NFL

Despite preseason win, Eagles have ways to improve

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)

While compassionate fans showed their support for Andy Reid, most of the Philadelphia Eagles gave a boo-worthy performance in their preseason opener.

The first-team offense went three-and-out twice and Michael Vick barely escaped serious injury when he hurt his thumb on his last play. The starting defense allowed an opening drive that lasted 9:48 and gave up 10 points on two possessions.

Still, the Eagles (No. 8 in the AP Pro32) walked away with a 24-23 win over Pittsburgh when Alex Henery kicked a 51-yard field goal with 12 seconds left Thursday night.

That won't cut it in the regular season.

''I was proud of the way the 3's and the 4's finished the game,'' Reid said. ''I thought they did some good things. We have some work to do with the 1's and the 2's. It wasn't good enough. The execution was off, and the tackling and blocking were off. So we have to go back and make sure we focus in on those things and get ourselves better. The 1's clearly have to get better in a lot of areas.

''Penalties were way up, and just things that were not very smart football.''

The Eagles were missing wide receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Brent Celek, and Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters is likely out for the season. Vick completed 3 of 4 passes for 6 yards, and then banged his thumb on center Jason Kelce's helmet. X-rays were negative and the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback expects to practice Saturday.

All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy carried once for a 2-yard loss, and the offense simply couldn't get in a rhythm.

Neither could the defense, which was missing starting ends Jason Babin and Trent Cole and safety Nate Allen. Rookies Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks made their debuts with the first unit and so did two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who was acquired in a trade.

''I think we have to work on securing our gaps instead of just trying to make every play,'' Kendricks said. ''We just need to take care of our responsibilities first. I think first game, guys go out there and were hyped up and we wanted to do more than what we should have been. All we have to do is do our job and not try to make every play. That was the first game; second game we're going to be even better.''

It was a difficult week for the team and the entire organization, which rallied around the Reid family. Garrett Reid, the oldest of five children for Andy and Tammy Reid, was found dead Sunday morning in his dorm room at Lehigh University where he was assisting the team's strength and conditioning coach during training camp.

His funeral was held on Tuesday and more than 900 people, including front-office executives and coaches from other teams came to pay their respects.

Perhaps the emotions factored into the way the Eagles played.

''It was tough. We're human and we have to deal with reality and what is going on in our lives at the time,'' Vick said. ''There's no excuses. We could have done a better job. The ones, the offense and the defense, could have done a better job in moving the ball and stopping the Steelers offense and we didn't do it but we'll go back and watch the film and correct it. That's why we're professionals.''

At least there were some positives in the second half from the backups and some players competing for roster spots. Rookie quarterback Nick Foles completed 6 of 10 passes for 144 yards, including TD passes of 70 and 44 yards. Rookie Bryce Brown ran for 33 yards on three carries. Rookie Damaris Johnson caught four passes for 85 yards, including the 70-yard TD.

Veteran Trent Edwards, the No. 4 QB, led two fourth-quarter scoring drives, including the game-winner, and threw a TD pass.

''I saw a lot of good things from the young kids,'' Reid said. ''I thought they played well in a lot of cases. It's hard to name them all, but I thought they really did some nice things, played hard and physical, and they really played emotional football in the second half.

We can build on that.''

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Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobMaaddi

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Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Tagged: Eagles, Michael Vick, Jason Babin, Jason Peters, Jason Kelce

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