There are 14 rookies on the Eagles’ current 90-man roster and while the Eagles’ preseason opener Thursday night might not be a big deal to you or most other Eagles fans, it’s huge for them.
Preseason games may not count in the standings, but jobs and careers and paychecks are at stake in the preseason.
We talked to a handful of those rookies to get their thoughts on their first career game, which comes two weeks after the start of training camp.
The Eagles face the Titans at the Linc at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
RB Miles Sanders
The second-round pick from Penn State might be under the most scrutiny among the rookies simply because he has the biggest chance to get sigificant snaps this year.
Just curious how I’m going to be, how I’m going to play. But it’s football at the end of the day, and I’ve been working hard all my life for this moment, so it’s going to be exciting,” Sanders said. “There’s going to be some butterflies a little bit probably, but this is everything I’ve been dreaming of, so it’s going to be exciting.
DE Shareef Miller
The Penn State defensive end, a fourth-round pick, grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, so you know how much Thursday night means to him.
It’ll be a dream come true,” Miller said. “I just can’t wait to compete. I just want to get out there and run around and make some plays.
OT Andre Dillard
Jason Peters probably won’t play, so this will be a chance to see the first-round pick out of Washington State get a lot of reps at left tackle.
I’m extremely excited to finally go out there and play in a game," Dillard said. "It’s what I’ve been waiting for this whole time, throughout this whole grind.
Considering Peters’ injury history, there’s a good chance Dillard will have to play at some point once the season starts.
He said these last couple weeks have been productive ones for him, and he can’t wait to see how he stacks up against another team’s pass rushers.
I feel like I’ve come a long way honestly as a football player and a person,” he said. “The grind really teaches you a lot about yourself and you find a lot of ways to improve as a person and a player. It teaches you discipline and perseverance, how to take care of yourself, how to keep your mind in a good place in order to produce.
LB T.J. Edwards
One of the more impressive undrafted rookies in camp has been the Wisconsin linebacker. With the rash of injuries that have hit the linebacker position, Edwards knows he has a realistic shot at making the 53. But it needs to start Thursday.
It’s a huge step,” he said. “This is where you kind of push for a spot or you don’t in these preseason games, so you’ve got to be sound in everything you’re doing technically and fundamentally and then you also have to have good production as well, so I’m really just excited to kind of not think about all that stuff and just go out and play and I’m going to go out there and do my best and there’s really all I’ve got.
Edwards is another one who seems to have turned the corner after a little bit of a slow start to camp.
Obviously, there’s something every day I can do better, but I think every day I’m getting more comfortable in being out here on an NFL field,” he said. “This last week or so has felt really good. I’m starting to see things a whole lot better, and it’s been fun.
WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside
Everybody wants to see the second-round Stanford receiver, who hit the rookie wall a little bit the past week but overall has had an impressive summer.
It’s going to be fun to finally go out there and let loose and play ball,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting, there’s going to be a lot of people there, first time playing in the Linc, so I’m excited for that, but at the same time I’m there to handle what I need to handle and show everybody what I can do and show everybody what we’ve been doing out in training camp. It’s going to be exciting, it’s going to be fun, and I can’t wait.
Arcega-Whiteside said training camp has been tough for him as he tries to take what he’s learning in meetings and film and transfer it onto the field.
It’s been challenging, mostly because it’s the first year and everything that’s being thrown at me is new,” he said. “So you have to line up and execute against some of the best DBs in the league, but you just have to accept the challenge and keep pushing.
Thursday night is just about having fun.
Play loose, go out there, try some things that might work, might not work, and learn from that,” he said. “Line up against somebody you haven’t lined up against, learn how to handle certain situations, that’s what I’m most excited for, going up against somebody new.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.