Monday, March 30, 2015

Three things to watch in Pats-Eagles

The Eagles and the Patriots have been practicing together since Tuesday. Friday they play a preseason game that contains several subplots.

Three things to watch in Pats-Eagles

Eagles rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. --- The three days of joint practices between the Eagles and Patriots ended Thursday with a walkthrough -- in this case, mostly a very light, no-contact workout. Now the teams convene Friday evening for what will be the second preseason game for each team. Eagles coach Chip Kelly did not set forth a plan for how much each group will play, but usually starters play a little more in the second game than the first, maybe a quarter or so.

Here are three things Eagles fans might want to watch:

1. Receivers: Riley Cooper said Thursday he plans to practice fully Sunday and hopes to play in the third preseason game, Aug. 21 against the Steelers. He will not play Friday, with a foot injury that has lingered since the early days of camp. Jeremy Maclin was not allowed to talk to reporters Thursday, but he did not take part in the walkthrough, after tweaking his left hamstring Wednesday. So a big focus Friday is wideout depth. You'll probably see a lot from guys like Jordan Matthews, Ifeanyi Momah, Josh Huff, Arrelious Benn and Jeff Maehl. This is a big opportunity for someone. Depending on how the evening goes, it also might be time to get alarmed over the Eagles' wideout situation. DeSean Jackson would look pretty good right now.

2. Nick Foles and the offensive line: The quarterback had pass rushers in his face a week ago in Chicago, and he reacted by throwing two unwise interceptions, in just three series. Foles needs to get back to last season's unflappability, and his o-line needs to block some people, without taking last week's holding penalties. The whole thing was kind of a mess against the Bears. Not at all what fans are expecting in 2014.

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3. Pass rush: The Eagles' top defensive unit got no pressure on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler a week ago. Pressure came later in the game from situational rushers such as Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, and from rookie nose tackle Beau Allen. It would be quite reassuing to see Trent Cole and the first-teamers get to Tom Brady. If they don't the back end is going to continue to look like a mess, particularly with the new officiating emphasis on flagging defensive contact downfield. Not really sure Bradley Fletcher can play effectively if the game is going to be called as tight as it has been so far in the preseason.

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Eagletarian is your home for comprehensive coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
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