Editor’s Note: Staff writer Steve Fini checks in with his weekly look at five players who will play big roles on Sunday night.
Todd Herremans (Right tackle/Eagles)–The Eagles’ new right tackle played pretty well last weekend. In fact, he may have been the Eagles’ best offensive lineman against the Rams, and he should only continue to progress in his new position. This week, we’ll find out exactly just how far along Herremans really is as he goes up against perennial Pro-Bowler John Abraham. Even though Abraham is getting older, he’s still one of the game’s elite pass rushers. He is a savvy veteran that knows how to get pressure even if he isn’t as athletically gifted as he once was. If Herremans is able to neutralize Abraham, the Eagles’ offense is going to be in for a big night.
Jarrad Page (Safety/Eagles)-– Page played well last week. His most notable play came when he nearly he picked off a Sam Brandford pass in the red zone. Like Herremens, however, he’s going to face a much stiffer test this week. The Eagles will likely bring Kurt Coleman closer to the line of scrimmage to help stop Michael Turner, which means Page will have deep responsibility against Roddy White and Julio Jones. Page was an underrated signing this offseason and if he can play well this week, Nate Allen might have a hard time getting his job back.
LeSean McCoy (Running back/Eagles)-–Comcast SportsNet Eagles writer Ray Didinger made an interesting point on Daily News Live earlier this week. He explained that McCoy has enjoyed great success during his short career in dome games, averaging 8.3 yards per carry. With his blend of above average speed and elusiveness, a dome is ideal for the third-year running back’s skill set. We’ll see if that trend continues on Sunday night.
Tony Gonzalez (Tight end/Falcons)-– I was wrong last week when I singled out Lance Kendricks as a player to watch. We got to watch him drop a potential touchdown, so that counts for something…I guess. Either way, he didn’t provide much of a test for an Eagles’ defense that historically struggles against the tight end. This week, however, could be a much different story. Gonzalez is undoubtedly a future Hall of Fame tight end, but he’s lost a step and his best days are certainly behind him. Still, Gonzalez still knows how to work the middle of the field and can get open. It’s going to be a real test for the Eagles’ young linebackers and safeties, one that I’m not sure they are ready for quite yet.
Juan Castillo (Defensive Coordinator/Eagles)-– A coach? Allow me to explain. The Eagles blitzed an uncharacteristically low seven times last week. The Eagles defensive line generated five sacks without bringing added pressure, but don’t be surprised if they have to take more gambles this week to get to Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan. The key question here is will the inexperienced Castillo know who to blitz and when to do it. The Eagles’ defense passed their initial test against St. Louis, but this game presents a much more difficult challenge for Castillo’s group.