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Eagles fall to Packers 24-9 in Preseason Opener

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By: Andrew DiCecco, Sports Talk Philly Staff

The Eagles opened their preseason on the road at Lambeau Field on Thursday evening. In what was largely an uneven performance, there is plenty to be excited about with this football team.

Inactives: Wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey (shoulder), guard Brandon Brooks (ankle), running back Wendell Smallwood (hamstring), quarterback Nick Foles (elbow), guard Josh Andrews (hand), and wide receivers Marcus Johnson (hamstring) and Paul Turner (shoulder).

 

The Good:

Carson Wentz was only in for one series, but that's all the Eagles needed as he went 4-4 for 56 yards and a touchdown, earning a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating.

Showing confidence in his offense early, Doug Pederson opted to go for it on 4th and 6, and Wentz delivered a strike to Jordan Matthews over the middle to secure the conversion.

The play of the game would shortly follow, as Wentz eluded Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and connected with rookie receiver Mack Hollins for a 38-yard touchdown. Hollins displayed impressive effort in his own right, stiff arming a Packers defensive back en route to the endzone.

And just like that, Wentz's night was over.

The first-team defense played well, forcing a three-and-out on the Packers first possession.

The much maligned corners held firm in coverage, keeping everything in front of them, and not allowing any big plays. I paid close attention to Patrick Robinson in coverage, and the veteran was active in his brief outing - recovering a fumble and dislodging the ball away from Packers receiver Davante Adams.

Despite mostly playing against backups, first round pick Derek Barnett had himself a game, registering 2 sacks as well as holding up against the run. Encouraging signs from the rookie.

Barnett was not the only rookie who had a strong debut, Mack Hollins received some first-team reps, and ended his night with 4 receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown. 

Rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas was very physical in coverage - as he's been all throughout camp - and played the underneath routes well. Douglas is still getting his technique down, but it seems as though he's becoming more comfortable within the scheme.

C.J. Smith had an up and down night, but what stood out to me was how he battled through adversity. Early in the second quarter, he got too high out of his backpedal, and gave up an inside completion to Geronimo Allison on 3rd and 7. A couple of plays later, he was beaten on a double move for a touchdown over the top by Packers receiver Jeff Janis.

Smith responded in the second half with a couple of nice pass breakups, and nearly came up with an interception that would have likely been a touchdown. 

That's exactly how you would like to see a young player respond. With three games left to go, Smith will continue to prove he can play a pivotal role on defense.

Bryce Treggs continues to impress me. His accelation off the line is among the best on the team, and he has regularly created separation due to his decisive route running.

Treggs concluded his night with 7 catches for 91 yards, which included a spectacular 39-yard bomb down the sideline from quarterback Matt McGloin. If Treggs continues to perform at a high level, he will be hard to keep off of the roster.

Undrafted safety Tre Sullivan from little Shepherd University is a hitter. Sullivan made his presence felt in the fourth quarter, delivering a bone crushing hit on Packers rookie receiver Malachi Dupre, causing him to fumble. Dupre was forced to leave the game on a stretcher, but fortunately appeared to have movement in his extremities and gave the crowd a thumbs up on his way out.

Sullivan also came up to make a nice open field tackle to force a Green Bay punt late in the fourth quarter.

Players often appear from out of nowhere in the preseason, and Sullivan has certainly opened some eyes with his physical play.

The battle between Sullivan, Terrence Brooks, Corey Graham, and Jaylan Watkins will be one to monitor throughout the preseason.

Linebacker Don Cherry appeared with the first-team kickoff unit.

 

The Bad:

Quarterback Matt McGloin's camp struggles have carried over into the preseason. McGloin finished 28 of 42 for 205 yards and an ugly interception on an overthrow in the flat to Donnel Pumphrey.

McGloin's best throw came on the 39-yarder to Treggs, but the veteran was off his mark for most of the game.

The special teams unit needs to improve. On the punt return for a touchdown from Green Bay's Trevor Davis, safety Terrence Brooks and linebacker Najee Goode each took a bad angle while in pursuit. 

Rookie Shelton Gibson, who has been plagued by drops throughout camp, dropped a catchable pass in the fourth quarter from quarterback Dane Evans.

Pumphrey fumbled on his first carry, and also muffed a punt. 

Rookie tight end Billy Brown fumbled late in the second quarter, after failing to get out of bounds. Brown has had a good camp, and the converted wide receiver from Shepherd University should push for a spot on the practice squad.

Although he had a very active first game, rookie linebacker Nate Gerry badly missed an open field tackle on a fourth down play, resulting in a first down. 

Former CFL star, cornerback Mitchell White, had a tough second half. Despite being in position, he gave up a handful of catches, including a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

White is another player who has had a good camp, and how he responds over the next three games could earn him a spot on the practice squad.

The Eagles return to practice on Saturday, Aug. 12.

 

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