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15 Eagles to watch in preseason opener vs. Ravens


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15 Eagles to watch in preseason opener vs. Ravens

The Eagles kick off their preseason on Saturday night in Baltimore. Here are 15 players to watch

By Dave Zangaro  Published 5 hours ago


The Eagles will kick off their preseason on Saturday night in Baltimore against the Ravens, who have won 23 straight meaningless games in August.

Don’t expect the Eagles to play their starters very long — if at all — in this game.

But there are still plenty of players fighting for rosters spots in these three preseason games. Here are 15 I’ll be watching closely on Saturday night:

QB Tanner McKee

The Eagles’ sixth-round quarterback has been having a pretty solid training camp. He’s been splitting third-team reps with incumbent third-stringer Ian Book but has a very good shot at taking that job from him. McKee (6-6, 231) certainly looks the part in the pocket. He’s not going to be much of a threat with his legs but he has a strong arm and we’ve seen him rifle some passes this summer into tight windows. But I have also seen him lock in on targets and telegraph throws. Very curious to see what it looks like when he’s running the offense.

RB Trey Sermon

If I put together a 53-man roster right now, Sermon wouldn’t be on it. The Eagles’ top four running backs appear to be D’Andre Swift, Kenny Gainwell, Rashaad Penny and Boston Scott. But Sermon is the other guy who has gotten first-team reps this summer and the Eagles kept the former 49ers’ third-round pick on their roster all of last season for a reason. This will be our first extended look at Sermon and I expect him to play an awful lot in this game.

WR Joseph Ngata

The big undrafted receiver from Clemson has been making plays all summer and is the top candidate to become the Camp Darling of 2023. Ngata (6-3, 217) dealt with some injuries at Clemson and never really hit his peak but he’s been impressive with the second and third teams all summer and even got a handful of first-team reps in the last practice. There seems to be a chance he could earn a roster spot. Also keep an eye on new WR Johnny King, who has impressed in his first three practices.

OL Tyler Steen

The Eagles entered training camp with a position battle at right guard but Cam Jurgens has looked really solid there and that battle is over. Steen hasn’t gotten any first team reps unless some of the older vets are off the field. But since the Eagles moved Steen to second-team left tackle, he’s looked at home. And if Steen plays well in the preseason, then he could enter his rookie season as the backup left tackle behind Jordan Mailata.

DT Jalen Carter

Duh. We want to watch the No. 9 overall pick. Carter has had some impressive flashes in training camp but hasn’t had the type of dominant summer some might have expected. There’s a learning curve going on. But there’s no questioning Carter’s athletic gifts and I’m excited to see if he can knife into the backfield a few times against the Ravens’ reserve linemen.

DT Moro Ojomo

The seventh-round pick out of Texas has really started to make some plays over the last week or so and is making a very strong push for a roster spot. He’s playing a few different positions on the line but is probably best suited as a 3-technique in this defense. The Eagles signed Kentavius Street in free agency, but Ojomo could win the last job at the position.

OLB Nolan Smith

The No. 30 overall pick out of Georgia has been an extremely fun player to watch  for the last 10 practices. He has shown an ability to play off-ball linebacker but I want to watch him on the edge against the Ravens. Lane Johnson called Smith a "mini Haason Reddick” this week. Smith has all the qualities that could lead to him becoming a fan favorite for a long time in Philly. And he seems eager to hit somebody.

OLB Kyron Johnson

The 2022 sixth-round pick at Kansas has played a bit of off-ball linebacker dating back to the spring but when the Eagles just let him rush the passer from the edge, Johnson has been consistently getting pressure on the quarterback. Sometimes, though, you wonder about the depth on a certain team so let’s see if Johnson similarly beats up on the Ravens’ backups. Remember, Patrick Johnson is dealing with an ankle injury so it could be an opening for Kyron Johnson to make a roster push.

LBs Myles Jack/Zach Cunningham

The Eagles signed Jack on Sunday before their open practice and he has practiced just three times with the Eagles so far. But Jack did get first-team reps on his first day and might have an edge over fellow newcomer Zach Cunningham. Jack was once a great athlete and maybe we’ll see if he still is on Saturday night. Cunningham has been relegated to second team. Still, he’s a veteran in the NFL who has played a lot of snaps and in this game will presumably be facing much younger and more inexperienced competition.

LB Christian Ellis

Don’t sleep on Elliss. The Eagles added Jack and Cunningham earlier this week but Elliss has looked the part this summer. He made a difference as a special teams player last year and has gotten plenty of looks as a first-team linebacker this spring and summer. If he plays well this preseason, it’s not crazy to think he could still end up as a starting linebacker.

LB Nakobe Dean

We don’t know if the starters will even play in this game, but I’d like to see Nakobe Dean on the field now that he’s off the injury report. The Eagles handed over the MIKE position and the green dot to Dean in the spring but he played just 34 snaps on defense last year. Maybe Dean will be a great player but it would be comforting for fans to see him make at least a couple plays in the preseason.

CB Josh Jobe

One of the biggest winners so far of this training camp has been Jobe. He began the summer working with the second-team defense and when James Bradberry missed some time with a groin injury, it was Jobe who got promoted to first-team. And he seems to break up a pass just about every day in coverage against some really good receivers. Jobe did enough as an undrafted rookie last year to make the team and now he appears to be the Eagles’ top backup outside corner.

S Sydney Brown

The young safety is really fun to watch running downhill and it looks like he just can’t wait to hit somebody. He’ll finally get that opportunity on Saturday night. Brown hasn’t yet gotten many first-team reps in practice but he can earn some next week with a strong performance in this preseason game. I still think the Eagles will give the third-round pick a legitimate chance to earn a starting role.

CB Kelee Ringo

The Eagles’ fourth-round pick out of Georgia has had an up-and-down training camp, but that’s probably to be expected for a fourth-round pick. Ringo (6-2, 207) is going to make the roster after the Eagles traded away a future three to draft him but let’s see what he can do in game action. He’s still a developmental player but Ringo has a very high ceiling because of his athleticism.

P Ty Zentner 

There’s an ongoing punter battle this summer between Arryn Siposs and Zentner, the UDFA out of Kansas State. Honestly, neither of these two punters has looked great. Zentner got off to a pretty rough start but has been slightly better over the last week or so. Can he prove himself this training camp? Can Siposs do enough to keep his job? Or will the Eagles be keeping an eye on punters around the NFL who might shake free? There’s a possibility their punter in 2023 might not yet be on the roster.


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