookie contract and is on a fifth-year option in 2020. So Ramsey, presumably, will be looking for a big-time contract soon. That’s not a deal-breaker, but it does make a trade a little more complicated. 

Ramsey certainly has a loud personality and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. That is always part of what the Eagles look at when they inquire about potentially adding a player. But the Eagles have faith in their locker room’s ability to absorb unique personalities. In that now-infamous interview with GQ last year, Ramsey gave his honest (and brutal) assessment of many QBs, but at least he spoke highly of Carson Wentz. 

Since entering the league in 2016, Ramsey has nine interceptions and 45 pass breakups. During that span, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod are tied for the Eagles’ lead in INTs with six and Jalen Mills leads the Eagles in pass breakups with 30. So Ramsey would immediately help. 

It’s probably a long shot that the Eagles end up getting Ramsey, but based on Roseman’s history with trades, you certainly can’t rule them out. 

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An angry Carson Wentz questions NFL concussion procedures

An angry Carson Wentz questions NFL concussion procedures

It’s rare that we see this side of Carson Wentz.

The pissed-off side.

Wentz was definitely angry at the way his concussion test was handled late in the second quarter of the Eagles-Falcons game Sunday night in Atlanta.

On a 3rd-and-10 with 1:51 left before halftime, Wentz threw incomplete to Mack Hollins, setting up an Eagles punt.

Wentz went over to the sideline and stayed there uneventfully while the Falcons went 3-and-out.

But at some point late during that Atlanta drive, the NFL’s neurosurgeon assigned to watch players’ behavior for possible concussions and then having them tested, instructed Wentz to enter the medical tent.

This coincided closely with the Falcons’ punt.

So when the Eagles returned to the field with 43 seconds left, Josh McCown was at quarterback.

If the concussion specialist saw concerning behavior from Wentz, why not have him tested immediately?

Good question.

Honestly, that was super frustrating,” Wentz said. “I was sitting on the sideline for about five minutes and then they called down to look at that. To me that is something that they need to figure out. It’s incredibly frustrating when I feel fine, but I understand that they need to look at that and that it is part of the game. But the fact that it took so long is really frustrating.

McCown played six snaps and actually converted a couple first downs as he drove the offense from the Falcons’ 41-yard-line down to the 13.

Wentz finally returned and a second later Jake Elliott hit a field goal to bring the Eagles within four points at 10-6,.

Head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles will have conversations with league officials to try to figure out why things went the way they did.

“We'll have communication obviously about it, but that stuff is out of our control,” he said. “If they see it, they are going to pull the player and it's out of our control. It's out of my hands. I can't do anything about it. It's a medical issue. It's a player-safety issue. I'm sure we'll have discussions on it but quite frankly, it's out of our hands.”

Wentz seemed upset that in his eyes he wasn’t showing any concussion symptoms, but he and Pederson were most upset about the delay.

Why not call Wentz into the tent immediately when he got back to the field? He certainly doesn’t think he began displaying symptoms five minutes after leaving the field.

“That's the part we have to have communication and dialogue with and make sure they are seeing the same things we're seeing,” Pederson said. “But again, it's out of our hands when the spotter sees something.”

The NFL's concussion testing protocol has come a long way, and that's a positive.

But when it starts affecting when a perfectly healthy star player can go back on the field, there's a problem. A big problem. And the NFL needs to figure that part of this out in a hurry.

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