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What in the world will Eagles do with Clayton Thorson

Eliot Shorr-Parks
August 09, 2019 - 9:54 am

The Eagles have a Clayton Thorson problem. 

It is a problem they have been able to hide for the first few weeks of training camp, but after Thursday night, they can no longer run from it. 

There is no sugarcoating how bad Thorson was on Thursday night in his preseason debut agains the Tennessee Titans, going 2-of-9 for seven yards. His first pass of the night was thrown right at the feet of running back Donnel Pumphrey, who was wide open. His next pass was picked off. His first interception could have easily been followed by another if his third wasn’t dropped by a Titans defender. 

After the game, head coach Doug Pederson tried to explain Thorson’s performance.

“First time out -- I've been there as a young quarterback, nervous and excited and wanting to do well, and that all stems from -- you look at some of the balls he threw a little bit high and a little erratic. It's just nerves and calming down and playing in these games,” Pederson said. "He'll get better and he'll get more reps now and this will be a great experience for him to watch this tape and learn from.”

Pederson is right — Thursday was Thorson’s first time in an NFL game. As a rookie, especially one playing quarterback, he should be afforded the luxury of being given some time to adjust to the NFL. There are some positives with Thorson, starting with his strong arm. His willingness to continue to throw the ball down the field despite disastrous early results was also a sign of some mental toughness from the young quarterback.  

The issue for the Eagles is that despite some positive signs, time is running out for them to make a decision on what to do with the rookie quarterback they used a fifth-round pick on. 

If the Eagles don’t see any kind of improvement from Thorson over the next three preseason games it is going to be hard to justify using a roster spot on him. Cutting a fifth-round pick, especially a quarterback, is never a good look for a front office. It won’t be easy for Roseman to expose Thorson to the waiver wire, knowing he could be throwing away a quarterback he just invested a fifth-round pick in. 

One positive from Thorson’s terrible first outing is that his chances of making it through waivers went up. As a free agent, you have to imagine Thorson would decide to come back to Philadelphia on the practice squad, but the Eagles run the risk of him deciding to go elsewhere if they release him. 

The idea of losing Thorson, however, might be less painful than the potential of keeping him on the roster. 

The injury to quarterback Nate Sudfeld on Thursday night, a wrist injury that should sideline him into the regular season, complicates things for the Eagles at quarterback. They must decide if they want to commit to Cody Kessler as their backup to Carson Wentz or bring in another veteran. They also need to seriously examine how close Thorson is to being able to play in a regular season game, as he could soon be one snap away from going in if he is the backup behind Kessler. 

The good news for Thorson is that there will be another game, starting next Thursday night in Jacksonville against Nick Foles in the Jaguars. 

The bas news for the Eagles is that in a league where it is usually pretty clear early on if you can play or not, the early signs from Thorson are not promising — and it is a problem they are going to have to deal soon. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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