For young players in the NFL, the preseason is about showing your coaches that you belong on the team and deserve playing time. First round pick Nelson Agholor scored a touchdown on his first NFL reception, quarterback Tim Tebow ran for a score and several young members of Chip Kelly’s squad made the case for playing time as the Eagles beat the Colts 36-10 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Quarterback Sam Bradford and running back DeMarco Murray, Kelly’s two biggest offseason acquisitions, did not play Sunday, meaning Mark Sanchez and Ryan Mathews started the first preseason game of the year. Sanchez was subpar in his first performance of 2015, going 2-of-7 for 52 yards and a touchdown. Many of Sanchez’s throws were off-target, including one pass in which he overthrew a wide open Jordan Matthews on what would have been an easy touchdown. “There were a couple of throws and stuff that I know some of the guys wanted back and we don’t want to turn it over,” Sanchez said after the game. “You’d like to be clean that way, but we’ll let the coaches grade it out. Obviously, a win’s big and we’ll just move on from here.”
The Eagles’ starters only played a handful of snaps, which meant the backups and fringe roster players saw plenty of playing time. Quarterback Matt Barkley came in after Sanchez, leading the team down the field on a drive that was capped by a nine yard Kenjon Barner touchdown run to end the first quarter. But the second half belonged to Tim Tebow, who struggled to consistently move the ball through the air, but ran for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“It was fun playing ball. I loved it,” Tebow said, “You want to be focused and you want to focus footwork, reads, communication with everybody. So enjoy the moment. You won’t always have it.”
Defensively, several young players showed their skills in the second half. Second-year safety Ed Reynolds II had two interceptions, and rookie second round pick Eric Rowe forced a fumble. And the Eagles’ special teams unit picked up right where it left off last season, as running back Kenjon Barner ended the second quarter with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Sunday also marked the homecoming for Trent Cole and Todd Herremans, who were two of the longest-tenured Eagles before being released in the offseason. Both signed with Indianapolis, and played in limited snaps Sunday.
The Eagles’ next preseason game is a home matchup against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, August 22nd. The Ravens will be in Philadelphia this week for joint practices at the NovaCare Complex before suiting up Saturday night. Quarterback Sam Bradford is expected to play.