It looks like the Eagles will unwrap two of their biggest additions on Thursday night at the Linc.
Head coach Doug Pederson on Tuesday said he's leaning toward playing receiver Alshon Jeffery and cornerback Ronald Darby in the second preseason game of the summer. It will be the first time either player will suit up with the Birds.
Jeffery was held out of the first preseason game by Pederson, who has been limiting the star receiver's practice time over the last couple weeks. Jeffery had a shoulder injury but even after he healed wasn't a full participant in practice for about another week. Jeffery finally took 11-on-11 reps Monday.
"I am leaning toward playing [Jeffery], yes," Pederson said. "He feels comfortable, we've talked about it, so I'm comfortable with it."
This will offer Carson Wentz his first opportunity to play with Jeffery in game action. The two have worked hard to build chemistry while at practice and away from the field. Jeffery was a part of the group that went to North Dakota to work out with Wentz during the offseason.
"It seems like it's been a long time coming with [Jeffery]," Wentz said. "I'm not sure if he'll play or not or how much, but hopefully he does and hopefully we can start getting that chemistry, that relationship out on the field in live situations."
The Eagles didn't trade for Darby until last Friday, so this will be his first chance to play in a game with his new team. By pure coincidence his first game as an Eagle will come against his old team, the Bills.
"Yeah, it will be a little weird knowing I was just there a few days ago," Darby said earlier this week, "but that's just how the league works."
While Darby will likely play on Thursday, his counterpart in the trade, Jordan Matthews, will not. Matthews suffered a cracked sternum in his first practice with the Bills on Sunday.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Darby practiced with the Eagles for the first time and was immediately thrown into action with the starters at left cornerback. It's likely that's where he'll play on Thursday night.
"Same thing [as with Jeffery]," Pederson said. "Give him an opportunity to play and [it will] be exciting to watch him in live action."
Pederson said while the plan wasn't definitive, he'll probably play Wentz and the starters for just a series or two against the Bills. He just wants the starters to stay in game shape while avoiding injury.
"You know how it is, you get in the middle of the game and it starts flowing and you get a feel for when it's right," Wentz said. "I trust he'll make the right decision. Obviously, I want to play as much as he thinks is fit and we'll roll with that."
Brandon Brooks (ankle) and Wendell Smallwood (hamstring) will be game-day decisions. Both have been back at practice after missing the preseason opener but aren't guaranteed to play this Thursday. If Brooks doesn't play, Chance Warmack will make his second straight start at right guard.
Jason Peters was excused from practice Tuesday for personal reasons. In his absence, Lane Johnson took over at left tackle and Matt Tobin filled in at right tackle because Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) is still out. It's unclear if Peters will be back in Philly in time for the game.
If nothing else, putting Johnson at left tackle is good practice if something were to happen to Peters during the season.
"Lane obviously worked at left tackle all spring (during OTAs)," Pederson said. "Big V obviously at the time was right tackle. But this will be a good opportunity if something were to happen and they have to do that at least this Thursday."