The Eagles won a meaningless football game 24-10 Thursday over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The biggest news came in the first quarter when Cody Kessler absorbed a bone-rattling hit from the blindside. He left the field and never returned, later diagnosed with a head injury.
The Eagles confirmed that Kessler is in the NFL’s concussion protocol and they’ll monitor his status. It seems highly unlikely the backup quarterback would be ready to start next Thursday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. Time will tell on that front. In order for a player to return from concussion, he must rest “until his signs and symptoms and neurologic examination, including cognitive and balance tests, return to baseline status.”
While Kessler hijacked the headline, here are a few key takeaways from the rest of the game. The Eagles are now 1-1 through two preseason games.
1. Clayton Thorson, Quarterback
Let’s give credit where credit is due. One week after everyone in town — beat reporters, talking heads, obnoxious fans — had kicked Thorson to the curb, the kid bounced back with gusto. The highlight was that 38-yard touchdown strike to Greg Ward, but the rookie showed improvement in other areas as well. Thorson finished 16-of-26 for 175 yards, plus a touchdown and interception. The latter wasn’t technically his fault as DeAndre Thompkins dropped it before the ball floated into the hands of Jaguars cornerback Picasso Nelson Jr. (yup, we just wanted to print that name).
2. Daeshon Hall, Defensive End
What is there left to say about Hall? He has been an absolute revelation on the outside and the Eagles would be fools not to immediately move him ahead of both Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller on the depth chart. He picked up two more sacks and punched a ball loose for a fumble, bringing his two-game total up to three sacks and two forced fumbles. Better yet, he showed no sign of being bothered by last week’s shoulder injury. He was a nightmare matchup all night and put consistent heat on the Jaguars quarterbacks. Hall did catch some heat from the coaching staff after starting to bust out a few dance moves after his second sack. Jacksonville was in a hurry-up offense and he wasn’t back in position. Minor detail.
3. Miles Sanders, Running Back
The rookie out of Penn State finally showed why the excitement has been boiling over like pasta water. He took the first draw of the game and busted loose for 12 yards and a first down. Sanders then broke free for a 16-yard ramble on first down deep in his own territory late in the first quarter. He flashed the vision and quickness that had been drawing comparisons to LeSean McCoy. Sanders rushed five times for 31 yards. But it was what he did in the passing game that had everyone talking. The fleet-footed running back blew up Joe Giles-Harris, a 234-pound linebacker for the Jaguars. He can block, folks.
4. T.J. Edwards, Linebacker
Eagles announcer Ross Tucker couldn’t get over how Edwards went undrafted. Neither can we. The heady linebacker out of Wisconsin was a force all evening with his inside-out pursuit and ability to track down speedy backs and receivers. Forget his 4.77 time in the 40-yard dash. Edwards has football speed. The Eagles should be thinking long and hard about keeping him on the 53, especially as the rest of their linebackers continue to struggle. Edwards finished with three tackles against Jacksonville, but he was always around the action.
5. Jordan Mailata, Right Tackle
The former Australian rugby player earned a few handshakes’ worth of praise after a solid effort against Tennessee. One week later, he was paving some big lanes for Miles Sanders while holding his own in pass protection. Mailata — at 6-foot-8 and 350 pounds — should be a guy able to carve out a lengthy and productive NFL career, especially if he can control his footwork and limit the false starts. He looked great in Jacksonville and didn’t give up a single sack.