The Eagles and Ravens’ four-day adventure reaches a climax Saturday night at 7 p.m. when the two will face off at Lincoln Financial Field in the team’s Week 2 preseason game after three sessions of joint practices.
And while the contest is, of course, an exhibition, there is a lot at stake for the Eagles as they prepare to potentially, finally,exceed expectation under the Chip Kelly regime.
Here are a trio of reasons to make the primetime Saturday game a part of your weekend viewing experience.
By deciding to sit Sam Bradford during the Eagles first preseason game vs. the Colts last week, Kelly raised the stakes exponentially for the quarterback to make his debut, and to succeed in doing so.
Kelly took a big chance not only surrendering Nick Foles and a draft pick to get the highly-paid and oft-injured former Heisman winner, but he is also betting his team’s entire season on Bradford making a full recovery from ACL surgery last fall.
Bradford has done everything a healthy quarterback needs to do during practice and has shown off his accurate arm on several occasions. But as he said last week, you never know until you face a live defense, with full-contact and with pads on.
“I need to get back on the field and get those reps,” Bradford said.”It’s been a long time since I have taken live team reps.”
The 1’s vs. the 1’s
Historically, the No. 1 offensiveand defensive squads on NFL teams get more playing time in the second preseason game. And since DeMarco Murray didn’t play at all, and most of the first team played little more than two series against the Colts, it will be nice to see the Eagles top players on the field together.
The Ravens offer a tough matchup for the Eagles in a number of areas, and will be a good tune-up and measuring stick for the team going forward.
“I think any time you get a chance to compete against another team, when you have players like Steve Smith out there at receiver and Joe Flacco, who is one of the best in the league,” Chip Kelly said in advance of Baltimore coming to town.”You’ve got [Terrell] Suggs and [Elvis] Dumervil and that group on the outside linebackers and defensive line in terms of pass rush. So that will be some good matchups with our offensive line. I think the competition part of it is what we are real excited about.”
The Eagles have a lot of depth, but their deepest positions are the ones that are seeing the most heated position battles take place.
In the secondary, aside from Malcolm Jenkins and Byron Maxwell, no one’s role is really solidified. Eric Rowe, a rookie cornerback, looks poised to play in the nickel while Walter Thurmond and Nolan Carroll will likely be starters in some capacity. But the rest of the secondary is a battlefield, with a long list of talented young players fighting for spots.
The same can be said for the third quarterback position, a roster spot that will go to either Tim Tebow or Matt Barkley. Saturday’s preseason game will be a great opportunity for both to prove their worthiness of the role.