1. Big night: Mark Sanchez has a great deal to play for. Sanchez signed a one-year deal with the Eagles after being released by the New York Jets. He missed last season with a shoulder injury. NFL teams will be watching to see if Sanchez is healthy and how he adapts to Chip Kelly’s offensive system. If starting quarterback Nick Foles stays healthy this season, then the preseason will be Sanchez’s only chance to make a case on game film that he can be a starter again elsewhere in the league. Some players approach the preseason games as tune-ups. For Sanchez, they are much more.
2. Secondary first: The Eagles' secondary has been a work in progress, but just how much progress has been made? With Jay Cutler throwing to Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, the Eagles face a legitimate test of their reconfigured secondary. Safety Malcolm Jenkins has the coaches excited, because he’s smart and experienced and should help make sure everyone is on the same page. But will that translate into some big plays against a powerful passing attack? It’s a shame cornerback Nolan Carroll is not likely to play, but the rest of the defensive backs will be worth keeping an eye on.
3. Rookie debuts: Marcus Smith has been as anonymous as any first-round pick in memory. He did not get a lot of attention before the draft and was a surprise to a lot of people. On the field, he has been overshadowed by second-round pick Jordan Matthews. That is mostly because Matthews is a wide receiver who gets plenty of chances to make plays while an outside linebacker can’t do much in no-hitting practice sessions. In Chicago, the quarterbacks won’t be wearing red jerseys and Smith will be free to show what he can do as a pass-rusher and as an edge defender against the run. We will get a chance to see why his teammates are so impressed by him.