By Ray Boyd
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Football is back on Friday night at 8:oo p.m. Yes, it’s just preseason, but it is football nonetheless and Eagles fans are ready to get a glimpse of their team as the second season under Chip Kelly gets underway.
There are plenty of players to keep an eye on on Friday night, but some stand out more than others.
Here are the five players that I will be keeping the closest eye on when the Eagles take on the Bears in their preseason opener.
5. QB Mark Sanchez: Of course everyone will be watching to see how Nick Foles looks, myself included. However, you can expect to see a lot of fluidity out of Foles who should be familiar with the system and the majority of the weapons he’ll be working with.
Sanchez will get ample snaps on Friday night and the bottom line is that in the NFL you are extremely lucky if your second string quarterback doesn’t have to start a least a few games for you.
Sanchez has not played since he got injured last preseason and it’s time to find out if the Eagles got a steal in snagging him to backup Foles. Reports on him out of camp have been good so it’s time to see what he’s got.
4. LB Marcus Smith: Anytime you watch the first game of the preseason, the player taken with your team’s first pick is pretty much an automatic lock for a list like this. Smith is currently listed as a second string outside linebacker, so he will not be in the game when the Bears first team offense is in, but for Smith it is all about the fit.
I’ll be keeping my eye on how comfortable Smith looks in Davis’ 3-4 scheme. The Eagles have touted his athleticism so I expect for him to be able to drop back in coverage against tight ends while also rushing the passer.
Rushing the passer is the aspect that the Eagles most needed to add to their team this off-season and Smith was pretty much their lone attempt at it. Davis said that the team has added to their blitz package from last season and it will be interesting to see how Smith is integrated.
3. LB Mychal Kendricks: This is the player who’s development could lead to the most success for the Eagles’ defense. Kendricks showed flashes last season of being a good overall linebacker who could cover tight ends and get after the quarterback. However, he was somewhat inconsistent.
Kendricks shined against some tight ends, but was completely schooled by more elite tight ends. He is going to have to make sure that he is a presence everyday when it comes to covering underneath.
He possesses the athleticism to be a factor in the backfield as well and with the lack of pass rushing additions this off-season, expect to see him utilized more when going after the quarterback. Kendricks will also be tasked with taking some of the load off of DeMeco Ryans who played the most defensive snaps in the league last season.
LISTEN: KYW’s Matt Leon spoke with Ray Didinger about what players he will be watching on Friday night: