CLEMSON, SC - APRIL 03: Joseph Ngata #10 of the Clemson Tigers leaps for the catch as Bubba McAtee #39 defends during the second half of the Clemson Orange and White Spring Game at Memorial Stadium on April 3, 2021 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Tonight is the Eagles’ first Pre-Season game. At 7 pm, they take the field against the Ravens. it will be the first real look for Eagles fans at this team, outside of an Open practice where the team can control a lot of what you are shown.

But do not expect to see Jalen Hurts, AJ Brown, Jason Kelce, or other established starters. Pre-season games have featured fewer and fewer NFL starters in the last few years. That is even more true for the Eagles. Last year Hurts threw just 6 passes in the preseason and was in the final of the 3 games. The same goes for most of the other big names. That is just how Sirianni does things. He prefers to go easy on his main guys, keeping them fresh and healthy. And whether you like it or not, it worked. They were one of the healthiest teams in the league last year.

But that does not mean there is nothing to watch. Because while the starters may not see the field, there are a lot of backups worth keeping an eye on. It will be the first chance we get to see who the first guys off the bench will be at each position. The first chance to see some of the guys who are battling for a roster spot. So even though there will be no starters, there is something worth watching, at least in the first half when the second-string guys are in there.

Who has a chance to stand out in the first pre-season game? What player has to have a big game to earn a role on this team? How will the position battles shake out?

Here are 8 names worth keeping an eye on in the Eagles’ first Pre-Season Game:

  • Jalen Carter

    This one is obvious. I don’t seem to tell any Eagles fans Jalen Carter is worth watching. He has been the talk of camp, reportedly looking the part of a guy ready to break out in year one. Something that is rare for a DT. It is our first chance though to see him in a real game situation. And if he comes out and is already bullying the middle of the Ravens’ O-Line, even if it is just their backups, you are going to have a lot of excited fans around the Delaware Valley.  

    KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - APRIL 27: (L-R) Jalen Carter poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected ninth overall by the Philadelphia Eagles during the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station on April 27, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri.

    (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

     

  • Nolan Smith

    Likewise, Nolan Smith is making a lot of noise in Eagles camp. Early on beat writers seemed to be telling us about reps he won all the time. His teammates have called him a mini-Haason Reddick.

    His speed will stand out. The question is if he can turn it into results. He never quite did at Georga. But production in college is not always what is most important to projecting a guy to the NFL. We have seen plenty of guys have huge sack numbers in college, then flop in the NFL (Derek Barnett). And likewise, there have been guys who did not put up big numbers in college but are great in the NFL. And he certainly has the skillset to be that type of player. 

    So far in camp, he has looked great. And we can see if he can carry that into a game tonight.

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - AUGUST 9: Nolan Smith #3 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on during Training Camp at Lincoln Financial Field on August 9, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

  • Sydney Brown and Reed Blankenship

    Eagles fans love a hard-hitting Safety. And Brown has the chance to be that kind of guy. So far in camp there has not been a ton of noise from him. But that may just be because there is not as much hitting allowed in camp practice. Some reporters noted seeing him pull up on plays because he did not want to take his teammate’s heads off. 

    He does not need to show that same level of constraint in a pre-season game. And if Brown comes out, and tracks down a RB from the other side of the field to make a big hit, there is no surer way to win the hearts of Philadelphians. There was a much hype coming into camp for Brown than there was for anyone. Fans are more excited for him than any 3rd round pick ever. 

    The same can be said about Reed Blankenship. But since we have already seen him in real games, and he looked pretty good, there is far less investment in seeing what he looks like in a Pre-Season game. The Eagles could make a statement in how much they trust him if he is among the guys who does not see the field at all. But with the questions at safety, it is likely we see at least a little bit of Reed though.

    EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 09: Sydney Brown #30 of the Illinois Fighting Illini celebrates his fourth quarter interception for a touchdown while playing the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on November 09, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan.

