The Eagles will put brand new head coach Chip Kelly to the test against a Washington Redskins team that won the division last year.
Keep an eye on the Eagles' defense and these four players:
Nate Allen (S) -- Fourth-year player Nate Allen will start at safety for the Eagles. He has shown flashes of being a good player, but there was some speculation that Kelly would start Earl Wolff. Allen is serviceable against the pass but has been weak against the run. It will be interesting to see how he defends against the run-heavy Redskins offense. One thing is for sure: Wolff will be waiting in the wings to get in the game if Allen struggles early.
Riley Cooper (WR) -- Cooper will start in place of Jeremy Maclin, who is recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in training camp. It is no secret that Cooper has been in the spotlight this year for racist comments that he made at a Kenny Chesney concert, but, the real question is, can he fill the shoes of a receiver like Maclin? His production as a starter has not been anything to write home about, and he has yet to break 100 yards receiving in any game in the last three seasons. Maclin was always a threat to take it to the house, but Cooper is not that type of player. Look for Damaris Johnson to get increased looks if Cooper fails to impress.
Eagles defense -- The Eagles' defensive unit as a whole has been unimpressive in the preseason, There are clear concerns that this team will not be able to stop the run. In Game 1 of the preseason, the unit was gashed for 248 yards and three touchdowns on the ground by the New England Patriots. They did much better in Week 2 of the preseason, holding the Carolina Panthers to just 74 yards on the ground. But in Week 3, they were at it again and let the Jacksonville Jaguars roll up 202 rushing yards and a score on the ground. Things could get ugly fast if the Eagles' defense fails to find a way to stop the run against the Redskins.
Trent Cole (OLB) -- There was a time when saying the name Trent Cole brought fear to the ears of opposing quarterbacks in the NFL, but Cole has not been the same player the last couple of seasons. After working as a 4-3 defensive end throughout his first nine years in the league, Cole now makes the transition to outside linebacker. He has not stood out in the preseason, so it is hard to say how he will do in regular-season play. He is sure to struggle if he has to drop back into coverage. Cole enters the season as the Eagles' third all-time sack leader, so it is hard not to root for him to make a big impact in his new position
DeSean Jackson (WR) -- Jackson has so much talent that he should thrive in Kelly's offense. He has often been characterized as soft for not being willing to take a hit, being outspoken and generally being tough to coach. Despite all this, I think he will have a tremendous season this year. It is no secret Jackson had issues with former Eagles coach Andy Reid, but Reid has gone on to the Kansas City Chiefs and Jackson has a fresh start in an offense that should cater to his dynamic speed. Look for Kelly to move him all over the field. He will also be returning punts this year, and opponents know all too well how dangerous he can be in that capacity. Jackson should be able to pass the 1,000-yard mark with ease this season.
Jesse Dinkel has been following the Philadelphia Eagles since 1976. Jesse has been published on Yahoo Voices as well as multiple newspapers and blogs.
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