NFL

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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Defensive greats Seth Joyner, Clyde Simmons to be inducted into Eagles Hall of Fame on Sept. 23

Defensive greats Seth Joyner, Clyde Simmons to be inducted into Eagles Hall of Fame on Sept. 23

Seth Joyner and Clyde Simmons, late-round draft picks in 1986 who grew into first-team All-Pros and key figures on the great Eagles defenses of the late 1980s and early 1990s, will be this year’s Eagles Hall of Fame inductees, owner Jeff Lurie announced Thursday evening at halftime of the Eagles’ preseason opener.

They will be formally inducted into the Eagles’ Hall of Fame during halftime of the Colts game at the Linc on Sept. 23.

Here’s a complete list of everybody already in the Eagles’ Hall of Fame.

Joyner, an eighth-round pick, played the first eight of his 13 NFL seasons with the Eagles, piling up 37 sacks and 17 interceptions and earning the first two of his three Pro Bowl honors.

He also played with the Cardinals, Packers and Broncos and finished with 52 sacks and 24 interceptions, making him the only player in NFL history with 50 sacks and 20 interceptions.

Joyner, now an analyst with NBC Sports Philadelphia, was actually released by the Eagles as part of the 1986 final cut, only to be re-signed several days later.

“Seth Joyner was one of the most talented and fearless outside linebackers of his era, and the way he committed his heart and soul on every play spoke volumes about his love for the game," Lurie said in a release by the team. "Seth epitomized the complete defensive player — dominant against the run, extremely skilled in coverage and relentless in how he blitzed. Seth is one of the all-time greats in our franchise’s history and he set a powerful example for the generations of players that followed him at his position.”

Simmons, a ninth-round pick in 1986, piled up 121½ sacks in his career. His best season was 1992, when he led the NFL with 19 sacks and earned his second straight first-team All-Pro honors.

During the four-year span from 1989 through 1992, Simmons had more sacks than any other NFL defensive lineman with 55. Only Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas, the Chiefs’ linebacker, had more (58).

Simmons had more sacks than even his more famous teammate, Reggie White, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, during those four years.

When he retired, Simmons ranked 10th in NFL history in sacks. Eight of the nine ahead of him eventually made the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Clyde Simmons was one of the most feared pass rushers ever to play in Philadelphia, but he was also ferocious against the run and made his presence felt each and every week in the trenches," Lurie said. "He was a pillar on one of the best defenses in NFL history and an integral part of the team’s success for many years. Clyde’s explosive and aggressive style of play resonated with our fans and also allowed him to become a dominant defensive lineman over the course of his career.”

Among all players in NFL history drafted in the eighth round or later, Simmons and Joyner rank second and fifth in career sacks behind only another former Eagle, Hall of Famer Richard Dent, who had 137½ sacks in his 15-year career.

Joyner and Simmons join Eric Allen and Jerome Brown as the third and fourth players drafted during the Buddy Ryan era named to the Eagles’ Hall of Fame. All four were drafted between 1986 and 1988.

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After frustrating stretch, WR Kamar Aiken ready to start all over again with Eagles

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After frustrating stretch, WR Kamar Aiken ready to start all over again with Eagles

There’s a wide receiver on the Eagles who you probably haven’t heard of (unless you’re a fantasy football fanatic) who a few years ago caught 75 passes for 944 yards and five touchdowns for the Ravens.

Kamar Aiken worked his way up from nowhere to big-time producer in 2015, and now he’s trying to work his way back up from nowhere again.

Aiken is with his sixth team in eight years, trying to jump-start a once-promising career.

“I’m 29 now,” he said after practice Friday. “That’s young, but it’s like dog years in the NFL.”

All things being equal, NFL teams are always going to keep the younger guy around. Not only do they have a higher upside, they’re a lot cheaper.

So Aiken has his work cut out for him just to get an opportunity at this point in his career.

“It’s been frustrating, yeah, the last two years especially,” he said. “I feel like I’m in the right state of mind now. Getting back to my roots. Starting from scratch. Started all over. Started doing my workouts that I did in college. I feel like I needed to start all over.”

Aiken played a couple games with the Bills as a 22-year-old rookie in 2011 and one game with the Patriots in 2012 before spending some time on the Bears’ practice squad in 2013.

In 2014, he made the Ravens and played a little bit, then had a breakthrough in 2015 with that 75-for-944-5 season.

He dropped to 29 catches in 2016 and then caught just 15 passes with the Colts last year.

So he signed with the Eagles last week in what could be a last-ditch effort to extend his career.

He said he had some other offers. So why join a team that already has Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Mike Wallace, Markus Wheaton, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson and Greg Ward?

“It is a talented group, but I wanted to be here,” he said. “I had opportunities to go to other places, but the most important thing for me was to win. I’ve been on teams that lose, and that’s not fun. Losing isn’t fun. I felt like football wasn’t fun anymore.

“I wanted to get back to somewhere where they win, where they instill the right culture, where they have good veteran leadership. I wanted to get back to that.” 

Aiken, like Matt Jones, his Colts teammate last year, like Wheaton, like LaRoy Reynolds is a typical smart Howie Roseman signing.

He’s a guy who’s had success in the past. A guy who faces long odds just to make the team. A guy who counts nothing against the salary cap if he’s released.

High reward, low risk.

“Finding the right situation, that’s big,” he said. “Just being somewhere where I can fit in right away with the guys and you have the coaches who can put you in the right situation. That’s why I’m here.”

Aiken’s resume is intriguing.

He has 37 career catches of 15 yards or more, five catches of 30 yards or more.  

Once upon a time, he was a legit NFL receiver. Now he’s got a month to prove he still is.

“My job here is to gain the trust of the guys and the coaches and earn a spot,” he said. “Just want to prove that I belong.

“They have something special going on here, and I want to be a part of it.”

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