Takeaways from Saturday night’s preseason opener?

Losing Shaun Bradley for the season was the biggest one, unfortunately. Jalen Carter with a QB hit on his first Eagles snap. Marcus Mariota did some things with his feet, but was inaccurate throwing the ball.

Beyond that, it was the play of third round draft pick Sydney Brown that stood out:

He led the Eagles with nine tackles in Baltimore, not a huge deal playing with the reserves in a preseason game, but he looked the part, did he not? He showed his range, downhill tackling ability, and just showed off what seems like an innate feel for the safety position, where the Birds could use some help following the departure of both starters this offseason. Say what you will about the linebacker spots, and losing Javon Hargrave, but Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps both taking off was a big deal.

A play that stood out:

No inhibition on that snap. No hesitation, like he’s shot out of a cannon. Gets downhill and clips Melvin Gordon on an attempted hurdle.

This play stood out as well:

RE: the tackling, it’s important to watch and track, because that was one of the knocks on Brown coming out of Illinois. Lance Zierlein, a typically accurate and well-respected eye for talent, noted this in his NFL.com draft notes:

“A physical safety who is limited by a lack of fluidity in space. Brown has straight-line speed and is very effective mapping his transit to the ball-carrier near the line of scrimmage. However, his missed tackles are concerning considering the position he plays. He competes hard in man coverage, using everything at his disposal to prevent tight ends from making plays, but above average pass-catchers could be too much for him to handle as a pro. Brown will need to prove he can win in the box and shine on special teams to stick around in the league.”

Certainly playing like a maniac is a double-edged sword. Downhill burst and hard-nosed football is fun to watch, but if you get it wrong, you look like Asante Samuel when he did that front flip against the Raiders and completely whiffed. If Brown pans out, that’ll be a nice story. They did use a third rounder on him, after all, but the Birds don’t have a great recent track record of drafting safeties. K’Von Wallace has been a special teamer. Nate Gerry was a hybrid who played LB here. Jalen Mills’ best moments were at cornerback. Epps was a Minnesota 6th rounder claimed off waivers and Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod came here as free agents.

Preseason is not a big deal, but good signs, for now. Good debut.