Good morning. This newsletter comes to you from Boston after the Eagles' 37-20 loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday. The team is off today and does not practice again until Sunday, when Doug Pederson will have a news conference. Nick Foles' injured shoulder will be the biggest topic for Pederson to address.
This is a preseason edition of the Early Birds newsletter, which will arrive in your inbox three days per week until the season begins. If your friends haven't subscribed to Early Birds, it's free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @ZBerm. Thank you for reading.
— Zach Berman
Nick Foles is optimistic that his shoulder injury is not serious. At this point, Foles' health is more important than anything else in the Eagles' preseason loss to the New England Patriots. Foles left the game in the second quarter with a strained shoulder. The Super Bowl MVP immediately winced in pain after he was hit while in his throwing motion. He'll undergo further evaluation in Philadelphia today.
"When you're following on through on a deep ball and somebody grabs your arm when you're going, it's not the best feeling," Foles said after the game. "But I feel optimistic about it, and I'm excited to get into treatment tomorrow and just get this thing moving forward."
Yes, the Eagles have Carson Wentz. The Eagles are now fewer than three weeks until opening day, and even Wentz admitted it's going to be "close" whether he can play or not. A healthy Foles is critical both for the possibility of starting Week 1 and as important Wentz insurance throughout the season. That's why there will be much anticipation during the next 48 hours about whether Foles' optimism is warranted. Foles still reserved hope that he could play next week in Cleveland.
"We're just going to live in the moment and just sort of go day-to-day, so I'm going to do everything I can to get back on the field, and hopefully practice the first day we get back practicing, be ready to roll," Foles said.
If Thursday turned out to be Foles' only preseason game, he didn't leave on a strong note. Foles went 3 of 9 for 44 yards. He was sacked three times. Doug Pederson said Foles' passes sailed high early in the game, and by Foles' own admission, he must play better. Of course, the Eagles know he can. (The Patriots know he can, too.) Foles' preseason performance should not be a big concern at this stage of his career. After all, he didn't participate in the preseason last year. More important for both the Eagles' 2018 season and Foles' future is that the shoulder injury is not serious.
There were other takeaways from Thursday's game, ranging from the defensive penalties (the defense was flagged nine times) to an impressive outing from quarterback Nate Sudfeld (312 yards, three touchdowns) to a growing injury list (Richard Rodgers, Kamar Aiken, and Bryce Treggs were among players injured on Thursday). There will be much for Pederson examine on film. But a successful preseason is surviving it with good health, especially to key players. Foles, the Super Bowl MVP and potential Week 1 starting quarterback, certainly qualifies. The Eagles don't just have a knee to worry about now. They have a shoulder to worry about, too.
I think Nate Sudfeld continuing a strong preseason will make the Eagles more comfortable to have him as Carson Wentz's No. 2 quarterback next season — not necessarily to trade Nick Foles. I don't anticipate the Eagles lowering their price tag for Foles because of the way Sudfeld has played, and I don't see a team sacrificing a Sam Bradford-type deal for Foles. There's always the possibility that there's an injury elsewhere to a starting quarterback on a contender before the season, although there are other options, too. (Teddy Bridgewater, of all quarterbacks, is one of them.) I've always been of the belief that the Eagles should take a deal if they can find an appealing one. Foles' shoulder injury might complicate his value, though — at least until there's clarity.