The pro football season is upon us. More than 50,000 fans jammed into South Philly to watch the Eagles take the field for a practice last week. To put that in perspective, that’s more fans than a typical Oakland A’s home stand draws.
Before the season opens with a game in New England on Sept. 10, fans have three more opportunities to see the Eagles live and in person. On Aug. 12, this Saturday, the team opens the preseason a short trip down I-95 in Baltimore. Then there’s a quick turnaround for an Aug. 17 home date with Cleveland, then closing out the preseason a week later with Indianapolis and former Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen as the new Colts’ head coach.
After that, it’s a bit over two weeks until the team takes on the Patriots.
Yes, we’re that close to Eagles football.
Until then, don’t expect to see most of your favorite players in actual action. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni has fully embraced the new age roster-management style that values rest and proper rationing of playing time, especially for stars and veterans.
Here’s what you won’t see. Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. The Eagles already have a good idea how these guys will perform. Jalen Hurts and his brand-new contract won’t see the time of day until September. Big-time starters like A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert won’t hit the field, either. You won’t see Darius Slay or James Bradberry on the field. Likewise, Haason Reddick has nothing to prove in August.
You might see Landon Dickerson or Jordan Mailata but don’t blink or you’ll miss them. The same can probably be said for D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Perry. Even new backup quarterback Marcus Mariota doesn’t figure to get extended time under center during the preseason.
So what exactly is the point of preseason football? Well, Jeffrey Lurie isn’t exactly going to turn away two chances to fill the stadium down in South Philly twice this year. And there are still some roster battles that need to be sorted out.
Still, the bulk of the real evaluations for the Eagles’ regular season roster will be made during joint practices with the Browns and Colts. Except for a select few season ticket holders who get to watch those preseason practices, there’s not much chance to see the Eagles’ best players in action at full speed.
Still, there is some value left for those few preseason football fans who want to get their football fix.
Cam Jurgens, who appears to have won the empty guard spot next to Kelce and Dickerson, will be out there for a bit at guard and at center, too. He remains the first backup for Kelce in the middle.
The battle to earn the third and fourth wide receiver spots is wide open, too. Quez Watkins is the incumbent, but he still has a lot to prove. Oliamide Zaccheaus, Greg Ward, Joseph Ngata, Britain Covey and Deon Cain are all fighting for their NFL lives.
Defensively, all eyes will be on the Georgia corps. Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Kalee Ringo and Nolan Smith know how to win national championships. The end of this month will begin to show how they can bring another Super Bowl championship to Philadelphia.
Then there’s the safety competition. K’Von Wallace, Reed Blankenship, Sydney Brown, Terrell Edmunds and Justin Evans all have a path to opening-day starter for the team.
Finally, for the true Eagles diehards, there is one last battle that will deserve merit in the preseason. Arryn Siposs and Ty Zentner will be going foot for foot, kick for kick to settle the Eagles’ punting position.
And really, what could be better than that?