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What to Watch For in Preseason Game #1

Posted by David Foley On August - 11 - 2009

Believe it or not Training Camp 2009 is officially over and we are just a day away from the Eagles preseason opener against the New England Patriots. This will be the first chance for some of the less proven players on the roster to assert themselves and maybe earn a roster spot, so let’s take a look at some key areas to keep an eye on during the game.

- Regardless of the final score, the game will be a win in my book if the Eagles can avoid any further injuries. Keep your fingers crossed.

- DeSean Jackson seems to be recovering well from the knee injury he suffered earlier in camp, but this will be his first real high-level test. It’ll be interesting to see if he is entirely back to 100%.

- The spotlight will be on the linebacking core as a whole to see how they respond without Stewart Bradley in the middle. Akeem Jordan and Chris Gocong will both need to step up, and Joe Mays, Matt Wilhelm, and Omar Gaither will all get a chance to fill in at MLB.

- Injury du jour: Todd Herremans went down with a stress “reaction” in his foot today. He is expected to miss the preseason but should take the field in Carolina for the season opener. Nick Cole will replace him at left guard in tomorrow’s game.

- With Trent Cole recovering from a shoulder injury, expect DE Bryan Smith to see plenty of reps. He had his moments during camp, but it’ll be crucial that he can make those same big plays in an actual game atmosphere.

- Cornelius Ingram’s season-ending ACL injury will put more pressure on the tight ends. Brent Celek will need to show that his strong games toward the end of last season weren’t a fluke, and Matt Schobel and Eugene Bright also have plenty to prove. I’ll also be watching new addition Rob Myers, an undrafted rookie out of Utah State that I admittedly know very little about.

- Thursday will be our first real chance to see runningback Lesean McCoy in action. Lorenzo Booker and Eldra Buckley may be battling for a roster spot as well behind the rookie on the depth chart.

- Special teams went from a major weakness to a strength last season. Jeremy Maclin, Ellis Hobbs, and Quintin Demps returned kicks during camp and should get some opportunities on Thursday. Also, will Desean Jackson resume his punt return duties or will someone else take over that role to keep Desean fresh?

- Speaking of Maclin, he should get plenty of playing time on Thursday after he got a late start in camp. Expect maybe a trick play or two as well…can you say “Wildcat”?!?

- I’ll be watching the defensive huddle closely to get an idea of who is speaking up and taking on the leadership role vacated by Brian Dawkins. Smart money is on Quintin Mikell, who is on the cusp of stardom in my opinion.

- No one is sure when Shawn Andrews will return, so it will be up to Winston Justice to prove he wasn’t a second-round bust while filling in for him. This will be Jason Peters’ first game action in midnight green and it should be fun to watch him dominate at left tackle. Also, could the birds bring back Jon Runyan? Andy hasn’t ruled it out.

- Finally, for an excellent, albeit brief camp summary check out this post from Inside the Iggles.

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