Three things to watch in Friday night’s Eagles-Browns preseason game:
1. Nick Foles’ progress.
Foles will make his first preseason start against the Browns and is expected to play most of the first half. The rookie third-round pick is getting a lot of reps because of injuries to Michael Vick and Mike Kafka and is making the most of them. He leads the lead in passing in the preseason with a 118.4 passer rating. Originally expected to spend the year as the team’s No. 3 quarterback, there’s a very good possibility he’ll open the season as Vick’s backup if he doesn’t have a major hiccup in the final two preseason games.
2. Continuing Saga of the Third Down Defense.
The Eagles’ first-team defense had big problems getting off the field in the first two preseason games. The Steelers and Patriots converted 12 of 17 third-down opportunities against their No. 1 unit. That needs to stop Friday night. Third down was a bear for the Eagles last year. In Eagles’ eight losses opponents converted 47.1 percent of their third-down opportunities.
3. The Left Tackle Battle
Demetress Bell, who was brought in to replace injured All Pro Jason Peters, was benched after the first preseason game and replaced by King Dunlap. Dunlap turned in a solid performance Monday night against the Patriots and will get the start against the Browns. But this battle is far from over. Considering Michael Vick’s injury issues, the Eagles can’t afford a weak link up front. Either Bell or Dunlap needs to step up, grab this job and run with it.