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Preseason Week 2: Jeffery and Darby expected to make Eagles' debuts

By: Jesse Larch, Sports Talk Philly Staff

The Eagles will make their long-awaited return to Lincoln Financial Field tonight when they host the Buffalo Bills at 7 p.m in week two of the preseason.

Like last week, the starters are expected to play a series or two, but this week they will field a different group with the first team. Alshon Jeffery is poised to make his Eagles' debut tonight as the first wide receiver after Doug Pederson said he is leaning towards playing Jeffery and new addition Ronald Darby in tonight's game.

Nelson Agholor is expected to get the start in the slot after Jordan Matthews was traded to tonight's opponent. 

Jason Peters's status is also up in the air, after he was excused from practice for personal reasons and Lane Johnson took reps at left tackle in his place. Matt Tobin filled in at right tackle with Halapoulivaati Vaitai currently injured. 

Things To Watch For

If you are not familiar with what Alshon Jeffery can do on a football field, you might have been living under a rock. Jeffery is the most talented and productive receiver to come to Philadelphia since Terrell Owens. 

Jeffery is expected to be a huge relief to Carson Wentz after Wentz had to live with a receiving core that routinely failed to make plays for him. Tonight will give us our first look into how Wentz and Jeffery mesh and how the Eagles' plan to use Jeffery in the offense. 

Also making his Eagles' debut tonight is Ronald Darby. Darby will face his former team and is expected to be cover the opposing team's best receiver. Darby has raised the bar for the other corners, clearly looking like the most talented corner on the field since his arrival.

These new additions to the lineup will give us our first look into what the Eagles' will look like this season. 

Players with the most to gain

Matt Tobin will have a great opportunity to lock down a roster spot tonight. If Peters does not play, then Tobin may get to play three quarters with the Halapoulivaati Vaitai also expected to be out tonight.

Tobin was used primarily as a extra blocker last season, but the Eagles have been using Dillon Gordon as a fullback at various points during practice which may make Tobin's role as the extra blocker expendable. A strong game form Tobin can go a long way towards keeping Tobin on the roster. 

Donnel Pumphrey will look to bounce back after an abysmal debut against the Packers last week. With the eagles carrying many receivers and running backs in camp, spots are not guaranteed at the bottom of the depth chart, and Pumphrey's fumbling problem from last week's game has persisted in practice.

Pumphrey is still listed as the fourth running back, but Corey Clement is on his heels after having good practices during the contact portions of practice. clement is the polar opposite of Pumphrey, with his physical downhill running style. 

The bottom of the receiver depth chart faces the same problem as the running backs. The first four slots appear to be locked in with Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Agholor, and Mack Hollins. The final spots are up for grabs, and it is a tight competition between Marcus Johnson, Bryce Treggs, and Shelton Gibson. 

Johnson has been impressive all summer, receiving reps with the first team in place of Alshon Jeffery and looking like a fit on special teams as a gunner. Treggs was unstoppable in the preseason debut catching everything thrown his way, and Shelton Gibson has been one of the better receivers in camp lately after being plagued by drops in the early portion of offseason workouts. 

Johnson missed the first preseason game, and will be making his debut tonight as well.

Like the receivers and the running backs, the last spot on the cornerback depth chart is also up for grabs. Darby, Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, and Ron Brooks figure in as the first four corners, leaving C.J. Smith, Rasul Douglas, and Aaron Grymes to fight for a roster spot. 

Smith has been consistent throughout camp, and has often received praise from his defensive coaches for his performances. Douglas was the Eagles' third round pick and possesses incredible length for the corner position that allowed him to lead the nation in interceptions a year ago at West Virginia. Aaron Grymes was a standout last preseason after being signed from the CFL, and missed out on a chance to make the 53-man roster after injuring his shoulder on a play where he intercepted the ball. 

Smith and Grymes both spent last season on the Eagles' practice squad, and have an upper hand on Douglas when it comes to being familiar with the playbook. All three will receive a lot of time with the second team, and get a chance to showcase why they belong on the roster. 

Expected Starters

POS OFFENSE
QB Carson Wentz
RB LeGarrette Blount
WR Alshon Jeffery
WR Torrey Smith
WR Nelson Agholor
TE Zach Ertz
LT Lane Johnson
LG Isaac Seumalo
C Jason Kelce
RG Chance Warmack
RT Matt Tobin
POS DEFENSE
LE Vinny Curry
DT Fletcher Cox
DT Tim Jernigan
RE Brandon Graham
LOLB Nigel Bradham
MLB Jordan Hicks
ROLB Mychal Kendricks
CB Ronald Darby
CB Jalen Mills
FS Rodney Mcleod
SS Malcolm Jenkins

 

How to Watch

7:00 p.m. on NBC 10 or online with NFL Game Pass

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