By Peter Brennan
You’ve got to hand it to Eagles’ third-string quarterback Cody Kessler:
He is embracing his chance to start tomorrow night against his former team in Jacksonville in the absence of back-up QB Nate Sudfeld who is recovering from a broken left wrist.
“Every chance you get on the field, you have to make the most of it. That’s just the reality of this business,” Kessler says. “Go out there and execute and do your job. That’s what the NFL is all about.”
Head coach Doug Pederson hasn’t announced yet whether starter Carson Wentz will play at Jacksonville, and whether he does or not, Kessler is going to get a lot of time. The Eagles need to find out about Kessler, who bumps up in the quarterback picture with Sudfeld sidelined. Kessler’s rep count has increased since Sudfeld went down against Tennessee and Kessler is, at this moment, the No. 2 behind Wentz.
“It’s been everything I hoped it would be,” Kessler said. “Nick painted an accurate picture. This is a great organization and a city that loves its team. I feel like things have gone well for me and these last couple of days, the last week, I’ve gotten more reps and played well. Even before that, it was coming together for me as I learned more about the offense.
“I’m excited to go out there and execute the offense, get the ball out fast and in the right spots to the receivers. This is another chance for me to prove myself to the coaching staff.”
Kessler completed 3 of 6 passes in the preseason opener, a get-your-feet-wet night that did just that. The urgency level has risen, of course, in light of Sudfeld’s injury. It’s clear the Eagles believe that Sudfeld will heal quickly enough, combined with their confidence in Kessler, to keep the quarterback situation as it is – Wentz, Kessler, and rookie Clayton Thorson, in that order.
Yeah, Kessler has to show something on Thursday night. He knows it.
“I understand how all of this works and I’m confident that I’m going to go out there and work within the offense and take what’s there,” Kessler said. “It’s a performance-based league. I’m here to perform. I’m excited to play and put some drives together and put some points on the board.”
The Eagles have proceeded matter-of-factly in light of Sudfeld’s injury. There is no panic at One NovaCare Way. The Eagles are employing the next-man-up approach with Training Camp about to take its next turn – Baltimore is in for two days of joint practices next week – and with the players feeling the effects of a long summer.
“You have to push through the grind,” Kessler said. “That’s the name of this game. Every player goes through the same thing.”
We’ll get into the what-to-watch element of this second preseason game closer to kickoff, but it’s clearly Kessler and Thorson who lead the list. The Eagles need better play from the quarterback position than they had last Thursday against Tennessee.
Everybody knows it.
“Our job is to score points, move the offense,” Kessler said. “That’s the job we’re here to do. The second time out, having a little bit more of an understanding of the offense and what we’re going to run, I have a lot of confidence in my ability to play well. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”