Eagles Wake-Up Call: A ‘Great Opportunity’ Ahead
It only took Dorial Green-Beckham 24 hours to play in a game after putting his pads on in Philadelphia for the first time, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that a little more than a week later, he’ll play with the first-team offense in the most important game of the preseason.
Doug Pederson doesn’t know how much Green-Beckham will play on Saturday in Indianapolis, and the 23-year-old receiver isn’t sure how he’ll be used, but both agree on the big opportunity that lies ahead for one of the newest Eagles.
“I feel like it’s a great opportunity, especially for me to move from one team to another,” Green-Beckham said. “Being here a short period of time and being able to play with the ones, it’s a big opportunity for me to go out there and show them why I’m here, what I came here to do. For me, that’s my mindset is to stay focused and try to do those little things and try to impress my teammates.”
The Eagles are only having Green-Beckham learn the ‘X‘ receiver position, so he’s found many similarities between what he’s been asked to do so far in Philadelphia and what Tennessee required of him. The 2015 second-round pick already knew Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews and Marcus Smith before he became an Eagle, which made the transition easier for him because he felt accepted by everyone in the locker room.
“The best part about it is him being a young guy, we can bring him into this culture and say, ‘Okay, this is how we do things here,’ and we can get him acclimated to the way that you play as a Philadelphia Eagle,” Matthews said. “Get him acclimated to this city and this locker room and what it means to actually wear the Eagle wings on your helmet. When you bring guys in who are a lot older, it’s sometimes harder because they have their own way.
“Were they a leader in another place? Were they able to slack off at another place? But when you’re a young guy and you come into this locker room, it’s a lot different. And I think that’s the good thing about the nucleus of guys he has here.”
On the field, Green-Beckham has already impressed his teammates and coaches. Matthews compared the younger receiver to LeBron James, while Green-Beckham noted that he tries to emulate Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant.
“He’s an impressive, physical specimen, obviously,” Frank Reich said. “It’s funny: You stand out there as a coach and they’re running routes on air and sometimes as a coach you stand across from the receivers that are running at you. And when he runs at you, his size and speed, it just kind of grabs you. So [I’m] really excited about having him here. Just like anybody else though, it’s a process. It’s a process and we keep giving them little chunks at a time to allow him to play fast and use his ability.”
Although everyone at the NovaCare Complex is anxious to see what the talented receiver can do, Pederson has been limiting Green-Beckham to prevent Green-Beckham from being overwhelmed.
“He’s not where you want him to be, obviously, with the terminology of the offense. That’s why we’re going to keep it very simple and keep it to one position for him as a receiver,” Pederson said. “Put a little package together, two, three, four plays, and just let him go play. And then as he understands that, we can expand the role because he’s coming in basically right here at the end of camp trying to learn a system. … So, you keep it small, you keep it simple and allow him to use his skill set.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Isaac Seumalo won’t play Saturday against the Colts, and Stefen Wisniewski will replace him at left guard.
“I just get a little bit more pissed off each day, to be honest.” Lane Johnson on his uncertain future.
The Eagles reportedly aren’t done making moves, as they may acquire a cornerback.
“It all starts in the passing game with protecting the passer, and the backs are a big part of that.” Missing the first two preseason games hasn’t stopped Wendell Smallwood from learning about pass protection in the offense.
Analyzing the latest depth chart released by the Eagles.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Wendell Smallwood could give the Eagles a needed lift with his return, writes Paul Domowitch of the Daily News.
[Doug] Pederson plans to play his starters the entire first half Saturday and probably a series or two in the third quarter. He said Smallwood will get some work with the ones.
“He will get a good look,” Pederson said. “This is his first opportunity to play. So we want to make sure he’s ready to go. We’re going to be smart with him, but we definitely want to see him get some work in the first half (with the starters).”
The starters played the entire first half last week against Pittsburgh, running the ball just six times for 19 yards. Mathews had just 18 yards on five carries.
“Pittsburgh traditionally has one of the best run defenses in the NFL,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “They have been for years.
“But I feel very strong about the outlook of our run game. I don’t want to get too caught up with just one performance where we didn’t quite get enough touches in the run game as we could.”
David Murphy, also of the Daily News, makes the case for Marcus Smith to survive final cuts.
A lot of people seem to think that Smith is a sunk cost, but he has been on the field for only 195 snaps over 21 games since the Eagles drafted him. Even if you have searing memories of those 195 snaps, it’s a small sample size. Me, I can’t recall more than a couple of plays on which I even took notice of Smith on the field. That’s not a good thing, but it also means we really haven’t seen anything glaring that suggests Smith doesn’t still have some of the potential he possessed when the Eagles drafted him in the first round.
And he has always had potential. He might not have been a wise pick in the first round, but he was widely projected to go in the first three or four rounds, so the Eagles weren’t the only ones who thought he might have the makings of a quality NFL pass rusher.
I point that out not to excuse the decision to select him, but to underscore the fact that the question was always whether he could reach his physical potential rather than what physical potential he has. He’s still 6-foot-3 with long arms and an impressive frame, which is what makes Schwartz’s comments about Smith setting the edge interesting: It’s not something we tend to notice, but it’s something that fits with Smith’s physical skill set. Maybe Schwartz wasn’t just being nice.
The Eagles have today off, but Birds 24/7 rolls on.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.