Eagles top unit expecting a short night of work on Thursday

Ed Benkin
August 07, 2018 - 3:16 pm
Philadelphia Eagles training camp

© James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — In the NFL, teams will rarely expose their top players to a heavy dose of preseason work. The 2018 Eagles are no exception.

The Eagles will open the preseason at Lincoln Financial Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night. It is the world's worst kept secret that Carson Wentz will sit out this game, as well of the rest of the preseason schedule. Nick Foles may also be a spectator on Thursday as he continues to deal with an upper body injury.  

As far as the rest of the top unit, very little work is expected on the field Thursday night, although head coach Doug Pederson still wants his top players who are available on the field.

"It's one of those games where we try to play everybody," said Pederson. "We're still evaluating, so it's great to get everybody in this game. Our starters, offensively and defensively, who are healthy and going to play are going to get some good work. I want to make sure they get a little bit of work in this game."

Tight end Zach Ertz missed three straight practices but returned to the field for practice on Tuesday. Receiver Mike Wallace missed his second day of practice in a row and will likely be out for Thursday's game. As for Foles, the quarterback revealed his upper body injury involves spasms, so the team is taking a cautious approach.

"This is the time of year where you just try to be smart," Foles said. "I'm in the training room a lot and we have a good regiment going on. Once again, I want to be out there every single day. Right now, we're just focused on getting this thing healthy and to be back out there as soon as I can."

Pederson would not rule Foles out for Thursday night's game, but any possible discomfort with the injury will likely keep Foles on the sidelines. The spotlight will fall on the likes of Nate Sudfeld and Joe Callahan. The third and fourth string quarterbacks on the depth chart will likely see the bulk of the preseason snaps. For Callahan, it is an opportunity to prove he belongs in the NFL.

"You never want anybody to be injured," said Calllahan. "But that's kind of the case. Me and Nate have been told that we'll get a majority of the time throughout the preseason. That's something exciting and something to look forward to, but it's also more responsibility on us."

So what is Pederson looking for in the preseason opener? He would, of course, like to keep his players healthy, which is why so many of the top players will rest most or all of the night. There is still the matter of getting his players ready for the regular season as well as the competition for players fighting for jobs and roster spots.

"Just overall execution," Pederson continued. "We've got a lot of young guys that are fighting for roster spots and giving us depth at a lot of positions. It will be great for them to go out and perform well. Those are things that we want to see."