Philadelphia Eagles at Jacksonville Jaguars
When and Where: Thursday, Aug. 15, TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Fla., 7 p.m. EDT
The Philadelphia Eagles are very aware of Nick Foles’ capabilities — he did lead them to a Super Bowl victory, after all.
The quarterback is set to make his preseason debut Thursday night against his former team as the Jacksonville Jaguars try to bounce back from a woeful start to the exhibition schedule.
Eagles weighing backup QB options after Sudfeld injury
Philadelphia is also looking to bounce back from a loss in its exhibition opener, a 27-10 defeat to the Tennessee Titans last Thursday night. Like the Jaguars, the game was supposed to provide plenty of reps for the Eagles’ second-string quarterback — Nate Sudfield — while Carson Wentz sat out.
That did not go according to plan, however, as Sudfeld suffered a broken left wrist late in the first half. He had been playing well to that point, completing 10 of 18 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown and hooking up with Marken Michel on a 75-yard scoring play. The good news is that the injury is not season-ending, and Sudfeld was in good spirits over the weekend after undergoing surgery Friday.
Nate Sudfeld injures wrist on the play 😬 pic.twitter.com/zC0ekj0SFR
— Gayle Saunders (@EagleSessions) August 9, 2019
“Yeah, it felt a little weird,” Sudfeld told the team’s official website Saturday. “My hand was a little numb. I was moving my fingers and the break was right under my wristband. I stood there for a second and wiggled my fingers and my wristband was kind of crooked. So, I just ran off the field and pretty much knew. I am fortunate that I could get surgery early the next morning. I feel good that it’s back in place and I’m on the road to recovery.”
The injury moves Cody Kessler and Clayton Thorson up on the depth chart behind Wentz. Kessler has 12 career starts from his stints in Cleveland and Jacksonville while Thorson, the team’s fifth-round draft pick this year, completed 2 of 9 passes for seven yards in his first live-action.
As the Eagles survey the backup quarterback landscape, quarterbacks coach Press Taylor was non-committal about the possibility of bringing in Colin Kaepernick, who has not played since 2016 with the San Francisco 49ers as teams continue to weigh the costs and benefits of the media sideshow that comes with signing the 31-year-old, who settled a collusion grievance with the league in February along with Panthers cornerback Eric Reid.
“I don’t know if I can speak to Colin Kaepernick as a quarterback right now. I’m more focused on the guys we have in the building right now,” Taylor told WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. “… I couldn’t say I have evaluated his film recently and I’m just continuing to focus on the guys we have here.”
Kessler went just 3 of 6 in the preseason opener and now will have a chance to showcase his skills for a backup role.
“I understand how all of this works and I’m confident that I’m going to go out there and work within the offense and take what’s there,” Kessler said. “It’s a performance-based league. I’m here to perform. I’m excited to play and put some drives together and put some points on the board.”
With the expectation Wentz and the other first-teamers will see action in this game, one player to watch is Alshon Jeffery. Originally signed as a free agent in 2017, this is the first time 6-foot-3 wide receiver is healthily progressing through training camp with Philadelphia. He suffered a shoulder injury early that summer and missed last year’s camp following surgery to fix the injury. He still managed to total 65 catches for 843 yards in 13 games in 2018 as he looks for his first 1,000-yard season since 2014.
However, Wentz doesn’t seem to care if he sees action in the preseason or not.
“I feel good either way,” Wentz said on whether he plays in the preseason or not. “Whatever coach feels is best. I’ll be ready come Week 1 whether I get multiple reps in the preseason or none at all. Whatever coach decides, I’m extremely confident in this offense and myself and I think I like where we’re at.”
Wentz is coming off a spinal compression fracture in his back that ended his season last year and is 19 months removed from ACL and LCL surgery.
🚨#Eagles observations 🚨
– Alshon Jeffery has his day
– The Miles Sanders hype train keeps rolling
– Carson Wentz, up-and-down again
– Tracking throws for Wentz, Cody Kessler and Clayton Thorson
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) August 11, 2019
Any thoughts of experimenting with a two-tight end look with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert likely were scrapped after Goedert suffered a calf injury. Goedert, who had 33 receptions for 334 yards as a rookie last season, had three catches for 50 yards in last week’s loss.
Doug and Howie here to mediate.
After what was apparently a feisty practice, including a scuffle between rookie Andre Dillard and Derek Barnett, it appears that all is forgiven. pic.twitter.com/7lVBbtRzhA
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) August 12, 2019
On the defensive side, the game will mark the debut of defensive end Eli Harold, who was acquired from the Buffalo Bills on Friday for offensive tackle Ryan Bates. Harold had a career-high four sacks in 13 games with the Detroit Lions last year and signed a one-year deal with Buffalo in the offseason.
