Eagles vs Patriots: New England's Biggest Winners & Losers from Preseason Week 2
While Bill Belichick decided to rest his key players with this Friday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in mind, Andy Reid decided to work his starters well into the second half, creating a great player-evaluation environment for Belichick and his coaching staff.
As is the case with all preseason games, there were plenty of ups and downs on both sides of the ball.
Let's take a closer look at New England's winners and losers from its preseason clash with the Eagles.
Winner: Defensive Tackle, Kyle Love
Kyle Love wasn't on the field for all that long, but when he was, boy was he a handful for Philadelphia's offensive line.
Even with big Vince Wilfork sidelined, Love got consistent pressure up the middle and helped collapse the pocket.
Love is a big boy (6'1'', 315 lbs) with some serious power. After an impressive 2011 campaign, the third-year defensive tackle looks primed to break out in 2012.
Loser: Right Tackle, Marcus Cannon
It was pretty ugly.
Marcus Cannon put together another pitiful performance at right tackle against the Eagles, giving up a ton of pressures and sacks.
Thank the football gods that starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is coming off the Physically Unable to Perform List (h/t Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston), because Cannon just isn't getting the job done.
Considering his glaring inability to block speedy edge rushers, perhaps the Patriots will consider giving Cannon a look at guard.
Winner: Kicker, Stephen Gostkowski
Kickers don’t get written about too often around these parts, but Gostkowski earned all 67 words of this slide with his performance tonight.
Making two long field goals, one from 51 yards and another from 55 yards, Gostkowski showed why he is considered one of the best kickers in all of football.
Always good to know that your kicker can split the uprights from 50+ yards away.
Loser: Left Tackle, Nate Solder
It wasn't as bad as his performance against the Saints, but second-year left tackle Nate Solder still struggled often against the Eagles.
Getting beat multiple times off the edge and even bull-rushed to the ground at one point, Solder still looks like a work in progress.
I hope Matt Light isn't too busy in his retirement to send a few pointers Solder's way.
Winner: Wide Receiver, Deion Branch
If tonight’s game was the be-all end-all of the competition for the third spot at wide receiver, Deion Branch would be the winner.
The 33-year-old proved that Tom Brady isn’t the only quarterback he has chemistry with, making multiple connections with Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett.
In what was an up-and-down performance by the offense, Branch was certainly a bright spot.
Loser: Wide Receiver, Donte' Stallworth
The Patriots hope that Donte' Stallworth can emerge as a deep-threat receiver for the offense.
However, Stallworth was unable to get any real separation from the Eagles defensive backs.
In his defense, though, it looked like the referees could have thrown a flag for defensive pass interference on a few of the veteran pass-catcher's deep routes.
Winner: Safety, Nate Ebner
Rookie safety and former Ohio State rugby star looked pretty good in live action against the Eagles, reeling in an interception to close off the second quarter.
Coined as just a "special teams ace" by many, the sixth-round draft selection out of Ohio State seems to be learning the ropes of NFL safety gracefully.
If he keeps it up, Ebner could rival fellow rookie and second-round draft choice Tavon Wilson as the team's top reserve safety behind starters Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory.