FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — This was going to be a night to shine for some of the wideouts trying to make the Eagles' roster, with Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and Markus Wheaton all sitting out last night's preseason game against the New England Patriots.
Veteran Mike Wallace, sharp in training camp, was set to make his Eagles debut. Offensive coordinator Mike Groh spoke this week of how Wallace was "settling in and finding a comfort zone. The quarterbacks are starting to find where he's at and read his body language."
Kamar Aiken, a late-arriving vet, has made some plays in practice, maybe he could open some eyes under the Gillette Stadium lights. Bryce Treggs has always seemed like someone on the cusp of flourishing, given enough snaps. Nick Foles singled out Rashard Davis last week as an exciting, explosive receiver and returner.
When both teams' starters were still playing, there wasn't much shining. Unless we're talking about a first half that resembled The Shining, in which the Eagles fell behind 27-7 and lost starting quarterback Foles to what the team called a shoulder strain. Before going down on an Adrian Clayborn strip sack, courtesy of Halapoulivaati Vaitai's feeble blocking attempt, Foles consistently threw high and wide of his targets, completing just three of nine passes, for 44 yards.
Foles targeted Wallace three times in the first quarter, connected once, but the throw drew Wallace well out of bounds before he could get his feet down. Treggs caught Foles' first completion, accomplished with five minutes left in the first quarter, an 8-yarder. Aiken, touted by Eagles coach Doug Pederson on Tuesday, had a bad drop.
After Foles left the game, the receivers fared better with Nate Sudfeld; Aiken and DeAndre Carter (twice) drew long pass-interference penalties. Shelton Gibson, the 2017 fifth-round pick, caught three first-half passes for 27 yards and a TD, and ran a kickoff back 46 yards. He caught a Sudfeld bomb late in the third quarter and finished with five receptions for 90 yards. Gibson was the bright spot of the group, building on a solid game last week against the Steelers. If you were picking the team today, he would have to be one of the top five wideouts. But that isn't a big surprise.
Gibson started to come on near the end of last season and has continued that momentum through the spring and summer.
"I had no confidence last year," Gibson said afterward. "I had a little bit, but I wasn't playing like I know I can play."
Treggs couldn't haul in a Sudfeld bomb midway through the third quarter and immediately grabbed his left hamstring. Then he limped off the field. It didn't look like the sort of hamstring injury that is going to heal in the next week or two, while Treggs still has a chance to earn a spot. Aiken also left with a hamstring injury.
Davis ran backward on a punt return, very nearly running his way to a safety, though near the end of the third quarter, he did catch a 31-yard touchdown pass from Sudfeld, who really got into a second-half rhythm. Sudfeld entered the fourth quarter 18 for 32 for 300 yards and three touchdowns, finished 22 for 39 for 312. He was sacked four times and gave up an interception that bounced off his receiver, running back Matt Jones.
"It definitely felt good" to make up for the wrong-way punt return, Davis said. "Looking back on that, that was just a learning mistake … make sure you don't make the same mistakes again."