In a week defined by the tragic death of Garrett Reid, the Eagles' focus will abruptly shift to football tonight at the Linc, when the Steelers visit for the opening of the preseason.
There wiill be a moment of silence for Garrett Reid, the 29-year-old son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, who was found dead in a Lehigh dorm room Sunday morning. Players will wear a helmet decal in memory of the former strength and conditioning assistant.
Steelers owners Dan and Art Rooney, GM Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin all came to the Eagles' locker room visited the Eagles' locker room around 5:30 to express their condolences to the Eagles and Reid.
The starting lineups have been released and there are a few mild surprises for the Eagles. Antonio Dixon and Derek Landri are the starting defensive tackles, with Cullen Jenkins moving outside and starting in Jason Babin's LDE spot. Darryl Tapp starts at the other DE, with Trent Cole sidelined. Maybe most surprising, second-year safety Jaiquawn Jarrett starts in place of Nate Allen. O.J. Atogwe would have been a more obvious choice, though he is still learning the defense.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on:
1. DeMeco Ryans: Arrive early. Andy Reid said starters will play the first quarter, but in preseasons past, a couple good series have been known to shorten that exposure. Ryans is the new middle linebacker, No. 59, playing his first game in a new defense. He's expected to be a big upgrade.
2. Brandon Graham: The 2010 first-round pick has been hungry and honed in training camp, but not everybody is going through each drill as if their life depended on it. This will be a better gauge of Graham's march toward redemption, especially with Jason Babin (calf) and Trent Cole (shoulder) sitting out. Oughta get some reps.
3. Fletcher Cox: The 12th overall pick in April's draft was the highest Eagles selection in 11 years, and a lot of people were surprised he didn't go in the top 10. At that level, you expect impact play immediately, even from a 21-year-old defefnsive tackle. Training camp has shown his gifts -- size and strength -- but also has shown he is not quite a finished product, which is something Jim Washburn alluded to even while taking part in the general draft euphoria. Real interested to see how comfortable he looks out there.