Can you feel it in the air? The NFL regular season is almost here and that means it’s time for the annual “dress rehearsal” for each and every team. This year, the Philadelphia Eagles will take on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Saturday night at 8:00 PM EST.
It’s a perfect test for the Eagles as they’ll be able to get a free test against one of the best teams in the NFC. Considering the major changes that head coach Chip Kelly has made to the Birds’ roster this offseason, it’s important to gauge their ability against such a high profile team. That being said, here are five storylines to watch for on Saturday night!
1) Sam Bradford’s return…again
Yes, Bradford did make his debut for the Eagles last week against the Ravens. But many still wanted to see more of the injury prone quarterback. This week will serve as another checkpoint for both Bradford and the Eagles. It’ll be interesting to see just how many snaps Bradford receives. As Kelly has previously given his “starting quarterback” over 40 reps during the third preseason game the past two seasons.
Either way, it’ll be fun to watch Bradford string a few drives together and shake off that last bit of rust before the regular season opener. Clearly he was pissed about being pulled after just one drive against the Ravens, just check out this video of his reaction below!
@rotopat yep. https://t.co/qQNRz64L6X
— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) August 22, 2015
2) Inside linebacker trio may make their debut
It’s hard to believe the Eagles’ defense has looked as dominant as it has during the preseason considering the team’s top three inside linebackers have yet to play. Hopefully that will change Saturday night as Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans and newcomer Kiko Alonso will all take the field for the first time together. Ryans may be held out due to his recovering achilles injury but Kendricks and Alonso should suit up.
Now that Kendricks is locked up for the long haul and Alonso is recovered from his concussion, it’ll be fun to watch them on the field together. There may not be a more athletic, versatile duo of linebackers in the NFL. Both of them are outstanding in coverage and at rushing the passer, hopefully defensive coordinator Bill Davis uses them to their full potential.
3) Aaron Rodgers vs. Eagles’ new-look secondary
So far, the newcomers in the Eagles’ secondary have held their own against two of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. Neither Andrew Luck or Joe Flacco could do much through the air against the Birds. With three new starters on the back-end of the defense in cornerbacks Nolan Carroll and Byron Maxwell, as well as safety Walter Thurmond, they’ll face their toughest test on Saturday night.
With or without Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers is still the best quarterback in the NFL. Rodgers picked apart the Eagles’ defense with ease last season, seemingly toying with them at times. It’ll be interesting to see how the Eagles and all of their new faces look against the Packers this weekend.
But then again, the Packers may play it safe and not let Rodgers take the field at all on Saturday night. This recent report certainly makes it seem like Rodgers and many of Green Bay’s other starters may take the night off.
4) Vinny Curry’s development at OLB
The Eagles have had a few players change positions this offseason. G.J. Kinne went from quarterback to wide receiver/running back, Walter Thurmond went from cornerback to safety and now Vinny Curry is going from defensive end to outside linebacker. While he’s not making a full-on position change, Curry could see a considerable amount of time, maybe some overtime, at his new part-time job.
Given his ability to rush the passer, it was a no-brainer for the Eagles to try Curry at outside linebacker. After losing both Travis Long and Marcus Smith to injury, something had to be done. Curry, like Trent Cole and Brandon Graham in the past, is traditionally a 4-3 defensive end. But considering how Cole and Graham transitioned to outside linebacker in the Eagles’ scheme, it’ll be fun to watch Curry continue to grow and develop in a new spot that could help him be on the field more than ever before.
Once again, this jump by Vinny Curry (@MrGetFlee99) while rushing from his new-found OLB spot was just unfair!https://t.co/hHaGqMuSM4
— DiBirds (@DiBirdsBlog) August 23, 2015
5) Can Kenjon Barner keep his streak alive?
Now this is just a fun story to keep an eye out for. While he’s still battling for a roster spot, Eagles running back Kenjon Barner has really stood out during the preseason. Mostly for his punt returning ability, including two touchdowns, one in each of their games so far. That being said, can Barner somehow take another punt all the way to the house? It doesn’t seem possible but who would have thought he would even do it twice? Saturday night should certainly be a fun one to watch.
What will you be watching for when the Birds take on the Packers tomorrow night? Let us know in the comment section below and of course check back here at PhillyInfluencer.com for all of the latest news regarding any and everything Philadelphia!