Eagles Wake-Up Call: What We’re Watching
The Eagles take on the Steelers tonight at 7:30 at the Linc. Here’s what we’ll be keeping an eye on:
WR situation – Riley Cooper is scheduled to see his first preseason action. The Eagles will likely ease him in, but we’ll get a sense of how Cooper’s holding up after suffering a foot injury earlier in training camp. Jeremy Maclin‘s (hamstring) status for tonight is unknown.
And then there’s Jordan Matthews. He had nine catches vs. the Patriots, but only one came against New England’s starters. With Brad Smith likely sidelined, Matthews should get a chance to go with the first team. We’ve said all along that he’ll be the first-team slot receiver once the real games begin. He can solidify that standing with a good showing vs. Pittsburgh.
Finally, there are still roster spots to be decided. Ifeanyi Momah, Jeff Maehl and Arrelious Benn are all looking to make their cases as the sixth receiver on the 53-man roster. Momah has played better offensively than the other two. But Maehl and Benn have the edge on special teams.
Flags – Chip Kelly sounded off on his players after penalties hurt them against New England. His message was simple: These are the rules. Learn to play by them. Or you’ll be standing next to me on the sideline.
Illegal contact and illegal hands to the face are being emphasized. The Eagles have had four days of practice to get on the right track. Tonight, we see if they can produce different results.
Marcus Smith II – His development has become one of the most fascinating story lines of the summer for the Eagles. The coaches were disappointed with what they saw out of Smith against New England.
Expect a lot of reps for him once again. The only way he’s going to get better is by playing and learning from his mistakes. The thing about Smith is the Eagles could desperately use someone with his measurables, athleticism and versatility in the front seven.
But if Smith doesn’t show progress over the next couple of weeks, he could have trouble getting on the field once the season starts.
Offensive line – And more specifically, Allen Barbre.
“I think Allen’s done a nice job,” said Kelly this week. “He could stick to blocks a little better. He’s got a good feel and sense of what we’re doing. He’s a physical player at the tackle spot. So he doesn’t get over-matched by anybody in there.”
Barbre got beaten around the edge for a sack vs. New England and gave up pressure in the first game vs. the Bears. The Eagles will be looking for a solid performance out of him tonight. Most likely, the next time he takes the field will be Week 1 vs. the Jaguars.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles acquired kicker Cody Parkey from the Colts. T-Mac has details.
“We try to live in the truth.” More on the Marcus Smith project.
“This city has given me everything I have.” Brent Celek still taking hits, getting back up and setting the tone for the Eagles.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Les Bowen of the Daily News talked to Jerry Azzinaro about the defensive line and Fletcher Cox:
“Big, strong, athletic guy that can play in any system God invented,” Azzinaro said.
“I know how to sack the quarterback. If sacks were our only goal, I think I could get that done,” Azzinaro said. “But that might increase our x-play total.” (X-plays are gains of 20 yards or more.)
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz on the Eagles’ inside linebacker depth:
After Goode, things are wide open. Jake Knott is the player the team hoped would have the #4 spot. Things are very complicated with him. Knott is suspended for the first 4 games of the year. Just as bad, he’s been hurt part of the summer. Knott hasn’t played yet in the preseason. The team would really love to get a feel for where he is. They need him to play in a game.
Emmanuel Acho looked like a combination of Byron Evans, Jeremiah Trotter and Chuck Bednarik last summer. He made a ton of plays in the preseaon. This year he’s been okay, but hasn’t stood out at all. He could be the #4 ILB for now, but that’s hardly written in stone.
We’ve got a game tonight and plenty of content leading up to it.