Game Preview – PS #2, at Pittsburgh

Posted: August 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 26 Comments »

The starters will play as much as a full half in tonight’s game. Last week was about knocking off some rust and getting into the flow of things. The level of expectations goes higher tonight. We want to see the starters function well as a unit, as well as showing individual talent.

The second stringers will play the 3rd quarter. Everyone else will get mixed in as best as possible in the 4th quarter. The backups will have limited reps. That puts pressure on them to play well when they are in the game. Some guys won’t play at all and that’s generally not a good sign for them.

Let’s now talk about individuals of interest:


RT King Dunlap — He jumps to the head of the class. Ryan Harris and Winston Justice aren’t able to go. Dunlap gets a great opportunity. He was up and down in the opener. Now he’s starting at RT. The pressure is on him to protect Mike Vick’s blindside. Dunlap has the ability. He just needs to play better. He wasn’t awful last week. He had some good moments. A good showing in this game would go a long way to securing a roster spot.  The biggest thing for him is to not give as much ground in pass protection.  Engage the rusher quickly and then sustain the block.

RG Danny Watkins — The rookie only played about half a quarter last week. He looked like a rookie. Tonight he’ll have a better idea of what he’s doing. I’m looking for Watkins to play with more confidence and awareness. Last week he seemed to be a bit on his heels, mentally and physically. That’s okay for a rookie seeing his first action.

WR/RS Johnnie Lee Higgins — I loved the Eagles addition of Johnnie Lee, but I need him to step it up this week. It would help if he got some returnable kicks. Higgins needs to find a way to show what he can do. Real talented player who can be a good WR and RS. He’s got to catch the coaches attention tonight.

LT Austin Howard — I re-watched more of the Ravens game. He was really sloppy in that game. I’m not so sure that Austin is going to keep a roster spot. He’s got to have a much better showing. He gave up too much inside pressure last week. Howard isn’t in good shape, he’s still adjusting to the new scheme, and he just made sloppy mistakes. Can’t have that. He must move better laterally and use his hands to sustain blocks longer.

QB Vince Young — It was fun to see his athleticism and creative ability, but I’d prefer to see Vince show that he can simply run the offense and execute the passing game. He’d only had a handful of practices prior to the Ravens game. Vince should be much more comfortable now. I don’t expect to see a finished product, but I need to see him look more like a passing QB.

C Jason Kelce — I was pleased with his game last week. Jason made some mistakes, but also showed NFL ability. He’s athletic, tough, and tenacious. He’ll get another chance to deal with big NTs. Kelce got pushed around at times last week. The challenge for him is to show that he has improved in that area.  Leverage and footwork is critical for him.

RB Dion Lewis — Dion has the lead for the #3 RB job right now. The big test for him is pass blocking. He showed potential in that area last week. The Steelers will blitz so Dion will get more chances to show what he can do. He also ran well and had a nice gain on a screen vs Baltimore. Dion needs to do those things well again to fight off Eldra Buckley and Graig Cooper. It would be great if Dion could stand out on STs, as a cover guy or possibly RS.

G/C Mike McGlynn — I go back and forth on whether Mike should/can/might make the team. I was high on him coming out of Pitt. I think he can be a good RG in a running offense. He was solid as our starting C last year. There’s plenty to like. Mike looked lost at times last week. He’s not dumb, but just doesn’t look great in the new system. I’d like to keep him because of his ability to play G and C (plus I just like Mike), but he’s got to play better.

LG Evan Mathis — Played LG last week. You could see his skill, but he was a bit sloppy since he was new to the scheme and team. I hope he’s better this week. Just as important, I’m curious to see if he gets snaps at RT. Mathis played there some in the 4th quarter last week. I don’t think Mathis is ever a guy I’d want starting at RT, but it would be good to know if he could function there during a game emergency.

QB Mike Kafka — The 2nd year QB started slow last week before getting better in the 2nd half. Once he got into the flow of things, Kakfa made some quick reads and good throws. It would be good to see more of that. There shouldn’t be any rust left on his game. Mike needs to show us he’s still a QB on the rise.

