Philadelphia Eagles: Winners and losers from the preseason finale

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With a plethora of interesting storylines to watch in the Philadelphia Eagles’ final preseason game, how did Hackenberg, Mailata and the RBs perform?

After all of the drama of last night’s game, the 2018 preseason is finally over and we can now begin to set our sights on the regular season. Now, the Philadelphia Eagles must trim their roster down to 53 players and begin the quick turn around to get ready for the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.

Prior to the game, I took a look at three intriguing storylines to watch for throughout the game. Now, with the game in the rearview mirror, we can take a look at the questions posed and try to answer them from what we learned tonight.

Who will win the fourth running back battle?

The first question was, will the Eagles even keep four running backs? For now, we can assume the answer to that is yes. Next, who will the Eagles keep as their fourth back? That battle came down to, Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey, and Matt Jones.

Tonight, Smallwood did not see any action. That could mean one of two things. One, he is on the roster as the fourth back and the Eagles were resting him, which seems unlikely because why would the Eagles rest their fourth running back. The other scenario is that the Eagles are ready to move on from Smallwood and wanted to look at the rest of their guys.

Smallwood had a very good preseason, but it seems every time he takes a step forward, he takes two steps back or suffers an injury. With all of these other young guys around, it may be hard for the Eagles to hold onto Wendell.

Adams saw the bulk of the action tonight but did not produce at a high clip, rushing 13 times for 27 yards; a mere 2.1 yards per carry. But, Adams had a very strong showing in camp when healthy, and if he can stay healthy, then he can produce, especially on special teams. Right now, it looks like Adams is the favorite to win this battle.

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Pumphrey saw a little bit of action tonight, his first live game looks of the preseason. He carried one time for three yards and recorded three catches for 39 yards. He looked promising especially in the passing game, but given his injury history, it seems hard to imagine the Eagles keeping him around. If cut, there is a possibility the Eagles bring him back and stash him on the practice squad should he clear waivers, but that may be easier said than done.

Lastly, we pretty much wrote off Jones prior to this game, but he did turn in the most impressive performance of the running backs tonight. Jones rushed nine times for 54 yards and caught a few balls, including the game-winning touchdown catch. It was a good showing for Jones, but overall his preseason has been subpar and he has had ball control issues. Odds are, he will not be here when the roster trims down, but there is a chance he latches on elsewhere.

Did Jordan Mailata earn a roster spot?

Let’s make this simple. Jordan Mailata will be on the Eagles final roster. That could be viewed as a bold prediction, but given the way he has improved each and every week, there is no way the Eagles can cut him and risk losing him to another team on waivers.

Mailata played excellent once again and is beginning to look like a guy who has the potential to not just be an average NFL player but someone who could be an All-Pro in this league; possibly the heir to Jason Peters at left tackle.

So after another stellar performance tonight against the Jets, the former Australian Rugby star should see himself on his first NFL roster and make another step in his journey to a starting tackle in this league.

Can Christian Hackenberg Resurrect Himself?

As expected, Christian Hackenberg turned in yet another lackluster performance on Thursday night, something we have all come accustomed to. The former Penn State quarterback went 7-16 and threw two interceptions. He was so bad that the Eagles pulled him and put back in Joe Callahan, who started Thursday’s game.

Hackenberg will obviously be released when the rosters are trimmed down, and it is hard to imagine him being claimed off of the waiver wire. With that being said, could the Eagles possibly bring Hackenberg back on the practice squad and view him as a project? All of that remains to be seen.

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Now with the preseason all done and the rosters soon to be trimmed down to 53 players, we can now turn our sights to opening night as the Eagles begin their quest to defend their title. And most importantly, will Carson Wentz be suiting up come Thursday night?