Top Eagles players may be spectators for preseason opener

Ed Benkin
August 06, 2019 - 3:04 pm
Jul 26, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) and quarterback Nate Sudfeld (7) during training camp at Novacare Complex.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There was a time when NFL teams would play their top players throughout the preseason. Those days are long gone when it comes to the NFL in the 21st century.

The Eagles will open up the preseason at the Linc on Thursday night when they host the Tennessee Titans. Head coach Doug Pederson announced after Tuesday's practice that he and his staff are still deciding how much, if any, playing time his top players will get on Thursday.   

Pederson says there are several factors that will go into his decision when it comes to how many snaps his top unit will get in August.

"You look around at other teams and what other teams have done in the preseason," said Pederson. "I take all that information in. I look at how our team practices during the week. Our starters get most of the reps in practice. I look at all of that."

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When it comes to deciding on playing time in the preseason, the quarterback position seems to take center stage.  

Carson Wentz missed all of the preseason last summer as he continued to recover from a knee injury. Wentz is available to play on Thursday, but there is always the risk of injury every time any player steps on the field.  

There is a chance Wentz may not play at all on Thursday night, but the quarterback says he has complete trust in Pederson when it comes to determining playing time in preseason games.

"He's done this before," Wentz said. "He's done this as a coach and he's done it as a player. He kind of knows what guys need. In conversations with me and with some of the other guys, I feel good about the plan he's going to have here either way."

During Pederson's playing days, the top players saw more action in the preseason that the ones who are in the league today. The starting unit would even get reps in the fourth preseason game, something that would be unheard of today.  

Pederson believes the modern NFL players make significant progress with practices at training camp and will be cautious when it comes to putting his stars on the field for live action before the regular season starts.

"There's a fine line between how much rest and how much push," said Pederson. "That's the thing that we're working through right now. I'm taking all of that into consideration going into this first game."

While the status of Wentz remains uncertain, backup quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson and Cody Kessler are all expected to get playing time on Thursday.  

All three understand that only an injury to Wentz or a blowout situation will allow them to get playing time when the regular season gets underway.  

Sudfeld also understands that some of the players who will be on the field with him during the summer will be trying to keep their football dreams alive.

"A lot of guys are fighting for jobs and fighting for their livelihood," Sudfeld said. "You're not fighting just to be able to play next week. You're fighting to make this your career. It's not as much game planning, which is a great test. Your instincts have to be good."