The No. 1 goal of a preseason game is to have every single member of the team leave as healthy as when he entered, and with the news that Michael Vick’s minor injury is nothing serious and Jeremy Maclin has just a minor hamstring tweak, that goal was accomplished. And the last-second game-winning 51-yard field goal by Alex Henery that propelled the Eagles to a 24-23 win over the Steelers was a terrific win to start the 2012 season.
The Philadelphia Eagles have their wide receivers set in DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant, but after that, the positions are up for grabs.
It seemed like Riley Cooper had the edge for the fourth spot until he fractured his collarbone, and now Marvin McNutt may be in the lead for that role. Chad Hall could also be in the mix considering he was a member of the 2011 Eagles all season, but Damaris Johnson made a strong case for himself with his performance so far this training camp and tonight.
Johnson looked like a pro when he touched the ball, grabbing four catches for 85 yards and a long 70-yard touchdown from Nick Foles. He also had an electrifying punt return that was called back because of a penalty.
I really think the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive line could get 60 sacks this season, and the most impressive aspect of it might be their depth.
Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Mike Patterson, and Cullen Jenkins are a phenomenal front four, but the depth behind them is unbelievable. Phillip Hunt had two sacks tonight. Darryl Tapp and Cedric Thornton, each of whom is fighting for a spot on the official 53-man roster, had a sack. Former first-round bust Brandon Graham had a sack and two tackles for a loss. Xavier Brown, who was just signed recently, had a sack in limited action.
It has to be an incredible feeling for Jim Washburn to know that he can just rotate these guys in all season, keep the starters fresh and still get excellent production from the backups.
Andy Reid spent a second-round pick on safety Jaiquawn Jarrett last year and Jarrett rewarded Reid with a terrible season as the backup free safety.
Jarrett has looked even worse in the preseason opener this season, failing to wrap up on numerous tackle attempts and then running into his own teammate (video) in one of the more embarrassing plays I’ve seen in quite some time.
Michael Vick played just a few snaps tonight until he left early with what appeared to be a hand injury (fortunately, he’s fine).
The third and fourth stringers ended the game strong, combining to go 18-of-30 for 250 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Nick Foles looked poised, confident and showed off his strong arm, while Trent Edwards of all people led a great drive to win it, even converting on a key fourth down.
In between, Mike Kafka looked brutal. I’ve been saying for quite some time that Kafka isn’t good enough to be the backup quarterback of a Super Bowl contending team, especially one in which the starting quarterback gets injured so frequently. This was just one game and it’s way too early to call Kafka a bust, but his stats were brutal (just 5-of-9 for 31 yards and an awful near pick-six), and Foles and even Edwards just outplayed him.
Despite setting a franchise record for the highest field-goal percentage in a single season, the knock on Alex Henery was that he couldn’t make a clutch kick.
Henery’s previous career long was from 47 yards out, but he nailed a 51-yarder in a clutch situation tonight, a field goal that came with the Philadelphia Eagles down by two. It’s an entirely different situation when it’s a regular-season game, but still it was very reassuring to see Henery make a great kick with such ease.