The anticipation is almost over.
Less than two weeks away, the Philadelphia Eagles will take on the Chicago Bears in their first exhibition game of the preseason. Obviously, the preseason’s win/loss outcome does not matter but there are plenty of nuggets to take from the games.
The joy of watching live hitting after months of predictions is enough, but spectators get to see second and third string players get some live reps – players that throughout the season may not have as much exposure unless there was an unforeseen injury or suspension.
Preseason is a time for teams to put schemes into actual practice, and a time for players to show off. Not every player on the roster will be active come the game one showdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars – in fact, many players will not even be on the team in September. So this is where players can show off, impress their coaches and hope for the best on making the team.
A few players in particular catch my immediate attention.
Quarterback Matt Barkley automatically makes an interesting case. Just how good is Matt Barkley in the NFL? With his collegiate success well documented, he was at one time considered a possible first round pick. After playing limited time last year, he made the most of his opportunities, albeit, he made mostly mistakes. It’s interesting to see how much the second year player progressed, and if he is capable of being a reliable, efficient, cerebral backup, with starting potential some time down the line. (With quarterback Nick Foles starting, Barkley’s chance to start is farrr down the line.)
Second round pick, wide receiver Jordan Matthews is my talk of the town. I cannot stop talking about how much I believe he will be one of the greatest pass-catchers from the 2014 draft. Football is a team sport, this is undeniable and everyone knows it, but in college Matthews really was a one-man wrecking crew. That skill, determination, and hard work will only magnify the dangerousness of this Eagles offense. Surely the first year player shall go through his trials and tribulations, but why do I have the feeling that he will surpass all productivity expectations. By October, I can see him having three touchdowns, and around 300 yards receiving. I am ready to see him put on for his city.
First round pick, linebacker Marcus Smith II have to prove something to me. Of course, the preseason will not show who a player is completely but we can get a smidge of their potential. I do not doubt his potential or skill, but I would love for him to prove that he deserves to start in year one, and that he can be a game changer. First rounds picks are not selected to play backup, and I want to see why this team invested so much in him. It will thrill me to no end if I am pleasantly surprised at how dominant he can really be. Cornerback Nolan Carroll II is another interesting player. I know he can play when given the chance, but can he be consistent? He is big, aggressive, and agile, and I am wondering how can he add to the mix of Philadelphia’s other big cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams. Time will only tell, but luckily, it is right around the corner.
Oh, and least I forget … welcome back wide receiver Jeremy Maclin! After a whole year of being away, I cannot wait to see the big things he is about to do! (DeSean who?)
What players are you most interested in seeing put on?