After impressive debut for Eagles, now it’s Bradford’s turn

No Sam Bradford. No DeMarco Murray. No Mychal Kendricks. No DeMeco Ryans. All four were perfectly healthy, but held out of Sunday’s preseason opener.

And it didn’t make one difference.

The Eagles preseason opener didn’t come without a few hiccups, but was impressive, all things considered. There are many teams that don’t look as on point as the Eagles did in their debut. And they played with four healthy regulars on the sidelines.

Talk about a good first impression.

But just as Sunday was about the first impression for all who took the field, now comes the time for the others to make their first impression in Week 2.

And all eyes will shift to the new quarterback, Sam Bradford.

Saturday’s game was already going to be big for Bradford. It was 51 weeks ago that Bradford tore his ACL for the second time, ending his season and embarking on another long recovery.

That culminates when he takes the field on Saturday. But it doesn’t come without questions.

One thing that was evident on Sunday was how desperate the Eagles will be to have a healthy Bradford in the lineup.

Mark Sanchez didn’t look good at all in a 2-for-7 performance, despite completing the only touchdown pass of the game. Matt Barkley’s numbers looked good, but some of his passes were off-target and he was responsible for the only turnover of the game for the Eagles. Tim Tebow played well in his debut, but not well enough to really change his ranking on the depth chart.

In other words, Bradford is the clear number one already, without even taking the field. And the Eagles will need him to be successful.

So it’s back to resting so much of the season’s hopes on a quarterback who has spent almost as much time on injured reserve as he has on the field in his NFL career.

This also means it’s back to the obvious for Chip Kelly and the Eagles. Take everything else out of the equation. The hopes of contention this year rest on the shoulders, and the knee, of Sam Bradford.

Which is a huge risk.

In Peter King’s MMQB feature this week, an interview with Chip Kelly, the Eagles coach revealed that team doctors give Bradford a 10-12 percent chance of tearing his ACL again.

Bradford’s attributes rank above the risk for Kelly, but he fully acknowledged that health is the most important factor.

“What I’ve seen in Sam is what I thought we were going to get when I traded for him,” Kelly said to King. “He makes really good decisions with the football. He has as good an arm as there is in this league. He’s everything you want in a quarterback and he was before he was injured. He just has to stay healthy.”

I didn’t think it was too alarming that Bradford didn’t play in Sunday’s game. Almost expected really, though I also thought Kelly and company would have been eager to show off the new quarterback.

But from a health standpoint, which is the biggest factor for Bradford, it made plenty of sense. He’s got three games to become game ready, to prove he can handle it and is recovered enough to succeed.

Saturday is his first chance to prove the doubters and skeptics wrong about his health, his future and how he can be the answer.

It is Bradford’s all or nothing, just two weeks into the preseason.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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