Five Eagles to Watch in Green Bay
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) – Ultimately the most important player to the success of the Eagles’ 2017 season is as obvious as it gets.
It’s full steam ahead in the Carson Wentz era for this franchise and the improvement or lack thereof of the second-year quarterback will go a long way in determining Philadelphia’s ultimate fate.
As the preseason gets set to begin in Green Bay on Thursday, waiting to see what kind of progress Wentz made in the offseason will have to wait, however.
While he’s not getting the Aaron Rodgers treatment just yet expect to see very little of Wentz in the preseason as a whole other than the dress rehearsal third game.
Coach Doug Pederson confirmed that Wentz will start against the Packers but it’s almost surely only going to be a quick cameo appearance before third-stringer Matt McGloin takes over due to Nick Foles’ sore elbow.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t players to keep an eye on and it starts in the secondary. Here are 973espn.com’s five players to watch in Titletown:
–Cornerback, Rasul Douglas – The hope was that the third-round pick would be pushing for playing time at this point but Douglas hasn’t followed up his strong offseason work with sound play in camp. His recovery speed has been an issue so far and despite the subpar play of Patrick Robinson, Douglas hasn’t been able to push for many reps with the starters. That could all change with a strong performance against the Rodgers-less Packers.
-Offensive guard, Chance Warmack – Starting right guard Brandon Brooks went down with an ankle injury on Monday and Warmack has been filling in at right guard in his absence. A former top 10 pick by Tennessee, the knock on Warmack has been his inability to fire off the ball quickly. Reuniting with his old OL coach at Alabama, Jeff Stoutland, has been a positive for Warmack and if the light goes off he will have the chance to contribute at some point.
-Cornerback, C.J. Smith – Smith has spent camp with the second-team at left corner behind Jalen Mills and the ineffectiveness of Robinson and Douglas to this point has contributed to Smith getting a few reps with the ones. A former teammate of Wentz’s at North Dakota State, Smith is already in position to make this team and he could garner playing time in Jim Schwartz’s defense with a strong preseason.
-Safety, Corey Graham – A lot of what the Eagles do in the nickel this season could hinge on how much Graham has left in the tank of the age of 32. He’s a very accomplished player and if he still has his legs, expect Schwartz to slowly move away from Ron Brooks as the extra DB on passing downs in favor of dropping Malcolm Jenkins into the slot and inserting Graham at safety opposite Rodney McLeod.
-Wide Receiver, Marcus Johnson – Johnson has been the quiet star of training camp on the offensive side, an unheralded former practice squad receiver with size, speed, and consistency when it comes to catching the football. As the Eagles have nursed Alshon Jeffery due to a shoulder injury, it has been Johnson who was inserted with the starters at the Z position and a strong preseason will solidify a 53-man roster spot for him.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen