In today’s NFL, simply escaping a preseason game without any major injuries is a victory.
The Eagles look to return home from western Pennsylvania unscathed Thursday night after facing off against the Steelers in the team’s second preseason game.
A pair ofstarters will sit out the entire game,Mychal Kendricks andJordan Matthews, while rookie hopefuls Jalen Mills and Carson Wentzare also being relegated to the sidelines. New wide receiver acquisition Dorial Green-Beckham will travel with the team but won’t suit up.
With that out of the way, here are three things to watch for among the players who will play Thursday at 7 p.m.
The first team
Sam Bradford and the Ones only took three snaps in the team’s preseason opener (a 17-9 win over Tampa Bay) but they’re expected to get a little more time to get into a rhythmin preseason Week 2.
“The Ones I plan on playing the entire first quarter and hopefully I can get a series or two into the second,” Doug Pederson said.”Obviously, I want to extend their time more than three plays, and get them some extensive work in the first quarter and a half.”
It will no doubt be exceedingly useful to see Bradford, Ryan Matthews and the first team offensive line — and how the group performs against a strong first-team defense like Pittsburgh’s.
Position battle ammunition
Every Year 1 or 2 undrafted free agents crack each NFLteam’s 53-man roster and this year will be no different. But, particularly at offensive line (with Lane Johnson expected to serve his 10-game suspension) and in the secondary there are starting and backup jobs completely up in the air.
Eric Rowe, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, Jacorey Shepherd, Denzel Rice, Nolan Carroll and others are all fighting for a cornerback spot, starting, nickel or otherwise. Their performances in the preseason will greatly influence who gets a spot on the roster.
And on the offensive line as well, several young lineman will vie to earn a roster spot to fill in for departed Dennis Kelly and suspended Johnson.
The Steelers are sitting out most of their best players Thursday, includingBen Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams and Antonio Brown. With these playmakers— three of the best in the league in Rothlesberger, Brown and Bell — on the sidelines, the Eagles should have a chance to flex their defense.
That is of course, if their defense is something that can be flexed.
Everyone knows their defensive line has the makings of a top NFL unit. But if the linebackers and secondary want to show what they can do, this game against the Steelers could be a great opportunity.