FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Five quick takes from Thursday's preseason loss to the Patriots:
Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, who is the Eagles' season-opening Plan B at quarterback if Carson Wentz isn't ready to go, strained his shoulder early in the second quarter when he was hit by Patriots defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who beat Eagles left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai on the play. The severity of Foles' injury wasn't known. The Eagles are hoping that Wentz will be able to participate in 11-on-11 work next week. But he still hasn't been cleared for contact.
In February, when it counted, Foles was magic on third down against the Patriots, completing 11 of 14 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles' 41-33 Super Bowl win. The Eagles converted 10 of 16 third-down opportunities against the Patriots in that game. On Thursday night, Foles was 1-for-2 for eight yards on third down and was sacked twice.
The Nickel Situation
It's looking like Sidney Jones probably will be the Eagles' season-opening nickel corner, with Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills starting on the outside. Mills didn't play Thursday, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz still kept Jones inside with the No. 1 defense, replacing Mills on the outside with Rasul Douglas. Rookie fourth-round pick Avonte Maddox also got some first-quarter snaps at nickel ahead of the other nickel candidate, De'Vante Bausby. Not sure if there's any meaning there other than Schwartz wanted to see the 5-9 Maddox with the No. 1 defense.
Pencil Gibson in
Shelton Gibson solidified his hold on the fifth wide receiver spot Thursday. He had three catches in the first half, including a four-yard touchdown catch from Nate Sudfeld in the second quarter. Caught a 57-yard pass from Sudfeld in the third quarter. Gibson also might be the team's primary kick returner unless special teams coordinator Dave Fipp decides to use Darren Sproles, which he has said probably is unlikely. Gibson averaged an impressive 30.3 yards on three kickoff returns in the first half.
Fourth running back job still up for grabs
With Donnel Pumphrey and Josh Adams both out with injuries, Wendell Smallwood and Matt Jones had an opportunity to gain some ground in the battle for the fourth running back spot behind Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Sproles Thursday night. But neither of them distinguished themselves. Jones, who started the second half, dropped three passes in the third quarter, including one that ricocheted right into the hands of Patriots linebacker Christian Sam for an interception. Smallwood had just one rushing yard on four attempts in the first three quarters.