JACKSONVILLE – There was some drama – how could there not be when quarterback Cody Kessler went out of preseason game No. 2 seven snaps into the contest on Thursday night – but for the most part the Eagles went out and took care of business in a neat and tidy fashion with a convincing 27-10 win over Jacksonville and left the state of Florida with a winning feeling as a whole lot of good things happened in the victory.
Here are some observations from a game that the Eagles dominated …
1. Let’s start with the quarterbacks. Kessler completed just 1 of 4 passes in his brief stint, but he picked up a first down with a 14-yard scramble and had the offense moving before taking a blindside hit that left him, ultimately, in concussion protocol. In came rookie Clayton Thorson, who was worlds better than he was a week earlier. Thorson completed 16 of 26 passes for 175 yards and one unfortunate interception when his pass bounced off DeAndre Thompkins’ left hand and into the belly of a Jacksonville defender. Otherwise, Thorson looked composed as the game clearly slowed down for him. He was much more accurate with his throws and he played with a ton of confidence. Good showing as he led touchdown drives of 95 and 85 yards.
2. As for Kessler, the Eagles now wait to see how long before he’s able to practice as Training Camp resumes on Sunday. Baltimore comes to town for joint practices on Monday and Tuesday. At the moment, only Thorson and Carson Wentz are healthy at the position. Will the Eagles be forced to bring in another arm for a week of practice and perhaps even next Thursday’s preseason game against Baltimore?
3. In case you were wondering, wide receiver Greg Ward, a star quarterback at the University of Houston, would have been the emergency quarterback had Thorson not been able to complete the game.
4. The Eagles ran the football for 139 yards on 33 carries, great stuff. Jordan Howard had four carries and 14 yards. Miles Sanders ripped off 31 yards on five carries, including a 16-yard gain. Josh Adams ran hard and scored a touchdown. Donnel Pumphrey picked up 29 yards on five carries and had one great juke move for a nice gain. Boston Scott came in late and gained 43 yards on 7 carries, including a 20-yard pickup.
Wide receiver Mack Hollins caught only one pass for a 5-yard gain and he didn’t show up statistically on special teams, but he made an impact. First of all, it was great to see Hollins on the field after missing all of last season with a groin injury that needed surgery. And on special teams, he was a force as a gunner. With the fifth wide receiver spot open – and the Eagles certainly could keep a sixth receiver as well – Hollins is back in the thick of the competition. His ability to play special teams is a big plus.
6. Once again, defensive end Daeshon Hall was a major factor. He had two more quarterback sacks and a forced fumble. He has three sacks and two forced fumbles in two preseason games. As the Eagles look for pass-rushing depth, Hall is stating his case impressively.
7. Fourth-round draft pick Shareef Miller was around the ball as well, recording a sack, two tackles for loss, and four total tackles. He’s coming on. The Eagles felt confident in their young edge players and that confidence is being rewarded halfway through the preseason.
Most of the first-team defense started and pitched a shutout. Vinny Curry played the run exceptionally well off the edge, as did Brandon Graham.