August 14, 2023   4 MIN READ

‘The Talent is There’

ITB: Rookies and Backups Show Promise in Preseason Opener


Rookies and backups for the Philadelphia Eagles got their first chance in the spotlight during the team’s 20-19 loss to the Baltimore Ravens

On the latest episode of “Inside The Birds,” Adam Caplan and Geoff Mosher provided intel from the Eagles’ preseason opener.

Eli Ricks

Undrafted CB Eli Ricks had a standout game in the Eagles’ preseason opener

Marcus Mariota

Adam Caplan: “He had some throws that were not quite where they needed to be, then he made some better throws. His wheels are great…He’s healthy, but he needs to calm down and not play so fast. The arm strength isn’t the problem, the accuracy still is challenging.”

Tanner McKee

Geoff Mosher: “I know the Eagles were pleased with how he knew where he wanted to go with the ball. The play he hit Johnny King was a nice throw. It looked like a Cover 3, so the seams were going to be open…and then to throw backshoulder like that to Tyree Cleveland…it’s pretty clear why he got more time than Ian Book.”

Caplan: “I know the accuracy was not great, but he stood tall in the pocket and he drove the football down with great throws. That throw to King, he takes a step to his right and throws it back, was a big-time NFL throw.”

Jalen Carter

Caplan: “That was a Ndamukong Suh move: arm over and get the hell out of here. That was a beautiful move, I probably watched that 20 times. He’s not the flash player that Jordan Davis is, but this guy is so strong and violent with his hands.”

Mosher: “I love your Ndamukong Suh comparison. It’s not going to be all pass rush or all runs, it’s going to be a nice blend of both, kind of Fletcher Cox-ish too.”

Nolan Smith

Mosher: “There is your time speed and your measurable strength versus your play speed and play strength. Nolan Smith’s play speed and timed speed match up really well. He has NFL edge rusher elite speed that is going to manifest pretty quickly. If you put him in the right spots, make him a joker, line him up and just let him go, you’re going to see great speed. However, his play strength needs to get better, which is very common among light rookies. He is a physical player, a willing tackler, they just want to see him get a little stronger because when you get your hands on him you can move him.”

Eli Ricks

Caplan: “Ricks had the touchdown. It was nice, he read the quarterback’s eyes. The knock on him is his body type; he is very thin. You worry about him holding up, but he is long. There has not been any talk that we have heard about him of him being a safety. He needs to get stronger physically, but there is talent there.”

Sydney Brown

Mosher: “He showed you exactly what the Eagles knew they were getting. They know he’s not a specializer in coverage, but he has juice…that kind of guy you can work with and mask his coverage limitations. They are going to put him in zone.”

Caplan: “He’s not a great coverage safety, but he’s a knife. He’s a first and second level defender, not a third level which means deeper downfield. But you can win with guys like this who are sure tacklers.”

Zach Cunningham/Myles Jack

Caplan: “It all ends in $1.775 million, it’s just how they get there. Jack’s base salary is a little higher. Neither of their salaries are guaranteed. Jack’s is $1.165 million. Both players got per-game roster bonuses of over $30,000 per-game. The guarantees in signing bonus is $25,000.”

– Benjamin Paul is a staff writer for

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