Opinion Al Morganti
AP_17220572128497.jpg Matt Rourke/AP

Carson Wentz and Nelson Agholor have worked well together in camp.

August 08, 2017

Carson Wentz and the 2017 Eagles are still very much a work in progress

The Philadelphia Eagles open their preseason schedule Thursday night on the legendary surface at Lambeau Field, but there won’t be an on-field sighting of Green Bay Packers' legendary quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Wisely, the Packers will basically put Rodgers in bubble wrap for the preseason. There just isn’t much upside to putting a proven product like Rodgers at risk of injury and wiping out the hopes of an entire season for a meaningless game.

On the other hand, the Eagles will use this preseason to get second-year quarterback Carson Wentz in step with some new offensive weapons, and just as importantly, get an initial glimpse of just how many patches and adjustments are needed on defense.

While it’s true enough that the NFL preseason is too long and without much meaning, the Eagles are in a pretty unique position of actually needing these games to see how their additional weapons blend and where they still need work.

Perhaps most interesting will be the snapshot of receiver Nelson Agholor, who might as well have a camera isolated on him whenever he lines up for a snap. Supposedly, Agholor has been terrific at practice, but that could all change when the hitting gets real.

Actually, even if Agholor looks great, the jury will still be out until the real season starts on Sept. 10 against the Washington Redskins. No matter how many great catches he makes, the real proof will come after Labor Day.

Agholor and many Eagles are facing a bizarre preseason during which there are a whole lot more worries about what can possibly go wrong than about what can be expected to go right. The expectations are that the offense will blossom under Wentz, but Eagles fans are worried about other issues.

Eagles fans will be watching this preseason for signs that the corners aren’t as bad as feared and that a pass rush can force an opposing quarterback into some hurried mistakes. Therefore, even if the Eagles aren’t facing Aaron Rodgers, they had better be able to make Brett Hundley look average.

Can you imagine if Hundley comes out of this game looking like Rodgers if he picks apart the Philadelphia pass defense?

It sure would be nice if the Eagles looked like a well-oiled machine with Wentz at the helm and the receivers caught everything thrown to them this preseason. In fact, that’s sort of what many people expect.

On the flip side, the real worries about this team involve what happens when the offense leaves the field.

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Here’s some good news for Flyers fans and the rest of the NHL:

There is no more Sid the Kid.

Nope, Pittsburgh Penguins star center Sidney Crosby turned 30-years old on Monday, so he is at least unofficially out of the “kid” category. Then again, once you get the nickname it’s pretty difficult to shed.

Crosby was one of the last of the Penguins to celebrate his private time with the Cup this week, and he took it back to Cole Harbour where a cake featured both the Cup as well as a model of the old dented clothes dryer the real Kid used to shoot pucks against when he was developing his game as a real kid.

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Speaking of birthdays, Philly area native Mike Trout celebrated his 26th on Monday, and he was given a bizarre celebration in the Angels locker room when his teammates showered him with a concoction of just about every element in the periodic table and he sat there and enjoyed the celebration.

In this day and age where there are so many problems with hazing, you might suggest that the video sends the wrong message, but there is also the element of team bonding and when the star player can get that sort of treatment with smiles all around it’s hard not to feel pretty good about it.

Let’s all just hope that when Trout celebrates his 30th birthday … the shower is in the Phillies locker room.

Just as an aside, it’s often amazing how numbers line up like an eclipse. Such is the case with top-of-the-class baseball stars Trout and Bryce Harper. On Monday, Harper hit his 150th career home run when he was 24 years and 295 days old – which is exactly how old Trout was when he hit No. 150.

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The Little League World Series is off and running on national television, and despite some old-school outrage at little kids on such a platform, it remains intriguing to watch these kids play such a difficult game.

The early star has been Jayce Blalock from Georgia. In a Southeast Regional game, the TV announcers jokingly said it was suggested Blalock could hit the ball so far it would reach the trees, which are well beyond the outfield wall.

Seconds later, Blalock launched a grand slam into those same trees and the 2017 Little League World Series had its first star.

If you really want to know how difficult the sport is at any level, check out some of the games and what skills it takes to make even a routine play. You might also want to check out the umpires behind the plate in the early rounds and you will realize how difficult it is to call balls and strikes.

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There is no end to opportunities to advertise in pro sports, and we now have the retirement video with sponsorship, brought to you by Vince Wilfork. The legendary defensive tackle has decided to hang ‘em up after playing with the Patriots and Houston Texans, and he made a great goodbye with this video sponsored by a charcoal company.


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