His first snap in an Eagles uniform, Cody Kessler got sacked, hit late by blitzing Titans linebacker Nigel Harris and suffered a pretty good bruise on his arm.
It was downhill from there.
Kessler, a former third-round pick of the Browns who signed with the Eagles in May, became the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback when Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist late in the second quarter of the Eagles’ preseason opener against the Titans at the Linc Thursday night.
It’s a precarious situation for the Eagles, who expect Sudfeld to be out in the six- to eight-week range.
Kessler’s Eagles debut was a dismal one. He went 3 for 6 for 12 yards with a long gain of six yards to Wendell Smallwood.
He was on the field for 12 plays that netted 18 yards.
It wasn’t ideal circumstances — he came in cold when Sudfeld got hurt and he was out there with backup receivers and linemen — but you would like to see more from your No. 2 QB.
It’s just nice to get those first live game reps out of the way,” Kessler said. “The first play they brought cover-zero on me so it was kind of an introduction to playing here, which is nice, but it’s something to build off of, something to learn from. I made some good reads and some stuff I could have fixed. Missed a ball to Wendell there on the side, but that’s kind of just part of it.
Kessler hasn’t been awful when he’s had to play for the Browns and Jaguars.
The big thing he’s missing is time in this offense. So he has a month to get as comfortable as possible, and the Eagles will accelerate that process starting immediately.
(My comfort level) is obviously nowhere near where those guys who have been here three years are,” Kessler said. “But it’s getting there. The biggest part of that is repetition. And that’s something that you get with each practice day in and day out. Whether it’s mental reps, watching Carson or physically being on the field or extra film room.
Head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles have no intention of bringing in a quarterback, which makes sense.
Anybody they bring in at this point — 30 days before opening day — would be so far behind that they probably wouldn’t be able to function until after Sudfeld gets back.
We are comfortable with Cody,” Pederson said. “He's a veteran guy. He's started games in the National Football League. He's shown us he's been able to hand the playbook and incrementally getting better every day. He gets out there and takes reps. Looking forward, we're not there yet, but he's been in that role before, so he's accustomed to being a backup, if that's the case.
Kessler has played in the NFL — more than Sudfeld, actually. He has a respectable 83.7 passer rating in 17 games with the Browns and Jaguars and has completed 64 percent of his 349 passes.
So he shouldn’t be a complete disaster if he has to play.
That’s part of the NFL,” he said. “You hate to see it, and these guys are family and guys you’ve worked with and been through so much with and they’re your brothers. But it’s the next-man mentality and that’s the mindset I’m taking into it. I’m going to lean on Nate a lot, I know he’ll be there, and Carson, but for me, it’s something you’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities and make the most of them. But I feel for Nate.
Kessler’s practice reps will increase dramatically starting Saturday, and he’ll play a ton the rest of the preseason, starting with a game Thursday night against his former team, the Jaguars, in Jacksonville on Thursday night.
Wentz has to stay healthy. He has to.
But if he doesn’t? For now, Kessler is the next man up. And judging from what we've seen so far, that's a scary thought.
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