The Philadelphia Eagles sat their starters on Sunday in the second preseason game. Head coach Nick Sirianni went with Gardner Minshew under center, protected by his second-team offensive line, and flanked by running back Boston Scott.
Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor were the starting receivers. Sirianni had seen enough from the two joint practices with the Cleveland Browns on Thursday and Friday. Those live controlled scrimmages got spicy and physical, which is exactly what they were designed to do.
“The starters played like two games in a row, that’s how we look at those joint practices,” Sirianni told Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro at halftime. “I saw what I needed to see. We got great work. I appreciate Cleveland having us.”
There were some highlight-reel plays in the first half, perhaps best illustrated by rookie center Cam Jurgens. The cattle rancher from Nebraska ran 10 yards down the field to clear the way for Scott on the Eagles’ first drive. He dropped Browns safety D’Anthony Bell like a bouncer at a night club on the 13-yard scamper.
Jurgens has been drawing big-time comparisons to Jason Kelce throughout training camp. Their playing styles are eerily similar, something not lost on Sirianni.
“Obviously, I don’t want to compare him to Jason Kelce at this particular time. Jason Kelce has been playing at a high level for so long,” Sirianni told reporters on August 14. “There definitely are comparisons, and we saw that. Any time you evaluate a guy on college tape you try to make a comparison to paint a picture of what you see. So that was the comparison we saw at Nebraska. And of course, yes, the way he kind of moves around, pulls, gets to the second level, a lot of similarities.”
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Deon Cain Making Big Plays, Fighting for Roster Spot
Deon Cain is fighting his tail off for a roster spot on a suddenly stacked Philly receiving corps. He stated a loud case for sticking around on back-to-back grabs in the first half. On the second one, Cain went up to steal the ball away from Browns cornerback Lavert Hill on a nice back-shoulder throw from Minshew. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound receiver got some air and made an outstanding play.
Cain made four catches for 59 yards in the first half as the Eagles took a 14-13 lead into the halftime locker room. Watkins had two grabs for 19 yards; Reagor made two catches for 17 yards; and Zach Pascal had one reception for 15 yards. Cain is a long shot to make the 53, but he’s having a really good camp and preseason.
Boston Scott Moving Ahead of Kenny Gainwell
The Eagles featured Scott almost entirely on their opening drive. The veteran back rushed 10 times for 33 yards before capping the series with a 1-yard touchdown run. Scott was physical, explosive, and aggressive on every one of his touches. He even converted a tough fourth down on a chain-moving second effort. The No. 2 spot on the depth chart has been Kenny Gainwell’s to lose all summer, and he might lose it. That’s how good Scott has been.
Gainwell also flashed when he got his opportunity on Sunday. He finished with 46 yards on 11 carries, including a 2-yard scoring gallop of his own. Gainwell also juked Browns safety Richard LeCounte out of his cleats late in the first quarter to pick up a huge first down.
Minshew enjoyed a decent first half running the first-team offense, too. He went 14-of-17 for 142 yards for a 101.5 QB rating. The Eagles backup did a miss a couple of off-target throws, plus nearly threw a 99-yard pick-six to close out the second quarter. All things considered, Minshew played a solid first half.