WR Rod Harper — I was impressed with his showing last week and even liked it when re-checking the tape last night. Talented WR. Good route runner. Another good showing will help his cause to get a roster spot somewhere, a Practice Squad spot at the least.

WR Gerald Jones — I’ve liked him in camp and he looked good last week. Gerald needs another solid showing to push for a spot on the Practice Squad.


MLB Casey Matthews — He didn’t play many snaps last week. Casey showed good instincts and cover skills. The focus this week is on run defense and shedding blocks. I want to see him fire into blockers and deliver the blow with his hands. Casey then needs to shed the blocker and get to the ball. The Steelers physical running attack should be a good test for him.

SLB Jamar Chaney — I’m excited to see what he can do this year, but Chaney was quiet in the opener. I have faith that he’ll play well this year. I just want to see it come to fruition.

DE Juqua Parker — Old man JP only played a couple of snaps last week. I wasn’t sure how to read that. Were the coaches so confident in him and curious about others that they did it? Is Juqua fighting for a roster spot more than we know? I hope Juqua plays regular snaps tonight so we can get a feel for him in the new scheme.

DT Anthony Hargrove — DT is an odd position for us. I’m not completely sure who’s in and who’s out. Hargrove has a real good chance to make the team, but he’s better as a pass rusher than run defender. The Steelers will be an interesting test for him. How does Hargrove handle their big blockers and style of play?

DE Phillip Hunt — He really opened my eyes last week. Can he play like that again? How will he handle a team that is going to run a lot? Hunt can do himself a world of good if he’s able to be functional against the run and bring pressure off the edge. If so, the conversation changes from him making the team to getting him playing time.

S Kurt Coleman — I’m a Kurt Coleman fan, but he must show that he can play well against a physical running team. He had some issues in the loss to the Vikings last year and then was sloppy at times vs the run in the Wildcard loss. This is a good chance for Kurt to show what he can do and that he should stay the starter.

DT Antonio Dixon — Speaking of players trying to keep their starting job, Dixon is very much in that situation. He was the starter for most of last year, but injuries have hurt him this summer. Dixon didn’t shine last week. I’d like to see him be more disruptive this week. He can do that with penetration or by driving back the OL who tries to block him.

LB Keenan Clayton — Can he play the run? That’s the key to Clayton’s NFL future. The guy is a terrific athlete. He can cover. Good blitzer. Flies to the ball. Can he play the run? Clayton needs to aggressively take on blockers and show he can get off them. He needs to tackle RBs well. Clayton needs to look comfortable playing in traffic. If not, he’s just a Nickel LB.

S Jaiquawn Jarrett — Last week we got to see JJ stand out as a pass defender. He picked off a pass and looked good in coverage. This week I want to see him smack some people around. Get to the ball and tackle well. Be physical. Push Coleman for the starting FS job.

DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim — He played better in the opener than most people realize. Teo didn’t stand out like Tapp, Hunt, or Cole, but he had a solid game. Teo needs another good showing to make sure he stays in the hunt for a roster spot. I think he will make it, but DE is very competitive for us this year. Teo can’t let up.

LB Brian Rolle — The little ball of hate was fun to watch last week. He flew around the field and hit/tackled whatever he could. Nice start. Now he’s got to do that again, but be better against the run. Rolle isn’t big, but he can be tough and physical. This is the perfect chance to him to show that.

DT Derek Landri — He’s gone from afterthought to likely roster spot and hopefully a regular contributor. Landri is almost the second coming of Paul Grasmanis. He’s not huge, but is quick and relentless. He needs to show he can be disruptive again this week. Love watching him play.

DT Cedric Thornton — There is no question of his quickness or potential. Ced must show serious progress if he’s to really challenge for a roster spot. Last week he was getting knocked to the ground too much. He would fire off the ball and get off balance. He needs to keep the quickness, but bring his feet with him and play more under control.

DT Marlon Favorite — Buddha. Rub the belly and good things happen. I had no expectations of Marlon last week and he played well. Can he do that again? There are plenty of one-week flukes out there, especially in preseason games. I was most impressed by Favorite’s bull rushing. Give me more of that. And the belly rub celebration.

