Injuries can happen at any time to any player, and if the Philadelphia Eagles lose running back LeSean McCoy for an extended period their season would look a lot different without last season's league leading rusher.
After scoring on a 22-yard screen pass in the Eagles’ 31-21 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, McCoy went to the locker room for X-rays on his thumb, which were negative. That was the good news for McCoy, who did not return and should see his next action in the Eagles’ regular-season opener.
The better news, however, was that the Eagles did not change their plan. They ran the ball with Darren Sproles, one of their bigger offseason acquisitions, and Matthew Tucker in McCoy’s absence. They combined for 48 yards on 10 first-half carries, and Sproles had a 1-yard rushing touchdown. The Eagles finished with 182 yards on the ground.
Here are some other thoughts on the Eagles’ third preseason game of the year:
The Eagles allowed 76 points in their first two preseason games. The defense was much better against Ben Roethlisberger & Co., keeping them off the scoreboard in the first half with the starters on the field. Nolan Carroll had an interception after a Mychal Kendricks pressure. After Nick Foles was intercepted, the defense responded with a three-and-out highlighted by a Malcolm Jenkins' pass breakup. The pressure was better with first-round disappointment Brandon Graham coming up with a sack and surprise first-round pick Marcus Smith coming up with some plays early in the third quarter.
Not only did the Eagles appear to avoid a scare with the McCoy injury, it looks like they got some good news on Jeremy Maclin as well. In the second quarter Maclin appeared to hyperextend his right knee while making a cut and went to the ground. He missed last season with a torn right anterior cruciate ligament. Maclin, however, returned in the next series and caught a 9-yard pass. He caught six passes for 43 yards in the first half.
Foles had a ridiculous 27-touchdown, two-interception season in 2013. He has been intercepted three times in the preseason, but with tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek he will have the chance to make some easy throws in the middle of the field. The Eagles used the play-action a number of times to get the ball down the seams to his tight end. Celek had two catches for 41 yards and Ertz had two for 24 yards.
Philadelphia hopes Mark Sanchez never has to play because Foles is effective and healthy, but the former New York Jets quarterback continued his solid preseason. Sanchez directed two touchdown drives in the third quarter, completing 7 of 9 passes for 85 yards. In the preseason he has completed 25 of 31 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He looks healthy and much more decisive under Chip Kelly’s tutelage.
The Eagles close out the preseason Aug. 28 against the New York Jets.