3 Impactful Plays and Players From Pre-Season Eagles Game

August 22, 2023

Tony Camino

Standout Plays from the Game versus the Philadelphia Eagles

DTR puts more quality work on film

With the starters being completely out of action for this one, it was once again the Dorian Thompson-Robinson show, and he didn’t disappoint. The completion percentage was the lowest of the preseason, and he received his lowest grades from PFF, but he still managed to showcase some truly impressive plays on tape.

Receivers Cedric Tillman and Austin Watkins were the other significant standouts in this game. Tillman seems ready to contribute with the starters, and Watkins is making it difficult to exclude him from the 53-man roster. While the primary storyline of this game is Cade York, other young players have given fans reason to be excited about this team’s depth.

Cedric Tillman runs show off the expanded route tree potential

The third-round rookie from Tennessee, Cedric Tillman, showcased his route-running ability with a textbook double move. In this play, it seems to be a form of man coverage, and Tillman is executing a sluggo route, which involves a slant and go. He aims to take three steps to sell the slant route, enticing the defender to commit, and then swiftly transitions into a vertical run.

Tillman does an excellent job of selling the slant and causing the defender to bite. He then effectively lowers his hips and rotates the defender, creating significant separation. With the defender fully on his back, he has successfully gained an advantage, leaving only the concern of potential safety coverage over the top.

While Tillman’s route and catch on this play were highly impressive, it’s important not to overlook Dorian Thompson-Robinson‘s ability to remain poised in the pocket and deliver a precise pass despite the heavy pressure from the defender on his blindside. Not only did he manage to release the throw, but he also placed it perfectly on Tillman’s back shoulder, enabling Tillman to use his body as a shield against the safety and execute a skillful high-point catch.

Tillman is undoubtedly securing his spot on this roster and is poised to receive ample opportunities in his debut year to showcase his talents. As a substantial and physically imposing receiver, he should have the chance to excel by running a wider array of routes compared to his time at Tennessee. The progress and growth of Tillman represent a significant potential x-factor for both the current state and future prospects of the team.

DTR and Watkins impress for completion versus zone coverage

The standout of the preseason within the wide receiver room has undeniably been Austin Watkins. Averaging 3.3 yards per route in this game and earning an elite grade from PFF, Watkins persistently adds to the complexity of decisions in that position. DTR continues to leave an impression, and this play perfectly exemplifies how he’s exceeding expectations.

Facing immediate pressure from his left due to a rare misstep by Luke Wypler, DTR must step up in the pocket here to give this play an opportunity to unfold.

DTR steps up flawlessly, yet the pressure persists and ends up right on his back as he remains in position to make the throw. In the given moment, Watkins might not appear wide open, but his adeptness in locating soft zones within the defensive coverage and shifting to his left showcases his experience. DTR anticipates this and delivers an exceedingly impressive throw and decision under pressure, all while stepping up in the pocket.

Watkins doesn’t particularly stand out due to any specific physical attributes, but his knack for uncovering open spaces and generating impactful plays has undeniably captured the league’s attention during this preseason. As roster cuts draw near, Watkins will find himself teetering on the edge of securing a spot on this team. Be it with the Browns or another team, Austin Watkins is bound to secure a spot on a 53-man NFL roster.

DTR finds Watkins again after recognizing single-high man coverage

In yet another connection with his primary receiver in this game, DTR recognizes the safety descending, signaling a blanket man-to-man defense covering all options with a lone safety positioned deep over the top. Watkins, situated at the upper end of the screen (not shown in the picture), is confronted by a cornerback in tight man-to-man coverage, thus accounting for the deep safety’s positioning being slightly biased towards that side.

With his receiver isolated at the top of the screen, DTR had an immediate intention of targeting that direction. He had confidence in his receiver’s capability to gain an edge in one-on-one coverage, and the safety tracking his eyes set up a potential effortless touchdown opportunity for the tight end who had successfully outpaced his defender. DTR recognized that his best receiver was positioned out wide to his right, and he placed his faith in him to excel against the man-to-man coverage.

Due to the safety’s positioning and DTR’s unwavering focus on Watkins, he rapidly narrows the distance and positions himself within the frame, poised to potentially make a play. The throw’s impeccable timing and force enable it to be precisely placed just over the cornerback and out of reach from the safety, resulting in a significant play to get in the red zone.


In a preseason game where no starters saw significant playtime and many second-string players were given the night off, the implications for the upcoming regular season were limited. Rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson continues to assert his claim for the QB2 position, although it’s probable that he’ll be retained in the QB3 role to allow him a full year of learning.

Both receivers, Cedric Tillman and Austin Watkins, showcased their talents in this game, yet their outlooks moving forward differ greatly in terms of security. Third-round selection Tillman is set to have opportunities to contribute right away this year, while Watkins is striving to secure a spot on the roster. For the first time in a while, the Browns are faced with the challenge of cutting players with potential who are capable of making it onto other teams’ rosters.

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