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  1. Why A.J. Brown doesn't care about making anybody's highlight reel Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER A.J. Brown is a wide receiver with the mentality of a linebacker. He doesn’t care about running around looking pretty, putting sweet moves on d-backs and speeding untouched down the sideline. He’s looking for a cornerback to blow up. He’s looking for a defender to run over. He’s looking for contact. "That just comes with me being fearless,” Brown said. "I try my best to not let one guy tackle me, and if I see one guy I’ve got to get past him. "I’m not trying to create a highlight reel, I don’t care about being on a highlight reel. I'm not trying to put double moves on or anything like that. "I’m trying to score touchdowns. However it may look, I get past him, run him over him, I’m trying to score. That’s my objective when I have the ball in my hands. I’m just trying to score.” Brown has done that 24 times in the last three years on a wide assortment of plays. His 24 TD catches since his rookie year in 2019 are 10th-most in the league. Since then, Brown has a league-high seven touchdowns of 50 yards or more but also seven of 9 yards or fewer. He’s a threat from anywhere on the field, and now he’s an Eagle, and this is going to be fun. "He's going to bring toughness,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said. "This guy is relentless. When you watch him on film, he's hard to tackle. "He's a big-body receiver that's very explosive, and when you see him on the practice field running routes, you can see the play strength, the explosive ability, in and out of breaks, and he just brings a great mindset to that room.” Changing teams isn’t as easy as just changing uniforms. Especially when you have to learn a new language that just happens to use the same vocabulary as your old language. "It’s coming along,” Brown said during OTAs. "I’m learning as I’m going. It was a curveball at first because it is a new offense I have to learn, basically the same words but a different meaning, so just trying to unlearn a lot of things and progress as I go. "It takes time, just trying to get splits right and everything. I’m learning, I pretty much think I learned the offense in a couple weeks.” You’d have to go back to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to find two Eagles wide receivers who can do the things Brown and DeVonta Smith can do. From 2009 through 2011, the three seasons Jackson and Maclin played together and were both healthy, the Eagles had the 8th-best record in the NFL and the 9th-best passing offense in the league. Having two legit receivers is rare around here, but the Eagles certainly have it now. "It takes the pressure off the other guy,” Brown said. “(If I take) cornerback No. 1 and I go against him, that gives another really talented receiver to go against cornerback No. 2. In my opinion Smitty’s a wide receiver No. 1 and he’s going against a cornerback No. 2 , and I expect Smitty to dominate. "You can’t really double. It’s great having another great wide out besides you.” Smith set an Eagles rookie record with 916 yards last year, and Brown has averaged 997 yards in his three NFL seasons. Factor in Dallas Goedert, who had a career-high 830 yards last year, and Quez Watkins, who ranked 5th in the NFL among wide receivers in yards per target in his first season as a regular and you’ve got a group that should be able to put tremendous pressure on defenses. "Really excited obviously to have A.J.,” Nick Sirianni said. "He's very talented. This is a talented wide receiver group. Really talented wide receiver group that we're looking forward to working with.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/why-new-eagles-receiver-aj-brown-doesnt-care-about-making-highlight-reel
  2. Brandon Graham opens up about end-of-career plans No one, not even legends etched in franchise history, plays forever. Which is why even though Brandon Graham says he feels as good as he did this time last year following a devastating Week 2 Achilles injury during last season, the Eagles great is also thinking about how he'd like to wrap up his career. It's better to be prepared, right? Graham joined JAKIB Media's "Sports Take" show Wednesday to talk about a bunch of things Eagles-related, and at multiple points he addressed his future with the team. Here are a few excerpts that stood out: On his role this season "I'm here right now, I've got another opportunity. It's the last year on my deal, they're gonna honor me for this year, and whatever role it is man just enjoy it. Because you didn't have football last year, you had time with the kids, and you still got one year left of the football if that's what you choose to do. And I'm like, man, I'm about to enjoy it." On how much more he'd like to play "Three more seasons." On whether he'd play elsewhere "You know what? I would. But it would only be probably for a year. The kids are together right now and they're settled, so that always - I know they wouldn't up and leave right away - so being away from them and the family, that would only probably last a year. We'd see how it works out, but I'd probably end up playing 14 [years] instead of 15. My goal is to finish on 15 if I could, as an Eagle." It sure sounds like the 12-year vet is eyeing the end of the road, eh? Graham, who turned 34 