    (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

  • Cam Jurgens and Tyler Steen

    We thought RG would be a big training camp battle. So far it seems like Cam Jurgens is running away with it. But a game could change things. They will be facing off against guys on the other side likely also battling for their roster spot or role. Seeing how they hold up in real-game situations could be key to seeing which one wins the job. Cam Jurgens has the best shot at it. And from everything we have heard, we should expect him to look good. But RG, regardless of which one of them are in, is something worth keeping an eye on.  Whether it is Jurgens or Steen in there. 

    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 29: Cam Jurgens #51 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 31-7 in the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 29, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

  • Joseph Ngata

    The Eagles brought a lot of WRs into camp. But outside of the guys we already know will be starters, the guy making the most noise is Joseph Ngata. Ngata joined the Eagles as an undrafted free agent shortly after the draft. He was among the highest-paid UDFAs this year. And so far in camp, he has shown why. He has been the standout at camp. Every beat reporter we have had on the station has talked about how impressive he has been. Every Eagles camp has at least one Wr who is the camp darling, and so far it has been Ngata. 

    The 6ft3 Ngata joined Clemson as a 5-Star recruit. But never quite lived up to that potential. He scored just 6 TD, caught just 88 passes, and gained only 1,287 yards in 4 seasons there. But the talent and ability is still there. And he has a chance to be the Eagles’ 5th or 6th WR if he continues to stand out. And that could start tonight vs the Ravens.  

    CLEMSON, SC - APRIL 03: Joseph Ngata #10 of the Clemson Tigers leaps for the catch as Bubba McAtee #39 defends during the second half of the Clemson Orange and White Spring Game at Memorial Stadium on April 3, 2021 in Clemson, South Carolina.

    (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

  • Ty Zentner

    It’s not often a Punter is a guy you want to watch. But the Eagles’ poor play at punter the last couple of seasons has us in that position. Arryn Siposs has not been good. He was at the bottom of the league by every metric you judge a punter by. And that is why the Eagles brought in UDFA Ty Zentner from Kansas State. 

    According to the guys on the beat, neither has exactly stood out thus far in camp. But Eagles fans will get a chance to see for themselves if Zentner can supplant Siposs tonight. Hopefully, he can, because I don’t know if I can take another year of Siposs’s poor punting. It is great if punting is your biggest weakness, but it is still a weakness that needs to be fixed.  The easiest fix for that is if Zentner looks good. But if he does not, then the Eagles’ best option at punter may be someone not on the team yet. 

    ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 3: Ty Zentner #8 of the Kansas State Wildcats is carried away by teammates after kicking the game winning field goal in overtime against the TCU Horned Frogs in the Big 12 Football Championship at AT&T Stadium on December 3, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. Kansas State won 31-28 in overtime.

    (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

     

  • Josh Jobe

    Josh Jobe played well enough in camp last year as a UDFA to earn himself a roster spot, but not really a role. But this year he has a chance to be the backup on the outside. In Open Practice, they even put him on the first team in place of an injured James Bradberry. We saw him keep up with AJ Brown, despite giving up the TD. The fact that he was out there with Brown though, shows how much faith they have in him.

    Many assumed it would be Kelee Ringo, or Greedy Williams in that backup role. But the 2nd year Corner out of Bama seems to have the first shot at being the main backup.  So it is worth watching how he matches up with the Ravens Wrs tonight. Ideally, we won’t see much of a backup CB at all. But Bradberry and Slay could miss time here and there. And if they do, it will be good to know they have a competent backup waiting on the bench to come in. Jobe could be that guy. 

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 12: Josh Jobe #28 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts after Harrison Butker #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs missed a field goal during the first quarter in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona.

    (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

  • Myles Jack and Zach Cunningham

    Linebacker is one of the biggest question marks hanging over the Eagles right now. And that is why they brought in both Myles Jack and Zach Cunningham a couple of weeks into camp. Both have been starters at this level before and effective ones at that.

    We know Nakobe Dean will be one of the starters. But with an injury, he will not be playing tonight. But we might see some of Myles Jack and Zach Cunningham. They have a chance to be very much like what Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph were for the Eagles last year. If Jack looks like he used to for the Jaguars, it could turn a weakness into a strength.  

    players to watch in first Eagles Pre-Season game

    (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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