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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Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Eagles might lose executive Andrew Berry after all

Just a few days ago, it seemed like the Eagles weren’t going to lose Vice President of Football Operations Andrew Berry because it looked like the Browns were going to hire someone else.

Well, that someone else has dropped out of the race.

Vikings assistant GM George Paton has taken himself out of the running to be the Browns’ next general manager, which means Berry is now the new favorite, according to Cleveland.com

This is certainly an interesting turn of events.

According to Cleveland.com, “Paton was reluctant to accept the initial interview because he assumed the job would go Berry.”

Now it might.

It would have made plenty of sense for the Browns to hire Paton, who has a long-standing relationship with new head coach Kevin Stefanski from their time together in Minnesota. But according to reports over the past few weeks, it seems like Berry has been a favorite of ownership and the front office.

While Berry and Stefanski have never worked together, they did get to know each other during the coaching search in Cleveland a year ago. After that search, the Browns hired Freddie Kitchens and Berry left for Philly. But now, Berry and Stefanski might actually get a chance to work with one another.

The Harvard-educated Berry, 32, was with the Browns from 2016-18 as their Vice President of Player Personnel before he joined the Eagles last season in a role they created for him. Berry initially came up in the Colts franchise, first as a scouting assistant and finally as a pro scouting coordinator. He’s been a quick-riser in the NFL world.

Earlier this offseason, the Eagles reportedly denied a request from the Panthers to interview Berry for a Vice President job. The reasoning from the Eagles was that it wasn’t a general manager position and he wouldn’t have had final say on personnel matters.

Final say is something Berry will likely never have here in Philadelphia. Despite a few missteps in recent years, Howie Roseman has pretty solid job security and he isn’t going anywhere. If Berry is going to become a GM, it’s going to be in another city. And it seems like that day might be coming soon.

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Lane Johnson says one awful Eagles game made him shave his head for good

Lane Johnson says one awful Eagles game made him shave his head for good

Lane Johnson is officially in offseason mode, and he kicked off Pro Bowl week - which he's now officially part of - by showing up on former teammate Chris Long's podcast and shooting the breeze for an hour.

The duo bantered about plenty, from dealing with failure and ego as football players, to Johnson's time as a grave digger. About halfway through, Johnson offered up a seldom-heard explanation for his hairstyle, or lackthereof.

Johnson, of course, famously keeps his hair short (read: nonexistent) on top, and keeps his beard long. He explained to Long that it took some serious self-reflection, and a couple rough games early in his rookie season, to officially start shaving his head:

I was in college, it was my senior year, and my friend goes, 'Bro, are you f***ing losing your hair?' I said, what are you talking about? Then I went to the mirror, and I'd clearly been in denial for some time. I said, 'Bro, this s*** is terrible.' 

So I played with it my senior year, it was bad. I'd comb it over, wear my hats, feather it out in the back, try to look cool. Then I got to the Eagles, and after getting bull-rushed by Dwight Freeney and giving up three sacks to Justin Houston, I just shaved that s*** off. I've been a different man ever since.

The Eagles, you might remember, lost in Week 2 that year to Freeney's Chargers, and then lost in Week 3 to Houston's Chiefs, to fall to 1-3. They went 9-3 the rest of the way, a startling and fun turnaround. I'm not saying it's all thanks to Johnson shaving his head... but maybe?

That's about as good a reason as I can think of to make a hairstyle change. Johnson has been one of the best right tackles in the NFL since he started shaving his head, so maybe he's on to something. He spends very little time focusing on his hair, and plenty of time focusing on his game.

When you go back and look at Johnson with hair, it's... extremely jarring:

Johnson is basically unrecognizable in that video. He looks like a child! Thank goodness for Freeney and Houston shellacking Johnson as a rookie, or he might still be clinging to that brutal hairdo.

Maybe Johnson should've floated this idea to the Eagles' coaching staff years ago. Who knows what a haircut could've done for Nelson Agholor?

You can listen to, and watch, the full conversation between Johnson and Long below:

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