Quick takes on the Eagles first preseason game

Michael Vick, left, completed a 20-yard pass to Jason Avant, right, on the Eagles' first play. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Here are some scattered thoughts and observations after sleeping on the Eagles first preseason game and re-watching the first half, when the team’s significant players got the vast majority of their playing time. We’ll have more depth on some of these issues in the coming days, though my initial reaction is that for all of the things I thought would be interesting to watch last night, there was relatively little fodder provided. A quiet first preseason game.

-- Michael Vick has been sharp in camp and it carried over to his brief appearance Thursday. On the Eagles’ second play Terrell Suggs came free at Vick (beating Ryan Harris) but Vick got the ball out quickly to Chad Hall. Blitz recognition will be a key to the season for him. His throws were precise.

-- Harris, otherwise, looked solid and reliable.

-- It would be unfair to criticize Danny Watkins too harshly -- he didn't look bad, and he’s only had a few days of practice, but he had a couple moments to learn from. On Vick’s big throw to Riley Cooper, Watkins blocked Cory Redding initially, but couldn’t sustain it and Redding slipped by. Lamar Divens beat Watkins on the Eagles second drive. On the Eagles third-and-two play, they ran behind Watkins. Ronnie Brown picked up the first.

-- Jamaal Jackson is in a fight for his job, but he didn’t do anything last night that says he can’t play. He held his own in the middle against Haloti Ngata. Howard Mudd might prefer a different type of lineman, but if Jackson can stay healthy, he’s a good option.

-- Jason Kelce gave up a pressure to Arthur Jones. Later he missed a linebacker on a Brown run, and when Brown made a move to keep the play alive, Kelce ended up in his way, helping stuff the back. Terrence Cody gave him trouble a couple times. Kelce did better late in the game on a screen pass, clearing out a linebacker in space.

-- Brown looked elusive. Even though his numbers weren’t great (9 runs for 22 yards) he avoided several losses by beating the initial tackler.

-- Vince Young’s athleticism served him much better in a real game than at Lehigh. He looked better Thursday than he has at camp.

-- Mike Kafka made a bad decision on his interception, but he showed he knows what he’s doing against blitzes and running the offense as the game went on. He can run the show and make the right throws, but his arm is a concern.

-- It looks like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie may get a shot at the nickel spot after all. Until now, Joselio Hanson has taken the first team reps there in practice. Hanson has experience playing the position and even though he’s shorter, he has more muscle to play inside. DRC, though, got a few snaps in as the slot man with the first team, splitting time there with Hanson. DRC is obviously the greater talent. If the Eagles can teach him the nickel, it would give them an easy way to get their three-headed cornerback monster on the field all at once.

-- Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha each dropped back to a free safety position at points last night. It happened when the Ravens went to two tight ends and there was no receiver on their side of the field. Instead, the safeties stepped up to cover, leaving the corners free to play center field.

-- Darryl Tapp had not made a big impression on me in camp, but he was consistently in the backfield last night, notching two sacks and blowing up a run play. He didn’t look great at Lehigh last year, either, but as the season went on had a knack for getting himself to the right spot at the right time.

-- Derek Landri, the least heralded of the defensive tackle signings, was all over the place. With the intensity Jim Washburn expects, all of the competent pass rushers the Eagles can get will be welcome.

-- Chad Hall helped his cause with five catches for 82 yards. Johnnie Lee Higgins – one catch for six yards, and a drop of a Young pass that hit him in the hands – did not. Higgins also didn’t get a chance to return any punts or kickoffs, taking away another chance for him to shine.

-- Colt Anderson and Eldra Buckley may really be hurt by the new kickoff spot. Each play well on special teams, but kick coverage is going to be devalued by the increase in touchbacks. Anderson probably isn’t the safety Jarrad Page is, so special teams will be his route to the team.

-- Dion Lewis did well as the third back. He looked smooth catching the ball and even had a nice blitz pick up, protecting Kafka.

-- Mike McGlynn had a couple missed blocks that will hurt his cause. He allowed pressure on Kafka’s near fumble (it was overturned), and missed a block in space on a screen pass.

-- Like many others, I was hoping to see more of Casey Matthews. But there wasn’t much to see. He played two series and not much action came his way. Same went for Jamar Chaney at his new linebacker spot.

-- Keenan Clayton is very good in coverage. He’s a former safety and slim, but if he can be physical enough, he might be a great cover man from the linebacker spot.

-- I wrote about Alex Henery and Chas Henry today. One note on Henry: his last punt went just 28 yards and he was unhappy with it. Something I’ve seen at camp: when he gets into a kick, he really booms it, but when he misses, he tends to miss badly.

-- UPDATE:  A few people in the comments have mentiond Jaiquawn Jarrett's interception. It was a nice play and good to see the rookie make an impact his first time out. It may also be the easiest pick of his NFL life. "It fell right in my lap," he said after the game. Still, if he'd missed it, he'd have been ripped, so credit to Jarrett for making a play that was there to make.