Eagles

Studs, duds, turning point and more from Eagles-Steelers preseason game

Studs, duds, turning point and more from Eagles-Steelers preseason game

BOX SCORE

With Nick Foles and Carson Wentz watching on, the Eagles played their first game at Lincoln Financial Field since the NFC Championship Game.

This one wasn’t as fun.

Anyway, the Eagles’ first-team defense dominated, Dallas Goedert looked like a stud and Nate Sudfeld threw two touchdown passes, but the Eagles still lost Thursday, 31-14, to the Steelers at the Linc (see observations).

Not that the score matters any. Here are some things that matter more:

The Sudfeld Show
Good and bad from Sudfeld, which is kind of what we’ve seen all camp from him. A little too much inconsistency. He had a couple picks, although one looked like Bryce Treggs deserved the blame. And there are times he simply has to learn to get rid of the ball.

But he does that stuff and then tosses an absolute dime of a deep ball to Shelton Gibson for a long touchdown. Or he rolls right and fires in a touchdown pass to Goedert. The tools are there. And it's easy to see why the Eagles think so much of him. 

Sudfeld completed 10 of 14 passes for 140 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He played the entire first half before Joe Callahan took over.

Goedert looks good
There were a couple little hiccups along the way, but rookie tight end Goedert looks good. He had an uncharacteristic drop and missed a blocking assignment in the first half, but more than made up for it. He caught a touchdown pass in the first half, something we should get used to. He seems to have a knack for making plays in the red zone.

He finished with four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. Solid NFL debut.

Dominating D
The Eagles’ first-team defense didn’t play long, but it was dominant. The unit got two sacks — one from Fletcher Cox, one from Malcolm Jenkins and Nigel Bradham. The group gave up just two yards on six plays.

The next drive, the second-team defense gave up 88 yards on four plays. The big one came when Landry Jones hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 71-yarder down the sideline. Rasul Douglas was in good position but didn’t get a good jump on the ball.

Up and down for Douglas
Douglas redeemed himself later, with a great read and interception late in the second quarter. Just got a great jump and got a pick.

But then a little bit later, he gave up a touchdown to Damoun Patterson on a brilliant throw from Josh Dobbs. The throw was great, but it’s still Douglas’ man.

A scary moment
With just under seven minutes left in the second quarter, there was a scary moment when Nate Gerry ran into Sidney Jones while trying to make a tackle. Jones had trouble getting up before making his way off the field and to the trainer’s table. Jones got his left foot checked out before getting it re-taped and rejoining his teammates on the sideline. He didn’t return, but that was probably just a precaution. Phew.

Speed kills
Gibson simply beat his man on that 63-yard touchdown in the second quarter. He showed his ability to separate from a corner. Gibson was so bad last year, but made the team after being a fifth-round draft pick. That patience is paying off. It seems like he’s going to earn his spot on the team this year.

Crazy defensive line
On third downs, we saw Chris Long, Michael Bennett, Cox and Derek Barnett on the field together. That’s scary. And they will eventually get Brandon Graham back. On one particular play, Cox simply walked back his interior lineman. Unfair.

New helmet rule
We saw our first lowering the helmet call and it was probably a pretty fair one. Jones came in when a Steeler was already wrapped up and lowered his helmet to tackle him. Flag immediately. It extended a touchdown drive for the Steelers. Richard Rodgers was called for one that crushed the Eagles on a crazy long punt. The Eagles have to be aware of this new rule.

WOAHHHH
Honest to God, the most amazing thing I saw all night was Cameron Johnston’s 81-yard punt that didn’t even count thanks to that penalty on Rodgers.

Johnston has been wildly inconsistent all training camp and even in this game, but he booted a freakin’ ball 81 yards on a punt. The returner looked amazed as it soared over his head.

Pump the brakes
Donnel Pumphrey, desperately trying to not be known as a draft bust, didn’t play for unknown reasons. Pump hadn’t missed practice time, so his being out is a surprise. After a terrible preseason as a rookie (he averaged 1.9 yards per carry), Pumphrey missed a chance to show something in a preseason game.

Turning some heads
With Pump out, undrafted rookie Josh Adams had a good showing. It’s worth remembering he was going against deep reserves, but gotta like what we saw. He broke off some good ones. He’s in the race for that fourth RB job.

Missing in action
Along with Pumphrey, Foles (neck spasms), Mike Wallace (tendinitis), Nelson Agholor, Markus Wheaton, Matt Jones, Ian Park and Asantay Brown all didn’t play. Neither did the guys on NFI/PUP: Graham, Alshon Jeffery, Chris Maragos, Tim Jernigan.

Up next
The Eagles are on the road next Thursday for a Super Bowl LII rematch against the Patriots in Foxboro. They kick off the regular season in four weeks at home against the Falcons. 

