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August 09, 2018

Final observations: Steelers 31, Eagles 14

The best thing you can say about Eagles vs. Steelers in the preseason is that it happened, and that it brings us one game closer to the regular season, when better players will participate in the games.

As it stands, a 31-14 loss to the Steelers was the outcome of that one. To the notes!

The Good

• Can we count a preseason game ending as part of the good? Asking for a friend.

• Uneven performance for rookie corner Avonte Maddox, who was picked on a little bit as his responsibility picked up in the second half. But for a player in his position getting a first taste of the NFL, his speed popped and he didn't show any glaring flaws in his game.

Maddox almost came up with a diving interception in the end zone late in the third quarter, and he played coverage that erred toward physical without approaching the line where it could have been a penalty. This was a good example of what we saw out of him for much of the second half.

All in all, a solid showing in his debut.

• Another rookie who looked solid in his first game was Warrington native Josh Adams, who took his first carry and burst through the line for about 15 solid yards. Always a good way to endear yourself to the locals.

He wasn't just a one-hit wonder. Adams is a big dude, so he's more than capable of bruising other teams up the middle, but he showed some nice agility and footwork along the sideline and good speed once he got his legs churning.

With Donnel Pumphrey missing the game and appearing to be a constant health risk, don't be shocked if Adams challenges for the final running back spot. I'm sure the Eagles would like a guy with more special teams versatility, but he will definitely get a chance to prove his worth throughout the preseason.

• Fletcher Cox and Chris Long gave a combined interview to Dave Spadaro during the fourth quarter, and I say combined charitably because Long was just sort of hanging out. As things were wrapping up, Cox seemed to be lining up something goofy, and then he just deadpanned to the camera:

"Got to love Long Cox, right?"

Best moment of the night by a decent margin, in this man's opinion.

• Not a lot of strong opinions to be had on Joe Callahan. Made some good throws, made some bad throws, ran around and escaped some would-be tacklers, is not going to matter much at all in a few weeks.

But since it's preseason, he deserves the "good" label for putting things together on at least one second-half drive. It came with the game out of reach and the Steelers playing soft coverage, but still!

The Bad

• Look, maybe one day Jordan Maliata will be able to turn his size and athleticism into something resembling competent football play. That day was not going to be Thursday's preseason game.

Starts do not get rougher than Maliata's against the Steelers, as he got toasted on his first pass protection play and gave up a sack that ended in a Joe Callahan fumble and change of possession. He'd previously admitted earlier in camp that he had a, "Welcome to the NFL!" moment, but it feels like this may have been the real one.

Silver lining: according to The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia, Maliata's more established teammates at the tackle position sought him out immediately after the play, making sure it didn't kill his confidence.

That's the sort of togetherness that powered last year's run, and it ain't going anywhere. To Maliata's credit, he came off that bad series and held up well on the next one, so at the very least he's mentally capable of shaking off tough sequences.

• Issac Seumalo — not the best snapper in the world. Perhaps a bit of a problem for a potential backup at center, as he sailed another one over the head of Callahan in the third quarter. If you ask the people on the ground every day, not exactly a shocker.

Maybe get that cleaned up, my guy.

• Boy, did it feel like the Eagles lost every jump ball on Thursday night. It doesn't ultimately mean anything, but it has to be discouraging for the secondary as a whole to be involved in a bunch of 50/50 plays on the ball and lose the majority of them.

• Just when I was writing a blurb about whether it was right to be at all concerned about the loss of Donnie Jones, Cameron Johnston uncorked an 81-yard punt that would have pinned Pittsburgh deep in their own territory. So part of this bad goes to me for having that thought during a preseason game — these takes get rusty too, y'all.

So let's just pretend I exclusively wrote and thought about the helmet penalty that wiped out that beauty of a punt and move on.

The Ugly

• The Eagles got blown out in their first game post Super Bowl win. IS COMPLACENCY SETTING IN AMONG THE CHAMPS? MY COLUMN:

(I'm only kidding y'all, don't screenshot this and save for later.)

• It's preseason football y'all, it's almost all ugly. Please bring me the starters in extended action ASAP.

Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleNeubeck

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