Strictly looking at the score, last week’s preseason opener against Jacksonville was a win, but digging a little deeper, there are plenty of things the Eagles need to work on. While some of those issues may be new, many of them are long-standing ones that plague the team year-in and year-out. Tomorrow night’s matchup in Cincinnati against the Bengals will be the perfect place to address them.
Phiadelphia’s longest-tenured athelete, David Akers, had plenty of chances to show everyone that he’s still got it last week by kicking five field goal. It’s great to make it in the red zone a lot, but it would be nice if the Birds were converting more of these opportunities into touchdowns. While we’re dealing with a young team with many new parts, this is not a new problem. If there’s ever a time for the first team to break this bad habit, it’s now. Reid and company need to find a better way to mix plays to get the ball into the endzone.
The secondary will be focal point, especially the two safeties that have stood out in camp, Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman. If both of these guys pan out – and this is looking more likely each day – then the team will be set for years to come. Both of these guys will potentially have a special challenge, which is guarding prolific loudmouths/receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. While the latter is more of a threat, both will provide the test that these rookies need.
The wide receiver corps should continue to play out this week, and surprisingly, Hank Baskett will likely be the odd man out. We all know that DeSean “Nats Hat” Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant are locks, but the fourth guy on the depth chart is not vets Baskett or Jordan Norwood, but rookie Riley Cooper. He had a great camp, and if he continues to impress on the field, the Florida receiver will be your #4 guy come week 1.
While Jamaal Jackson is off of the PUP list, he won’t be playing in the preseason or at least the first few weeks of the regular season. Nick Cole was the presumptive guy to close out last year, but Mike McGylnn has slotted nicely into the role throughout training camp. If he continues to play well – and he has been better than Cole – it’s his job until Jackson is ready to come back.
As for who will play and how long tomorrow, Kolb and the first team will be in for the first half. Vick will have the third quarter, while Mike Kafka will be in for the final quarter. The second teamers will be in for the third and the third teamers will be in for the fourth quarter.
A few guys are questionable, including Mike Bell and Asante Samuel. Victor Abiamiri, the aforementioned Jamaal Jackson, Nick Cole and cornerback David Pender are all out. Additionally, and most troubling of all, Todd Herremans will be sitting out, presumably as a precaution.