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August 17, 2017

Eagles vs. Bills: 5 things to watch

Eagles NFL

Philadelphia Eagles training camp has (kinda sorta) concluded, and the Birds will host the Buffalo Bills in preseason game No. 2. Here are five things we'll be watching:

1) The New Guy

Ronald Darby was the focus of Eagles media in practices after the team acquired him from the Bills last Friday. In the limited action I saw of him this past week, it's fairly clear to me that Darby can play. Where he is most impressive is breaking on the football once he has diagnosed the receiver's route. His speed is obvious.

Doug Pederson indicated that Darby was likely to play, but it is to be determined how much. It wouldn't make any sense to hold him out, frankly. Darby himself has acknowledged that he doesn't know what he's doing yet in a new defense, so all the communication reps he can get with Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod will be beneficial.

2) Alshon

Pederson also said he was leaning toward Alshon Jeffery playing. His first appearance in a preseason game as an Eagle won't quite the same as Terrell Owens' back in 2004...

...but from the perspective of Carson Wentz, it will be good for him to test out his new big target on the outside against another team.

3) Can Carson Wentz continue to keep it rolling?

After a very strong training camp, and then a 4/4, 56 yard, 1 TD performance in the first preseason game, Wentz learned that Howie Roseman shipped off his good friend Jordan Matthews to Buffalo. Thereafter, Wentz had his worst week of practice this offseason. While that is more likely a coincidence, it does make you wonder a bit. Another strong preseason game performance by Wentz would help put any lingering effects of a popular teammate being traded away.

4) Nelson Agholor still has a lot to prove

After an improvement in training camp this year in which he made more plays but still had his share of drops, Nelson Agholor had one throw go his way in the first preseason game. That was on a two-point conversion attempt, that, surprise(!), he dropped.

If he can't make the plays he should make in the preseason, how can anyone believe he's going to make them in the games that matter? From the Eagles' perspective, it would be a sign of encouragement if Agholor could make a play tonight.

5) The back of the roster wide receivers

With Jordan Matthews gone, there is perhaps an open spot for a younger receiver to make the team. Marcus Johnson was the early standout at camp, while undrafted free agent Greg Ward and second year player Bryce Treggs have impressed. And then there's Shelton Gibson, who is undeserving of a roster spot if you were to base it solely on his training camp performance, but will get consideration because he was a fifth round pick.

There is legitimate and intriguing competition among those players. Unfortunately for all of them, it will mostly be Matt McGloin throwing them the ball.

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