10 Questions – Eagles vs Colts

Did Cody Parkey gain a leg up on the kicking competition?

In a strange twist of events Caleb Sturgis was injured in pregame warmups last week.  He was hit on the head with a stray punt and ultimately suffered a concussion.  Parkey received all the reps and kicked quite well.  I prefer Parkey over Sturgis.  I feel he has a stronger leg and can be more consistent.  Parkey proved he has the stones to kick and kick under pressure.  Sturgis was cleared by the doctors so I fully expect him to kick tonight.  I expect this game to go along way in deciding the kicking battle.  This is the first turf/indoor game of the season so both guys will kick on a surface different from what they are used too.

What can we expect from Wendell Smallwood?

Last week I wrote up a nice piece on Smallwood.  I talked about how we were all excited to see him play and what he would bring to the table.  He ended up not playing and thus we still have no idea what the Eagles have in the 5th round pick.  My feelings have been well known on Smallwood.  I’m losing patience with this cat.  He’s clearly 4th on the depth chart and is out being out played by Kenjon Barner.  Not to mention Barner can make a difference on special teams as well.  I’m not convinced Smallwood is a lock to make this team.  What has he shown?  Will the Eagles keep 4 RBs?  This team lacks depth at other core positions like OL and LB.  Smallwood will play tonight (we hope).  He needs to make an impact.  I want to see how he hits the hole and his contributions in the passing game.  He will need to be stout in pass protection as well.

Can DGB open up the passing game?

After trading for DGB last week we got a small sample size of him vs the Steelers.  Pederson said he was supposed to some extended time with the ones this tonight.  Coaches and teammates have raved about his attitude and play during practice.  Hopefully we see some flashes tonight.  I don’t expect to see a breakout game by any means but I’m more interested in how and where he will be used.  I believe he ultimately will start with Agholor opposite an Matthews in the slot.  Other WR’s might not want to believe it but their jobs clearly on the line.  Between the combination of Huff, Randle and Givens 2 of 3 won’t be here come Sept. 11.  Which one of these guys will step up?  Maybe not as much as step up but not screw up, because a couple these guys already have.

Can Wizniewski take back the starting LG spot?

In another episode of as the OL turns the starting lineup as been reshuffled again.  Issac Seumalo has a strained a pec and will not play.  It’s a tough injury because he needs all the reps he can get.  Wiz got extended reps during the first game and really struggled.  It’s why Seumalo was bumped up.  I’m not crazy about a rookie 3rd rd pick starting along the OL but the best players need to play.  Wiz is veteran an needs to find the talent that followed him through the first part of his career.  A poor performance tonight and he won’t start let along be in trouble to make the team.  I’ll be watching the OL as a whole but with a focus on Wizniewski.

Are fans still worried about Doug Pederson?

I say this tongue in cheek only because Pederson has faired well during the first couple games.  There hasn’t been any outrageous time management gaffs.  I feel the play calling has been solid.  He’s mixed the run and the pass well.  I do believe their will be some ups and downs during the season but so far Pederson isn’t on my list of things to worry about.  Tonight will be a good test because this is the “dress rehearsal” for the regular season and the ones will get one extended look.

Is Mike Martin’s roster spot in danger?

Martin was signed during the offseason to provide depth behind Cox and Logan. However, the Michigan alum has missed a majority of the summer work with a knee injury. Beau Allen and Taylor Hart have taken the backup reps in Martin’s place leaving his roster spot in question. Jason La Canfora actually reported on Wednesday that Hart may be on the trade block. Hart is not likely to bring back much value, but he could be a better fit for a defense operating in a 3-4. Beau Allen appears to have adapted well to the 4-3 making his job relatively safe. Martin may very well be competing with undrafted rookie free agent, Destiny Vaeao, for the final backup tackle. Vaeao has drawn praise from the coaching staff specifically Doug Pederson concerning his play, and chances of snagging a roster spot. The rookie tackle looked much more comfortable last week against the Steelers, and made a few flash plays. Martin expressed his desire to play in Jim Schwartz’s defense as a primary reason to sign with the Eagles. However, Martin’s pedigree isn’t such that he can rely on it to make a roster. I don’t believe the Eagles will carry five tackles due to glaring needs at other positions.

Update: As I was writing this blog Mr. Martin was ruled out for the Colts game. The ice is getting thinner by the day my friend.

What will Stephen Tulloch’s role be?

The ACL tear for rookie Joe Walker finally forced the hand of Howie Roseman to sign veteran linebacker, Stephen Tulloch. Tulloch brings a familiarity of Jim Schwartz’s personality and scheme along with added depth to a questionable linebacker group. Speculation has surrounded the Tulloch signing in regards to Mychal Kendricks status on the team. Kendricks has missed both of the preseason games with his usual leg injury, but is expected to play this week in Indy. Tulloch is considered to be a two-down “thumper” at this stage of his career struggling to be effective in the passing game. I would leave Jordan Hicks in the middle to develop, and potentially become a leader for years to come on this defense. If and likely when Kendricks goes down I would feel more comfortable with Najee Goode filling in his absence. Goode has played well during the preseason, and could be an underrated piece for Jim Schwartz to work with. Jordan Hicks learned under veteran Demeco Ryans last season, and Tulloch is another strong voice who can benefit the development for Simba.

How will Jalen Mills play in his return to action?

The rookie defensive back from LSU will return this week against the Colts after missing the Steelers game due to a hamstring injury. Mills had been the talk of camp drawing recognition from his peers and coaches alike. His introduction to the NFL didn’t go as smoothly as some had thought it would. He was beaten on a few routes where he didn’t get his head turned around, and was called for a pass interference as well. I like the potential of Mills, but believe some people got carried away with expectations for how much he would contribute right away. The Eagles top three cornerback slots appear to be set at this point heading into the regular season barring injury. Mills is competing with fellow corner, Eric Rowe, for dime duties and he’ll almost certainly be featured on special teams too. Fellow rookie corner Aaron Grymes will miss this week with a shoulder injury.

How will the Eagles defense perform against the Colts first team offense?

The Colts have their issues along the offensive line, but quarterback Andrew Luck and the skilled position players will be a nice test for the Eagles first team defense. The defense has forced seven turnovers through two games, four interceptions served up by Landry Jones. Andrew Luck and company are expected to play at least the first half, if not longer. The strength of the Indy offense is the wide receiver group. TY Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Philip Dorsett provide the Colts with a dynamic trio of weapons for Indianapolis. The Eagles corners will have their hands full on Saturday night, but this will be a nice early season barometer for the secondary. Field goals instead of touchdowns is the motto to live by for the Jim Schwartz defense. Getting off the field on third downs was an issue for the defense last week as the Steelers strung together a couple of clock-eating drives. The defensive line will need to win up front for this defense to have success on Saturday, and the majority of the season.

Will the Eagles carry five defensive ends?

Steven Means has been a pleasant surprise this preseason, and is almost a lock at this point to make the roster. The emergence of Means has left the future of Marcus Smith in an Eagles uniform in jeopardy. Smith missed the Bucs game with a concussion, but returned against the Steelers actually providing effective snaps. The issue for Smith is the numbers game on the Eagles roster, and the trio of defensive ends who will receive a majority of the snaps when it really matters. The former first round pick has undoubtedly been a bust during his time with the Eagles, and it might just benefit both parties to cut ties. Doug Pederson has no ties to Smith which could make the decision easier to release him when the time comes. Bryan Braman has been playing defensive end, but I don’t believe he’ll factor into the rotation instead continue to excel on special teams.

Photo Credit: Philadelphia Eagles

Offense written by Ryan/Defense written by Brian

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