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Carson Wentz on Alshon Jeffery: 'I love that guy'

Carson Wentz on Alshon Jeffery: 'I love that guy'

There’s been a sense for a while now that the relationship between Alshon Jeffery and Carson Wentz is a bit strained.

It didn’t help when anonymous quotes popped up on ESPN from an unnamed player criticizing Wentz, and WIP’s Howard Eskin, who is also the Eagles’ radio sideline reporter, quickly reported that Jeffery was the source of those quotes, something Jeffery denied.

On Tuesday, we learned Jeffery is out for the year, and on Thursday, Wentz talked about how big a loss that is but also spoke — in glowing terms — about his relationship with Jeffery.

“I have a great relationship with Alshon,” Wentz said. “He’s been an awesome teammate ever since he got here. When he first signed here, we went to dinner, we got to know each other, we both had high expectations for each other. It’s been awesome getting to know him as a guy and as a teammate and seeing the plays he’s been able to make over the years and this year as well. I love that guy and obviously the injury is very unfortunate.”

Jeffery has been Wentz’s No. 1 wide receiver in their three years together, with 143 catches for 1,754 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Eagles are 21-12 in 33 games with both Jeffery and Wentz in uniform.

But both have dealt with injuries since 2017. Wentz missed eight regular-season games and both playoff runs in 2017 and 2018, and Jeffery, whose season is now over, will have missed nine games the last two years.

Jeffery, who missed a game with a calf injury earlier this year and two more with an ankle injury, suffered a season-ending foot injury in the Giants game Monday night.

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jon Clark reported Thursday Jeffery has a Lysfranc injury and is considering surgery.

Jeffery, a Pro Bowler with the Bears in 2013, had just 43 catches for 490 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games this year.

He did have 137 yards against the Dolphins two weeks ago, his second-biggest game as an Eagle.

Jeffery had 45 catches for 732 yards and five TDs in 13 games with Nick Foles, including 12-for-219 and three TDs in the 2017 Super Bowl run.

“Alshon, shoot, I love that guy and his injury was unfortunate,” Wentz said. “It’s part of the game and it’s a part of the game we all hate, but he came in ready to work every day, and he had injuries here and there throughout the year and that definitely lingered and hampered him, but when he was healthy he was making plays and he was helping us out in a big way and that’s a tough loss for us.” 

Jeffery is under contract for 2020 at $12.75 million, a figure the Eagles guaranteed earlier this year. They would absorb a $26 million cap hit if they release him, and thanks to the injury he’s now untradeable, so it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Jeffery isn’t here next year, although the early part of his season could be in jeopardy.

Wentz obviously isn’t going anywhere so it makes sense for Wentz to speak highly of Jeffery because the two are most likely going to be together for at least another year.

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Eagles still without Lane Johnson, Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor at practice

Eagles still without Lane Johnson, Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor at practice

As the Eagles held their first real practice in their short week before Sunday’s game in Washington, they were without several key starters.

Lane Johnson (ankle), Derek Barnett (ankle) and Nelson Agholor (knee) were all absent Thursday. 

All three are in serious danger of missing the upcoming game. 

Meanwhile, Jalen Mills (elbow) and Jordan Howard (shoulder) were back on the field after being listed as limited in Wednesday’s estimation. Howard still hasn’t been cleared for contact and can’t play until he is. 

• Johnson suffered a high ankle sprain in the win over the Giants and is fully expected to miss this upcoming game. Fourth-year offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai took first-team reps at right tackle next to Brandon Brooks on Thursday. Despite an offer to move sides earlier in the season from Jason Peters, the Eagles are sticking with Big V at right tackle. This way, they don’t weaken two spots. 

• Agholor revealed on Wednesday that he actually hurt his knee in Week 6 against Minnesota and what happened late in the fourth quarter against New England just aggravated the existing injury. He is in danger of missing his second straight game and his third in four weeks with a knee injury he hopes won’t eventually need surgery. 

While the Eagles had six receivers at practice on Thursday, three of them were on the practice squad. Robert Davis was bumped up from the practice squad Thursday morning and will need to play on Sunday in Washington against his former team. 

The Eagles went into last week’s game with just three active receivers and it was a disaster. Alshon Jeffery and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside both got hurt and the Eagles finished the game with Greg Ward as their only healthy receiver, although Josh Perkins was able to take snaps there. 

• Barnett injured his ankle in the Miami game and still somehow managed to finish the game and play 50 snaps. Think about that; he was able to finish a game with an injury that will probably force him out for at least two full games. That’s impressive. 

Without Barnett last week, Vinny Curry started and played well. Josh Sweat rotated in and also made some plays. 

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