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Should Starters Play in the Preseason?

Eagles

The preseason games have become an afterthought for players other than those fighting for a roster spot.

Philadelphia’s large abundance of new talent needs to gain experience playing together in a game situation. Although they need that kind of experience, the odds of seeing the expected starters in the preseason are very low. Yet, it can be put this way, there are potential starters that would benefit from preseason reps and starters that do not need to take the risk.

Preseason games are the chance for players on the bubble to prove their worth, they are still NFL contests. So, the threat of injury is always prevalent and that is likely the primary fear going through the Eagles. It has been seen too often that players who are set to be the starting pieces to a team play in a preseason game for no longer than even one drive and suffer an injury.

As it was discussed on JAKIB Sports’ “Sports Take”, it is expected that the preseason will not feature any supposed starters. Players like Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Brandon Graham, and other key proven members do not need to step foot on the preseason field. The coaches know what they are capable of and that they need to avoid any chance of injury to living up to the hype that has been circulating.

“Going from the preseason to the regular season, it amps up 20% when you hit the field and it all counts,” said Barrett Brooks earlier this week. “When it counts, you got to be out there because you don’t know what game is going to keep you from getting into the playoffs.”

It is a different story for the players who are known to be starting but still need more exposure to game action. Along those lines include Miles Sanders, alongside the rest of the main RBs. Sanders can benefit from getting some playing time to help with getting back into the groove after an on-and-off 2021 season. Yet, it is unlikely to occur judging by his zero offensive snaps in the last year’s preseason games. Perhaps an abundance of Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott will be the occasion for the early parts of the games, at least.

The big controversy is regarding whether or not Jalen Hurts should take some snaps. Last preseason, Hurts also did not take a single snap, but as he enters yet another season to show improvement, a few preseason snaps could be a good idea. Training camp reports on Hurts have been rather inconclusive, to be honest, which is not what is desired in such an important season. His camp performances as a passer are inconsistent, whereas one day he is said to be making ill-advised throws and the next day he will light it up with productivity.

Playing in even a single drive during the season, hopefully where he can make some throws rather than handing the ball off, should be considered. It is not as if Hurts is expected to play an entire half or quarter of a game, but just to get the feel back of playing against another team is necessary. Nevertheless, this is where the training camp joint practices come into play.

Philadelphia is set to hold joint practices with the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins ahead of their respective preseason matchups. These practice opportunities are likely where the coaches will take advantage of seeing Hurts compete against a different team, rather than the games. While this exposure will be helpful to get a new look at another team than his own, Hurts would get more out of a few snaps in the actual game.

Although the risk of injury would be there, in-game experience, no matter the situation, will help with Hurts’ evaluation. There is no doubt that Hurts will be the starting quarterback entering the regular season, being exposed to a drive or a few plays in preseason should be considered. The argument of whether or not starters should play in the preseason has evolved over the years. The fear of injury has taken over, so no matter what kind of benefits these snaps will hold, the likelihood of it occurring is very low.

– You can reach Alex Schmidt at schmidty2436@gmail.com