More Sports:

August 12, 2023

Five things to watch in the Eagles-Ravens preseason game

From the development of the young Georgia players to the punter battle, here are five things to watch in the Eagles' preseason opener.

Eagles NFL
8.6.23_EaglesPractice_Nakobe-Dean-0684.jpg Colleen Claggett/For PhillyVoice

Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean

The Philadelphia Eagles will play their first preseason game Saturday night in Baltimore against the Ravens, who have won 23 straight preseason games, with their last loss dating back to 2015. Nick Sirianni declined to say whether the starters would play, because 🤷‍♂️. Here are our five things to watch.

1) Nolan Smith and Jalen Carter: The Eagles' two first-round rookies have both flashed in practices (Smith more so than Carter, in my opinion), but we will get our first look at them going full throttle. Guys like Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, and Fletcher Cox aren't likely to play much (if at all), which should give Smith and Carter a decent number of snaps.

Smith's athleticism, hustle, and physical play have been obvious through the first couple weeks of camp, while Carter has occasionally shown an impressive blend of quickness and power.

2) Nakobe Dean: Dean has missed a significant chunk of time in camp, and has been quiet when he has practiced. It should be noted that linebacker play can be tricky to evaluate in practice because there is no tackling. Still, I'm sure the Eagles would love to see something from their top linebacker in the preseason games to put their minds at ease.

Beyond Dean, the other linebackers — Nicholas Morrow, Christian Elliss, Myles Jack, and Zach Cunningham — are all jockeying for roster spots and playing time.

3) Terrell Edmunds, K'Von Wallace, and Sydney Brown: Reed Blankenship has pretty much locked down a starting job, but the other starting safety spot is very much up for grabs. Brown is easily the most intriguing of the Eagles' three other safeties, as he has displayed his speed and closing ability in practice. He just hasn't been allowed to finish. I'm curious to see him hit someone.

4) The depth receivers: The Eagles have five locks to make the roster at wide receiver.

  1. A.J. Brown
  2. DeVonta Smith
  3. Quez Watkins
  4. Olamide Zaccheaus
  5. Britain Covey

Watkins will very likely be the starting slot, but he is also the top backup on the outside. Zaccheaus and Covey are slot receivers only, which means that the Eagles' depth on the outside is thin. There's opportunity for someone to seize the moment. Undrafted rookie Joseph Ngata has made a ton of catches so far in practice, but he'll still have to make plays in the preseason games to make the roster. Otherwise, it will be interesting to see if guys like Devon Allen (recently activated from the NFI list) or undrafted rookie Jadon Haselwood can make a case.

5) The punters: Arryn Siposs and Ty Zentner are battling for the Eagles' punting job, but neither have been consistent. Siposs has punted well in the summer in the past, but has faltered each of the last two years in the playoffs. He has out-punted Zentner so far in practices, but maybe Zentner can make a strong impression in a game? That's probably his best hope of unseating Siposs.

Follow Jimmy & PhillyVoice on Twitter or whatever it's called now: @JimmyKempski | thePhillyVoice

And on Threads: @JimmyKempski

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports

Add Jimmy's RSS feed to your feed reader