It isn't always flattering to practice and play against really good quarterbacks and offenses, but Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said Monday that such tests are the best way for him to assess his group.
The Eagles dropped their preseason opener Friday in Chicago, 34-28, to Jay Cutler and the Bears. Tuesday they open three days of practice with the New England Patriots in advance of Friday's preseason game at New England.
"Going against Jay Cutler and that group in Chicago, is one of the top offensive talents in the league," Davis said. "We back that up with New England and Tom Brady ... you really do know where you are against the elite of the elite when you get to play and practice against 'em a couple days in a row. We're all real excited about going up there and challenging ourselves and going against the best."
Davis agreed that his starting group, in particular, didn't get very good pass rush pressure Friday, and the Birds didn't get enough pressure overall, as the Bears threw for 399 yards, converting 10 of 17 third down opportunities.
"Third down really wasn't a good night for us," Davis said. "It's harder than you think to hold to base four-man rushes and coverage calls, to evaluate our four-man rush and evaluate our coverage. I knew halfway through that we were struggling on third down and we were losing different 1-on-1 battles.
"You can go to the pressure package if you want, but it takes you away from the evaluation process. The goal is to evaluate and grow the players, and that's what we're working on right now. It hurt a little bit on third down.
"I want an inside rusher or an outside rusher to have a couple of opportunities to set up some moves on that tackle. So there's a lot of thinking that goes into staying basic in the preseason, believe it or not ... Every play helps us to evaluate and grow, even if it's a young player learning what not to do, which hurt us a few times, at least he grows from that point."
Corner Nolan Carroll did not practicipate in the walkthrough.
Bill Davis said he wants to put his second and third-teamers against the Pats starters some in practice, to help evaluate.