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Studs, duds, turning point and more from Eagles’ preseason opener

BOX SCORE

With Nick Foles and Carson Wentz watching on, the Eagles played their first game at Lincoln Financial Field since the NFC Championship Game.

This one wasn’t as fun.

Anyway, the Eagles’ first-team defense dominated, Dallas Goedert looked like a stud and Nate Sudfeld threw two touchdown passes, but the Eagles still lost Thursday, 31-14, to the Steelers at the Linc (see observations).

Not that the score matters any. Here are some things that matter more:

The Sudfeld Show
Good and bad from Sudfeld, which is kind of what we’ve seen all camp from him. A little too much inconsistency. He had a couple picks, although one looked like Bryce Treggs deserved the blame. And there are times he simply has to learn to get rid of the ball.

But he does that stuff and then tosses an absolute dime of a deep ball to Shelton Gibson for a long touchdown. Or he rolls right and fires in a touchdown pass to Goedert. The tools are there. And it’s easy to see why the Eagles think so much of him. 

Sudfeld completed 10 of 14 passes for 140 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He played the entire first half before Joe Callahan took over.

Goedert looks good
There were a couple little hiccups along the way, but rookie tight end Goedert looks good. He had an uncharacteristic drop and missed a blocking assignment in the first half, but more than made up for it. He caught a touchdown pass in the first half, something we should get used to. He seems to have a knack for making plays in the red zone.

He finished with four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. Solid NFL debut.

Dominating D
The Eagles’ first-team defense didn’t play long, but it was dominant. The unit got two sacks — one from Fletcher Cox, one from Malcolm Jenkins and Nigel Bradham. The group gave up just two yards on six plays.

The next drive, the second-team defense gave up 88 yards on four plays. The big one came when Landry Jones hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 71-yarder down the sideline. Rasul Douglas was in good position but didn’t get a good jump on the ball.

Up and down for Douglas
Douglas redeemed himself later, with a great read and interception late in the second quarter. Just got a great jump and got a pick.

But then a little bit later, he gave up a touchdown to Damoun Patterson on a brilliant throw from Josh Dobbs. The throw was great, but it’s still Douglas’ man.

A scary moment
With just under seven minutes left in the second quarter, there was a scary moment when Nate Gerry ran into Sidney Jones while trying to make a tackle. Jones had trouble getting up before making his way off the field and to the trainer’s table. Jones got his left foot checked out before getting it re-taped and rejoining his teammates on the sideline. He didn’t return, but that was probably just a precaution. Phew.

Speed kills
Gibson simply beat his man on that 63-yard touchdown in the second quarter. He showed his ability to separate from a corner. Gibson was so bad last year, but made the team after being a fifth-round draft pick. That patience is paying off. It seems like he’s going to earn his spot on the team this year.

Crazy defensive line
On third downs, we saw Chris Long, Michael Bennett, Cox and Derek Barnett on the field together. That’s scary. And they will eventually get Brandon Graham back. On one particular play, Cox simply walked back his interior lineman. Unfair.

New helmet rule
We saw our first lowering the helmet call and it was probably a pretty fair one. Jones came in when a Steeler was already wrapped up and lowered his helmet to tackle him. Flag immediately. It extended a touchdown drive for the Steelers. Richard Rodgers was called for one that crushed the Eagles on a crazy long punt. The Eagles have to be aware of this new rule.

WOAHHHH
Honest to God, the most amazing thing I saw all night was Cameron Johnston’s 81-yard punt that didn’t even count thanks to that penalty on Rodgers.

Johnston has been wildly inconsistent all training camp and even in this game, but he booted a freakin’ ball 81 yards on a punt. The returner looked amazed as it soared over his head.

Pump the brakes
Donnel Pumphrey, desperately trying to not be known as a draft bust, didn’t play for unknown reasons. Pump hadn’t missed practice time, so his being out is a surprise. After a terrible preseason as a rookie (he averaged 1.9 yards per carry), Pumphrey missed a chance to show something in a preseason game.

Turning some heads
With Pump out, undrafted rookie Josh Adams had a good showing. It’s worth remembering he was going against deep reserves, but gotta like what we saw. He broke off some good ones. He’s in the race for that fourth RB job.

Missing in action
Along with Pumphrey, Foles (neck spasms), Mike Wallace (tendinitis), Nelson Agholor, Markus Wheaton, Matt Jones, Ian Park and Asantay Brown all didn’t play. Neither did the guys on NFI/PUP: Graham, Alshon Jeffery, Chris Maragos, Tim Jernigan.

Up next
The Eagles are on the road next Thursday for a Super Bowl LII rematch against the Patriots in Foxboro. They kick off the regular season in four weeks at home against the Falcons. 

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