Friday, July 31, 2015

What to watch: Rams-Eagles

Each week, we will list what we will be looking for the the Eagles game. Here are our keys to the game for Sunday's opener against St. Louis:

What to watch: Rams-Eagles

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Improved efficiency in the red zone will be among the keys for the Eagles in Sunday´s game with the Rams. A healthy L.J. Smith should help the cause. (Getty Images)
Improved efficiency in the red zone will be among the keys for the Eagles in Sunday's game with the Rams. A healthy L.J. Smith should help the cause. (Getty Images)

Each week, we will list what we will be looking for in the Eagles game. Here are our keys to the game for Sunday's opener against St. Louis:

1. Hunt’s Blocking: Andy Reid is taking a calculated gamble with his decision to keep inexperienced blocker Tony Hunt as the team’s only fullback. While he gives them a legitimate ball-carrying option at that position, first and foremost he’d better be able to keep Donovan McNabb safe and open holes for Brian Westbrook.

2. DeSean’s Impact: In addition to returning punts, rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson also will see a lot of action at wide receiver. With Kevin Curtis out and Reggie Brown still recovering from a hamstring injury, Jackson needs to play with the same confidence and fearlessness that he did in the preseason.

3. Takeaway Opportunities: The Eagles’ top offseason priority was finding a way to increase takeaways after finishing dead last in the league in that department last season. They signed cornerback Asante Samuel, who had 16 interceptions the last two seasons, and added another pass-rusher in Chris Clemons, who had eight sacks in a part-time role with Oakland last season.

4. Blitzing Bulger: Marc Bulger is as good as any quarterback in the league when he has time to throw. So defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is going to try to make sure he doesn’t get that time. Look for Johnson to send extra rushers after Bulger early and often.

5. Life in the Red Zone: The Eagles finished 24th in red-zone offense last season. Donovan McNabb’s lack of early season mobility and tight end L.J. Smith’s seasonlong groin problems were considered two of the main reasons for their struggles inside the 20. Well, McNabb has his mobility back and Smith is finally healthy.

He is the full Scouting Report on the game from today's Eagles Playbook and a new Playbook feature from Ed Barkowitz, including 5 Minutes with Quintin Demps."

More coverage
 
POLL: Which new Eagle are you excited to see in camp?
 
VOTE: What's the biggest story of Eagles training camp?
 
Game-by-game breakdown of Eagles' schedule
 
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FORUMS: Who will make the 53-man roster?
 
Latest NFL odds
 
Buy Eagles jerseys and other gear

Also, be sure to check back on philly.com at noon Friday for a live Eagles chat with Daily News columnist and The Idle Rich author Rich Hofmann.

And how about former Eagles defensive back Al Harris showing up in the Wall Street Journal?

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