“I can only control what I can control, so I am here to give it everything I’ve got and play fast and be confident,” Harold said. “They made the trade for a reason. I’m going to show them what I can do. It feels like a good scheme for me and what they’re asking me to do.”
Nowhere to go but up for Jags after blowout loss
Foles, who signed a four-year, $88 million contract with the Jaguars in March when the Eagles made it clear Carson Wentz would be their long-term quarterback, was a spectator last Thursday night when Jacksonville was pole-axed 29-0 at Baltimore. He was not the only key player missing as coach Doug Marrone dressed only two of his expected Week 1 starters.
That plan may continue to a lesser extent in this contest, but Marrone steadfastly defended his handling of the roster thus far.
″I’m doing everything I possibly can to make sure that our players are healthy and getting ready for the season, so it’s a day-by-day thing,″ he told the Jacksonville Union-Tribune. ″So that’s why practices are the way they are, and that’s why we’re playing the way we are. Is it something that we’d like to do, myself personally? Absolutely not. That’s not been my background.
“I said it after [the first preseason game]: I’ve changed, obviously, the philosophy of what I’ve had in the preseason, and I’ve had to do it. It was something that was kind of forced with the injuries and everything that happened.″
Marrone used the game to get an extensive look at rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, who is the favorite to be Foles’ backup. The sixth-round pick from Washington State completed 7-of-14 passes for 46 yards but also became a viral meme after absorbing this hit.
💥 POW!!!!!💥 pic.twitter.com/1ZoBAhBBYN
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 9, 2019
“We have to figure out who’s the No. 2 quarterback and just keep playing him because you’re going to lose a lot of time,” Marrone told the team’s official website Friday during the post-mortem. “It’s not like you have a lot of game time where it really counts, where it’s live and you’re hitting and things like that can happen.”
Marrone was pleased with the play of first-round pick and defensive tackle Josh Allen, who had a tackle for a two-yard loss on the first snap from scrimmage. The No. 7 overall pick arrived in Jacksonville with a lengthy pedigree as a pass rusher, but the coach noted he is adapting quickly to playing run defense.
Josh Allen is still in fact very good at football pic.twitter.com/WBEiZL0DSt
— KY Clips (@KY_Clips) August 9, 2019
“I was a little concerned,” Marrone said. “I know what he can do rushing the passer. It was more the run game, but he was really strong [Thursday]. He got in the backfield. Any defensive lineman coming out of college is playing different combinations of blocks. I thought he looked strong out there. He was running around. His pursuit was good.”
There was some bad news as No. 1 wide receiver Marquise Lee and starting left tackle Cam Robinson are all but certain to miss Jacksonville’s regular-season opener. Lee, who was sidelined all of last year with a torn ACL, and Robinson, who missed all but two games with the same injury, are currently on the PUP list.
Marrone on not playing many healthy players Thursday: “If we put guys in jeopardy and we don’t have anyone for the season, that to me is the ultimate thing that we’re trying to do. We’re trying to get guys to the season ready to go, so that’s why practices are the way they are and that’s why we’re playing the way we are. Is it something that we like to do, myself personally? Absolutely not. That’s not in my background. I’ve changed the philosophy of what I’ve had in the preseason and I’ve had to do it. It’s something that was kind of forced with the injuries and everything that happened. And I’m happy that we made all these changes now with what’s going on right now. Obviously, I don’t want the injuries, but I couldn’t have made a drastic change in the middle of it, like right now, with the amount of guys that we have that are out.”
Update: (8/14/19): Foles is not expected to play along with most of the first-team offense.
“I [thought] this is good for our players and I think that I will take a good look at it after the day and probably not play some of the players [on Thursday],” Marrone said to Jaguars media members Tuesday. “We will play [our starters] the third preseason game and the reason why, just so I’m clear on that, is because in the third preseason game, this is exactly what we do. We’re going to do the exact schedule that we do during the year.
“I try to be as transparent as I can without giving away secrets. That’s where we are. If the third preseason game comes and someone doesn’t play, it’s probably on the verge of just being cautious. I’d like to get all of the offensive linemen back before I put Nick [Foles] back there.”
The Eagles are:
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games vs. the Jaguars.
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games.
The Jaguars are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last five games.
- 3-10 ATS in their last 13 games vs. NFC East teams.