Possible Lane Johnson suspension means new-look OL vs. Steelers

The Philadelphia Eagles are at the Pittsburgh Steelers for a Thursday preseason game (7 p.m. ET). Here's a quick position-by-position breakdown of what we'll be watching for:


Sam Bradford and the rest of the first team are expected to play at least a quarter after getting just three snaps in the opener against the Bucs. It's a good chance to gauge just how comfortable he is getting in this new offensive system. No Carson Wentz (ribs) likely means extended playing time for Chase Daniel, who had a rocky outing against Tampa.

Running back

Rookie Wendell Smallwood is hoping to suit up after missing the preseason opener with a quad strain. The Eagles have to figure out how the depth chart will look behind Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Kenjon Barner and rookies Cedric O'Neal and Byron Marshall can help their cases with strong outings.

Wide receiver

Dorial Green-Beckham will be held out because he hasn't had the chance to practice with his new team yet since being acquired from the Titans, but that doesn't mean his presence won't be felt. I'm curious to see how Nelson Agholor, Rueben Randle and company respond now that further competition has been added. Jordan Matthews remains sidelined with a knee injury.

Tight end

Keep an eye on the types of formations head coach Doug Pederson utilizes. During the first team's cameo against the Bucs, he went with a three tight-end set near the goal line that resulted in a Matthews touchdown. Pederson has a good group with Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Trey Burton, and will likely use a little creativity to get them all involved.

Offensive line

Preparing for a possible Lane Johnson suspension, Doug Pederson plans on starting Allen Barbre at right tackle while rookie Isaac Seumalo slides into Barbre's normal spot at left guard. Jason Peters is expected to play after missing last week with a quad injury.

Defensive end

Marcus Smith (concussion) is expected to play after missing last week with a concussion. Steven Means had a productive outing in his absence and appears to be pushing for the fourth defensive end spot behind Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham. Smith, a former first-round pick, needs to start showing his talent.

Defensive tackle

There are several players competing for backup spots, including Beau Allen, Taylor Hart and rookie Destiny Vaeao. All should get extra reps with veteran Mike Martin out with injury.


Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) is expected to sit out. Depth at linebacker is a real question mark on this team; this could serve as a good test. Undrafted rookie Myke Tavarres out of Incarnate Word has had some positive buzz around him and is worth keeping an eye on.


The battle continues for the starting corner spot opposite Leodis McKelvin. Ron Brooks is the early favorite, but Nolan Carroll has a chance to catch him. Rookie Jalen Mills, who has impressed for much of the summer, is out with a hamstring injury, Pederson said.


Standout safety Malcolm Jenkins (hamstring) should play after missing the Bucs game, meaning we'll likely get our first taste of the Jenkins-Rodney McLeod tandem in a game setting. Jaylen Watkins, Ed Reynolds and rookie Blake Countess are among those fighting for reserve spots.

Special teams

The kicker competition between Cody Parkey and Celeb Sturgis has gone Sturgis' way thus far. It's time for Parkey to make a push.