Here we go. Preseason Game 3. The most important part of the preseason — which isn’t saying much.
Sure, key players will still sit and Carson Wentzisn’t healed yet from his rib fracture, but the 2016 Eagles will begin totake shape in large part after coaches look at the first and second teams against the Colts Saturday, at 7 p.m.
“Every game is important,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said.”There’s competition for jobs. There’s competition for roster spots. There are some guys trying to make a good impression to hopefully make the practice squad. That’s important enough for our guys, without putting anything to do with the Colts.”
Here are three storylines to keep an eye on this weekend:
First team, last impressions
The first team offense and defense are expect to play upwards of three quarters Saturday, making this the last chance for fans to see Sam Bradford, Malcolm Jenkins and their respective units.
It’s also the last chance for Eagles’ coaches to see their guys in action, going full speed and taking contact.
“This is kind of like an in-season week for us,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.”Coach [Doug Pederson] set it up so we prepare a little more like it’s in-season, so [there’s] a little bit more game planning. Not full-bore, but get a chance to get some guys in position to make plays. Then we have to execute and then they’ve got to make the plays when they come to them.”
Thus far, the defense (which had four takeaways against Pittsburgh last week) has been impressive but the offense has left a little to be desired. They’ll want to leave a better taste in fans’ mouths when they finish their preseason action.
Wide open wide receivers
There are a lot of unknowns regarding the depth chart at wide receiver. New acquisition Dorial Green-Beckham, a big 6-foot-5 body with a high talent ceiling, makes things even less certain as fringe players like Josh Huff, Reuben Randle and Paul Turner fight for spots.
Likely, a healthy Jordan Matthews leads Chris Givens and Nelson Agholoras locks, with the other four vying to grab a spot on the 53-man roster. Reps will be all-important in Saturday’s game.
“[In the] third preseason game obviously starters are getting a lot of reps,” Reich said, “so it’s important to show progress at all our positions — not just the wide receiver position. And I feel like the receivers have been showing that, as a group and individually.”
Step it up, Sam
The Eagles don’t play the Redskins until Oct.16 in Week 6. But if Josh Norman’s recent statement about Bradford doesn’t get a rise out of the Birds’ starting quarterback, nothing will.
“Have you ever once been one of the top 20 quarterbacks in the league?” Norman said Tuesday,”Not that I remember —and you want more money? I can’t wait to play him twice a year.”
If Bradford hopes to be in midseason form come October, he’ll need to continue to work things out in Preseason Game 3. Bradford is a painfully average 15-for-20 for 118 yards over two games thus far. He’s playing the first year of a two-year, $36 million deal.