The Eagles’ starters played for virtually the entire first half. The offense moved the chains at will, but turned the ball over two times (Mike Vick’s second interception on a Hail Mary heave to end the half doesn’t count). The defense played a bend-but-don’t break style and clamped down on third down. More importantly, the unit actually tackled. Here’s three players that impressed and three that didn’t in Thursday night’s 14-9 victory over Carolina.
Mychal Kendricks, LB: The second-year linebacker was a disruptive force, crashing into the Panthers’ backfield and getting pressure on the quarterback. He was also excellent in coverage and got a legal (cheap?) shot in on Cam Newton. DeMeco Ryans also stepped up his game Thursday.
LeSean McCoy, RB: He played the entire first half and ran for 47 yards on eight carries, including a 1-yard TD run. His 21-yard rumble was the higjhlight of the night — and maybe the preseason — as he cut on dime, switched directions and broke a few ankles in the process. He’s going to put up monster numbers in this offense
Mike Vick, QB: It’s hard not to proclaim this guy the starting quarterback now. Vick was perfect, going 9-of-10 for 105 yards and leading a touchdown-scoring drive. His ability to stretch plays with his legs, when nothing seems to be there, is what makes him scary good in Chip Kelly’s offense. He also didn’t force anything for once.
Cary Williams, CB: The very outspoken cornerback was beaten several times. He just leaves too much cushion when defending receivers and can’t recover. Williams’ biggest contribution was starting a fight at the end of a play. Second-year cornerback Brandon Boykin outplayed Williams all night.
Matt Barkley, QB: Does anyone still believe he has even an outside chance of being named starting quarterback? Barkley makes bad reads and lacks touch. He’ll make the team as the third-stringer. Remember, though, he’s only a rookie. He can and will improve … we think.
Alex Henery, K: I feel bad doing this, but you have to convert a 44-yard field goal in the preseason. (Case in point, Carolina’s Graham Gano drilled a 47-yarder). Henery has proven to be one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL over the past two seasons. I’m guessing this won’t be a lingering issue.