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3 things to watch for when Eagles host Dolphins

In the first team's likely last appearance before the start of the regular season, here is what Eagles fans should keep an eye on when thing kick off Thursday at 7 p.m against the Dolphins.
Cason Wentz and the Eagles will be competing extra hard this preseason. (Credit/Charles Mostoller)

The Eagles host the Dolphins in what will essentially be the third joint scrimmage between the two franchises, after the teams practiced together on Monday and Tuesday to close up training camp in South Philly.

Typically the third preseason game of the summer is the last time starters play, and sees them playing past halftime makes this the most important tune up contest.

What should fans be watching for?

1. Why's the run gone?

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The Eagles have run for just 113 yards in their first two preseason games, the fourth worst in the NFL. Sure, the numbers literally count for nothing, but seeing their shiny new toy LeGarrette Blount — fresh off an NFL best 18 touchdowns last year and over 1,100 yards — collect just 17 yards on nine carries is not encouraging. Nor is the Eagles NFL-worst 2.5 yards per rush.

Still, the team is optimistic that the preseason is not reflective of their progress on the ground in practice.

"I think we have one of the better offensive lines in the NFL," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "We've got two outstanding tackles. We've got good players inside. I feel exceedingly good about our running game."

2. Getting on the same page

The story all week from training camp has centered on Alshon Jeffery — who has missed practice time with a new team due to a lingering shoulder issue — being a little out of sorts as far as becoming acclimated to the Eagles offense.

Carson Wentz and Jeffery appeared not to be on the same page last week against the Bills, leading many to believe that there are issues, including wide receivers coach Mike Groh. Their head coach Doug Pederson, however, does not.

"Alshon is doing fine," Pederson said earlier this week. "He's working. He's getting reps whether he's not in, he's getting reps off on the side. He's getting reps when he's in there. So he's right where he needs to be. Everybody makes mistakes. You know, it's that time of the year. We've got a lot of football in right now, and he's doing well."

3. Turning off turnovers

The Eagles have generated seven turnovers in their two preseason games, tied for the most of any team. But they've also turned it over seven times with four interceptions and three fumbles lost. Cleaning up the mistakes — especially costly ones like turnovers as well as penalties — is an exceptionally important priority as the first team offense plays for the last time before September 10.

"We need to start a little bit better," Pederson said. "You'd love to see points, obviously, and score maybe a couple of times. But we just need to clean up — we had too many penalties last week. The turnovers are — even though maybe not the first unit, but the execution, the turnovers, the penalties, we need to come out and play a clean football game.

 
 
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