Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns: What to Watch For
Andy Reid has already announced that he’ll be resting some key starters, which will give us an extended look at the backups.
The Eagles won’t be revealing too much of their regular-season game plan in this contest, but at least we’ll get an insight as to how some key training camp battles are taking shape.
Starting Offensive Tackles
After ruling Todd Herremans out of Friday’s matchup, Andy Reid has essentially designated two players that began training camp as backups for starting duty.
Rookie Dennis Kelly will take over as the starting right tackle, while King Dunlap anchors the other side.
Kelly has no chances at supplanting Herremans as the starter—no matter how well he plays. But Dunlap has the opportunity to wrestle the starting gig away from Demetress Bell.
Dunlap’s two preseason performances haven’t been noteworthy—which is by no means a bad thing. Bell, on the other hand, still can’t get a grasp of Howard Mudd’s complex blocking scheme, and will likely enter Week 1 as a backup.
If Kelly and Dunlap can hold their own as fill-ins, the offensive line just might prove to be a stronger unit than we thought.
Nick Foles' Starting Debut
Nick Foles has been nothing short of spectacular during the exhibition season and actually leads the NFL with a 118.4 passer rating. So far, he’s done all his damage coming off the bench behind Michael Vick.
Friday is when all that changes.
Foles will be getting his first professional start and the opportunity to work with the first-team offensive line. Keep an eye on how he and center Jason Kelce work together on pre-snap reads and what kind of adjustments they can decide upon on the fly.
Chances are that Vick will be missing action some time during the regular season, and the Eagles will need to rely on their backups.
If Foles can replicate his strong performance as a starter, there’s really no reason for him not to enter the season as the No. 2.
Nickel Cornerback Battle
The nickel cornerback job was one of the most heated position battles heading into training camp.
Two preseason games later, and it remains just that.
Although Brandon Boykin is a lock to make the team, his competition, Joselio Hanson, is certainly not.
Hanson currently holds a slight edge over the rookie, but he has dropped off significantly over the past two years and was actually cut before Week 1 of 2011. His performance against Cleveland just might determine his future with the team.
Since Andy Reid will be resting his starters and the Browns are a run-first team, pay close attention to who gets onto the field on obvious passing situations.
Glamour positions will always dominate the headlines, but that doesn’t mean the punter battle should be overlooked.
As expected, Mat McBriar is the odds-on favorite to win the job as long as he continues to prove he’s fully recovered from surgery. However, Chas Henry isn’t making it easy for the team to cut him.
Last week, both kickers put on great displays of punting—with each downing the Patriots twice inside the 20.
Another preseason game should tell us whether Henry still has a fighter’s chance at sticking on the roster.