Taste of Things to Come? Eagles Rolled the Browns With Their Backups

Taste of Things to Come? Eagles Rolled the Browns With Their Backups

As is often the case during the preseason, it's hard to say what the Eagles dismantling Cleveland by a final of 27-10 means for their Week 1 encounter, if anything at all. That said, it's reassuring in any situation when you make short work of a future opponent, and do so largely on the strength of backups.

Andy Reid had already pulled his starters on defense less than 10 minutes into the game with the score still 0-0, and led by a rookie quarterback, his first-team offense played just three snaps longer, eight total -- enough to pick up seven. Still the route was on. After an impressive opening series ended in a turnover, the Browns couldn't get anything going with their ones, lending the appearance they could be in for a long Sunday in two weeks.

Then again, when we say preseason doesn't matter, it's a two-way street. Just as we shouldn't make too much of the Eagles' struggles against New England's backups this past Monday, the takeaways from the Browns having essentially the same issue should not be overblown either. Special teams also influenced the outcome heavily, often providing the Birds with excellent field position.

On the other hand, it was hard not to sense there is a big gap between where these two teams stand at the moment. The best example that came to mind when reviewing last night's events was when the Eagles put a backup defense on the field, it still features linemen who would start almost anywhere else. Coming off a 4-12 season, the Browns certainly looked the part of a team that doesn't share such luxuries.

Anyway, not a lot to analyze here. Neither team wanted to show anything, so tempting as it is to say the Browns seem overmatched here, we'll save any declarations until the real thing is upon us.

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

Nerlens Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday vs. Pistons

NEW ORLEANS — Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to coexist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right foot fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."