Eagles football is finally back! The Philadelphia Eagles take the field for week one of the 2019 NFL Preseason as the Tennessee Titans come to town. Being the first game of the new year, there will be a ton of new faces in Eagles green. If you are not from around the area, preseason games are hard to watch unless you find a link.
Time: 7:30 PM EST Where to watch: NBC10
Who/What to Watch For
1) Carson Wentz
Now as of right now, it has not been decided whether or not starting quarterback Carson Wentz will suit up for Thursday night’s game. Don’t be alarmed, this does not mean that Wentz is having a “setback.” They are just being careful with him because they already know what he can bring to the field and don’t need to risk injury. However, expect Wentz to play in Week 2 and Week 3 of the preseason.
Wentz has a couple of new weapons that he needs to grow chemistry with in real game time. Two of those weapons are DeSean Jackson and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. We haven’t seen Wentz in action for quite some time. The last game Wentz played in was during Week 14 at Dallas, so it would be nice to see him on the field again before the season starts. Wentz is arguably in the best shape of his life, so if he does start on Thursday, it will be interesting to see how this plays a role in his game.
2) Miles Sanders
As you may know by now, the Eagles’ second round pick out of Penn State, Miles Sanders, is turning heads at training camp. Sanders didn’t get to participate in mandatory minicamp due to injury, and some were concerned that this would effect his learning process for his rookie year. Well, it looks like this time off did not effect Sanders. Some reporters have already came out and said that they believe Sanders is the best running back on the roster.
Expect Sanders to get a good amount of reps, but the Eagles may be cautious regarding his health because of the hamstring injury. It’s better to be safe than sorry with starters, especially in the preseason. Look to see how Miles Sanders is in pass protection. This is something that was a weakness for him at Penn State.
3) Defensive Ends
One of the most intriguing positions on the team is defensive line. The Eagles lost two of their best ends with Chris Long retiring and trading Michael Bennett to the Patriots. Brandon Graham is by far the best DE on the roster, and it’s up to to young guys to step up. Even though Vinny Curry isn’t a “young guy,” he still has a lot to prove after his previous season with the Buccaneers. Keep an eye on him, as well as Derek Barnett and fourth round pick Shareef Miller.
Barnett is entering his third year in the NFL, and still at the age of 23, has a ton of potential. However, last year he was sidelined for the rest of the year after Week 7 with a shoulder injury that required surgery. Barnett does not feel he has pressure on him to do well. “I don’t think there’s a lot [of pressure] on me,” Barnett said to the media recently. “But every time I step on the field, I want to perform my best and be the best player I can be for my teammates because they drafted me for a reason.”
Keep an eye on who will step up to fill the two missing holes the Eagles lost last year.
4) Andre Dillard
Expect to see a lot of Eagles’ first round pick Andre Dillard this preseason. Dillard has shined all camp, and Eagles starting RT Lane Johnson even believes he could start right now. This preseason will be a perfect time for Dillard to learn and improve his skill set.
Dillard is in the most perfect position any rookie offensive lineman could imagine. Getting to learn from future Hall of Famer Jason Peters is pretty much all you can ask for. He even gets to learn from the rest of the offensive line with names like Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks. On top of that, Dillard is being coached by one of the most respected offensive line coaches in the league, Jeff Stoutland.
Dillard is known for his pass protection, however his run blocking is the big question mark. Be sure to watch Dillard because he will be the future LT of the Eagles for years to come.
Prediction: 26 – 13 Eagles
Unlike last season, I believe this preseason will be a successful one. It would be very nice for the Eagles to start their 2019 campaign off with a win. Preseason results don’t mean much about the team’s future, but it would bring positive vibes to the team and would help soften any overreactions – at least the negative ones anyway. I can’t wait for football to be back and to see these new players in Eagles green.