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Preseason vs. regular season: Gauging what’s important now from the Eagles’ perspective | Early Birds

While a team’s win count doesn’t matter around this time of year, it’s more about players showing consistency in live-game scenarios.

Eagles quarterback Joe Flacco passes against the Patriots.
Eagles quarterback Joe Flacco passes against the Patriots.Read moreMONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer

Good morning, Eagles fans! It wasn’t exactly a pretty sight Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Eagles were blanked by the Patriots in a 35-0 defeat.

After participating in warmups, Jalen Hurts missed the game because of a stomach illness and visited a hospital. The second-year quarterback was later cleared my doctors and sent home. Coach Nick Sirianni says the team will take a cautious approach in handling Hurts’ workload as the team prepares to travel in a few days to Florham Park, N.J., where they’ll meet the Jets next week for two joint practices and the final game of the preseason.

The silver lining from the blowout loss to New England? Rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith returned from a sprained MCL injury and made his debut. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner and No. 10 pick from last April’s draft caught two passes for 19 yards. He didn’t show any reservations in his game and frequently created separation on his routes.

“I felt good,” Smith said. “I kept attacking and rehabbing. Right now, I am feeling good.”

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Preseason vs. regular season

With one exhibition remaining, the Eagles are 0-2 in the preseason. How concerned should the team — under the direction of first-year coach Nick Sirianni — be with the possibility of its inconsistencies lingering into the regular-season opener, which is now just 23 days away?

“I think we’re keeping some stuff under wraps right now,” linebacker Alex Singleton said. “Like anything, the preseason, you have joint practices to kind of work through situations that you might not necessarily see until the season. When the preseason games come, you shrink down that play list, so when you get into certain situations, you’re not going to pull out something that you’re going to use in the regular season.”

Within the same locker room, another veteran player took a different approach when asked about his approach to the preseason vs. the regular season.

“Listen,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “The bottom line as players is we’re trying to run their offense and do whatever we can to be successful. Preseason games in a player’s mind might seem like they’re different, but believe me they’re not. It’s still an NFL football game and you have to get yourself ready to go play. You want to be successful. You want to do well. This is our profession. We want to go out there and play well and all that.

“It’s tough for me to comment on what we’re doing now vs. what we’re going to do in the season.”

The Eagles have one final opportunity to rack up a preseason victory next Friday, when they play the Jets at MetLife Stadium. While a team’s win count doesn’t matter around this time of year, it’s more about players showing consistency in live-game scenarios. The Eagles were, by and large, the better team during joint practices this week with the Patriots, but the home team failed to translate that effort on game day. However, in a few weeks, Sirianni will be judged more critically and the outcome will most definitely matter for a franchise that is desperate to re-foster a winning culture.

“You look at our practice this week: We had a good day on Monday and Tuesday; we competed pretty hard,” Sirianni said. “And [Thursday] wasn’t good enough. ... That’s just not going to work in this league, and that was a good example for our guys to see that’s just not what we do. We have to come out and play every day and compete every day.”

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. I detailed several key observations from Eagles vs. Patriots in preseason Week 2.

  2. EJ Smith provided full context on quarterback Jalen Hurts’ absence and his stomach illness.

  3. What should the Eagles do with former first-round pick Andre Dillard? Jeff McLane asks the important question.

  4. Tight end Tyree Jackson is expected to miss eight to 10 weeks because of a back injury.