Growing excitement over a rookie 5th-round pick, an offensive lineman who played surprisingly well, JJAW vs. Fulgham and lots more!
It's all here in our final (thankfully) preseason edition of Roob’s 10 instant observations.
If you care about these sorts of things - and I can't imagine why you would - the Eagles and Jets finished in a 31-31 tie Friday night at MetLife Stadium in the preseason finale.
Eagles-Falcons two weeks from Sunday!
1. I’ve been pretty clear over the past couple weeks that I believe Jalen Hurts needed to play more than 10 snaps in the preseason, and I don’t believe joint practices – no matter how intense or how physical – are a replacement for live football. That’s my opinion. That said, I’m not going to pretend I’m outraged about it. You can make a pretty good case either way. The reality is that the Eagles’ biggest issue the last three years was injuries, and they go into the opener with 21 of 22 projected starters healthy. And the one who isn’t – Rodney McLeod - got hurt in December. We’ll see if Hurts is rusty or unprepared or ineffective in the opener in Atlanta two weeks from Sunday. If he is, then the Eagles really misjudged this. But he’ll definitely be healthy, along with all his receivers, backs and linemen, and there’s something to be said for that as well. It is a gamble, but the logic behind it does make sense.
2. Kenny Gainwell is really carving out a significant role for himself. He turned nine touches Friday night into 59 yards and a touchdown [5-32 rushing, 4-27 receiving] and finished the preseason 12-for-67 rushing [5.6] and 8-for-56 receiving. As a receiver, we knew he was smooth and sure-handed and crafty after the catch. But I’ve been surprised what a tough runner he is also. He’s not just a receiving back, and he’s going to play a lot this year. A lot. I’m excited to see what he’s able to do when the games matter.
3. You know who played well? Andre Dillard. Yep. With de facto starter Jordan Mailata sitting, Dillard played the entire first half coming off a two-week injury layoff and looked spry, getting out and pulling a few times and springing Gainwell on a couple times nice gains. He did have a false start as well, but overall he was solid in his first playing time since the end of the 2019 season. Were the Eagles showcasing him? Maybe. And I still think if they get a decent offer they wouldn’t hesitate to trade him. But it’s more likely he stays as the backup LT, and the Eagles have to feel better about him after this performance.
4. Encouraging performance by Joe Flacco, who was as sharp as we’ve seen him this preseason. Flacco was 13-for-16 for 188 yards and a couple TD passes, including one in the two-minute drill to end the first half. It was interesting to see him make plays on the move out of the pocket, which isn’t his strength. Flacco has been up and down this summer, but you have to feel better about him going into the regular season coming off this game.
5. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside really helped his roster chances with a couple catches on that two-minute drive to end the first half with a 15-yard catch for a first down on a 2nd-and-12 and then a 42-yard TD where he showed really good toughness to catch an improve throw from Flacco near the right sideline, fight off corners Elijah Campbell and Isaiah Dunn, and then stay in bounds into the end zone. If you were keeping two out of Arcega-Whiteside, Travis Fulgham and John Hightower, who are you keeping? I think it just might be JJAW and Hightower.
6. Any question whether T.Y. McGill was going to make the team was answered Friday night when the veteran interior lineman had two more sacks, giving him (and the Eagles) three this preseason. Hassan Ridgeway has played a lot of football for the Eagles – 386 reps on defense the last two years – and he was the clear favorite for a backup d-line spot when camp began, but McGill has outplayed him big-time both at practice and in the games. McGill isn’t the most stout lineman, but with Milton Williams able to give the Eagles reps both inside and out, the Eagles will have good depth behind Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.
7. Was good to see Shaun Bradley running around and making some plays. Bradley is on the bubble going into Tuesday’s roster cuts, and as a second-year 6th-round pick, that’s not unexpected. But he’s looked good this summer, definitely better than last year, and he was pretty active Friday night, finishing with six tackles. Bradley could still land on the practice squad, but the former Rancocas Valley Red Devil has a shot at the 53 as well. I don’t think he hurt himself last night.
8. Here’s one more thing to like about Kenny Gainwell: After a short run in the first quarter, he got slammed to the ground by Jets cornerback Bryce Hall well after the whistle. Hall was called for a personal foul, but instead of retaliating and jumping up and shoving Hall, Gainwell just popped up and ran back to the huddle. All business. You retaliate, now you have offsetting personal fouls, and you lose 15 yards. For a young kid to show that kind of composure is impressive.
9. I need to mention how well Tarron Jackson played Friday night. The rookie 6th-round defensive end from Coastal Carolina keeps showing up. I don't see how there's room on the 53 for him, but there's something there. He'll play at some point this year.
10. Ten guys I want to see on the practice squad (if they’re released and clear waivers): Marken Michel, Elijah Holyfield, Andre Patton, Kayode Awosika, Josiah Scott, Marlon Tuipulotu, Tarron Jackson, Jason Huntley, Elijah Riley and Michael Jacquet.