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Eagles vs. Browns Preview and Predictions
The Philadelphia Eagles are the defending Super Bowl champs, and obviously got off to a great start last season, but they have to be careful to get to the starting gate in one piece as regards the quarterback position. All signs right now are pointing to Carson Wentz being able to make the start, but he has only recently been cleared to practice, and not for contact, and won’t play in the pre-season. Coach Doug Pederson has to be very careful with Nick Foles, who got banged up a little against New England.
The Cleveland Browns are committed to Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, but at the same time, they have to get Baker Mayfield involved more with the actual offense they are going to use in the regular season, in the event his career as a starter has to begin earlier than expected. And in this "dress rehearsal" game, there might be an opportunity to give him the opportunity to open things up a little.
Last week the Eagles lost 37-20 in a Super Bowl "rematch" of sorts with the New England Patriots. The Browns lost 19-17 at home to the Buffalo Bills. Now, these squads will meet at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, in the only Thursday night game on the NFL pre-season schedule.
TV: FOX, 8 PM ET. LINE: Browns -4. O/U: 42
ABOUT THE EAGLES: The quarterback situation is starting to get somewhat intriguing. Nate Sudfeld, who got to play extended time in one game last season for the Eagles, went most of the way against the Patriots, and did well, completing 22 of 39 for 312 yards and three touchdowns. This was facilitated by a shoulder injury suffered by Foles, the Super Bowl MVP who lost the ball on a sack where New England scored a touchdown. Foles had quarterbacked the team for three series, during which time Philadelphia had only one first down. The injury, which was described as a shoulder strain, is not expected to keep him out of action very long. Wentz, who was lost for the 2017 season with a knee injury in a game against the Los Angeles Rams, is practicing with the team but it is still unknown as to whether he will be ready for the season opener. That is what makes Foles' status important, and why it was equally important to get Sudfeld a lot of snaps. But they'll have to keep him healthy too. One of the other QB's in camp is Joe Callahan, a graduate of Division III Wesley College, who played sparingly with the Green Bay Packers last season. The Eagles had 43 yards on 16 carries against the Pats and would probably like to be able to run the ball a little better in order to protect their quarterbacks. There were 51 passing attempts last week. The problem is that the Eagles have been dealing with some depth issues at running back because of injuries. Wide receiver Shelton Gibson is penciling himself in for a much more important role in the offense. He caught a 63-yard TD pass in the opener, had 90 yards in receptions against New England, and also added a 46-yard kickoff return. The secondary got a real workout last week from Tom Brady, who completed 19 of 26 passes with a pair of touchdowns.
ABOUT THE BROWNS: The development of Mayfield continues. Although his numbers haven't been off the charts (7-13 for 75 yards last week), the first overall draft pick has been impressive in terms of his ability to handle the offense. But he has not spent time with the first-team starters in an actual game situation, and that would seem to be useful if he is going to inherit the starting quarterback job at some point, which might happen if the Browns are pushed out of contention early. There is also a bit of a safety issue involved here as well. Remember that as it is, the Browns have to replace an all-time great left tackle in Joe Thomas, who retired. Now you have Mayfield playing with reserve offensive linemen. That's not the ideal situation. Shon Coleman, who was supposed to be Thomas' replacement, lost his job in camp, and then missed a block that got Mayfield sacked last Thursday. Austin Corbett, the second-round pick out of Nevada, has taken control at left guard and that could make Coleman expendable. Wide receiver Josh Gordon has returned to the team and is at practice, after getting some treatment for emotional issues and substance abuse. I know I want to see him in meetings and see what kind of shape he is in before I ever make a decision about trotting him out there," says head coach Hue Jackson. It looks as if the running game is in the midst of a significant upgrade. Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb had a combined 117 yards for two TD's on 20 carries against Buffalo, and neither of those players was with the team last season. Duke Johnson, who has an element of explosiveness about him, will likely be a third-down back.
1. Philadelphia's Donnel Pumphrey, who finished his career at San Diego State as the FBS career rushing record-holder, won't play in this game because of a leg injury.
2. E.J. Gaines, who played with the Buffalo Bills last season and signed as a free agent with Cleveland, has a knee sprain that could severely jeopardize his ability to be ready for the regular season opener. Gaines was a good "get" for the defense, as he was rated #13 by Pro Football Focus in an analytical ranking.
3. Eagles cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, who you have probably been hearing a lot about with regard to his position on the National Anthem, stayed in the tunnel while it was played last week, rather than hold up his fist in protest as he did the week before. He did wear a T-shirt during warmups that read, "You're Not Listening."
News Breaking News
Key Players to Watch
- LegQues Sun | questionable
Seals-Jones has missed the previous three games due to a right leg injury, and it is undetermined if he will return Sunday versus the Patriots.
- GroinQues Sun | questionable
Ward left the last game after aggravating a groin injury, and it is undermined if he will play Sunday versus the Cowboys.
- ShoulderQues Sun | questionable
Williams has missed the past three games due to a shoulder injury, and it is unclear if he will return Sunday against the Cowboys.
- KneeI-R | I-R
Natson is on the injured reserve list due to a torn ACL in his knee.
- KneeQues Sun | questionable
Phillips has sat out the last two games due to a knee injury, and it is unknown if he will draw back into the lineup against the Cowboys on Sunday.
- GroinProb Sun | probable
Hunt is dealing with a groin injury, but it is anticipated that he will take the field against the Cowboys on Sunday.
- AbdominalQues Sun | questionable
Veronon has been held out of the previous two games with an abdominal injury, and it is uncertain if he will return to the fold Sunday versus the Cowboys.
- ElbowQues Sun | questionable
Davis exited previous game due to an elbow injury, and it remains to be seen if he will take the field Sunday versus the Cowboys.
- ArmQues Sun | questionable
Slay was lifted from the previous game with an arm injury, and it is uncertain if he will suit up Sunday versus the 49ers.
- LegQues Sun | questionable
Peters was taken out of the previous game due to a left leg injury, and it is up in the air if he will line up against the 49ers on Sunday.
- Upper BodyOut indefinitely | I-R
Watkins has been ticked for the injured reserve list with an upper-body injury. He has been designated for return, and it is uncertain if he will come off the IR in time for Sunday's game against 49ers.
- ThumbOut indefinitely | I-R
Reagor has been sent to the injured reserve list with a torn UCL in his right thumb. It is up in the air when the team will designate him for return.
- ButtocksQues Sun | questionable
Sanders is bothered by a gluteus injury, and it is undetermined if he will be a participant in Sunday's battle with the 49ers.
- AnkleOut indefinitely | I-R
Goedert has wound up on the injured reserve list due to a left ankle fracture, and it is uncertain when he will be activated.
- HamstringDoub Sun | doubtful
Jackson exited the previous game with a minor hamstring strain, and he is not expected to dress for Sunday's matchup versus the 49ers.
- AnkleOut Sun | out
Maddox left the last game with an ankle injury, and he will not play Sunday against the 49ers.