Eagles Observations: Third Preseason Game

The first and second teams were just about perfect in their dominant win over the Steelers

A breakdown of the Eagles by position in their victory over the Steelers 31-21 Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

QUARTERBACKS

Take away the freak pick to Troy Polamalu, and Nick Foles ran the starting offense as well as we're used to seeing. On 19 of 29 passing for 179 yards, Foles' lone TD pass was a well-designed screen to McCoy. In typical Foles fashion, many passes were back shoulder throws where only his man could get it.....Mark Sanchez continues his run of renewal, leading two touchdown drives, with his worst play being a low throw to Damaris Johnson.....Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne were limited, but Barkley was solid (four for four, 37 yards), while Kinne was a mixed bag demonstrating his running acumen.

RUNNING BACKS

LeSean McCoy finally got opportunities to show off his custom magic, reversing course on a 13-yard run, and tip-toeing on the 22-yard screen pass TD. McCoy did leave with a thumb injury, but X-rays were negative.....Darren Sproles owned the Eagles starters' other touchdown, rushing for 33 yards on six carries. Sproles did have an incompletion that wasn't looked all the way into his hands, but it was an otherwise solid night running inside.....Matthew Tucker and Kenjon Barner took turns demonstrating quick bursts behind the first two lines (Tucker with both lines, Barner with second); Tucker finished two Sanchez drives with touchdowns, while Barner struggled in kick return duty.....Henry Josey looks to pull past Chris Polk as the power back, but had a 70-yard touchdown called back by a BJ Cunningham hold. That doesn't take away from Josey's great play, naturally.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Jeremy Maclin laid a good scare into everyone when he dropped untouched with an apparent knee injury. Startlingly, he returned a few plays later to make a snag, one of six for 43 yards. Maclin also blocked well in space, a staple of this offense.....Riley Cooper looked solid in his return to action, catching three balls for 25 yards, but looked off-rhythm with Foles at times. One of his catches came with Ike Taylor blatantly holding him (and getting called for it).....Jordan Matthews demonstrated the 'superhuman' work ethic that Eagles fanboys rave about, laying out for a fluttering Foles pass; Matthews caught only two balls, but made some key blocks in limited action.....Damaris Johnson had himself a humble evening, showing patience on his kick return.....lots of double stacks, with different plays (simple handoff, swing pass) coming out of the formation.....Quron Pratt had himself a pair of catches, with one sideline toe-tapper for 11 yards that showed discipline.

TIGHT ENDS

Brent Celek's two catches for 41 yards both ended with him taking a monster blow, but he managed to pull himself up quickly after both.....Zach Ertz made two grabs for 24 yards, but was more notable for his blocking, particularly dropping Polamalu on a Tucker dash; one of Ertz's grabs was a key third down conversion.....Trey Burton turned some heads with great catches for 37 yards, after going mostly unnoticed through the first two games.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

After getting schooled by Jason Worilds early, Allen Barbre settled in nicely, especially on screen blocks, and fending off the outside defenders to give Foles time.....Todd Herremans managed the best block on McCoy's touchdown dash, and had himself an all-around good night. The entire interior line played effectively, with Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce finding their working rhythm (Kelce notably laid out Polamalu in space on a play).....Jason Peters was dominant the entire night, fending off Cameron Heyward, Ryan Shazier, and anyone else that attacked from Foles' blind side; just a textbook performance.....The back-up line bullied around the Steelers starting D; the most notable play saw Dennis Kelly abuse Ryan Shazier on a Tucker run.....David Molk and Matt Tobin also stood out for textbook blocking skills that they're becoming known for.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Bennie Logan seemed to have some difficulty in switching to third-and-long 4-3 schemes, unable to get burst.....Brandon Bair brought consistent pressure on Roethlisberger, and moved along the line comfortably; Bair was disruptive, tipping two passes and forcing errant throws, which has become his new norm .....Cedric Thornton, Fletcher Cox, and Beau Allen put in solid work on pass rushes, with Cox being spotlighted for his 'dirty work' plays by Brian Baldinger on commentary. Thornton worked his tail off chasing down runs that made it out of the backfield.....Vinny Curry got himself a sack of Roethlisberger, despite being criminally held.

LINEBACKERS

Trent Cole knifes through early during extensive 4-3 work, finding a balance with DeMeco Ryans taking third downs off.....Ryans and Connor Barwin were finishing tackles fundamentally on early Steelers runs, though Ryans did notably whiff on LeGarrette Blount on one run.....Mychal Kendricks was his usual self, combining up-the-middle pass rushes with drag-down tackles, and was reliable as the middle man on third downs; he made the knife-through that led to an interception after Roethlisberger was flushed out.....Brandon Graham's been a stand-out this summer, keeping himself seen with a strong-arm sack/fumble of Roethlisberger, and a heavy blow on Heath Miller.....Emmanuel Acho hasn't been heard from much, but made a good wrap-up tackle on bulky Miller.....Marcus Smith continues to cover ground in the run, but gave up a completion to Antonio Brown. Why he was covering Brown is anyone's guess, but the coverage was actually decent for such a mismatch.

SECONDARY

The starting secondary (sans Brandon Boykin) took away the vertical game, allowing only one completion over 10 yards (19, Antontio Brown).....Nolan Carroll failed on a chance to knock a pass away from Heath Miller on an early third down, but made up for it by picking off Ben Roethlisberger's duck of a pass.....Malcolm Jenkins' lone rough moment was a dumb unsportsmanlike call, swatting the ball away from a Steeler receiver after a play. Beyond that, he was the linchpin of the great secondary play, wrapping up on tackles, and taking away the vertical game almost completely; his best play was a swat-away of a pass to Antonio Brown on third down.....Chris Maragos closed late on the touchdown throw to Heath Miller, nearly making the play. Jenkins was seen coaching up Maragos on the iPad afterward.....Earl Wolff made an outstanding play, breaking up a deep bomb to Martavis Bryant, bailing out a toasted Davon Morgan.....Curtis Marsh was once more picked on, drawing bad penalties and lagging behind receivers; Bruce Gradkowski was clearly targeting him, and rightly so.....Daytawion Lowe, a natural safety, struggled at corner, losing a tackle and getting burned on a long pass.

SPECIALISTS

Cody Parkey's debut in white and green ended with a booming touchback, and one extra point made.....Alex Henery drilled a 36-yarder, but then pushed a 31-yarder wide right. Guess which one will get more attention?.....To end with good news, Donnie Jones averaged 41.3 yards a punt on three boots, with two inside the 20-yard line.

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