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August 15, 2019

4 players who impressed in Eagles preseason win vs. Jaguars

There is a lot to like from the Eagles' 24-10 win over the Jaguars in preseason Game 2. 

From the stout and reliable defense all night long to Jordan Mailata's pass blocking to Greg Ward's touchdown snatch to Boston Scott and Donnell Pumphrey breaking through, we could include a third of the team in this article. So we are limiting ourselves to players who came into the game with major storylines and expectations.

And so, here's a look at four players (or groups of players) who impressed us Thursday night.

Clayton Thorson, QB4, QB3, QB2

Forced into duty early after a (probably) concussed Cody Kessler exited the game in the first quarter, Thorson shook off the rust and nerves he showed in his 2-for-9 for seven yards and an interception debut a week ago.

Though not perfect, Thorson showed some chemistry with his receivers and a willingness to take chances down the field. He also showed intellect and tact when deciding to go deep — like his fourth down touchdown pass to Greg Ward.

The rookie stepped into the pocket and moved the chains over and over again allowing other offensive performers like Charles Johnson and Will Tye to make plays.

In all Thursday night, Thorson went 16-for-26 for 175 yards. The QB threw a fourth quarter interception when he forced a screen pass (it was tipped and not really his fault), but the bar from a week ago was pretty... low. Thorson made the first convincing case that Philly did not make a mistake drafting him in the fifth round. He may still earn a roster spot yet.

Miles Sanders, RB

On the first play from scrimmage the offensive line gave Eagles fans what they wanted, as the second round pick ran for 12 yards and a first down. A few series' later he burst for another first down, dragging defenders with him as he got the Birds out of a jam inside the shadow of their own goalpost.

Perhaps just as important as Sanders with the ball was a blitz pick up in the second quarter, giving Clayton Thorson enough time to connect with Greg Ward for the game's first touchdown. Props to both Thorson and Ward on the back end of this highlight play:

Sanders gave enough to the Eagles coaching staff to give them confidence that he'll be ready for the start of the regular season. Don't be surprised if he continues to play very limited reps in preseason games — or is held out until the season altogether. He had 31 yards on five carries (the Eagles ran for 128 in all).

Daeshon Hall, Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller, DEs

The aforementioned trio of Eagles pass rushers were outstanding and made the job of constructing the 53-man roster even more difficult for the front office. 

Another preseason game, another standout performance for training camp hero Hall. In the second quarter Thursday night the D-lineman tore down Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew forcing a fumble on the sack. Nate Gerry would get possession. Like he was last week, Hall was giving the Jags' QBs fits all night long beating his blocker on nearly every play and adding a second sack in the first half and another QB hit.

Sweat and Miller each also were effective against the pass — Miller had a sack, four total tackles and two QB hits — but the three linemen were also critical in keeping the Jags to just seven first half rushing yards.

The Eagles already have locks Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry blocking the young DE's. If the Eagles decide to keep five, one of the three will be out of a job. There is a chance they keep six and hold on to just four DTs. 

Malcolm Jenkins, Vinny Curry, first team defense

The veteran duo made a bevy of plays in limited time, getting the tune up each likely was looking for preparing for the regular season. Curry made routine quarterback pressures and Jenkins made tackle after tackle all over the field including one for a loss.

Big plays were also made by Rasul Douglas and Zach Brown. All of them were in the game just to stay fresh and get some work in, but their effort and impact are reasons to be quite optimistic about the defense as the season approaches.

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