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Eagles vs. Patriots: What to Watch For in Pre-Season Game Two

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Monday.. Monday.. Monday!

I feel it, and you do too. That withdrawal from Philadelphia Eagles football is finally ending when Philly takes on the New England Patriots on pre-season Monday Night Football. This marquee match-up was pumped-up last season, and after the Eagles were embarrassed at home, there’s still some bad blood, not counting the stuff that’s left over from the Super Bowl. Although it’s only pre-season, there’s going to be some heat on the field.

Be ready.

Here are some things to watch in Philly’s second pre-season game:

How’s Nnamdi doing?

Following an incredibly scary collision with Nate Allen, there were serious doubts if Nnamdi Asomugha would be able to play in this game, and possibly even beyond that. However, he has rebounded quickly and according to Andy Reid, he’s starting against New England. His reps will likely be very limited, but it will still be exciting to see what he can do against Tom Brady. His performance last year against Brady was mediocre, and he’ll likely be looking to save some face. But quite possibly more importantly, we’ll get an idea exactly how healthy he is.

Mike-Mike-Mike!

Along with being a newly re-ignited rivalry in Philly and Boston, Michael Vick and Brady have something-something going on too. The two are totally opposite in almost every possible way, and two-seasons ago many feel that Vick was robbed of the MVP when Brady won it. But beyond that, Vick struggled against the Steelers first-team defense last week, and this is his chance to show what this offense can do. New England may have drafted super defense-heavy, but this entire unit is still riddled with holes. If Philadelphia’s offense stalls in this game, there might be some cause for concern.

Which RB will impress this week?

I wrote last week that I was amazed by the entire Philadelphia backfield. Beyond LeSean McCoy, this team has more depth at running back than arguably any other unit in the entire NFL. There’s little question that Dion Lewis will deliver, but the duo behind him of Bryce Brown and Chris Polk are the two that are the most interesting. One will likely be cut, but both have shown excellent value, and watching these two battle should be fun.

Keep an eye on Brandon Boykin!

I know I’ve been preaching about this kid since he was drafted, but just watch him. He should be seeing some time in the slot and also on kick returns. You’ll quickly learn why.

How much will we see?

Last week against the Steelers the play calling was creative and effective, which is rare for the pre-season. Reid may dial it back against the Patriots, and we may see more of a vanilla offense and defense. However, there will be some of those patented wild plays that the Eagles have become famous for, as Reid loves nothing more than testing them out when nothing is on the line. Watch for Vick to do some fancy stuff in the backfield, and on defense don’t miss the exotic blitzes.

Brandon Graham.. Not a bust?

He called himself out this off-season, but thus far at full-health, Brandon Graham has looked great. His jump off the line has been deadly and his flat-line speed in the backfield is making people notice how talented he really is. Graham’s convenient arrival in the NFL couldn’t have come at a better time as Jason Babin is still nursing a small injury that may carry into the regular season. If he continues to play the way he has, he could end up being the biggest sleeper talent on this defense.

Watch the WR depth..

When the Eagles third-team receivers are looking good — you know the team is set for the upcoming season. My personal favorite receiver this pre-season has been the undrafted Damarius Johnson, who is looking more and more like a mini-DeSean Jackson with a tougher attitude and minus the ego.

Hope we win!

I know it’s only the pre-season, but I still don’t want to see the Eagles lose to the Patriots again. It’s still painful, even now.


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