The Philadelphia Eagles started off their 2012 campaign with a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Not the prettiest performance ever, but a win nonetheless. It was a game that was vital for both the team and head coach Andy Reid, who had buried his son only one day earlier.
Reid was ecstatic at the end, after Alex Henery booted a 51-yarder that essentially ended the game.
Coach was unbelievably happy (for good reason) especially for a preseason game. That said, there were more than a handful of things that went wrong for the birds, on both offense and defense.
Some players broke out, while some (Kafka) broke hands. Lets see who will be ready to play Monday August 20th when the birds take on the New England Patriots in Foxborough.
QB Nick Foles
We'll get the most obvious player (in my opinion) out of the way, Nick Foles, who had an electric game last week. I myself was originally born in Philadelphia, PA, but then moved out to Tucson, AZ, when I was 8 years old. I have been an Arizona Wildcat nut for years, so you can understand my excitement when the Eagles selected Nick Foles in the 3rd round.
Sure, I have my bias towards him; but he made a statement when he showed the Eagles' coaches and fans what he was capable of in his first NFL game. Foles went 6/10 for 144 yards and two beautiful 40+ yard touchdown heaves.
As if this wasn't enough of a reason to consider him for the backup position, Mike Kafka, the 3rd-year pro who was a shoe-in for the much coveted backup role, broke his left (non-throwing) hand. This opens the door for Foles to get a considerable amount of snaps against the Patriots next Monday, something Eagles coaches and fans alike are looking forward to.
QB Trent Edwards
Following the trend, another player to look for on Monday is quarterback Trent Edwards, who will be going in as the No. 3 man on the depth chart. Edwards never stood a chance of making this team, at least that was the notion going around when they signed Nick Foles and second-stringer Mike Kafka kept improving.
After an 'above-average' performance against Pittsburgh (12/20, 104 yards, 1 TD) he has popped up more in recent articles, and at training camp. Not to mention it was Edwards who led the drive to set up the game-winning field goal.
After a disappointing first game for Kafka, who threw one of the worst interceptions I have seen in recent memory (on a screen pass, nonetheless) , all of the sudden the quarterback chart is shaking up. While this doesn't mean the end of the world for Kafka, it gives Edwards more opportunity to play this Monday, and if he can continue to orchestrate great poise and protection of the ball, there's no reason he can't make the squad.
CB Brandon Boykin
Coming into camp, Boykin was looked at as the new slot corner for the Philadelphia Eagles. Veteran Joselio Hanson welcomed the competition, as he proved he was the man for the starting job. It's not cornerback I expect Boykin to excel at (not yet, at least) rather, kick return duties.
On his first touch in the NFL, Boykin took a kick return five yards deep in the end zone, for 45 yards. Quite a sight for sore eyes, considering it has been years since the Eagles returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Hopefully come Monday, fourth-rounder Boykin will be ready to reclaim the spotlight and take a step forward in his NFL career
OT King Dunlap
When Jason Peters went down with an Achilles injury that will likely cost him the 2012 season, the Eagle nation as a whole held their breath. Thankfully, they immediately signed Demetress Bell from Buffalo, a good left tackle and also the place where the Eagles originally acquired Peters from.
Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned for Bell against Pittsburgh last week. He was easily overpowered, letting linemen get to Vick every other play. Fear not; the Eagles brought back King Dunlap and are going to give him the opportunity to win the starting job.
He is by far the tallest left tackle in the league, standing at 6'9". In my eyes, this is the most important player to watch for. Plus, with a name like 'King', he should have the job locked up by the end of preseason.
WR Damaris Johnson
The Eagles are known league wide as the fastest team in the NFL, specifically the wide receivers. The only problem, both starting WRs (Jackson and Maclin) are under 6'1". As we saw last year, tall receivers are separating themselves from the rest of the league by simply jumping up and fighting for the ball (like Calvin Johnson).
The Eagles have been known in recent years to draft undersized receivers and turn them into play-making stars. Since the Eagles already have two small playmakers starting, it will be that much harder for Johnson (who ran a 4.5 40-yard dash, and stands at a mere 5'8") to make the team.
Though he had an electrifying first game starting in place of an injured Jeremy Maclin, catching four passes for 84 yards with a touchdown, he needs to truly separate himself from the rest of the team to make the roster. Look for Johnson to give it his all this Monday and possibly get in the end zone a couple more times.
WR Mardy Gilyard
I clearly remember watching re-runs of HBO's 'Hard Knocks' featuring the New York Jets about a month ago, which featured Mardy trying to make the roster. The hardest part of watching that show is when they cut players who have been working so hard to make the team.
When players get cut (usually 'no-namers') I pull out my holy Iphone and google the player's name to see if they were picked up by anybody (yes, I feel bad for them). So you can imagine how I felt when the google results said he (Gilyard) currently plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.
I watched him all throughout training camp, making play after play. I was excited to see him play Week 1, and boy did he show up. Unfortunately he didn't have the luck Damaris had, and had to wait until the third-stringers came out to get some reps in.
He may have only registered one reception for 44 yards (and a touchdown), but the ball he caught took some incredible talent. He had cornerback Curtis Brown literally on him like glue, but he still made the leaping catch and got pushed into the end zone. He, like every other receiver on the Eagles (it seems), is a mere 5'11" but he showed us his potential, and his ability to catch under pressure which is so important in the NFL.