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Eagles vs. Packers: Players to watch as Birds kick off preseason

August 8, 2017

The Philadelphia Eagles will open preseason play against the Green Bay Packers on the road. The kickoff will be Thursday from Lambeau Field at 8 p.m., televised on NBC 10.

The preseason games will give the coaching staff a chance to look at the players, which have been working on their skills over the last weeks. This contest will be the first good look at several players and positions.

On offense, the Eagles have put a lot of players around second-year quarterback Carson Wentz to bolster the team’s ability to move the ball down the field as well as score. It’s going to be interesting to see how wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith can make a difference in terms of stretching the field. Jeffery and Smith were big offseason acquisitions.

Speaking of wide receivers, Nelson Agholor should be a player to watch in the passing game. This is Agholor’s third season with the Eagles. In 2015, he was a first-round pick coming out of Southern Cal. A year ago, he had 36 catches for 365 yards and just two touchdowns. Wide receivers Marcus Johnson and Mack Hollins should get on the field as well. Johnson and Hollins are trying to find their way onto the Eagles receiving corps.

In the backfield, the Eagles inside running attack should be spearheaded by LeGarrette Blount, who runs with a lot of power. Blount’s ability to run between the tackles is certainly worth noting in this contest. That was an area of weakness for the Eagles last season.

On defense, rookie defensive end Derek Barnett will be worth watching in terms of his ability to rush the passer. Barnett, a first-round pick out of the University of Tennessee, had a spectacular college career. He had 33 career sacks, which happened to break Reggie White’s career record at Tennessee. Of course, White, a Hall of Famer, played for the Eagles. Barnett was also a pretty good player against the run. He had 198 total tackles in college.

In the secondary, there will be a number of players under the microscope at defensive back. This is an area where the Eagles have to get better. The battle for playing time as well as roster spots includes Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Ron Brooks, C.J. Smith, Aaron Grymes and Rasul Douglas.

The Eagles should have a good indication of what some of these players can do after this game. The Eagles second preseason game will be on Thursday, Aug. 17 against the Buffalo Bills at Lincoln Financial Field.