this past April, wasn't showing any signs of slowing down in 2020 - his most recent full season - when he made his first career Pro Bowl by notching 8.0 sacks, 16 QB hits, 13 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. He was a man possessed. But following an Achilles injury and a season away from the game, it's not clear where Graham will be when he returns to the field. And even if he's close to his former self, the Eagles have to be mindful of the future when constructing their roster after 2022. Graham counts for $9.4 million against the cap this season, and while he probably won't expect that same figure (unless he balls out this season) he will still command some fair money on the open market. So it's fully possible 2022 is Graham's final ride in midnight green, and that he could be playing for a different organization in 2023. I don't fault him at all for the decision, but that is going to feel extremely weird. Of course he'll almost certainly do the one-day deal retirement thing with the Birds and come home for proper sendoff, so it doesn't really matter. But still - something to get ready for as 2022 bears down on us. Enjoy BG this year, because it might be his last one in Philly. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-great-brandon-graham-opens-about-end-career-plans
  3. Why Jenkins says Eagles fans should trust Epps at safety Malcolm Jenkins is one of the best Eagles defenders of the past decade, a true Birds great with a Super Bowl ring to boot. He's forever a hero in Philadelphia. So when he speaks about the state of the team, even now as a retired NFLer after 13 tremendous years in the league, fans tend to listen. And this week on the Eagles Unfiltered podcast Jenkins had a message for anyone worried about the Birds' safeties: Don't sweat it. Marcus Epps can do this job. Which is good news, because the Eagles spent resources basically everywhere this offseason... except safety. They brought Anthony Harris back, they brought Marcus Epps back, and they added veteran Jaquiski Tartt on a 1-year deal. That's it. On a team suddenly dreaming of a deep postseason run, safety is the position most fans have questions about. But here's why Jenkins thinks Epps is up for the challenge: "When I was there, he was a player that was behind me and Rodney [McLeod] but was rising fast on the depth chart, somebody who's physically gifted and smart enough to understand defenses and where he needs to be in alignments and leverage. I think he's soaked up a lot of game, and that was one of the things I recognized about him early was, you know, he's somebody who wants to know how he can become the best player he can. He'd stick around late after meetings and ask questions and watch extra tape, and so for me I know that, just because of those things, he's going to be fine. "Obviously he's gonna have a ton of expectations, and we know how Philadelphia feels about its safeties, so it's a daunting task. But like anybody, he's got to take the same approach and deal with the same stuff that even I went through, where you can't try to be Dawkins or myself or whoever - because you can't. I've tried, I've done that before, I've watched Dawkins' tape. I can't do what he does. That's why he is who he is. "So he's gotta figure out what he does really well. I think he's got great ball skills, I think he's got range, he tackles well. As long as he can continue to develop his game and what he does well, and tries to be the best Epps he can be, I think he'll be fine." You love to hear it! Epps, 26, has appeared in 45 games but has just eight career starts to his name, all of which came in the past two seasons. He's notched 3 INTs and 9 passes defended since the start of 2020, solid numbers for a safety, and received a pretty solid 72.8 grade from Pro Football Focus for his play in 2021. We still need to see more from the Wyoming product, but there do indeed seem to be bones of a player who can excel in a regular starter role. I also love that Jenkins watched Dawkins tape during his time with the Eagles and concluded that he just couldn't do the stuff that Weapon X could so, so he blazed his own path instead. They were two distinctly great safeties, the two best in franchise history. No one's saying Epps is in line to be the next legendary Birds backstop, but if he's got Jenkins' vote of confidence that's certainly a step in the right direction. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/why-malcolm-jenkins-says-eagles-fans-should-trust-marcus-epps
  4. Eagles’ thumping linebacker lands on list of most important players Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2022 season. 