Daniel to Start Preseason Finale
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - With Sam Bradford now in bubble wrap until the season opener and Carson Wentz still ailing with a fractured rib, the Eagles plan to use a two-man quarterback rotation against the New York Jets in the preseason finale on Thursday.
Coach Doug Pederson indicated that Chase Daniel will likely play the first half and camp arm McLeod Bethel-Thompson will take over from there and finish things out.
Daniel is earmarked to Bradford’s backup when things start for real and the veteran has completed 23-of-38 passes for 201 yards with a touchdown through three games in the preseason.
The strong-armed Bethel-Thompson, meanwhile, is expected to be released on the final cutdown to 53.
“Chase [Daniel] will start and I can't exactly tell you how many number of reps [he will get],” Pederson said. “In a perfect world, it would be Chase [playing] the first half and McLeod [McLeod Bethel-Thompson] in the second half. That's in a perfect world. But we'll see how the game goes. If there's an opportunity to let McLeod play more, I'll let him play more.”
Wentz, meanwhile, threw again at practice Tuesday and will likely be healthy enough to play on Sept. 11 against Cleveland but the Eagles intent to keep him on the bench behind Bradford and Daniel is even stronger now that the No. 2 overall pick will have missed the final three preseason contests.
In other injury news wideout Jordan Matthews practiced for a second straight day but will be held out on Thursday and asked to hit the ground running during Week 1 after missing the entire preseason slate with a bone bruise in his knee suffered early in camp.
Rookie Isaac Seumalo, who is trying to hold off veteran Stefen Wisniewski for the starting left guard spot, missed practice again on Tuesday with a strained pec.
Others absent included defensive linemen Vinny Curry and Taylor Hart, who are both dealing with sprained knees, as well as rookie runner Wendell Smallwood, who remains in the league’s concussion protocol.
LANE JOHNSON STILL IN PLAY?
The Eagles have been preparing like Lane Johnson will not be available for Week 1 due to his pending 10-game PED suspension but as we inch closer to the season opener, the veteran right tackle has still not been informed of his penalty.
And Pederson told reporters on Tuesday that Johnson will indeed start against the Browns if he’s available to the Eagles.
Philadelphia kicked starting left guard Allen Barbre out to RT a couple of weeks ago to get comfortable with the position and Johnson, one of the Eagles’ better players, has been toiling with the second unit. Meanwhile, Seumalo and/or Wisniewski are expected to hold down LG in Johnson’s absence.
Johnson is still planning on appealing his suspension when it’s made official so it’s at least plausible he would be able to play early in the season as that process moved forward.
“The conversations are such that we've got to have – especially offensively – just have a plan ready to go,” Pederson said. “I'll tell you this: If he's ready to go, then he's our guy. You just go with that, because he's got plenty of reps in training camp. And that was part of the reason why getting [G/T] Allen [Barbre] over there and getting ‘Big V’ [T Halapoulivaati Vaitai] some reps and all that. But we've got to cover all our bases one way or the other and just have a plan when we get to that point.”
Barbre, would in turn, move back to LG if Johnson is still eligible.
“Right now he would go back to left guard,” the coach continued. “I think he had a tremendous camp and tremendous offseason at left guard, and you kind of put the pieces back in place. We've seen enough from the [G] Isaacs [Semualo] and [C/G Stefen] Wisniewskis, and [G/T] Allen [Barbre] over there at right tackle that we know we've got the combination of guys – and ‘Big V’ [T Halapoulivaati Vaitai] got plenty of reps – to sustain this thing through the duration.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen