Both bright spots and problems revealed in Eagles win over Steelers

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Photo via the Philadelphia Eagles

The first preseason game of 2012 is in the books and we learned a lot about this Philadelphia Eagles team. The Birds edged out the Steelers 24-23, getting a 51-yard field goal by Alex Henery with just moments left in the game.

The drive that got Philadelphia within kicking goal range was led by Trent Edwards and a says lot about the night. As head coach Andy Reid said following the game, the 3s and 4s did well in Thursday’ night’s game. There is some work to be done with the 1s and 2s.

As expected, Reid was met by rousing chants of support from fans, getting a standing ovation and chants of “Andy! Andy!”

Injuries played a part in the game early on, with Jeremy Maclin announced as being out just before the start of the game with a hamstring injury, replaced by undrafted rookie Damaris Johnson. And on defense Cullen Jenkins came out early, also due to the hamstring.

The team got a big scare in the 2nd quarter when Mike Vick banged his thumb on Jason Kelce’s helmet, clearly in pain. But he wasn’t taken off the sideline, which provided a glimmer of hope, later dipping his thumb in ice water. Vick later had an x-ray that was negative and after the game revealed that he was feeling fine and would practice on Saturday after initially experiencing some numbness.

The offense was lackluster in the first half, remaining scoreless to the Steelers 13 points.The defense looked strong in the first few plays of the 1st quarter but quickly began to look like the D of last year, missing tackles, blocking pooring and unable to stop the run (the line, however, looked strong-more on that below).

But that’s what the preseason is about. Now is the time for mistakes to happen so that they can be corrected. The good news is that a number of players stood out with all indications pointing to more good things in the future. Some of the stand outs:

Nick Foles – The stand-out star of the game, getting 2 touchdowns in his debut. He showed such poise and power in his first outing, a real battle for the #2 quarterback spot could be taking place.

Phillip Hunt – The defensive line impressed this game and Hunt was dominate, getting 4 tackles 2 sacks in his short time in the game.

Damaris Johnson – The fact that he was given the start when Maclin was out says a lot about what this team thinks about Johnson’s potential. He led the offense wtih 4 receptions for 85 yards and 1 touchdown. Johnson also had 19 yards in kickoff return.

Brandon Graham – Again, the d-line did some nice things and so did Graham,who continues to operate with a chip on his shoulder which is fueling his production, which included one sack.

Brandon Boykin – His versatility was touted as a prospect and Boykin showed just how much of a threat he can be in the return game, getting a 46-yard kickoff return with his fist touch of a ball in NFL game action.

Who didn’t do so well? Jaiquawn Jarrett comes to mind because his struggles were numerous and glaring. He had a big opportunity to show what he can do, getting the start for Nate Allen, but instead his poor play is what stuck out. The second-year Eagle and Temple product just seemed confused, had poor angles and missed too many tackles. And Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, who has excelled in camp, showed poor judgement when launching himself at Pittsburgh QB Byron Leftwich ang giving Pittsburgh new life on a drive that otherwise would have ended if not for the Unsportsman- Like Conduct penalty given to Rodgers-Cromartie.

And collectively, the first-team offense gets called out for its -3 total yardage on two 3-and-outs.

Following tonight’s game, the Eagles have 10 days until their next preseason game,which won’t take place until Monday, August 20th on the road at New England.

The Birds had better maximize the time in between games now, because after the 20th they play in four days, again on the road, against the Cleveland Browns (and former team president Joe Banner).

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