Philadelphia Eagles' Five Most Positive Preseason Surprises so Far
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Finding a ten spot in the back pocket of a pair of pants you hadn’t worn in a while. Discovering an extra chicken nugget in your value meal. Realizing the hottie from high school actually did know you existed and is now friending you online.
Pleasant surprises, all. And for the Philadelphia Eagles, they’ve had the pleasure of having a few lately, as well.
Although the preseason can often translate to fool’s gold when the games start to count, for now we can at least appreciate the following as if we scored some unexpected cash to use on classy fast food date for that former Facebook babe.
When the Eagles decided not bring back Matt McBriar nor the injured Chas Henry to return as punter, Donnie Jones reprised McBriar’s role as the former Pro Bowl veteran to Brad Wing’s young upstart role, similar to Henry. Although one of the NCAA’s best at his position last season, it was widely assumed that the Aussie native would be roster filler.
But Wing indeed has a prayer now, with some very impressive placements inside the 20 and, as an added bonus, none of his four boots punts were even returned against the Panthers.
Plus, it’s always refreshing to see a punter with some athleticism, and a little flair, to boot (pun intended)…
One of the biggest offseason concerns on defense (other than the entire defense itself) was if the Eagles would have enough depth (and girth) on the defensive line to effectively transition to the 3-4.
Enter 3rd round draft pick Bennie Logan, who, at 6’2’’ and 310 pounds, has shown that he’s not only more than capable of plugging the holes up front, but also versatile enough to slide over to the end when necessary.
The numbers alone impress thus far: seven tackles (including one for a loss), one pass deflected, one quarterback hit, half a sack and a partridge in a pear tree.
Additionally, Logan seems to be carrying over his acclaimed leadership skills he possessed while a teammate of Wing’s at LSU, a feature sorely lacking on the squad last season.
It’s probably a moot point, as it’s hard to determine where Dennis Dixon can find a spot on the roster while looking up at a freshly named starter who possesses similar physical tools plus two highly-invested picks with a far greater upside.
Yet, two games into the preseason and the former Oregon Duck not only enjoys the distinct advantage of knowing Kelly’s system but thriving in it in his short time on the field, thus far completing over 60 percent in the air and averaging nearly six yards per carry on the ground.
If nothing else, Dixon may be playing himself into backup role elsewhere.
The first game nobody batted an eye. But after the second, Chris Polk's performance raised eyebrows.
The ability to make people miss tackles as well as effectively catch the ball out of the backfield figures to have Polk ahead of proven veteran Felix Jones on the depth chart as the third and perhaps final running back to make the squad, filling a similar role as Dion Lewis has in recent seasons past.
And with another solid outing, maybe, just maybe, he'll leapfrog incumbent but banged-up backup Bryce Brown, too.
He's returning both kicks and punts at an impressive clip. He’s catching balls thrown his way. He’s stretching the field.
Through it all, Damaris Johnson is continuing to progress after an uneven season full of great potential but maddening on-field decision-making. His increasing versatility, which includes the ability to run it out of the backfield in read-option or end-around plays, should only help to extend the opportunities he has to log some more time in games.