CB Trevard Lindley — Let’s hope he and the other backup CBs get some passes thrown their way. Lindley was solid in coverage, but you want to see him dealing with passes.

CB Curtis Marsh — Loved what he showed coverage wise last week, but the tackling has got to improve. Marsh was passive. Can’t have that. Attack the receiver with confidence and put him down.

CB Brandon Hughes — Pretty much the same as Lindley. Brandon covered well, but I want to see him tested.

LB Greg Lloyd — He heads to the city where his dad was a great player. Greg played the run well last week, but also showed athletic limitations. He needs to really shine vs the Steelers run game in order to help his push for a roster spot. I expect him to play well, but I’m just not sure he’s got the legs right now to effectively defend the pass.

LB Akeem Jordan — I’m sure Akeem is ready to mix it up. He was only on the field for a few snaps and didn’t get much action coming his way last week. He’s got the inside track for a roster spot, but needs to play well to keep that going.

S Jarrad Page — No single player did more to help himself than Page last week. He covered well. He hit hard. He was active and physical in the middle of the field. I was very impressed. Another game like that from Page and he’ll have the inside track to a spot. Heck, he’d be looking at playing time.


Alex Henery — He was 2 of 2 last week, but the long FG was just 35 yards. He was reportedly more up and down in practice this week. Henery needs to be tested by a longer FG (45 or so). It would be great if he kicked with confidence and showed good accuracy.

Chas Henry — He had a couple of nice punts last week. We need him to be more consistent. Good-shank-good isn’t good enough for the NFL. Accuracy and ball control are big factors for Chas. Are the punts going where the coverage teams are? Are the punts rolling forward or backward after hitting? Punters these days can spin the ball based on situation.

RS — We need someone to get a chance to return a punt or KO. Can’t judge that which doesn’t happen.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  All players must stay healthy.  Direct order from Jeff Lurie.  And any of the objects in my home that I might break should someone get hurt.

26 Comments on “Game Preview – PS #2, at Pittsburgh”

  1. 1 coldtaxi said at 1:19 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    Re: Higgins and the return units, I’d like to see them take the approach that the Jets did for their first game. On kickoffs, return anything you can get your hands on, no matter how deep you are in the endzone. Full-speed reps against another team are better special teams practice than anything you can ever do by yourself. Yeah, it might lead to some awful field position from time to time, but a) it’s the preseason, and b) that’ll give the offense some live backed-up situational practice. 🙂

  2. 2 Stephen said at 1:23 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    You forgot the most important thing we want to see Tommy: no major injuries! The one thing that will absolutely kill this thing before it even gets started is if Vick breaks a leg or something.

  3. 3 penn7980 said at 2:50 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    Since they moved the kick-off line up, most KO went un-returned. Do we still need a RS for KO, or a RB like Lewis or the 4th/5th WR could be the guy back there to down the ball or occasionally bring it out if there is opening?

    LB is one area that this team is relatively weak. The FO has not been invested much in this area for years. The strengths at DL and DBs may be able to take some the pressure off. IMHO, the LB plays will determine how well our defense is this season.

    We shall release a number of good players from this roster. It is a shame to do that. But it should also mean that we keep some really good players on.

  4. 4 Tommy Lawlor said at 3:01 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    @ Stephen…

    I thought about that when I left the office for a couple of hours. Just updated the post.

    Staying healthy is always preseason priority number one.

  5. 5 nicolajNN said at 3:10 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    Closest to a roster spot Hargrove or Landri?

  6. 6 GermanEagle said at 3:40 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    Grasmanis II

  7. 7 Stephen said at 3:40 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    This is way off topic Tommy but I’ve always been curious, what exactly do you do as your daytime job? I figure you probably aren’t writing full time for a living… maybe now you are but I figure you haven’t been since you started doing this stuff.

  8. 8 Flyin' said at 3:42 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    @ penn

    I believe Tommy mentioned a couple weeks back about there will not be as many touchbacks in nov/dec because of weather conditions…wind and cold.

    There are a couple interesting quotes in an article about the Patriots regarding the new rule. They are working on different strategies for KO’s. Kick it into the endzone or kick it high to the goal line. The latter requires the team to be a good coverage unit.

