Preseason games in the NFL have become increasingly irrelevant throughout the years, even with some extreme cases like Sean McVay’s LA Rams sitting their starters through a large portion of last year’s games. And a case could be made that they’re right in doing so, as the risk of an unfortunate injury to a crucial player or even a star is drastically diminished.

The Eagles, however, can’t afford to do the same this year. Primarily because there are so many relevant roster spots up for grabs that Training Camp practices alone won’t suffice. Thus, Philly’s slate (vs. Titans, @ Jaguars, vs. Ravens, @ Jets) will be of the utmost importance for roster management purposes.

The cornerback position, for example, is one very hard to evaluate in non-contact drills. Mental aspects like play recognition are noticeable without contact, but most techniques can only show true improvement on an actual game setting. This gains yet another dimension of importance given the fact that the DB position battles have reportedly been very competitive, with players pushing to their fullest capabilities in order to gain an edge. The addition of a proven veteran like Orlando Scandrick can only help that environment, too.

Rookies also take huge benefits from participating in the preseason. From players expected to become instant contributors, like RB Miles Sanders and WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, to developmental players like QB Clayton Thorson(whose reported early struggles in camp should really not be too worrisome at this point), every rookie gets their first exposure to what a real NFL game feels like in these matchups.

Players returning from injury, even proven stars like S Rodney McLeod, can also take advantage of the preseason environment. One can argue that the highly physical, competitive and violent nature of these games can potentially put such players at risk of re-injury, but only games will get them in game shape. No practice can replicate the speed and physicality of an actual matchup, and it should be better to use a “meaningless” preseason game to get in shape than wait until Week 1.

Finally, prove-it players compose arguably the most benefitted group of players in preseason. This group comprises players that are not battling for a starting spot but have their place in the roster all but secured. Essentially role players, or young up-and-comers who haven’t had a lot of playing time in past seasons. DE Josh Sweat, who has been turning heads so far, is the prime example. There’s little to no pressure on him to perform, so he can use the valuable snaps he’ll get to improve and develop, in order to secure a place in the DL rotation.

Bottom line is that the Birds have more hanging on their preseason games than most teams. So, they should be a joy to watch, along with the unfolding of all the storylines mentioned above. Regardless of the outcomes, Eagles football is back, and we should all be excited to watch as this roster takes shape and develops together ahead of Week 1.

Photo: Eagles Twitter
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