I know it’s the preseason, but you have to be excited. If you’re not, there’s something wrong with you. Football is back, and we get our first chance to see all of the new Eagles take the field.
It’s going to be exciting to see all the players on the field, but here are five players I’ll be paying extra attention to during the game.
1. Casey Matthews
I was pretty excited when the Eagles drafted Casey Matthews. He was a player I wanted to see end up in Philadelphia, and I thought it was a great pick in the fourth round.
What I didn’t see coming was Matthews having a legitimate opportunity to start for the Eagles out of the gate. If he did, I didn’t think it would be at the middle linebacker position.
Most people expected Jamar Chaney to be the starter in the middle with Stewart Bradley bouncing outside. Instead, Chaney has moved outside and Matthews has been taking first team reps in the middle since day one.
There have been high reviews about Matthews play and leadership thus far. However, live game situations are a different story, and I want to see him step up and show that he truly deserves to be the starter.
2. Nnamdi Asomugha
Who’s not going to be watching Asomugha when he steps on the field Thursday night? He’s the Eagles new prized possession, and a player that the city of Philadelphia has been begging for all offseason.
Personally, I know how good Asomugha is, but I can’t really say I’ve seen him play a whole lot. The Raiders don’t get a whole lot of TV attention, especially here on the east coast.
We’ve seen him in uniform at Training Camp, but we’re yet to see all that he can really do. We’ll get the opportunity to watch his brilliance on Thursday night.
3. The Right Side of the Offensive Line
This was the area of the offense that needed the most work during the offseason. We’ll see two new faces on that side of the center, and the expectations will be high.
For Danny Watkins and Ryan Harris, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to perform better than those playing in their positions last year. However, both are new to the Eagles and still have work to do and things to learn.
They’re also now responsible for a very highly paid quarterback’s blindside. The Eagles have gone out of their way to put all the pieces in place to make a serious run at a championship, but they need to protect their prized possession, Michael Vick.
Both of these guys have been highly regarded in the short camp period we’ve had thus far, but this will be the first time they line up together in a true game situation.
4. Vince Young
Vince Young may be regarded as a winner, but if Michael Vick were to go down with an injury, I don’t have a lot of confidence in Young leading the Eagles to any wins.
Young is new to the team, so we have to give him a little credit I suppose, but I’m not willing to give very much. He needs to understand that this backup role isn’t going to just be handed to him.
Thus far in camp, Young has done very little to impress. He doesn’t seem to grasp the offense very well, and his throws have looked absolutely horrible.
He may have been a high draft pick and had success in the past, but this is the present. If he truly wants to be the Eagles backup quarterback, he has a lot to improve.
The coaching staff knows this, and I expect him to enter the game fairly early in the first quarter. He needs the extra work.
5. Alex Henery
If you’ve been to Training Camp or read about it anywhere, you’ve probably heard people talk about how strong Henery’s leg is. The stories are true. This kid can really put a hurting on the ball.
He was the best kicker in college, and he’s got big shoes to fill. This is a whole new level of play, and I’d love to see Henery knock down a 50-yarder to ease both his and the fans’ nerves.
The Eagles drafted Henery with the intention that he’ll be here for a long and successful career. Thursday night’s game against the Ravens should be a small step in that direction.