The third preseason game is usually the last chance to get a (public) look at the first-team before a season begins, so Saturday night in Green Bay the Eagles top players will get their final tune up (assuming they all sit against the Jets on September 3).
Aaron Rodgers has a lot to prove with his top wide receiver, Jordy Nelson out for the year after last week’s torn ACL injury and can provide the Eagles revamped defense a real challenge.
Here are the three most interesting things to keep an eye on when things kick off at 8 p.m. (on NBC10).
A true test
Under the Chip Kelly regime, the Eagles have feasted on bad football teams. But they have struggled against the good ones. During last season’s 10-6 campaign, just twice did the Eagles prevail over teams considered to be real contenders — the Colts and the Cowboys (who they lost to two weeks later).
The Packers really dismantled the Eagles lackluster defense in 2014 during a bitter 53-20 Green Bay mauling in Week 11. With so many new faces on defense, the Birds can get a good gage of where they are against Rodgers and company, who led the NFL in scoring a season ago.
A plague of injuries to important players has swept through the NFL this preseason, and so far (knock on wood) the Eagles have been able to avoid catastrophe despite a roster with a host of one-time seriously injured players.
Kelly has gone out of his way to sit out players both in practice and in preseason games in order to preserve health and keep the work load for the regular season. And it’s worked so far — but has not been withoutclose calls. Last week Sam Bradford narrowly avoided another knee injury after a questionable hit from the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs. It will be important for the Eagles to be productive and safe with their top playmakersduring the Packers game.
As fantasy drafts commence across the country, football fans will be looking for the next big thing at wide receiver. And after an explosion from rookie pass-catchers last season, the talent exists for the same thing to happen again in 2015.
Nelson Agholor has been spectacular at times during the preseason but has also made some rookie mistakes. He should get plenty of reps against the Packers.
“He’s proven he can make a play, and that’s really critical for a receiver,” Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “We teach them to run these very specific routes and then we teach them that this is the way it should look, ideally. But at the end of the day, you get down field somehow and when the ball comes your way, you’ve got to catch it. He’s displayed an ability to do that, and that’s, I think, what will help him kind of start him on his way.”