The NFL is in the thick of its preseason schedule, and players have separated themselves as winners and losers ahead of Tuesday’s second wave of roster cuts.
Sunday’s three-game preseason slate kicked off with the Philadelphia Eagles taking on the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. With both teams’ starters watching from the sidelines, Eagles backup QB Gardner Minshew and Browns third-string QB Josh Dobbs led their respective units in the exhibition matchup.
NFL Preseason Week 2 Sunday Winners and Losers: Eagles and Browns battle in exhibition matchup
The Eagles and Browns squared off in joint practices on Thursday and Friday, which allowed the first-team units to get plenty of work in ahead of the preseason matchup. With the notable names serving as spectators, the players on the roster bubble got spotlighted throughout the afternoon.
Below are the players who boosted their stock as winners and dropped their stock as losers in the Eagles’ 21-20 win over the Browns.
Winner: Browns QB Josh Dobbs
Dobbs had a nice afternoon with Deshaun Watson and Jacoby Brissett watching from the sideline. The former Pittsburgh Steelers QB did a good job of showing off his dual-threat ability, picking up key yardage with his arm and legs. He led three scoring drives and picked up his own fumble for a touchdown score as well.
Dobbs led four scoring drives and completed 14 of 20 passes for 141 passing yards. He also ran for 47 yards and a score on four carries. The highlight of his afternoon was a 36-yard surge up the field after being forced out of the pocket.
Winner: Eagles WR Deon Cain
The former Indianapolis Colts draft pick is having an impressive summer. Cain, a Clemson alum, has become Minshew’s favorite target throughout camp after spending last season on the practice squad. During the second quarter, Minshew hit Cain on back-to-back fade tosses to the sideline. Cain made acrobatic catches on both, picking up 47 yards in the process. During the final play of the third quarter, Cain made another impressive catch toward the sideline, snatching the ball with his tippy toes inside the field of play.
Cain finished the game with five catches for 66 yards. While the Eagles are stacked at wideout, it feels like Cain can’t hit the waiver wire. He would make sense as a backup X receiver behind A.J. Brown, but his 53-man roster status will probably be based on what the Eagles do with first-round pick Jalen Reagor.
Winner: Eagles QB Gardner Minshew
Minshew had a really rough start to training camp and struggled quite a bit during the first two weeks of summer. However, against the Browns, he was sharp. He took what the defense gave him and complemented the impressive rushing attack during the first half, leading two consecutive TD drives to begin the game. While he had a near pick-six on his final play of the day, Minshew played well enough in his second dress rehearsal to make this list.
Minshew completed 14 of 17 passes for 142 yards on Sunday. He saw the field well and protected the ball, and that’s a recipe for success with Minshew, who is one of the better backup QBs in the game.
Loser: Browns CB Lavert Hill
Facing off against his former squad, Hill had a tough first half. He was called for defensive pass interference on a first-and-18 play, which gave the Eagles’ second scoring drive new life. Later in the first half, Hill was bested by Cain on back-to-back highlight plays. Hill gave up 47 yards to the Eagles’ sixth/seventh-best wideout.
In the third quarter, things got even worse for Hill. He was beat deep by Olympic hurdler/Eagles wideout Devon Allen for a 55-yard touchdown. Allen did a bit of a shimmy on a deep seam route, and Hill was stuck in his dust as the receiver made a TD catch. Hill was probably supposed to have safety help, but he failed to make up for it.
Loser: Eagles CB Kary Vincent
Vincent didn’t do a great job in coverage against the Browns on Sunday. As the DB competition continues to heat up, Vincent has seemingly cooled off. The Eagles clearly like undrafted rookie CB Josh Jobe, and they recently traded for DB Swiss Army knife Ugo Amadi, so Vincent’s roster prospects are already in a bad place.
Vincent was called for defensive holding in the second quarter. He also gave up a 32-yard catch to wideout Javon Wims in the third quarter. Jobe clearly outplayed Vincent against the Browns, and he was already higher on the depth chart.
Loser: Browns QB Josh Rosen
If Rosen is hoping to climb the depth chart before Week 1, he’s going to need to improve from his performance against the Eagles. While he had the occasional impressive throw, the offense was stunted when he came in for Dobbs, who had a strong afternoon.
Rosen completed just 7 of 20 passes for 88 yards. Rosen’s highlight of the day came on the 32-yard connection with Wims over Vincent. Otherwise, he was 6 of 19 for 56 yards.
Winner: Eagles C Cam Jurgens
When the Eagles selected Cam Jurgens with their second-round pick in April, fans were frustrated. The team had just re-signed All-Pro center Jason Kelce to a new deal, and a rookie center wasn’t seen as a great use of resources on Day 2. However, Kelce explained after the pick that he scouted Jurgens and gave him a rave review to the Eagles’ brass. Since the start of the offseason, Jurgens has been a standout, filling in for Kelce with the first-team offense after the starter suffered an elbow injury.
Against the Browns, Jurgens was dominant from the opening whistle. His movement as a lead blocker in space was something to marvel at, as he opened up multiple big runs in the first half for Kenny Gainwell and Boston Scott. His ability to pull and get to the second level was also a highlight of the Eagles’ first two series. With Kelce potentially sidelined for a few more weeks, Jurgens looks like a future Pro Bowl selection, and he is clearly worthwhile insurance for his predecessor in the lineup.
Winner: Browns WR David Bell
The Browns’ third-round pick had an impressive first half. The Purdue alum caught the ball cleanly against the Eagles’ secondary and was Dobbs’ top target. Bell started the summer on the physically unable to perform list but, since returning, has played well.
Bell finished the exhibition matchup with three catches for 46 yards, including an impressive 22-yard haul in the second quarter.
Winner: Browns RB John Kelly
Kelly, entering his fifth season, is facing an uphill battle for a roster spot. However, with Kareem Hunt hoping to leave town in a trade, there remains a possibility that Kelly will sneak his way onto the roster. Against the Eagles, Kelly put his right foot forward, picking up chunks of yardage on the ground.
Kelly had a handful of really impressive runs, including a 6-yard touchdown surge into the end zone. Working with the second- and third-string offense, Kelly picked up 66 yards and a TD on 14 carries.
Loser: Eagles QB Carson Strong
Strong, an undrafted QB, came in on the last drive of the game. The Eagles asked him to run down the clock by simply handing the ball off over and over again. Through two preseason games, Strong has thrown just one pass. He is an afterthought in exhibition games and is rarely used during team drills in practice.
While Strong got a nice guarantee in his contract, it’s hard to imagine him making the 53-man roster as a rookie. Minshew and Reid Sinnett have received way more playing time and are clearly better options for the No. 2 and No. 3 QB spots behind Jalen Hurts.
The short-term appeal of the Eagles might have made sense in a vacuum, but Strong clearly picked the wrong spot to earn his first NFL job. He was expected to be a shoo-in for the No. 3 job, but Sinnett has completely outworked him.
Winner: Eagles G Jack Anderson
Like Jurgens, Anderson made the most of his reps against the Browns. He started the game at left guard before moving over to center to replace Jurgens in the second quarter. Anderson was a key blocker on both of the Eagles’ back-to-back TDs to begin the game. Anderson and backup left tackle Andre Dillard did a nice job opening up space and pushing forward against the Browns’ front.
Given his versatility and Kelce’s elbow injury, it feels like Anderson is playing his way onto the roster as a backup lineman. If Kelce isn’t ready for Week 1, Anderson would probably be active as the backup for Jurgens, and he could also bolster both guard spots.
Return to this page following the late-afternoon matchups of the New York Giants vs. the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Arizona Cardinals for more winners and losers.