As the Eagles open their preseason tonight against the Jaguars, keep a few things in mind. First of all, even if it is preseason football, there’s still a lot to learn about this team and this is one of the most important preseason games in years for Philadelphia.
Granted, “important preseason game” is an enormous oxymoron. But hey, if you get bored, take a look at the incredibly enticing lineup of programming on the ESPN family of channels. ESPN: Little League World Series, ESPN2: Women’s Tennis, ESPNU: Rodeo College National Finals and ESPN Classic: Boxing from 2005. It just might be time for the World Wide Leader to crank up the poker reruns again.
Without further ado, here are the top five things to watch tonight.
5. Starting SAM Linebacker Akeem Jordan – He overtook Moise Fokou for the starting spot and has performed well enough to hold the job in camp. The biggest issue for the Eagles on the strong side is covering the tight end, which they’ve struggled with for quite some time. The last great cover linebacker they had was Carlos Emmons, who left in 2003. Philadelphia hopes Akeem Jordan is well suited for the job, and tonight everyone will find out if Jordan can excel in the role.
4. Nate Allen – As I wrote recently, Allen has been extremely impressive in camp. Teammates and coaches have been heaping accolades on the rookie from South Florida. While you have to expect some rookie mistakes out of a first-year safety, Allen’s shown a lot of poise so far. Now it’s time to find out if his game performances match his practice play.
3. Interior of the Offensive Line – The Eagles have stressed that their depth on the offensive line is a strong point and their veteran backups are perfectly fine as starters. Even so, left guard Todd Herremans and center Jamaal Jackson are still on the PUP list. That leaves Max Jean-Gilles at guard, while Nick Cole was manning the top spot on the depth chart at the center position until he hurt his knee. Now it’s Mike McGlynn as the starter in the middle of the line, which has given up a lot of pressure in camp. Tonight we’ll find out whether the defensive line is just that good, or the offensive line is as shaky as many think it is.
2. Brandon Graham and Juqua Parker – Andy Reid says he’s going to have eight defensive lineman and he doesn’t care too much how they’re listed on the depth chart. Graham’s pass rushing has been impressive in camp, and his outgoing personality has made him a fan favorite already. Parker may be the more steady presence though, and continues to hold the top spot. While Reid plans to have a rotation there, everyone is anxious to see what Graham can do in a game.
1. Kevin Kolb – Obviously, the talk of the offseason was the transition from McNabb to Kolb. It’s officially Kolb’s team now, and as much as he has downplayed the pressure, you’d have to imagine he’ll be feeling it playing in front of the home fans for the first time as the starter. Kolb and the offense have been out of rhythm for the better part of training camp so far, and hope to execute well tonight. Reid plans to have Kolb play the first quarter with the starters.
Training Camp Coverage
Visit InsideTheIggles.com for training camp coverage, including practice recaps and scouting reports from Lehigh Valley. ITI’s Ryan Messick will be reporting from Lincoln Financial Field tonight for the Eagles first preseason game against the Jaguars. Ryan will be back in camp again when it resumes on Sunday. Twitter feeds will be available during both practices Sunday (8:15 AM and 2:45 PM). Check back often for updates and follow along at www.twitter.com/Ryan_Messick and www.twitter.com/InsideTheIggles.