THE EAGLES' starters gave you nothing to panic over, vent your spleen about, or even loudly lament this morning.
When the witching hour arrived - the gun ending the first quarter - coach Andy Reid yanked his first-teamers with a 165-10 edge in net yards. The Jacksonville Jaguars' subs eventually changed the momentum, before the Eagles wrested it back for a 28-27 victory at Lincoln Financial Field. But you couldn't find the fingerprints of Kevin Kolb or Stewart Bradley on any of the messy hairpulling of the final three quarters; they left with the Birds up, 6-0.
What any of this means, of course, is anyone's guess, but it has to be at least mildly comforting that Kolb's 2.5 drives were crisp and steady, and the first defensive unit gave up no first downs. A Brent Celek end-zone drop and a Leonard Weaver red-zone penalty led the Birds to settle for a pair of early David Akers field goals, instead of touchdowns. Akers finished the night 5-for-5, which was good for him but not quite what you want from an offense that racks up 496 yards.
"Got to do better in the red zone," Reid said. "It's nice to get David some kicks, but not that many."
"I thought there was a lot of energy," Kolb said after completing six of 11 passes for 95 yards and an 83.5 passer rating. He wasn't sacked, though he did scramble twice, for 15 yards. "I think it's just kind of how we carry ourselves as a team. You feel it in practice, you feel it in the locker room, you obviously felt it tonight; who knows what the first regular-season game's going to be like?"
Kolb said the young offense "felt pretty vibrant and pretty on point."
"We had a couple of little easy plays slip away from us, but I thought overall it was a positive night. The thing I liked about the red zone [problems] is, it was self-inflicted . . . stuff we can fix, easy," Kolb said.
For people who are going to be all like that, while Kolb was working it at the Linc, Donovan McNabb was completing five of eight passes for 58 yards and a touchdown, which netted him a 124.0 passer rating, down in Maryland, where the Redskins trounced the Bills.
Wideout DeSean Jackson hasn't spoken to reporters in camp, but he made the halftime quote sheet provided by the team. Jackson looked razor-sharp, catching two passes for 46 yards and undressing Jaguars cornerback Derek Cox on a 17-yard end-around.
"It went pretty well," Jackson said. "The biggest thing about today was starting a new era, and we had Kolb out there and we're just starting something new and we're having a good time."
Regarding Kolb, Jackson said: "I like how the momentum started in the huddle and then he delivered the play. We got out on the line of scrimmage, and we were ready to go. The energy is up there and and the intensity is up there."
Bradley hadn't played since the NFC Championship Game early in 2009; he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament early in training camp last August.
"I felt really good out there," said Bradley, the Birds' middle linebacker. "We didn't really have that many snaps; we only had six plays" with Kolb and the offense dominating the clock. "It was short-lived, but two three-and-outs is what you want to do as a defense, so we feel really good about it."
The second- and third-team defenders presumably felt a lot less good, as they were torched for three long touchdown passes from Jacksonville backup QB Luke McCown in the second and third quarters.
The Eagles' backup QB, Michael Vick, had a more up-and-down evening. There was a 46-yard bomb to rookie wideout Riley Cooper, and a vintage 10-yard TD scramble, but also a terrible red-zone fumble and an even worse interception, when Vick badly overthrew rookie running back Charles Scott. Vick was on the run and didn't set his feet.
Vick left in favor of rookie Mike Kafka after completing 11 of 17 passes for 119 yards but just a 60.7 passer rating, thanks to the pick. He rambled for 50 yards on six carries. You could say he looked like the old, Atlanta Vick - the good and the bad parts.
Rookie starting free safety Nate Allen's half-dozen snaps were uneventful. "It was a dream, being out there and playing your first NFL game," Allen said.
He acknowledged he didn't get much work. "I may have jumped on a pile one time, but that's about it."
Bad night for Eagles sub safeties - Quintin Demps went down with a knee sprain early, and Antoine Harris suffered a second-half lisfranc sprain that probably will end his season.
"I'm going to suit up," threatened defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, a backfield teammate of Darren Sharper at William and Mary.
This all could benefit seventh-round rookie Kurt Coleman, who got mixed up in coverage a few times but also showed his hitting skills.
Mike McGlynn's quarter at center seemed very solid, pass-blocking and run-blocking. "I think it went pretty well," McGlynn said. "We protected Kev good and had a couple scoring opportunities." McGlynn said he had no problem making the blocking calls . . . Ken Parrish's kickoffs seemed pretty decent, the Eagles' coverage less so. Twice Parrish was the guy who made the tackle, which is almost certainly not what Bobby April had in mind . . . Martell Mallett, already cut once and brought back during this camp, scored on a 3-yard run early in the fourth quarter, bringing the Eagles within 27-25 . . . Tight end Cornelius Ingram said just getting some second-half snaps was "huge," since he hadn't played in a game since Jan. 1, 2008.
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