Jason Peters was excused from Thursday’s preseason game against the Buffalo Bills for personal reasons, giving Lane Johnson an opportunity to start in Peters’ place.
The team planned for Peters’ absence since he was excused Tuesday. Johnson, who has started two career games at left tackle, is viewed as Peters’ eventual replacement at the position. But the offensive line struggled without Peters on Thursday, and Johnson was guilty of allowing pressure from his side.
Still, it was valuable for Johnson to get work at left tackle. He would play there this season if Peters suffers an injury.
With Johnson at left tackle, Matt Tobin started at right tackle. That would ordinarily have been Halapoulivaati Vaitai, but he has been sidelined all week with a knee injury. Tobin is the third-string right tackle.
Smallwood sits again
Running back Wendell Smallwood was sidelined for the second consecutive game with a hamstring injury. Smallwood returned to practice this week but was considered questionable for the game. With Smallwood absent and the Eagles keeping Darren Sproles shelved for the preseason, Corey Clement was the second running back in the game after LeGarrette Blount. Clement ran for a 6-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.
The Eagles also were without backup quarterback Nick Foles, who missed two weeks with an elbow injury. Foles eased his way back into practice this week but did not expect to play against Buffalo. He’s hoping to play next week against Miami.
The following players were also out: Vaitai, wide receiver Bryce Treggs (sore legs), wide receiver Paul Turner (shoulder), cornerback Ron Brooks (hamstring), offensive lineman Josh Andrews (hand), and tight end Anthony Denham (calf).
Three safeties in nickel
The Eagles used three safeties when they played a nickel package with their first-team defense. Malcolm Jenkins played in the slot with Rodney McLeod and Corey Graham at safety. Ron Brooks, who is usually their top slot cornerback, was sidelined. Still, it was notable that they played the three safeties instead of using veteran Patrick Robinson or a different cornerback at nickel. Robinson played the slot this week after the Eagles traded for Ronald Darby.
Jenkins played in the slot for the Eagles for the last two seasons. Although it appeared he might return to safety in all downs this seasons, the Eagles signed Graham earlier in training camp and are determined to find a role for him on defense.
Trout in the crowd
Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout sat in his regular end-zone seats for the game. Trout, a Milville native and two-time American League MVP, is a passionate Eagles fan who is seen in his seats during baseball’s offseason. The Angels had an off day and will play in Baltimore on Friday.