The Eagles' first-team offense looked flat in their contest against the Carolina Panthers during a heavy rainstorm last Thursday, but the backups came to the rescue and pulled out a win in the fourth quarter. Here are some observations from the game:
Lito's Place in the Lineup
Cornerback Lito Sheppard was taken out of the starting lineup before last Thursday's game, and even though he was in an unfamiliar position as the third corner on the depth chart, the two-time Pro Bowler responded with a solid outing and showed that he can still play at a high level. With a little over a minute left in the first half, Sheppard picked off a Jake Delhomme pass on first down and halted Carolina's drive at midfield. Sheppard also had registered one tackle in the game.
McDougle Making an Impact
Few people thought veteran defensive end Jerome McDougle would have a chance at making the Eagles' roster this season, but with the way he has been playing in training camp and in the preseason, the team might have to give him another shot. McDougle, a former first-round pick in 2003, showed great hustle and backside pursuit as he took down Panther's quarterback Matt Moore in the third quarter for a sack, and he also forced a fumble in the game.
Walker Back in Bird's Nest'
Panters' defensive tackle Darwin Walker, who spent the first six years of his career as an Eagle, returned to the place where he had his best statistical seasons as a pro. Walker, a nine-year veteran, recorded 27.5 sacks in his time in Philadelphia, including a career-high 7.5 quarterback take-downs in 2002. He played for the Chicago Bears last season and only registered one sack in 11 contests.
The Eagles' offense lost momentum on many of their drives during the game because of costly penalties. Philadelphia was flagged for eight penalties for a total of 85 yards against Carolina, and many of them were called against the starters. Kevin Curtis was called for an illegal block that took back a Philadelphia first down, Donovan McNabb threw an illegal forward pass on a third down, and guard Max Jean-Gilles was flagged once for holding and once for an illegal use of hands.
Collins Gets the Nod
Jed Collins, an undrafted rookie out of Washington State, got the start at fullback for the Eagles. He had one carry for 3-yards in the game. Collins is battling with Jason Davis and Luke Lawton for the starting fullback spot, and it is still hard to say who has the edge. Davis ran with the first-team in the Eagles' preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Future at QB
While McNabb is the Eagles' franchise quarterback at the moment, Kevin Kolb is expected to take over the reins in the future, and he showed his talent against Carolina. Even though he had a pass picked off by Dante Wesley in the first drive of the third-quarter, Kolb made good decisions with the ball late in the game and helped the Eagles pull out a win with his decisiveness. The coaching staff had him passing from the pocket and rolled him out on a few occasions, and each time he put his throws right on the mark. He finished the game completing 14-of-27 passes for 155-yards, including a 33-yard touchdown pass to Greg Lewis. He also had one rushing attempt that went for 11-yards.
Andrew Pluta can be reached at email@example.com