  9. 9 eagles nut said at 4:04 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    Pretty sure Reid said yesterday that Dixon was out for this game.

  10. 10 Tommy Lawlor said at 4:05 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    @ Stephen…

    Nothing glamorous. Office job. Keeps me in front of a computer during the day. Still waiting for or some other big site or some team to give me a full time job writing about football.

  11. 11 Tommy Lawlor said at 4:07 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    @ eagles nut…

    That’s no excuse!!!

    Actually, hadn’t heard that. I was really hoping Dixon would thrive in the new system, but he’s been slowed by some nagging injuries. Get that man ready to go in September. Rest him all he needs it now.

  12. 12 Tommy Lawlor said at 4:08 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    @ nicolajNN…

    I like Landri better, but the team was higher on Hargrove early on. Might have changed since then. Landri has been showing up big in practice.

    I’d love to find a way to keep them both. Love having DTs that can get upfield and create havoc. That’s my style of defense.

  13. 13 Frank said at 4:30 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    I guess the question is, are you ready to give up on Laws if it means we can keep both Hargrove and Landri?

    My gut feeling is yes.

  14. 14 CVD said at 4:41 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    Keenan Clayton just looks faster than everyone on the field when he plays. I really hope he puts it together.

    DT is really tough to figure out right now. I would think we keep 4. Jenkins seems like the only without a doubt lock right now. You have Patterson/Dixon/Laws/Hargrove/Landry/Thornton. I don’t see how Thornton makes it, I just hope we can keep him on the PS. Laws hasn’t played. Dixon is banged up. Patterson has his issue, I know they said it was ok but you never know what the birds r thinking. I was excited about Laws but if he doesn’t play in PS.

    Tommy what do you think about Laws? Can he make this squad if he only plays in the last PS game? Also what is ur feeling on Patterson? U think the Eagles could worry about playing him and the seizures?

  15. 15 Cliff said at 5:07 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    The only thing I hate more than Cowboys fans, Giants fans, and Redskins fans are Steelers fans.

  16. 16 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:33 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    RE: Laws

    I never thought his spot was up for grabs, but my thinking has shifted. Trevor isn’t healthy. Other guys aren’t just filling in, they’re playing well.

    I’m hoping we can deal him to Carolina for a late round pick. Trevor can be a solid player. Terrible timing with the new scheme and new players.

  17. 17 Ryan said at 5:34 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    Parker, Dixon and Lloyd are not playing tonight, correct?

  18. 18 Alex K said at 5:34 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    As a fellow University of Montana alum, I’m rooting for Colt Anderson to win a backup safety job. Even with the reduced likelihood of kickoff returns, I think it would be a mistake to let go of our best kick coverage guy.

  19. 19 Name said at 6:57 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    Trevor Laws to Denver for a 4th round pick. They’re desperate for DTs and he fits their 4-3 scheme.

  20. 20 Iowa Eagle said at 6:59 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    If Laws can’t play by 4th preseason game… IR?

  21. 21 GermanEagle said at 7:26 PM on August 18th, 2011:


    damn you!!! You just got me excited in my trousers as I thought it was a done deal!

  22. 22 Thunderlips said at 7:26 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    With all this talent (much of it on one year contracts) it would behoove us to stash some guys on IR. DE, DT, and CB seem to be the most beneficial areas to look at.

  23. 23 GermanEagle said at 7:32 PM on August 18th, 2011:


    be careful what you wish for. Let’s hope the team, especially the starters, avoid any major injuries tonight.

    But I know what you were saying. 😉

  24. 24 Thunderlips said at 7:43 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    IR Candidates:

    OT Austin Howard
    OG McGlynn/Vandervelde
    DE Te’o
    DT Laws/Thornton
    CB Lindley/Hughes/Marsh

    We may also be able to get roster exemptions for Maclin/Patterson if they are unable to start the season

  25. 25 Thunderlips said at 7:46 PM on August 18th, 2011:


    I made sure to knock on wood the entire time I was typing. These IR placements are meant strictly in the Chris Gocong sense.

  26. 26 Adam said at 8:09 PM on August 18th, 2011:

    This “Dream Team” thing just needs to stop. That is all