Saturday, August 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The good: McCoy, Weaver and Sheldon

Since Thursday night, a few of you have e-mailed and asked that I take a break from Michael Vick Mania and post my thoughts on the Eagles' preseason opener against the Patriots.

The good: McCoy, Weaver and Sheldon

Since Thursday night, a few of you have e-mailed and asked that I take a break from Michael Vick Mania and post my thoughts on the Eagles' preseason opener against the Patriots.

Who looked good, who looked bad, and so on.

Because we're the people's blog at MTC, I'm going to do just that.

On Thursday, I had the game on, but was overwhelmed with the Vick stuff so didn't get to take notes and make observations like I normally do. Yesterday I took another look. Here are some of the positives that came out of the game. I'll be back later with the negatives, and yes, there were plenty of those.

LeSean McCoy - The rookie lived up the hype that MTC has created throughout training camp. I've been telling you that he was attentive, enthusiastic, talented and versatile. The guy probably got more out of two-and-a-half weeks at Lehigh than any other player, and he showed what he's learned. McCoy carried 10 times for 55 yards, including runs of 6, 7, 5 and 7 yards on his first four attempts. He picked up yardage out of a variety of formations, including the I and when McNabb was in shotgun.

As a receiver, he took a screen pass 19 yards for one of the Eagles' best offensive plays of the evening. If Brian Westbrook is healthy, I really think you could see McCoy make his most immediate impact as a receiver.

The major question with McCoy is his blocking ability. Admittedly, it's not easy to completely focus in on this during TV broadcasts, but I did the best I could. On the Eagles' second drive, the Patriots got good pressure on Donovan McNabb, forcing a rushed pass and an incompletion to Kevin Curtis. The entire offensive line got beat on the play, and it looked like McCoy missed a block also. On the Eagles' third drive, McNabb was sacked, but McCoy did a nice job picking up a blitzing Patriots defender.

Leonard Weaver - Another guy who we hyped up at Lehigh, Weaver also lived up to his billing in his first game action with the Birds. It was clear Andy Reid and Marty Morhninweg were excited to experiment with different ways to use Weaver. With the game not even four minutes old, an Eagles fullback had two touches, a catch and a carry, something that would have been unheard of last season. On a third-and-one in the second quarter, a situation that killed the Birds last season, Weaver carried for 5 yards, picking up the first down. On second-and-one in the first quarter, he led the way for a 4-yard scamper by McCoy. Weaver even made a nice special teams tackle, that was negated by a penalty. I'd say I'm five times more excited about his addition now than I was when the Eagles signed him.

Sheldon Brown - On a night when the defense was pretty unimpressive, it was the unit's longest-tenured member who made the greatest impression. Brown broke up a pass on the Patriots' first drive and later came up with an interception. TV cameras caught Reid whispering something to Brown, which made him laugh on the sidelines after the pick. He started the game at right cornerback opposite Asante Samuel but later was replaced when Sean McDermott gave Ellis Hobbs a shot. Make no mistake about it. Brown should be the starter in Week 1. According to reports, he injured his ribs yesterday but X-rays were negative and he's day-to-day.

Other observations:

** I thought Max Jean-Gilles probably played the best of all the linemen. He had a nice block on McCoy's first carry and another one later on a 16-yard run by McCoy. Hank Baskett also did a good job of downfield blocking on the second run.

** Good job of downfield blocking by Jamaal Jackson and Nick Cole on the screen pass to McCoy.

** You got a glimpse of how the Eagles may try to use Jeremy Maclin. Wide receiver screens, slants and crossing patterns, all routes where he has an opportunity to run after the catch and make people miss. And of course, touches on special teams.

** You should be comfortable with Broderick Bunkley and Mike Patterson as your starting defensive tackles.

** Early on, Joe Mays stayed in even when the defense went to nickel. During camp, that was usually when Omar Gaither filled in. I guess McDermott wants to see how Mays performs in coverage first.

** The offense ran an end around to DeSean Jackson on its third drive. Jackson reversed field, and Donovan McNabb waved him along as he kind of got in the way of defensive lineman Richard Seymour. Please just get down on the ground or run to the sidelines in that situation, Donovan. The last headline we need to read is McNabb injured throwing block.

** McNabb made a couple nice throws out of the pocket to Jackson and Baskett.

** Eugene Bright with a nice block on special teams during a Maclin return in the third quarter.

** Good catch by Jason Avant on a pass from A.J. Feeley. He might have the best hands on the team.

** The knock on Eldra Buckley was that he couldn't catch the ball, and the coaching staff obviously wanted to see that part of his game Thursday. He led the team with six catches for 56 yards. Buckley carried eight times for 23 yards and also got in the end zone twice. On special teams, he was the first man down on coverage twice, once making the tackle, the other time whiffing.

** Brandon Gibson is definitely looking to make the most of his opportunity. Great block downfield on a pass to Buckley in the closing minutes, and nice catch to set up the Eagles' first touchdown.

Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
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