FOXBOROUGH — While the Eagles played their projected starters Monday night, the Patriots sat many of their regulars as they play three exhibition games in 10 days.
Twenty-seven players were inactive, highlighted by quarterback Tom Brady, receiver Wes Welker, linebacker Jerod Mayo, and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
Also not participating for the home team: receivers Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney; defensive backs Kyle Arrington, Tavon Wilson, Devin McCourty, Alfonzo Dennard, and James Ihedigbo; fullback Spencer Larsen; linebackers Rob Ninkovich and Tracy White; offensive linemen Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer, Markus Zusevics, and Matt Kopa; tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Visanthe Shiancoe, Jake Ballard, and Daniel Fells; and defensive linemen Myron Pryor, Gerard Warren, and Jonathan Fanene.
Of those 26, about half have missed practice time recently because of injuries.
Vollmer and Fells were removed from the physically unable to perform list Sunday. Under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, players must take part in two non-contact practices before they can be in full pads.
Also, newly signed running back/kick returner Jeff Demps was on the sideline in his No. 42 jersey, but he, like Vollmer and Fells, is not able to play yet.
Gronkowski, Wilfork, McCourty, and Arrington were also in uniform on the sideline.
Vick, Chung sidelined
The biggest fear teams have in the preseason is injuries. It happened to the Patriots in their first game when top reserve linebacker Dane Fletcher was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
Monday night, one key player for each team went to the locker room within minutes of one another: Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick and New England safety Patrick Chung.
On the first play of the Eagles’ second possession, Vick was flushed out of the pocket when Kyle Love came barreling through the middle of the line. Vick scrambled right, threw downfield, and then was drilled by Jermaine Cunningham.
Vick got up slowly and was visibly uncomfortable. He was immediately pulled from the game and taken back to the locker room to have his ribs examined. X-rays were negative.
Vick was replaced by Nick Foles.
Four plays later, Chung was credited with the tackle on a LeSean McCoy carry, but was woozy when he got up, and had to be steadied by Sterling Moore.
Chung went back to the locker room, sans helmet, which is typical of players who likely have a concussion.
Hightower calls in
With Mayo not playing, rookie Dont’a Hightower was the defensive signal-caller. Asked if it was a sign that the first-round pick was comfortable in the defense, coach Bill Belichick said it was pretty standard, especially this time of year.
“He’s one of several players doing that, so we have multiple players that are able to do it, depending on what comes up in the year,” he said. “He’s one of those guys.”
Depending on what comes up is likely a reference to injury. Mayo has been the primary play-caller, but he has missed time in two of the last three seasons.
Ebner steps up
Big plays in the preseason stand out when they come from someone fighting for a roster spot, so the second-quarter interception by rookie Nate Ebner will certainly register with the coaching staff.
Ebner, a seldom-used defensive player at Ohio State known more for his rugby skills than football, picked off Foles and returned it 34 yards. He also added two tackles.
“The ball was in the air and I’ve got to make a play on it, and I did,” said Ebner. “Obviously, they’re driving and we needed a play at the end of the half, we needed something.”
Ebner, selected in the sixth round, is expected to contribute on special teams if he makes the roster. Anything he provides as a defensive back is a bonus.
“I’m developing all my skills, getting better,” he said. “Whatever play is called, I try to play it as best I can. I just try to make a play on the ball when it comes at me.”
Branch back in action
Deion Branch got his first action of the preseason and wound up playing the entire game on offense. He even was back for two punt returns in the second half, though he didn’t field either one.
“I never got a chance to do it, man,” Branch said of returning the kicks. “One time the guy hit it pretty good [he waved for a fair catch, it went over his head and was downed at the 6] and the next one he kicked away from me.’’
Branch said he was excited to be back on the field and felt pretty good. He had three catches for 51 yards.
Hix is released
The Patriots released offensive lineman Kyle Hix before the game. The 23-year-old had not practiced since Aug. 5 and also missed all of last year, his rookie season, on injured reserve (shoulder) . . . There was a moment of silence before the game for Garrett Reid, the son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, who died earlier this month . . . The Patriots honored four Olympians with New England ties before the game: gymnast Aly Raisman, swimmer Elizabeth Beisel, judoka Kayla Harrison, and basketball player Asjha Jones. They combined to win four gold medals, a silver, and two bronzes in London.