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.