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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson


Rookie offensive lineman Nate Herbig, a free agent, also looked good in Eagles first preseason win

For the first time this year, Clayton Thorson looked like a draft pick during his performance against Jacksonville. Photo by Andy Lewis

JACKSONVILE: For those of you, and there are many, who believe the preseason is a joke, a mess and completely worthless should have seen the face of Eagles rookie quarterback Clayton Thorson after the Jacksonville Jaguars preseason game at TIAA Bank Field.

The fifth round pick out of Northwestern got off the mat after last week’s horrific performance against Tennessee to go 16 for 26 for 175 yards including a 38-yard touchdown pass to Greg Ward, and a tipped-ball interception to lead the Birds to a 24-10 win over the Jags on a warm, cloudy evening in northern Florida.

The gaggles he had with reporters the week after the Titans following training camp practices must have felt like he was a spider having his legs pulled off one at a time.

But not Thursday night.

Thorson had no choice but to play every snap once Cody Kessler left the game with a head injury that was later it was revealed had in in concussion protocols. Did it make it any earlier knowing at the half he was going to play the entire game?

“I don’t know about that,” Thorson said with a laugh at his locker after the game. “It definitely makes it more interesting. I just try and stay ready and get out there and play.”

After the game head coach Doug Pederson talked about Thorson’s performance.

“He really just calmed himself, learned from last week which is great to see,” Pederson said. “He steadied himself. I know the feeling coming off the bench like that, as a backup guy. He stepped in there and did a great job. Great job leading the team and managing the team. He made some big-time throws. It was encouraging to see him.”

Thorson said he was indeed much more relaxed with a NFL game under his belt.

“I knew what to expect,” Thorson said. “Last week was my first NFL game, I was excited to go. Coming out here I knew what to expect, and I was better prepared this week.”

The 6-foot-4, 222 pounder said he just relaxed and played ball.

“I just focused on going through my reads,” Thorson said. “We’ve got a great offense. I tell you what, we’ve got a lot of (talented) guys, a lot of different guys caught balls out there tonight. I just went with my reads and got the ball out on time.”

It is a competition and one solid performance in a preseason game guarantees Thorton nothing .

The Eagles announced Saturday that they signed 40-year-old quarterback Josh McCown to a one-year guaranteed contact after losing No. 2 quarterback Nate Sudfeld to a broken wrist suffered in the preseason opener against Tennessee, then Kessler to a concussion after he was crushed by defensive end Datone Jones on his first drive of the Jacksonville game and had to leave the game.

Thorson said he still felt bad seeing his teammates go down.

“It’s really tough when one of your teammates goes down,” Thorson said. “Especially with how close our quarterback room is. It’s really tough for him, I feel for him, I really feel bad for him. But I know he’ll come out of this ok.”

Eagles rookie free agent Nate Herbig played center the entire second half against Jacksonville and helped the Eagles score 17 points. Photo by Andy Lewis.


Back up offensive lineman Nate Herbig saw his stock rise a little after he played the entire second half.

The Birds scored 17 points while the rookie free agent out of Stanford was in there.

“My number got called, it was my second game ever playing center, so I just had to make the most of my opportunity and glad that I could help my team get a win.” the 6-4, 334 pounder said.

With 9:02 left in the fourth quarter, the Birds led 17-10. Pederson decided to let the backup o-line take over, and they did not disappoint. Thorton handed the ball off on eight plays, the Eagles drove 75 yards to add a touchdown.

After a three-and-out by Jacksonville, the Birds ran the ball five more times before Thorton took a knee three times to end the game.

“It’s a lot of fun anytime you can take the ball in the fourth quarter and demoralize a defense,” Herbig said with a grin. “It’s my favorite thing to do. It’s what I loved to do when I was at Stanford and I got a chance to do it here, in this fourth quarter. It was a great time, I love football, I love this team and I’ll do whatever I can to help them win.”

Who says the preseason isn’t fun? *

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