25. Quez Watkins 24. Gardner Minshew 23. T.J. Edwards T.J. Edwards might have saved the Eagles’ season in 2021. OK, maybe that’s going a little too far. But it’s hard to overstate just how important Edwards was to the Eagles’ second-half turnaround last season, how much he ended up meaning to Jonathan Gannon’s defense down the stretch. Early in the 2021 season, while Edwards was starting some games, he wasn’t playing all that much. But in the second half of the season, when Edwards barely left the field, the Eagles’ defense looked completely different. Sure, there were other factors involved — most importantly that the schedule got easier — but the other biggest change was Edwards’ presence on the field. It meant a lot to their defense. In the first eight games of the season, Edwards played 36.8% of the Eagles’ defensive snaps. In the next eight games, he played 94.9% of their defensive snaps. The Eagles were 3-5 in their first 8 and 6-2 in their next eight. Excluding the meaningless regular season finale, in which Edwards was inactive, here’s a look at how the Eagles’ defense fared: First eight games: Allowed 344.0 yards per game (10th in NFL), 123.5 rushing yards per game (23rd), 220.6 passing yards per game (9th), 23.9 points (16th). Next eight games: 295.3 yards per game (6th in NFL), 84.4 rushing yards per game (4th), 210.9 passing yards per game (14th), 17.9 points per game (7th). He ended the season as ProFootballFocus’s 10th-best linebacker in 2021 and was given an extension for the 2022 season. Edwards added a layer of toughness to the Eagles’ defense they had been missing. Defensive coordinator even handed over the green helmet dot to Edwards. "I do think that it's a calming effect for the defense to have one signal caller, and when you play a lot of packages, as we do, that can get challenging at times. But he's really settled in,” Gannon said in the second half of last season. "He's the green dot and he makes all the front mechanic calls with the front. I mean, he's making the back end calls with the back end guys, and he's just a really good communicator. "You hear me talking about being emotionally stable. He's one of those guys that every once in a while I'll juice him in his ear and he just gives me a thumbs up. ‘I got you, Coach.’ Or, ‘TJ, get this done.’ ‘I got you, Coach,’ and then a call comes in. He's been a joy to be around. He's smart, tough, physical. He's what we look for in the MIKE position and he's playing well.” After all that, why doesn’t Edwards even make the top 20? Well, the Eagles have made some great strides to improve the position this offseason and now, all of a sudden, Edwards finds himself in a pretty crowded linebacker room. Kyzir White and Nakobe Dean are both going to play an awful lot this year and it’ll be up to Gannon to figure out how to use all three and Davion Taylor too. Edwards doesn't seem concerned. "The more depth you have, the more pieces you have, the more you can do," he said this spring. "We’ve brought in some really good additions, guys that have really played football at a high level, so I think it just adds more to what we can do. "So you look at that and you look at it as competition and everybody’s going to get better from that, really.” Still, it’s hard to imagine Edwards playing over 90% of the defensive snaps like he did in the second half of last season but he shouldn’t be forgotten either. Edwards might never become a Pro Bowler in the NFL but he’s carved out quite a career as an undrafted rookie from Wisconsin. And he’s proven himself as a dependable, instinctive linebacker who deserves a role. He will have one again in 2022. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-2022-season-tj-edwards-list-most-important-players
  5. Minshew lands on list of Eagles’ most important players in 2022 Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2022 season. 25. Quez Watkins 24. Gardner Minshew A good backup quarterback is like an insurance policy. You don’t need it until you need it. No team understands that better than the Eagles, who watched their backup quarterback hoist the Lombardi Trophy several years ago. Just last year, the Eagles needed Gardner Minshew to start the Jets game when Jalen Hurts was out with an ankle injury. The Eagles won that game 33-18, their first win of four straight that propelled them into the postseason. After the win, Minshew had this legendary celebration with his father. (CLICK ON LINK TO ARTICLE TO VIEW VIDEO) In that game, Minshew completed 20 of 25 passes for 242 yards and 2 touchdowns. His passer rating of 133.7 in that game is higher than any game of Hurts’ career. Of course, the Jets weren’t very good last year and won just four games. Hurts likely would have carved them up too. Still, it didn’t stop Minshew from asking Nick Sirianni if there was a chance he could win the starting job. That was a query Sirianni shut down pretty quickly. "Gardner has played a lot of football in this league,” Sirianni said in January. "I’ve got a lot of confidence in him. ... We always talk about wanting your backup quarterback to be able to come in and function and give you a chance to win. And we saw that. He was awesome in the game that he played against the Jets. And so I would be disappointed if Gardner didn't want to be the starter.” Coming into 2022, there’s absolutely no quarterback controversy. This team belongs to Hurts. But that doesn’t mean Minshew isn’t important. Minshew, 26, entered the NFL as a sixth-round pick in 2019 and has had some success. Minshew Mania took over Jacksonville during his rookie season and even after that wore off, he’s still a good player. He’s realistically a low-level starter/high-level backup in the NFL. For the Eagles, he represents an insurance policy behind Hurts on a team that wants to (and should) contend in 2022. In his career, Minshew has completed 63.2% of his passes with 41 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 93.9. That’s the 18th-highest passer rating in the NFL among QBs with at least 20 starts. On his recent top 40 QB list, NBC Sports’ Chris Simms ranked Minshew as the 37th-best