Eagles vs. Bears agenda

Posted: August 08, 2014


Who: Eagles at Bears

What: First preseason game

When: Tonight, 8 o'clock

Where: Soldier Field, Chicago


Radio: WIP (94.1-FM, 610-AM)

Three things to watch:

* 1. Wide receivers: You didn't need us to tell you this. First time out with no DeSean Jackson. Riley Cooper isn't playing, and it doesn't seem likely Jeremy Maclin will. There are youngsters to watch, such as rookies Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff, and there are veterans looking to grab a toehold, such as Arrelious Benn and Brad Smith.

Rookie Quron Pratt, from Palmyra and

Rutgers, will be the guy wearing Jackson's old No. 10, which he said this week didn't bother him. Can anybody get loose deep, particularly during the part of the game when the Bears' "real" defenders are playing? Can Matthews stand out the way he has in training camp drills, or is the lack of explosiveness mentioned in scouting reports something that comes more into play when the lights are turned on and everyone's bringing the intensity that helps Matthews dominate drills?

* 2. Malcolm Jenkins and the defense: The Eagles were last in the league against the pass in 2013, you might have heard.

Jenkins is the new back-end sheriff, the free-agent safety who is supposed to make the calls and then make plays. Coaches and teammates really like his style - Jenkins picked up Billy Davis' system in no time, and has said and done all the right things, and he has that Super Bowl ring to back it up.

But New Orleans wasn't sorry to see him go; the Saints wanted to upgrade from Jenkins every bit as badly as the Eagles wanted to upgrade from Patrick Chung. The Eagles say Jenkins is a perfect fit for their system, he'll be better here than he was in Rob Ryan's New Orleans scheme. We'll start to find out tonight.

* 3. The offensive line: This will be right tackle Alan Barbre's first start as an Eagle. Even after Barbre's 10-to-15 first-team snaps, you might want to pay attention. Until Lane Johnson comes back from suspension a month into the season, the Eagles have nobody behind Barbre who has done much. Dennis Kelly started 10 games as a rookie in the disastrous 2012 season, but he has not seemed to be a favorite of the new

regime. Andrew Gardner, anyone? David Molk? Matt Tobin? Maybe Kevin Graf or

longterm project Michael Bamiro? All that rhetoric about not drafting for need aside, you know the Eagles would have taken an o-lineman at some point, had they known then that Johnson would be suspended. There are questions to be answered here, even deep into the second half.

- Les Bowen

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