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August 22, 2019

4 players who impressed in Eagles preseason loss to the Ravens

We already took a look at the projected starters who got a tune up in Thursday night's 26-15 loss to the Ravens.

Which is why the list below will not include Corey Clement (25 rushing yards), and Rodney McLeod (three tackles, one for loss). Each returned from injury for the first time against the Ravens and gave a big boost of confidence to fans and Eagles staffers looking healthy and ready for the season.

The back ups and roster hopefuls played for majority of the game — so we'll take a look at four players who impressed us in Preseason Game No. 3.

Josh McCown, QB

A week ago, McCown, 40 years old, was coaching his 16-year-old kid, happy in his retirement after 18 seasons of pro football.

Thursday night, he all but clinched the back up quarterback position on a Super Bowl contending team.

After relieving Cody Kessler in the second quarter, McCown was off to a slow start, fumbling and getting sacked and going 0-for-3. He would finish on fire. McCown went 17-for his next-21 for 192 yards and two touchdowns. He commanded the huddle, calling audibles and changing protections at the line of scrimmage with less than a week of practice under his belt.

McCown inked a guaranteed contract to come play for Philadelphia and appears to be a reliable and pretty exciting option to back up Wentz, with Nate Sudfeld likely the No. 3 (after he returns from his broken wrist). 

J.J. Arcegia-Whiteside, WR

A 2019 draft pick, the Eagles are locked in on JJAW making the roster as the fourth receiver — despite him facing some extremely stiff competition from some undrafted free agents. He hasn't done much in his short stints on the field during the team's two preseason games, but the rookie proved to be sort of a failsafe wideout for Josh McCown, who looked his way when in trouble a few times.

His best catch, undoubtedly, came on a beautifully run route to the corner of the end zone where he made a basket catch at full speed to get the Eagles on the board for the first time:

He followed that up with a catch and run with lots of daylight (after another flash of his talented hands) for 35 yards to lead to an eventual touchdown pass to Alex Ellis.

Earlier, Arcegia-Whiteside ran an in-route for a first down over the middle against two veteran defensive backs in the first quarter, courtesy of Cody Kessler. He was the most targeted Eagle of the game and had 104 yards on eight catches and nine targets.

Greg Ward, WR

With JJAW comfortable in the No. 4 spot, Greg Ward is challenging Mack Hollins for the fifth receiver spot (or if the front office decides to keep a sixth receiver).

In Thursday night's game, Ward made fewer catches than Arcegia-Whiteside but they were of the more impressive variety. He had 45 yards on five receptions and drew a pair of penalties too.

In fact, after his second grab across the middle at full speed, Eagles twitter brought the love:

Ward has an uphill battle, and has spent extensive time on the Eagles practice squad since coming out of Houston in 2016. But he may have finally impressed enough in training camp — and put enough on tape to make waiving him (to get him to the practice squad) — a risky notion.

T.J. Edwards, LB

Edwards was expected to be drafted, and he wasn't.

He was expected to be the best undrafted rookie on the Eagles roster this training camp. That is yet to be seen.

But with the linebacking corps a bit thin, there is a chance Edwards makes the 53-man roster — or the practice squad. He showed up Thursday, tallying seven tackles (one of them for a loss) as he made the most of his time on the field. 

Having shown less than optimal performance does have a benefit for the Eagles: they should be able to sneak him onto their practice squad and give him another year to develop in their system.

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