PHILADELPHIA — Eagles coach Doug Pederson finally let his starters get their uniforms dirty during the preseason Thursday night.
Except for Carson Wentz.
Most of the Eagles’ first-team offense and the entire first-team defense played the first quarter of a weather-shortened 26-15 loss to Baltimore at Lincoln Financial Field.
Lightning forced officials to evacuate the field and stands with 11 minutes, 43 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The rest of the game was canceled after about a 20-minute delay.
However, Wentz did not play, meaning his first game action of 2019 will be in the regular-regular season opener against Washington on Sept. 8.
The Eagles end the preseason Thursday against the New York Jets, but teams typically do not play their starters, especially their top quarterbacks, in preseason finales.
“That was my decision not to play him,” Pederson said. “He’s gotten a lot of good work in camp and during those (joint) practices with the Ravens and I’m comfortable where he is right now with his growth. He’s really clicking on all cylinders.”
Wentz has not played since Dec. 8, 2018. He missed the rest of last season with a stress fracture in his back. He’s been a full participant throughout training camp, including last week’s joint practices with the Ravens, but Pederson decided against playing him in the preseason.
Instead, new quarterback Josh McCown got most of the playing time, despite not having joined the team until Sunday. After a rough start, the 40-year-old played very well, throwing a pair of second-half touchdown passes while completing 17 of 24 passes for 192 yards.
“It’s kind of like an old ‘79 Chevy,” McCown said. “It takes a while to get cranked up, and then you get going. I hate how I started, but I finally got some things going, so that was good.”
Three-fifths of the projected starting offense line — right guard Brandon Brooks and right tackle Lane Johnson were sidelined with injuries — made their preseason debut Thursday, as did wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor, along with tight end Zach Ertz.
Most of the Eagles’ projected first-team defense also played the first quarter and held the Ravens to a pair of Justin Tucker field goals. Safety Rodney McLeod was playing for the first time since suffering a knee injury in the third game of last season. The only defensive starter missing was linebacker Nigel Bradham, who is still rehabbing from a toe injury he suffered last season in the playoffs at New Orleans.
“For me, I like going out there and competing,” Ertz said. “It’s more than just fun for me. I’m only playing in one preseason game for a quarter, so I was just trying to make the most of it.”
1. Cody Kessler started and played two series, going 3-for-5 for 34 yards. He had a nice completion to Ertz for 13 yards on the opening drive but took a fourth-down sack by holding the ball too long.
2. McCown played the rest of the first half and the third quarter and finally got the Eagles’ offense rolling with a pair of TD passes to rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and tight end Alex Ellis.
3. Rookie Clayton Thorson appeared for one series before the game was halted. He handed off to running back Josh Adams twice and threw an incompletion.
The new guys
1. Arcega-Whiteside had eight receptions for 104 yards and a 20-yard TD.
2. Tight end Alex Ellis had a 9-yard TD catch in the third quarter.
3. Tackle Andre Dillard was called for three penalties.
The good things
1. The starting defense played pretty well.
2. Running back Corey Clement looked good in his first preseason action.
3. Safety Rodney McLeod made his preseason debut after suffering a knee injury last season.
The bad things
1. Cornerback Rasul Douglas collided with safety Malcolm Jenkins during a 44-yard pass from the Ravens’ Trace McSorley to wide receiver Miles Boykin in the first quarter.
2. Right tackle Jordan Mailata committed three penalties in the first half.
3. Cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon gave up two touchdown passes in the first half.
The other team
Ravens quarterback Joe Callahan, an Absecon resident and Holy Spirit High School graduate, only got a few plays in before lightning forced the game to be cut short. He scrambled 6 yards for a first down and threw an incompletion on his only pass attempt.
While you were sleeping
Arcega-Whiteside caught a pass over the middle and broke loose for a 35-yard gain in the third quarter.
Only in the preseason
As expected, there were a lot of empty seats.
After the preseason finale against the Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, the Eagles will have to reduce their roster from 90 players to 53 by Aug. 31.