PITTSBURGH -- There was no Ben Roethlisberger, no Antonio Brown and no DeAngelo Williams.
There was, however, a strong showing from the Eagles' defense.
The first-team defense played a little over a quarter on Thursday night in the team's second preseason game of the young season, coming away with two turnovers in three possessions against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Starters: Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Connor Barwin, Jordan Hicks, Najee Goode, Nigel Bradham, Leodis McKelvin, Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Nolan Carroll...Ron Brooks in as nickel cornerback
First series: Cornerback Nolan Carroll is in a battle for a starting job, and he helped himself on the first play, when the Steelers tested him deep -- but Carroll had great coverage on the play.
The Eagles were strong against the run on the first drive. After Malcolm Jenkins made a nice tackle for no-gain, the Steelers faced 2nd-and-10 from the 35-yard line, when linebacker Nigel Bradham got into the backfield for a one-yard loss.
On 3rd-and-11, cornerback Leodis McKelvin allowed a six-yard catch, but the Steelers were short of the first down.
Second series: The Steelers started their second drive on their own 31-yard line with 9:27 to go in the first quarter. A few seconds later, the Eagles had a touchdown.
Steelers quarterback Landry Jones tried to get the ball to receiver Sammie Coates, but cornerback Nolan Carroll stepped in and took it away, returning it 38-yards for the touchdown.
Third series: While Carroll was having a strong day on his side of the field, McKelvin struggled again on the next drive, allowing a 12-yard catch on the Steelers' first play of the drive. Two plays later, McKelvin was called for pass interference, as he mauled the Steelers' receiver as the ball arrived.
The series was also a tough one for defensive end Brandon Graham, who got turned around and looked lost on 11-yard run by Fitzgerald Toussaint. Graham made up for the bad play later in the drive, however, when he made a tackle for a two-yard loss.
The Eagles put a halt to an impressive Steelers drive, however, when the ball bounced off of McKelvin's head in the end zone and into the hands of a diving Jenkins, who held onto the ball. McKelvin probably should have been called for pass interference.
Totals: 86 yards allowed on 20 plays, two turnovers, 0 points allowed
Overall: The Eagles first-team defense did what they were supposed to against a Pittsburgh offense filled with mostly backups -- they dominated.
Sure, the turnovers came against a quarterback in Landry Jones who is nowhere near an NFL starter, but the strong play of Carroll is certainly something for the Eagles to be encouraged by. Carroll was arguably the team's best cornerback last season, and so far, he has been the team's best cornerback through the preseason.
For the second straight week the Eagles' run defense looked stellar, holding the Steelers to 11 yards on four carries. There is real reason to be optimistic about the Eagles' run defense this season, as the defensive line is the strength of the team, and the linebackers have looked great against the run so far.
Eliot Shorr-Parks | www.nj.com | August 18, 2016