After beating up on the injury-plagued Steelers last week, the Eagles will face another team battling the injury bug Saturday night. The Colts have 5 total starters on the “week-to-week” injury list, including 4 on defense (5 players including one suspension). DT Art Jones is suspended for the first 4 games of the season, CB Vontae Davis is dealing with an ankle injury, and FS Clayton Geathers is recovering from a broken foot.
The Eagles aren’t exactly the epitome of health either as Dougie P has ruled out 7 players for Saturday’s game (only one definitive starter). We still won’t see WR Jordan Matthews (knee), QB Carson Wentz (ribs), LG Isaac Seumalo (strained pec), DT Mike Martin (knee), CB Aaron Grymes (shoulder), DE Alex McCalister (strained calf), or LB Joe Walker, who was placed on the season-ending IR with a torn ACL. LB Mychal Kendricks is still unsure if he will play Saturday as he deals with a hamstring injury. Seumalo was presumed to start at LG with the Lane Johnson suspension coming any day now, but an unfortunate strained pectoral muscle has kept him day-to-day. Stefen Wisniewski will start at LG in his place and has a key opportunity on his hands to take over as the front-runner.
In their two quarters of play last week, the Eagles’ offense managed just one field goal while having to punt the ball 3 times. Dougie P has announced they will get 1-2 series in the second half, so it will be interesting to see how they fair against an extremely depleted Colts’ defense. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ defense has been lights out in Jim Schwartz’s wide-9 scheme, which fits the personnel perfectly. The defensive line is by far the best and deepest unit on the team and makes the rest of the defense better with their constant QB pressure. Here are a couple of other things to watch for in Saturday night’s game in Indianapolis.
Eagles’ WRs vs. Injured Colts’ Secondary – It’s obvious that the Eagles’ wide receiving corps has not played up to par without Jordan Matthews in the lineup. The next top 3 receivers of Nelson Agholor, Rueben Randle, and Josh Huff have COMBINED for 8 catches for 56 yards this preseason. Offseason acquisition Chris Givens has just one target and ZERO catches in two preseason games, but with very limited snaps. Hopefully, he will see more time with the 1st team, as this unit will face a weakened Colts’ secondary. The Colts signed CB Patrick Robinson, and more recently veteran CB Antonio Cromartie to bolster their developing unit. As mentioned before, star cornerback Vontae Davis will be out Saturday, as will their presumed starting free safety Clayton Geathers. The Colts’ vulnerable secondary is the perfect matchup for the Eagles’ receivers to bust out of their slump.
Return of the Injured Birds – The Eagles’ 5th round draft pick this year, RB Wendell Smallwood, will finally make his preseason NFL debut after dealing with a quad injury. Smallwood has been impressive over OTA’s and training camp, and finally will get the chance for some much-needed live game reps.
Last training camp, CB JaCorey Shepherd was battling for the starting nickel cornerback spot before suffering a season ending torn ACL. He has finally returned to practice and will hope to get back to his old form in order to make a late roster spot.
Newly Acquired Eagles – Last week, WR Dorial Green-Beckham saw two targets, but was unable to convert on his first catch as a Bird. Neither were entirely his fault whatsoever. In his first snap as an Eagle, Green-Beckham’s number was called on a fade route in the 3rd quarter on 1st & Goal from the 5-yard line. It was a low throw by Chase Daniel and Green-Beckham didn’t really stand a chance on making a play. The coaching staff seems intent on working his skill-set into the playbook, and Green-Beckham should see some more reps with the 1st team offense.
Earlier this week, the Eagles announced the signing of veteran LB Stephen Tulloch to a one-year deal worth up to $3M. His first practice with the team was this past Tuesday, and Tulloch will play Saturday night against the Colts. Pederson has stated that Tulloch will be competing for the starting MLB position with 2nd year MLB Jordan Hicks.