Five Players You Should Be Watching in Preseason Opener
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Football is back and for the Eagles that means Thursday night action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field.
Obviously, the first preseason game isn't all that important for the entrenched veterans on either side of the football but it's very important for the many others who are trying to prove something to a new coaching staff.
Here are the five players that should keep a close eye on Thursday:
5. Issac Seumalo, offensive guard - The Eagles' third-round pick has struggled after missing most of the offseason work due to the NFL's graduation rule. By the time he hit camp the Oregon State product was way behind and the hopes he would push Allen Barbre for the starting left guard spot have not materialized. The potential suspension of Lane Johnson, however, could have the Eagles thinking about moving the versatile Barbre outside to tackle, especially if Seumalo starts moving in the right direction.
4. Jalen Mills, cornerback - It's a lot to ask a rookie seventh-round pick to push for a starting job but Mills has the skill set of a second-rounder and if he continues to progress through August there is no reason to think that he shouldn't be able to challenge Nolan Carroll and Ron Brooks for playing time after the one somewhat proven commodity on this team, Leodis McKelvin. Coach Doug Pederson has already admitted that Mills has surpassed Eric Rowe on the depth chart for now.
3. Josh Huff, wide receiver - The Eagles have spent a lot of time during their offensive install periods manufacturing touches for Huff, the now third-year player who has never really developed as a receiver on the outside. Huff has continued to struggle with press coverage in practice, as well as route running and catching the football consistently. Other than Darren Sproles, however, there isn't a more dangerous player on this team with the football in his hands so look for the package being developed (the occasional jet sweep, a bubble screen, a smoke screen and the end around) as the Eagles try to get Huff alone in space.
2. Carson Wentz, quarterback -The Face of the franchise is the most obvious player to watch as he takes the field for his first NFL game at Lincoln Financial Field. The biggest issue for Wentz in practice to date has been his mechanics from day-to-day, particularly his footwork. Like a lot of young signal callers, the No. 2 overall pick struggles with consistency from session to session and the Eagles' coaches have been stressing the importance of that to the former North Dakota State star.
1. Lane Johnson, right tackle - The game is meaningless for a player of Johnson's caliber but with a potential 10-game PED suspension looming over the big-money right tackle, Johnson is going to have to explain the inconsistencies of his non-denial, denial.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen