After two-plus weeks of taking out their aggression on each other, the Eagles will get to hit some Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.
Training camp is an absolute grind, so getting to play a game — albeit a preseason game — is a welcome change of pace.
Doug Pederson wants to get his starters some work this preseason; he said about 65-70 snaps. But that leaves a ton of game action for younger players who are trying to make a name for themselves. We all have some players we want to see in game action — I’ll give you my list Thursday.
But I also thought about asking several established veterans to give me a name of one of their younger teammates they want to see on Thursday night.
Here are their answers:
“I would just say probably Sidney (Jones). Him battling back from an Achilles injury, being picked where he was picked at. Obviously, have high expectations for him, him just working his butt back to even play last year. But now that he’s healthy, he’s looking good, he’s growing each day. I’m excited for him to finally get out there and show everyone what he’s made of and what he can do.”
Jones was the 43rd pick in the draft last year after tearing his Achilles at the Washington pro day. He would have easily been a first-rounder sans injury. Jones was able to get on the field for the 2017 regular-season finale, but played just 29 snaps against the Cowboys and didn’t play in the playoffs. With a full year under his belt and now completely healthy, there are huge expectations around Jones, who has been playing primarily nickel corner in training camp.
“(Matt) Pryor. Looking at Pryor, man, he reminds me a lot of myself when I was young. Big dude who has some athleticism, but really needs to experience play. That’s with everything, just more and more reps. I think he’s going to be really f------ good, to be honest. I’m excited to see him play.”
This answer wasn’t surprising either. Pryor, the 6-7 sixth-round rookie from TCU, has been very impressive during training camp. He can play offensive tackle and guard, but has been mostly working at guard.
“Bruce Hector. He’s just one of those young guys that he does everything right, he listens. I’m not saying that all the young guys don’t listen, but he’s kind of blooming. I’ve seen him take baby steps right now. You can tell it’s showing up in practice and I’m really excited to see him play.”
A little bit of a wild-card pick, Hector is an undrafted defensive tackle from South Florida, who has shown something during training camp. He has an uphill battle to make the roster, but has some skills.
“You know what? I’m excited to see a lot of people, man. I’m really excited to see Sidney (Jones). I think he’s going to do well. Obviously, Nate (Gerry). Nate Sudfeld as well too. I’m ready to see all the young guys, man. It’s going to be fun.”
We already talked about Jones, but let’s talk briefly about Gerry. He was a fifth-round pick a year ago from Nebraska. He switched from college safety to NFL linebacker and is now in the lead to win the Eagles’ weakside linebacker job.
“(Donnel) Pumphrey. Just because he didn’t get a chance to get much work in last year. I know he’s itching to get back out there. That’s a guy I’m looking forward to being able to showcase his abilities. I know he’s got it.”
After a terrible preseason last year, the former fourth-round running back looks like a different guy this summer. He’s been much better in practice and now it’s time to see if that translates into games.
“They’ve all been balling right now. Obviously, Kamu (Grugier-Hill’s) athletic ability, Nate has emerged. I think who I’m excited to see is LaRoy (Reynolds). If I had to pick one, I’d probably say LaRoy because I haven’t seen him play before. And what he’s showed out there on the practice field has been awesome effort, ability to hit, come downhill, his aggressiveness. I’m excited to see him play.”
Reynolds is an interesting answer because he’s actually a year older than Hicks. But it’s not a bad answer. Reynolds is a veteran in his sixth year who has flown under the radar this summer, but he’s definitely been aggressive and sometimes nasty in practice. He has a shot at the roster.
(Note: Foles was asked which young players fans might notice Thursday.) "I think Dallas (Goedert) has had a great camp, just from the tight end position. I think he’s a really good player that’s coming along every single day. He’s going to keep working every single day, he’s obviously young, but he’s got a lot of great coaches and players around to help him. I think he will be a guy to do well. I think another guy would be Rashard Davis. From a guy that’s undrafted, coming in here in his second year, I think he’s a very talented player, can do a lot of different things when the ball is in his hands, is very dynamic. A lot of guys might not necessarily know much about him, but I think he’s a guy who can do some really special things."
Goedert is a great one. He has been really good in camp. And Davis is a little under the radar, but he's hard to cover, especially during 1-on-1 drills. The former UDFA is a fun player.