The Eagles are up in Foxboro Thursday night to take on the Patriots in the second game of their preseason.
Somehow, there won't be as much at stake as the last time these two teams met.
But that doesn't mean there's nothing at stake. This is a great opportunity for a lot of young players to prove themselves before the starters get extended time in the third preseason game. We did a list like this before Preseason Game 1, so we excluded some players to get new names in this one:
Let's start with the QB. Foles missed the first preseason game with spasms in his trap/neck area. But the Super Bowl MVP is expected to play at least a little bit in a preseason rematch of Super Bowl LII. I don't expect to see a ton of Foles in this game, but I'm curious to see if he looks rusty or if things click for him. Remember, when he took over for Carson Wentz last year, it took him a few games to find a rhythm. Preseason games might be more important for him than other QBs.
Jones also missed the preseason opener with a hip injury, so this is our first chance to see him in game action. For a big back like Jones, game action just seems much more important than anything he could show during training camp practices. With that fourth RB spot up for grabs and with Corey Clement and Donnel Pumphrey on the shelf, there should be plenty of opportunity for Jones.
The same type of opportunity for Smallwood, who is quickly running out of chances with the Eagles. He looked OK in the preseason opener, but he's entering his third season with the Eagles and every time it looks like he's going to have a role, he either gets hurt or can't capitalize. I still think Smallwood could carve out a decent career, but if he wants it to be in Philly, he needs to start showing up in these games.
Another guy who missed the first preseason game. Wallace missed the game and a few practices with tendinitis, but the 32-year-old has been good this week in camp. He still has his signature speed, which will be fun to watch this season.
OK, I'm officially intrigued. I didn't expect much from Mailata in his first-ever football game last week, but he actually did really well. He's kind of like a giant baby because he's learning so much in such a short amount of time. Every time I see him, he looks like a different player.
In the absence of Alshon Jeffery, Mack Hollins and Greg Ward, the veteran wideout has actually been working with the first team. That's impressive to me because when he first arrived, Aiken struggled with dropping passes, but it now appears like that was just because he was getting adjusted to his new offense and surroundings. He's been much better recently and is pushing for a roster spot.
I'm not sure if Hackenberg will even play against the Patriots, but if he does, that's must-see for me. He's been in the Eagles' offense for just a few days, but the former second-round pick is a super interesting story. He's never played in a real NFL game and has been a complete disaster as a pro. But a couple years after being a highly-touted prospect, I wonder if he'll ever be able to resurrect his career.
Who? Good question. Hector is an undrafted free agent defensive tackle from South Florida who has been really impressive during training camp. In fact, he's been getting second-team reps above former sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls. Before the first preseason game, I asked a bunch of vets who they were excited to see. Fletcher Cox didn't hesitate before he said, Hector.
I know I'm a jerk for telling you to watch a punter in the preseason, but here we are. Punter is a real question mark because as talented as Johnston appears to be, he's equally inconsistent. He did, however, punt a ball 81 yards (it didn't count) in the first game. I had never seen that before.
The fourth-round pick out of Pittsburgh has been getting first-team reps as the nickel cornerback this week, so I'd imagine that's where he'll be against the Patriots. Maddox never played inside in college, so he's been learning a new position and has really excelled, jumping De'Vante Bausby on the depth chart. Eventually, Maddox could figure into the rotation of the future.