Friday, August 15, 2014
Observation Deck: Philadelphia Eagles
By Andy Jasner
Cary Williams recently made news for calling the New England Patriots cheaters.
Through three days of joint practices with the Patriots, the outspoken Philadelphia Eagles cornerback simply worked hard and avoided further controversy.
That hard work continued in the Eagles' second preseason game when he intercepted Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on New England's first drive and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown.
Williams injured his hamstring on the play and sat out the rest of the game. He was replaced by Brandon Boykin, who limped off the field late in the first half.
Brady rebounded after Williams exited by tossing a pair of touchdown passes in the first quarter.
The Eagles rallied to tie the score 21-21 at halftime.
It was a wild night with flags dropping all over the place -- 21 to be exact -- and the Patriots eventually registering a 42-35 victory at Gillette Stadium.
Here are some other thoughts on the Eagles' second preseason game of the year:
- Eagles quarterback Nick Foles got plenty of unexpected rest in the first quarter. Following Williams' interception for a touchdown, the Eagles' defense went back out on the field and allowed the Patriots to drive 53 yards in nine plays, capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins. Foles finally stepped onto the field with 5:09 remaining. The Patriots ran 17 offensive plays before the Eagles snapped the ball on offense. Foles responded nicely by completing 8 of 10 passes for 81 yards, highlighted by a 6-yard strike for a score to tight end Zach Ertz with 3:35 remaining in the second.
- On the Eagles' first offensive play, Foles connected with wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah, who proceeded to fumble, giving the ball right back to the Patriots. The 6-foot-7 Momah has performed well through training camp, but this is when it counts. For a player on the fringe looking to earn a roster spot, fumbling the first time you touch the ball is not ideal. Momah was one of the final players cut last season.
- After an inconsistent performance with several drops at Chicago, wide receiver Jordan Matthews came back to catch nine passes for 104 yards. Matthews, a second-round pick from Vanderbilt, showed tremendous poise in his second preseason game.
- Third-round pick Josh Huff, a wide receiver from the University of Oregon, suffered a right shoulder injury late in the first quarter and was forced to the sidelines for the remainder of the game. Huff showed explosiveness in the preseason opening loss at Chicago, returning a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. It was a wise move to keep him out with two preseason games remaining.
- Cornerback Curtis Marsh had been impressive in training camp, but he had a rough night. Marsh was beat for a pair of touchdowns, including a 4-yard pass from backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to Brandon LaFell with 8:44 left in the second quarter for a 21-7 Patriots advantage. Marsh seemed to have a clear path to an interception but never got his hands on the ball. In the third, Marsh was beaten again when backup quarterback Ryan Mallett hit Brian Tyms for a 17-yard score.
- Arrelious Benn is hoping to make the team as a backup wide receiver. If he keeps performing this well on special teams, that roster spot just might come to fruition. Benn blocked a punt in the second, showing terrific athletic ability in the process. With 41 seconds to go until halftime, Benn hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Mark Sanchez. The ball deflected off Momah and Benn somehow got his hands under the ball for the tying score. Benn seems to be all the way back from a torn ACL suffered last year in training camp.
- Sanchez completed his first five passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. But his sixth pass was tossed into double coverage and intercepted by Duron Harmon. Sanchez didn't let the interception bother him as he led a 10-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass to Damaris Johnson. Sanchez is fully healthy from a shoulder injury and he was mostly sharp, going 11-for-12 for 117 yards and two touchdowns. It was a solid performance.
- Defensive end Vinny Curry was active while he was on the field. Curry's weight is down and his motor seems to be up. That was evident as he was disrupting the Patriots' offense by getting into the backfield.
- Undrafted rookie free agent running back Henry Josey caught a screen pass from Matt Barkley and scampered 27 yards for a touchdown to close the third. For a player like Josey, who overcame a gruesome injury at Missouri, this had to be a special moment.
- The Eagles began the game quite short-handed, playing without starting wide receivers Jeremy Maclin (hamstring) and Riley Cooper (foot). Running backs Matthew Tucker, Chris Polk and David Fluellen also missed the game with various injuries. Cornerbacks Nolan Carroll and rookie Jaylen Watkins also sat out, along with linebacker Jake Knott and center Julian Vandervelde. The absences were noticeable as the Eagles struggled at times.