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August 30, 2018

First half observations: Jets 3, Eagles 0

For all of you out there reading about the fourth preseason game between the Jets and Eagles, I respect your passion quite a bit while wondering whether all of us here are crazy. But since you're here, you might as well go through the highlights and the lowlights of an... interesting first half of football.

To the list we go!

The Good

• Cameron Johnston got a lot of practice punting the football. Good in-game reps for the young man.

On a serious note, he seems to have established himself quite nicely in the preseason, and shouldn't be at any risk to be cut for another punter that hits the free agent market following preseason. It's a position that can often be in flux until late in the game, but the Eagles appear to have their guy.

• Josh Adams didn't have a whole lot of help from the offensive line in the first half, but he did a reasonably nice job of making it work anyway. For a runner his size Adams has a surprising amount of shiftiness, and he used it to turn several plays that should have gone for losses into gains.

A lot of the various experts have opined that Adams is "too good" for the Eagles to hope he could survive a cut and join the practice squad, and while he didn't exactly flash big-play potential, he does look like a solid option behind the established trio ahead of him on the depth chart.

• I'll leave it to the more qualified experts like Mr. Kempski to determine whether it's a wise move to keep him on the roster, but major props to DeAndre Carter for continuing to make things happen when given the opportunity. Facing an uphill battle to make the roster, Carter has offered the Eagles a little bit of everything over the last two weeks of preseason.

The versatility Carter has flashed is important for a back of the roster player. Doug Pederson's squad has used him as a return man, a slot receiver, an outside guy, and even a gunner on special teams. To that end, Carter downed a Johnston punt inside the 10 early in the second quarter, doing his best to make sure the little things got done. And I don't know if the Jets were actually "scared" of Carter as a return man, but they actively punted the ball away from him all half.

If he doesn't make the team, it won't be because he lacked the drive to make it happen. (The drop he had in the second quarter might have something tto do with it, though.)

• Chandon Sullivan hasn't had the most time to shine during the preseason, but he came up with a nice interception by the Eagles' goal line late in the first half. It looked at first like he may have mistimed his jump, but he hung in the air just long enough to come down with a turnover.

Would not be surprised if Sullivan earns a spot on the practice squad.

• NBC showed a clip of Jordan Maliata playing his guitar and singing on the broadcast, and he's reasonably good at both. That's the sort of versatility you need from a backup lineman.

• Goal line stand! Alright!

The Bad

• File this under, "Maybe meaningless, but worth noting" but Nate Sudfeld not getting the start in the third preseason game will raise a few eyebrows. If the Eagles don't want their third-string quarterback out there and risk him getting hurt, what does that say about the health status of Carson Wentz?

The logical conclusion is this indicates Nick Foles will be the starter in Week One against Atlanta with Sudfeld backing him up, which would be an unsurprising and mildly disappointing outcome. Yes, Foles has shown he is capable of leading the team to the highest of highs, but he's still the clear No. 2 and the fanbase is itching to see Wentz get back out there.

On the flipside, there's nothing wrong with being conservative with your franchise QB coming off a major injury if that's what the Eagles are indeed doing. The Eagles watched a talented young quarterback in their own division, Robert Griffin III, see his career spiral down the tubes in part because he returned to play before he was ready to return from a major knee injury. With a long and hopefully prosperous career in front of Wentz, selling out to get him out there for Week One is not necessary.

• If you were at all excited to see what Christian Hackenberg had to offer across almost three quarters of football — I'm not really sure what you were thinking in the first place — it did not exactly get off to a flying start.

After taking a sack on his first play from scrimmage and eventually throwing a nice pass to set up a reasonable third down, Hackenberg interrupted Mike Mayock's praise with an interception. You have to at least string together two consecutive plays to keep fooling people into thinking you're an NFL player, my guy.

And just when I was going to give the guy some sympathy for the pair of drops his receivers made, Hackenberg sailed a throw for another interception, so I am officially done trying to find silver linings in his performance.  

The Ugly

• That half of football. Admittedly, it may have been better than Philadelphia's first half against Cleveland, but that's only because we had actual expectations for the group that lined up to face the Browns. This is about what you'd expect in a preseason finale.

Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleNeubeck

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