quarterback in the NFL; Hurts came in at No. 25. The Eagles acquired Minshew last August for a sixth-round pick. At that time, they still had Joe Flacco as their backup and didn’t need Minshew but they thought the value was too good to pass up. But when they traded Flacco to the Jets in October to recoup a sixth-rounder, they promoted Minshew to the backup spot. That’s probably an upgrade. Could the Eagles still deal Minshew this offseason? Sure, if another team is desperate for a quarterback and is willing to give up a substantial draft pick, the Eagles would listen. But it would have to be substantial. Because Minshew is still on the final year of his rookie contract and represents a cheap and solid backup QB for a team that has serious playoff aspirations. If all goes to plan in 2022, the Eagles will make the playoffs and they’ll do so with Minshew on the bench. But it’s never a bad idea to have a backup plan; and Minshew is a pretty good one. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-2022-season-gardner-minshew-list-most-important-players
  6. Quez Watkins lands on list of Eagles’ most important players Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2022 season. 25. Quez Watkins If Watkins never played another snap, you could already consider him to be a successful sixth-round pick. But he’s still getting better and will still be a big part of the Eagles’ offense in 2022. Watkins, who just turned 24 earlier this month, had a breakout season in 2021, his second in the NFL. He finished the year with 43 catches for 647 yards and 1 touchdown. It’s crazy to think that this time last year, Watkins was presumably going to have to fight for his roster spot at training camp. By the end of last season, however, Watkins was the Eagles’ No. 2 receiver. To begin the 2021 season, Watkins was the Eagles’ third receiver behind DeVonta Smith and Jalen Reagor but he finished the year clearly ahead of Reagor. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said after the year ended that Watkins was a legitimate No. 2 receiver in the NFL. "He has big-time speed, and he has a knack to make plays,” Sirianni said in January. "Of course, you always want to get – the style of offense that we played this year didn't allow for Quez to get as many touches as he probably deserves, but we did everything we could do to win each individual game. "So, Quez has big-play ability in him. I think out of the No. 2 wide-outs I've been around in the NFL, he can be one of the best No. 2’s that I've been around in the NFL because of his skill set and because of his ability to make plays.” Last season, Watkins became the first Eagles player drafted in the 6th round or later to have 40+ catches and 600+ yards since John Spagnola in 1985. And he’s one of just five since the merger: Spagnola, Harold Carmichael, Harold Jackson, Gary Ballman. The fact that Watkins put up those numbers in an offense that didn’t prioritize getting him the football is even more impressive. The problem for Watkins is that he still won’t be a priority going into the 2022 season. The Eagles bring back Smith after his promising rookie season and also added A.J. Brown through a trade. So the offensive game plan, from a passing perspective, will be focused on trying to get the ball to Brown, Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert. Still, the attention on others might help Watkins. In 2021, Watkins played 68.9 percent of his offensive snaps from the slot. That’s notable because he had never really played in the slot before last year. While he performed well inside, it’s fair to wonder if he was able to utilize his 4.35 speed in there. This upcoming season, Watkins might get some more time outside. Because Brown has played a decent amount of snaps in his three-year career from the slot and Sirianni will likely get him inside based on certain matchups. That will give Watkins a chance to use his burners outside. Either way, Watkins is still just 24 and entering his third NFL season. He has ability and began to unlock it last year. It’ll be fun to see if there’s a lot more growth in Watkins’ future. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-2022-season-quez-watkins-list-most-important-players
  7. In Roob's Observations: Did Roseman get a steal in undrafted rookie QB? Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Did Howie Roseman steal a quarterback? What about Brian Westbrook’s historic postseason? And an insane Jordan Mailata stat. It’s this weekend’s edition of Roob’s 10 random Eagles offseason observations! 1. Devon Allen has understandably gotten the most interest when it comes to the Eagles’ 2022 crop of undrafted free agents. But Carson Strong is a fascinating one, too. There are some obvious concerns with Strong. It’s never a good sign when you have two knee surgeries before your 23rd birthday. There are concerns about how his knees will hold up and whether he can move around enough to survive in the NFL. But as an undrafted free agent? Before his knee injuries he was expected to be a first-round pick. Then he went into this draft projected as a third-round pick. And the Eagles got him for virtually nothing. Strong this past year became only the eighth BCS quarterback in the last 20 years to throw 36 or more touchdowns, eight or fewer interceptions, complete better than 70 percent of his passes and pass for over 4,000 yards. He’s got a huge arm, he’s a smart kid, he’s got great size at 6-3, 225 pounds and his production at Nevada was off the charts. Now, he’s still a long shot. The last undrafted rookie QB to make the Eagles’ roster was Brad Goebel in 1991. The last undrafted QB to even throw a pass for the Eagles was Jeff Garcia. But I love the idea of keeping Strong around as the No. 3, giving him time to get healthy and learn the offense, and taking your time figuring out if you have something. If you don’t? It cost you $320,000, which is a drop in the bucket when it comes to finding a quarterback. If you do? You just stole an NFL QB without using a draft pick. Howie being Howie. 