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3 things to watch for when Eagles face Packers

The Eagles kick off their first preseason game in Green Bay Thursday at 8 p.m.

It's been more than seven months since Eagles fans watched their team play a game — a meaningless Week 17 win against the Cowboys — and even longer since they held the kid of positivity, optimism and ethusiasm they currently hold as the Birds work toward 2017.

"They are committed," Eagles rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas said of Philly's fans after more than 36,000 showed up to watch the team practice Sunday. "They want to see us win, they want to see Philly do good. The fans they love us."

It seems as though the team has improved in nearly every area of need, including their wide receiving corps and even the secondary. On Thursday at 8 p.m. in Green Bay, the Eagles will suit up and play a full-contact footall game against the Packers. What will be worth watching for?

Welcome back Wentz

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Everyone is saying Carson Wentz is better than he was when 2016 concluded. His teammates are, his coaches are and the media is. But he has been wearing the red jersey for the last six months and hasn't faced a live defense running for his head in a long time. Will he have any rust? Will he prove to be just as dynamic as he's been during training camp?

"He's done extremely well," wide receiver Jordan Matthews said of Wentz. "He's been focused from the very beginning, I think he's been sharp since the first couple days out here. It's a testament to his hard work and focus. I think he knows it's only the beginning. He's not going to get complacent, he wants to be able to call the whole game, make checks and be that field general out there. We all trust him and know he can do it."

Wentz and the first team offense will start Thursday but head coach Doug Pederson was non-commital as to how much he'd actually play.

Rookies battle

Rookie players have the opportunity to make a huge impact on the Eagles this season if they can find their way onto the field.

Running back Donnell Pumphrey is listed as the fourth running back on the Eagles' unofficial depth chart heading into the first preseason game. Is fourth good enough to make this roster? Douglas is on the second team as an outside cornerack but solid play this preseason can find him as a starter come Septemer. Wide receivers Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson will be fighting to make the roster against a stacked receiving group.

First rounder Derek Barnett will get on the field with the second team as well, against the Packers' second team offensive line. Expect him to rake in a few sacks and hurries in exteded playing time.

"I am looking forward to going up against some guys I haven't gone against," Barnett said. "Jason Peters is really good but it's good going up against him because he's getting me ready for the season."

Staying healthy

Aside from rookie Sidney Jones' continued recovery from a torn Achilles, an injust to tackle Beau Allen and cautionary minor aches and bruses for Nick Foles, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Brooks the Eagles are remarkaly healthy for an NFL team at this stage of camp. Knock on wood.

If Philly can complete it's first preseason game without lengthening their injuiry report, this will be a victory for the team, win or lose on the scoreboard at Lambeau Field.