By Connor Thomas
The Eagles take on the New England Patriots tonight in what will be the 2nd of 3 2021 preseason games for both teams. This is the first year of 3 preseason games since the NFL decided to cut 1 warmup contest in favor of adding a 17th regular season game, so there is some speculation that this could be the contest where starters see their highest workload. In fact, ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined The John Kincade Show yesterday to talk about how teams plan to handle starters’ reps this week.
Even if the starters don’t see a lot of playing time, there are still some great things to look for tonight at 7:30pm in South Philadelphia when the birds and pats face off. Here are a couple things to focus on as you take in the action later:
Jalen Reagor’s Progression:
Reagor has apparently had a monster week in joint practices against the Patriots, even making an Odell Beckham style one-handed catch in one on one drills. After a rough rookie year, Reagor still has a lot to prove as a former 1st round pick, and he’ll need to do it in the regular season, but it will be interesting to see if a strong week of practices translates to game speed.
Jalen Hurts’ Leadership:
Outside of Reagor’s spectacular catch, it was Hurts week at Eagles camp. It seemed like every quote that came out of the NovaCare complex was some sort of praise for the 2nd year QB’s ability, both on and off the field, to win over the locker room. The Eagles have been not-so-quietly eyeing up Texans QB Deshaun Watson as a potential trade target, but it sounds like Hurts is doing his best to prove that he deserves a shot as franchise QB in Philly. We should see more proof of this later tonight as he takes on one of the great defensive minded coaches in history in Bill Belichick.
The Eagles Defense vs Cam Newton/Mac Jones:
There are plenty of questions about the Eagles defense this year, from an aging line, to a questionable linebacker corps, to a secondary with a major lack of depth. Tonight, they should have an opportunity to show some ability against Cam Newton and Mac Jones. Newton is coming off a tough season (a tough couple seasons really) and Jones is a rookie playing in his 2nd NFL “game”. Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon should have a great chance to show off tonight against a couple of middling QBs.
Jake Elliott’s Bounce Back:
In the 1st preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kicker Jake Elliott went a perfect 3 for 3 on FGs, knocking in 2 47 yarders and a 50 yard attempt. It was a comforting performance for the 5th year man out of Memphis, who had a very rough season last year, connecting on only 73.7% of his field goals. Elliott has a big contract, so moving on from him would be difficult if he repeats that effort. Keep an eye on him again tonight to see if he continues to be solid on his attempts, because the Eagles will need every point they can get this season.