2. How good was Mike Quick? During the four years from 1983 through 1986, before the Vet turf began ravaging his knees, Quick averaged 1,161 yards, 17.7 yards per catch and 10.5 touchdowns. No other receiver in Eagles history has ever had one season with those numbers. And that’s what Quick averaged over four seasons. Best in Eagles history. 3. Kenny Gainwell had 544 scrimmage yards and six TDs last year on 101 touches and Boston Scott had 456 scrimmage yards and seven TDs on 100 touches. They became the first NFL teammates in 69 years to each have at least 450 scrimmage yards and six TDs on 101 or fewer touches. The last teammates to do it were also Eagles: Hal Giancanelli (477 yards, 6 TDs, 64 touches) and Don Johnson (666 yards, 7 TDs, 95 touches) in 1953. 4. I don’t think Jaquiski Tartt is a difference maker at safety. He’s got four interceptions, two forced fumbles and four sacks in 80 career games. But he does give the Eagles desperately needed depth behind starters Marcus Epps and Anthony Harris. I still think Rodney McLeod is better than both Tartt and Harris, and even at his age — McLeod turns 32 later this week — I’d rather have him on the field than either one of them. McLeod started off slowly last year coming off that ACL tear, but by the end of the season he looked pretty good. I’m also still not sure Harris or Tartt is a better option than K’Von Wallace. We really don’t know about Wallace yet. With a good summer I wouldn’t be surprised if Wallace moves up the safety depth chart past Tartt and maybe even past Harris. 5. It must be a pretty darn good offseason if all we can find to complain about is a wordmark. What the heck is a wordmark anyway? 6. In the 2006 postseason, Brian Westbrook ran 20 times for 141 yards in the wild-card win over the Giants and 13 times for 116 yards in the loss to the Saints a week later. That makes him the only player in NFL history with consecutive postseason games with 12 or more carries and a 7.0 rushing average. Marcus Allen is the only other RB with two such games in a postseason, but they weren’t consecutive. Allen (8.0) and Westbrook (7.8) are the only players ever to average over 7.0 yards per carry in a postseason with at least 30 rushing attempts. 7. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Hurts is the only quarterback in NFL history with 10 or more rushing touchdowns and fewer than 10 interceptions in a season. 8. There are 32 modern wide receivers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Jordan Matthews had more catches in his first three seasons than 31 of them. Randy Moss had 226 catches in his first three years, Matthews had 225. 9. No quarterback the Eagles are currently expected to face in 2022 won a playoff game in 2021. Four of them lost playoff games (Aaron Rodgers, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Ryan Tannehill). 10. This is insane, but until 21 months ago, Jordan Mailata had never played football. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/carson-strong-eagles-observations-jalen-hurts-mike-quick
  8. Sirianni explains why he gave up play calling A lot of coaches wouldn’t give up play calling. Nick Sirianni did. While you could certainly find the negative in the situation, that the offensive head coach the Eagles hired last year gave up those responsibilities during his first season at the helm. But the positives stand out even more. In a profession where ego can derail careers, Sirianni selflessly handed off play calling during the 2021 season to his offensive coordinator Shane Steichen. Earlier this spring, Steichen confirmed he’ll be calling the offensive plays again in 2022. "I think that's where a lot of problems happen in the NFL is from an ego standpoint,” Sirianni said last week. "It’s what is the best thing to do. If I said I'm going to stand on a table and run these plays that we ran with Philip Rivers, because that's what we do, that's an ego thing to me. So, it's the same thing here. I felt like I needed to make a change in the sense of how to free me up to be a better head coach, and I had a good assistant to call the plays, and so that's what I went with. "So yeah, no hesitation there at all, no ego thing there at all. Shane has done a great job, and imagining we do what we're supposed to do and win games, do what we were paid to do to come here, Shane will get an opportunity to be a head coach and then we [discuss] it again.” Sirianni, 40, made it very clear that it’s not like he’s turning over the entirety of his offense to Steichen. Sirianni, with input from his assistants, still devises the gameplan weekly. He and Steichen go over situational football and they even script the first 15 plays together too. Sirianni’s