There was a sequence at Eagles practice Monday in which rookie Clayton Thorson on back-to-back snaps fired touchdown passes against the Ravens in the near right corner of the end zone.
The first was to JJ Arcega-Whiteside, covered by Cyrus Jones of the Ravens, the second to Marken Michel, who was covered by Terrell Bonds.
I think at that point everybody at practice kind of did a double take.
Was that really No. 8?
It really was, and when Thorson spoke Thursday night about building on a promising performance against the Jaguars, this is exactly what he meant.
Thorson followed a bounce-back performance in his second preseason game with — by far — his best practice of the summer on Monday.
The improvement the rookie fifth-round pick from Northwestern has made just in the past week is really encouraging.
I think any game experience you get makes you more confident, so every week I’m getting more and more confident and the game helped out even more,” Thorson said after practice Monday. “It’s fun to come out here and play someone new. It’s a lot of fun to play against these guys, such a good defense like this. You just have to see it and really trust your reads and make efficient decisions.
Thorson looked overmatched the first couple weeks of camp and the first preseason game.
But that’s totally normal for a rookie quarterback. The adjustment from college is enormous, and you have so much thrown at you, it just takes a while to process it all to the point where you can go out and make plays.
Obviously, it took him a couple games to really get comfortable, but I knew he had it in him the whole time, we all did,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “That’s why none of us are really surprised. He’s a baller.
Thorson has come so far it’s easy to forget that he’s only been doing this for a few weeks now.
But for him to go out against another team — granted it was the Ravens’ third team, but their corners are all talented — and show confidence and poise and the ability to make plays is a great sign.
“It’s my first training camp, so just learning so much, just about being in the NFL, going against NFL defenses and just knowing what I’ve got to work on,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. Just getting more comfortable. Getting out and trusting yourself and just ripping it.”
Arcega-Whiteside rooms with Thorson and said he’s been impressed with him since Day 1.
I see the same thing that I’ve seen from him since we started rooming together when we got here,” he said. “Confident, puts in a lot of hard work. You walk in our room and he’s studying the playbook, he’s got headphones on studying the calls, studying how people talk. He’s very detail-oriented.
All that said, nothing is guaranteed for Thorson, especially now that Josh McCown is here.
There are five quarterbacks on the roster, and Thorson could make the team, he could wind up on the practice squad, he could wind up getting claimed somewhere else.
There are a lot of moving parts in the Eagles’ quarterback picture right now, and Thorson is doing his best not to think about any of that.
“Coach talks about it a lot, just stacking days,” he said. “That’s what you’ve got to do and just get better and better and better. That’s the only thing you can control. You can’t control anything else and that’s what I’m trying to do now.”
And if he was disappointed when the Eagles brought in the 40-year-old McCown, he sure didn’t show it.
When you get new teammates, it’s an opportunity to learn from them, so having Josh here is awesome,” he said. “For me to come in as a rookie and have Carson (Wentz), Nate (Sudfeld) and Cody (Kessler), who’ve played a lot of ball, and then to have Josh come here? An 18-year veteran? I couldn’t ask for anything better than to have that.
Nobody knows what’s going to happen next with Thorson, but it’s safe to say he’s making the Eagles’ decision a lot harder.
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