The Eagles kicked off their 2018 season Thursday night against the Falcons with a big 18-12 win and they did it without starting quarterback Carson Wentz.
While they’re obviously missing Wentz, the Eagles did get back three big pieces of their team Thursday night.
Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles all returned and had really good games.
That’s a great sign for the 2018 Eagles.
Peters played 71 of 72 snaps, leaving for one play at the very end of the game. He might be 36 but Peters certainly didn’t look like it against the Falcons. And it also didn’t look like he was coming off a season that ended with an ACL tear.
He was really good Thursday night. If he keeps this up all season, he’ll be on his way back to the Pro Bowl for the 10th time in his Hall of Fame career.
.@Eagles #JasonPeters had a dominant evening from the 1st play to the game winning @JayTrain TD Run. How does anyone in any profession come back from a major injury and return 11 months later to supremacy? #BaldyBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/VjVswmIPVA— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) September 7, 2018
Yeah, that’s pretty good.
No matter who is starting at quarterback, the guy protecting the blindside is a big deal. Even though Halapoulivaati Vaitai did a nice job filling in last year, the offense isn’t the same without Peters. That’s why I considered him the third-most important player on the team for the 2018 season.
He’s off to a good start. Just check out what Doug Pederson said about him:
“Really good. Really good. He obviously prepared himself for that day and for opening day and did some really nice things. It was hot and it was humid out there, and for him to battle like he did, he did some — he was quick off the ball. He was right on track there. Pass protection was good. Run game was good. You know, it was good to get him back out there and get him going with the offense again and get him in the mix.”
That injury-prone label probably won’t go away even if Hicks stays healthy all season. He’s going to have to prove that he can stay healthy over the course of a few seasons. But when Hicks is on the field, he’s hugely important to the Eagles’ defense.
One game into the 2018 season, Hicks is already proving it. He filled up the stat sheet Thursday night.
He played all 70 snaps in his return. Hicks had seven tackles, 1½ sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QB hits and one pass defensed. Coming into the game, Hicks had just two career sacks, so he almost doubled his career number.
While Hicks has dealt with several injuries during his short career, whenever he’s on the field, he’s been a dynamic playmaker. This is a contract year for him, so he stands to make a lot of money with a big season.
Is this guy really 35? It seems impossible.
No, Sproles didn’t have huge offensive numbers against the Falcons — five carries for 10 yards and four catches for 22. But he had a couple nice punt returns and will eventually get cooking on offense. Pederson might have overused him on offense, but Sproles is going to have an important role even if Pederson dials him back.
Sproles is ageless just like Peters. Their teammates always call them “freaks” in a good way. That’s fitting. Age and injuries don’t seem to be slowing down either of them.