untung99.biz: Eagles Jalen Carter shows star power on 1st NFL snap in loss to Ravens

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BALTIMORE − As expected, the Eagles held their starters out of their first preseason game Saturday night.

So no Jalen Hurts, Jason Kelce, Haason Reddick or any of the top four receivers in A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert and Quez Watkins.

But there was still plenty of intrigue, even though the Eagles lost 20-19 to the Baltimore Ravens. And it had little to do with the Ravens extending their NFL-record preseason winning streak to 24 games.

First-round pick Jalen Carter, a defensive tackle, needed only one play to show the greatness that awaits him. On the third play of the game, he blew past his former Georgia teammate Ben Cleveland, tossing him aside like a rag doll, as he then burst in on quarterback Josh Johnson, wrapping him up by his legs before Johnson somehow got a pass off out of bounds.

“It did kind of (make me) smile,” Carter said. “First play of my NFL season, getting to the quarterback, that was pretty awesome. I plan on doing that more.”

The Eagles saw enough as Carter played only one more snap.

Then there was Eli Ricks, an undrafted free-agent cornerback from Alabama. He returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Ricks is one of several young cornerbacks hoping to make the 53-man roster.

“The quarterback (Anthony Brown) was throwing to the (sideline), and I knew I could snag it,” Ricks said. “And if I get it, it’s going to the house.”

Rookie quarterback Tanner McKee played well in his first NFL game, taking over for Marcus Mariota in the second quarter. McKee played the second and third quarters and led the Eagles on their only touchdown drive. He completed 10 of 20 passes for 148 yards. Two of those passes went for more than 25 yards.

Third-round pick Sydney Brown, a safety, led the Eagles with nine tackles. He also had a pass breakup.

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But there were some lapses, too, as Ravens running back Justice Hill broke free for 37 yards in the first quarter, setting up the Ravens’ first touchdown.

And the Eagles suffered a key injury when special teams ace Shaun Bradley was taken off the field on a cart after suffering a lower leg injury.

Here are some other observations from the game:

Jalen Carter makes impact on first snap

Carter didn’t start the game with the Eagles’ second-team defense. But he came in on the third play, with the Ravens facing third-and-10 from their 29.

Carter showed his speed and power up the middle, blowing past Cleveland to get to Johnson.

“I knew it was going to be a pass,” Carter said. “We were in certain rush front. So I’m thinking pass off the rip, so I got off the ball and I felt (Cleveland’s) presence heavy on my left shoulder, so I hit him inside.”

And then, he was barreling toward Johnson.

Fellow first-round pick and edge rusher Nolan Smith, Carter’s teammate at Georgia, had seen that for three seasons.

“I was just rushing the edge to make sure quarterback stayed in the pocket, doing my job, so my big dog can eat,” Smith said. “I tell him it’s a race to the quarterback every time, but when one of my dogs gets there, I’m going to celebrate him.”

As for Smith, he played most of the first half. He was credited with a QB hit, but he also lost containment on Hill’s 37-yard run.

QB Tanner McKee takes advantage of his chance

During the past week, McKee was moved up to the third-string QB ahead of Ian Book. So McKee got his chance early in the second quarter.

His first pass was a 27-yard completion to Tyrie Cleveland. He hit Cleveland again for 8 yards on that same drive that resulted in a field goal.

On the next drive, McKee hit Johnny King for 33 yards and then Cleveland again for 18 yards down to the Ravens’ 2-yard line. Trey Sermon scored the Eagles’ first touchdown of the preseason on the next play for a 13-7 Eagles lead with 3:51 left in the second quarter.

McKee also showed poise on the Eagles’ last series of the second quarter. The Eagles faced a fourth-and-1 from their 33, when McKee faked an inside handoff, then pivoted and threw the ball into the flat for Greg Ward for a 17-yard gain. The drive stalled.

“He was really calm and poised and operated really well for a young guy,” said Eagles QB Marcus Mariota, who played the first two series for the Eagles.

Ian Book played the fourth quarter and didn’t fare nearly as well. His biggest mistake came on third-and-8 from the Ravens’ 49. He tried to escape pressure, but instead of throwing the ball away, he held onto the ball and was sacked for a 21-yard loss.

Eagles recover a fumbled punt as key special teamer is hurt

Ty Zentner, who is competing for the punting job with incumbent Arryn Siposs, got his first chance with the Eagles at midfield. He angled a high kick that James Proche caught, but fumbled away. Mekhi Garner forced the fumble, and Rick Lovato, who snapped the ball, recovered it at the Ravens’ 14-yard line.

On the play, Bradley, one of the Eagles’ key special teams players, hurt his leg and was carted off. The Eagles said Bradley suffered a lower leg injury and was ruled out for the rest of the game.

The Eagles couldn’t take advantage of the good field position, however. On fourth-and-2 from the 6, McKee threw incomplete into the end zone for Joseph Ngata.

Mariota starts at QB, is happy to get hit

Mariota wasn’t flashy, finishing 7-for-11 for 58 yards. He overthrew a few receivers. But he showed his running ability, a quality the Eagles valued as Hurts’ backup.

On third-and-13 on the Eagles’ first drive, Mariota escaped pressure and picked up 14 yards for a first down. He later gained 2 yards on fourth-and-1 from the Ravens’ 29.

But he threw incomplete twice after that and the Eagles settled for Jake Elliott’s 45-yard field goal.

Mariota had 29 yards rushing on four carries. It was important for him to play.

“It’s just to get live action in the system,” he said. “I’ve always been a reps guy. I always feel that I’ve learned more from experience, so to be able to get out there and play, to be under the gun in the play clock, and to get into these situations, I think it’s very important for me.”

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Mixed bag for running backs

The Eagles held out Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott. D’Andre Swift played the first series. He had a 22-yard gain and finished with 24 yards on two carries. Rashaad Penny played the rest of the first quarter and the second, gaining 34 yards on nine carries.

Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks split the second half. Brooks had a costly fumble in the fourth quarter, enabling the Ravens to kick a field goal.

Jalen Hurts sitting out, and Sirianni explains why

Hurts and the Eagles starters were dressed and in uniform for pregame warmups. But then they changed out of their uniforms and watched from the sidelines.

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said that he was holding out the starters because the Eagles are hosting the Cleveland Browns for joint practices beginning Monday.

Sirianni values those practices more than the preseason game because it’s starters vs. starters in a controlled setting − there’s hitting, but quarterbacks are not allowed to get touched.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.