The Eagles opened the 2017 NFL preseason with a 24-9 loss to Green Bay on this road. This is the time of the year when you have to focus on individual performances as opposed to the scoreboard since the idea of winning the game is a pretty low priority on the list. These early exhibition games are more of an extension of training camp in an effort to translate what happens at practice to actual execution on the field. This dynamic will shift a bit heading into the next two preseason matchups with a higher focus on outscoring the opposing team before Game 4 is used to determine which players deserve a spot on the final 53-man roster.
When it comes to Philadelphia's player performances in Thursday's game against the Packers, I came away with three main observations from what happened on the field.
1-Eagles are Ready to Fly in Carson Wentz's Second Season at the Helm
While the second-year quarterback out of North Dakota State only played one series, it was enough to give his team an early 6-0 lead against most of Green Bay's starting defense. He went 4-for-4 for 56 yards including a big fourth down conversion as well as a 38-yard scoring strike to rookie Mack Hollins, who added some nice yards after the catch to make his way into the end zone. Wentz looked extremely comfortable under center and while a winning record and return to the playoffs cannot be built around one scoring series in the first preseason game, he has definitely caught our attention heading into next week's game at home against Buffalo.
2-Rookie Derek Barnett is the Real Deal
Defensive end Derek Barnett was the Eagles' first round pick in this year's draft at No. 14 overall and the former Tennessee Volunteer helped validate that lofty draft position by recording two sacks, four tackles (including two for a loss) and a pair of hits on Green Bay quarterbacks. He is still second on the depth chart behind Vinny Curry with Brandon Graham anchoring the other end of the line, but these early results could land him the starting role in the regular season opener against Washington if he continues to play like he did on Thursday night.
3-The Eagles could be Deeper than Expected at Wide Receiver
Second-year head coach Doug Pederson made a big splash this offseason in free agency with the help of team vice-president Howie Roseman with the addition of wide receivers' Alshon Jeffry and Torrey Smith to address one of the team's biggest needs on offense. While neither player factored into Thursday's game, a few of the wide receivers that did play made an early impact on what could turn out to be one of the most interesting roster battles moving forward. Incumbent No. 1 Jordan Matthews pulled down three balls for 18 yards in his limited time on the field while former No. 2 Nelson Agholar was blanked on the night.
Howard made a strong case for a roster spot on that 38-yard touchdown catch and run alone and he ended the game with four receptions for 64 yards. Second-year receiver Bryce Treggs threw his name into the mix by leading the team with seven catches on eight targets for 98 yards including a 38-yard reception of his own.