Eagles face Patriots again, this time in preseason
It's not exactly a Super Bowl rematch, especially in the preseason.
But the Philadelphia Eagles will face the New England Patriots on Thursday night for the first time since the Eagles won their first Super Bowl with a 41-33 victory in February in Minneapolis.
And just like at the Super Bowl, Carson Wentz will miss the game as he recovers from a torn ACL and LCL in his left knee. Wentz expects to participate in 11-on-11 drills next week, but it's uncertain whether he'll be ready for the season opener. The Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 6.
Nick Foles is supposed to make his preseason debut at New England after sitting out last week's game. He had missed a few practices because of muscle spasms in his neck and shoulder area.
Tom Brady, the reigning league MVP, also will make his first start of the exhibition schedule after sitting out last week's game.
"We've got a big one against the Eagles and we know the challenge they present," Brady said Tuesday. "So, (we're) trying to put a lot into it and see if we can obviously get a lot out of it. You know, it's a big test. They're a good team and we're going to have to play well."
Elsewhere on Thursday night, it's the New York Jets at Washington and Pittsburgh at Green Bay.
What to look for around the league:
STEELERS YOUNG QBS GETTING A CHANCE
The Steelers are giving young quarterbacks Josh Dobbs and Mason Rudolph an extended look against the Packers.
Ben Roethlisberger and primary backup Landry Jones get the night off in Green Bay. Roethlisberger is in the concussion protocol. Right guard Marcus Gilbert said Tuesday that Roethlisberger rolled out and ran into him as he blocked linebacker Keion Adams.
Dobbs is likely auditioning for another job elsewhere while figuring to be the odd man out in the four-man race for three spots.
Dobbs played well last week against Philadelphia, leading a two-minute drill that resulted in a touchdown at the end of the first half. He'll get an opportunity to face Green Bay's starting defense, which should provide a significant step up in class.
Rudolph, a third-round pick in the 2018 draft, looked solid at times while playing the entire second half against the Eagles. His goal will be holding onto the ball. He lost a fumble that was recovered by a teammate in his pro debut but also led the Steelers to three scoring drives.
The game is also a homecoming of sorts for Pittsburgh safety Morgan Burnett. The Steelers signed the veteran in the offseason after eight years in Green Bay to shore up a revamped secondary. Burnett's first camp in Pittsburgh has been uneven because of a hamstring injury that forced him to wait to put on the pads.
He's slotted as the starting strong safety and the Steelers are hopeful his sure tackling will help a unit that struggled making plays in the open field last season.
Aaron Rodgers is expected to get the start and see his first action in a preseason game. In fact, it will be the first time that the two-time NFL MVP will play in any game at home since Sept. 28 against the Chicago Bears. He broke his collarbone on Oct. 15 at Minnesota, and his only appearance after that was on Dec. 17 at Carolina. Whether or how much Rodgers goes against the Steelers may depend on the availability of dependable left tackle David Bakhtiari, who came back to practice this week following an ankle injury.
"I haven't played at home for a long time," Rodgers said. "So, it will be nice to get out on Lambeau."
GET TO THE QB
There are snaps available at outside linebacker with Nick Perry still waiting to get clearance to return from an ankle injury. Reserve Reggie Gilbert is doing his best to try to alleviate concerns about depth at the position behind Perry and Clay Matthews. He's trying to build on his productive night in the preseason opener last week against Tennessee. Gilbert got extensive work with the starting defense in practice earlier this week.
TIME FOR SAM?
Coach Todd Bowles isn't saying so, but rookie Sam Darnold could start at quarterback for the New York Jets against the Washington Redskins.
Darnold took most of the snaps with the first-team offense at joint workouts with the Redskins and drew rave reviews from Washington defender Josh Norman.
"Someone asked me about him the other day and I was like, yeah, it's like whatever — just a guy," Norman said. "Then you go out here and you see him make these throws and I'm like, all right, that's not so much of a college-level throw. He's putting them on the money."
Bowles said all three of his QBs need to be ready, leaving the door open for Josh McCown or Teddy Bridgewater to start. But the smart money is on Darnold, who impressed in his preseason debut against the Falcons.
WASHINGTON LOOKS TO GROUND GAME
Alex Smith is expected to start for the Redskins after sitting out exhibition opener at the New England Patriots.
But the focus will be on the running game, where Washington has to find a starter among Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine and others to replace the injured Derrius Guice. Kelley is the front-runner and should get the first carries.
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