The Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans kick-off the 2019 NFL season Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field. The game is everyone’s first taste of real football, at least the real football that doesn’t involve starters. Following a two-week stretch that saw the injury bug hit the Eagles hard — Cre’Von LeBlanc, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Joe Ostman — it’s time to put on the pads and go.
The last time these two teams met it didn’t end well for the Eagles. The team lost a game they probably should have won after a self-inflicted wound by Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins on a holding penalty gave the Titans a first-and-goal with 24 seconds. Then, safety Corey Graham got beat badly on a touchdown by Corey Davis.
That was overtime. Game over. Titans win 26-23. Turn the page. First, this is preseason so not nearly the same weight. Second, Graham is no longer on the roster.
With that being said, there are plenty of reasons to be excited for Thursday night. This is a chance to evaluate the rookies and bubble guys in a competitive setting. Nate Sudfeld will likely draw the start at quarterback and it’s the first chance for everyone to see whether Nick Foles’ successor can handle the presser cooker. Sudfeld has gone 20-for-25 in his NFL career for 156 passing yards and one touchdown.
Familiar Faces on the Other Sideline
There will be quite a few guys with ties to both the Eagles and Titans on the field Thursday. The Eagles recently signed Johnathan Cyprien after the Titans released him way back in March. The 29-year-old has been fighting his way back from season-ending knee surgery after going down at the beginning of Titans training camp in 2018. Cyprien started 10 games for Tennessee in 2017 and finished with 57 tackles and one sack. Cyprien admitted to having the “football itch” earlier this week. This could be his last chance to scratch it.
On the other side of the ball, look for Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler. Lewis was drafted by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by then-coach Andy Reid. He was caught in a logjam at running back (look, he wasn’t beating out LeSean McCoy) and never got a true shot to start despite being a valuable contributor as a kick returner on special teams. Lewis piled up 171 yards on 36 carries with the Eagles before being traded to Cleveland for Emmanuel Acho in 2013. In six NFL seasons, Lewis has been a dual-threat with 2,101 rushing yards and 1,1117 receiving yards.
Malcolm Butler begins his second year in Tennessee following a memorable run with the New England Patriots. The familiarity between the Eagles and Butler stems back to Super Bowl LII when Patriots coach Bill Belichick oddly benched the starting cornerback. Butler, thought to be a true shutdown corner, played just one snap in the game and it came on special teams with the Eagles leading 9-3. The move remains one of the greatest mysteries in Super Bowl history.
When: Thursday, August 8, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
How to Watch: NBC10 (TV), 94WIP (Radio), FuboTV (Online), NFL Network (replay at 8 a.m. on August 10)
TV Announcers: Scott Graham (play-by-play), Ross Tucker (color), Dave Spadaro (sideline)
Series History: The Eagles lead the all-time series 7-5-0, with the Titans most recently winning 26-23 on September 30, 2018. The meeting prior to that went to the Eagles following a 43-24 blowout victory on November 23, 2014.
Odds: Eagles -4 (via Bovada.com)
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Ross Tucker Excited for First Broadcast
Ross Tucker is a lifelong Eagles fan having grown up in nearby Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, about an hour’s drive north of Philly. On Thursday, he’ll make his debut in the Eagles broadcast booth when he joins Scott Graham on the call. Tucker had been running shifts as a pregame analyst for 94WIP in between stints as a sideline reporter for Westwood One radio before landing his “dream job” with the Eagles. He also spent some time doing television for the St. Louis Rams.
“I grew up a huge Eagles fan and I played for five teams other than the Eagles, so you kind of lose that while you’re a player,” Tucker said, via Chris McPherson. “Now living back in the area, where all of your friends and family are Eagles fans, it’s funny. My affinity for the team comes back a little bit each year because you can’t help it otherwise just being around everybody.”
Tucker played seven seasons in the NFL, including one year with Jason Peters in Buffalo, but a spinal-cord injury cut it short. The former offensive lineman spent time in Washington, Dallas, Buffalo and New England. He never played a down for his hometown Eagles.