point was that a lot more goes into play calling than the actual moment Steichen calls the play through the headset to Jalen Hurts. But we shouldn’t minimize that role either; it’s important. And there are plenty of head coaches who wouldn’t have been willing to turn over the reins. Heck, Doug Pederson never considered turning over his play sheet, even when things were going poorly. That’s not a knock on Doug; he’s a good play caller who wanted to work his way out of a rut. But it’s a good example of how sure of himself Sirianni is. He felt like calling plays on game days was taking him away from some of his other responsibilities on Sundays. "What I noticed was, well, I wasn't communicating enough with (defensive coordinator Jonathan) Gannon about something, or I wasn't communicating enough about the defense about something that they needed to be pumped up or [Special Teams Coordinator Michael Clay] or the special teams,” Sirianni said. "I love doing that, to go over into the kickoff return and say, ‘Let's go, let's get a play going.’ There are a lot of things that have to happen on the offense before a drive starts. "You have to communicate to all the offensive players, ‘Here are the next string of plays.’ You have to put together the next string of plays of what you're talking about. "I just really trusted Shane. Shane and I spend so much time throughout the week together, again, coming up with a plan amongst the coaches, and Shane and I are doing most of the heavy lifting. "We shifted to it during one of the games, and I felt comfortable with being able to talk to everybody – there are things that come up with the referees that I need to do. There are things that come up with the guys upstairs that I need to talk through a situation and how we might need to handle it. There are just so many things that came up, and you know what, I wanted to trust the guys on the staff that I had, because I have good coaches. We just talked about it.” Even during games, there are plenty of conversations between Sirianni and Steichen about the next set of plays. And Sirianni contends that he and Steichen have such a long history working with one another, dating back to their years together with the Chargers, that they’re always on the same wavelength anyway when it comes to play calling. "He knows exactly what I want on a 3rd-and-long at the 40-yard line,” Sirianni said. "He knows exactly what I want. What's that game show where you go behind — I don't even remember, but we would write down the exact same play.” The Newlywed Game? "Yeah, the Newlywed Game,” Sirianni said chuckling. "Shane and I.” The Eagles just have to hope this marriage keeps working. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-nick-sirianni-explains-why-he-gave-play-calling
  9. Is there room in crowded Eagles' linebacker room for Taylor? Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Davion Taylor isn’t thinking about playing time, roster spots or the depth chart. Not yet. For now, he's working together with the linebackers he'll be competing with this summer trying to help raise the level of the entire group. "Right now, we’ve been trying to just get better as a group,” Taylor said as OTAs wrapped up last week. "I haven’t really thought about my role, what my role’s going to be when the season starts. I feel like that’s going to play out. "So right now we’re all just really helping each other as individuals. I feel like if we help each other get better as individuals, we’ll get better as a group. You never know how the season may go, so we all need to just be ready to go at any time." Taylor was limited to just nine games last year after suffering a knee injury in the first quarter of the Week 11 win over the Saints at the Linc. He had played fairly well in six starts after replacing starting linebacker Eric Wilson, who was released. But even though the injury wasn’t expected to be season-ending, we never saw Taylor again. "It was frustrating not being able to come back on the field because my biggest thing was trying to come back at least for the playoffs or something like that,” Taylor said. "But as I was rehabbing I saw I wasn’t going to be ready so it was really just a decision by the trainers and myself to try to just make sure I’ll be back for OTAs and be ready to go then. "It was very disappointing because I realized I was starting to get better, my processing was getting better, my movement was getting better, so the biggest thing coming off that injury was making sure I started off where I left off. "It was a setback but it let me hone in on my fundamentals during the offseason when I started healing back up.” Since he got hurt, Taylor’s off-ball linebacker position has gotten much more crowded. The Eagles signed Kyzir White, who is mainly a weak-side linebacker, and drafted Nakobe Dean, who is working at both weak and middle. Taylor said he’s been working at both spots as well as he goes into Year 3. "Whatever I have to focus on just to make sure I know the playbook,” he said. "Because I feel like last year I was able to master it for the most part. So now it’s being able to learn multiple positions. Because I don’t want to be focused on just one position because you never know how the game may go. I may have to move to a position at the last minute and I want to be able to know what I’m doing.” Taylor said he’s learned a lot watching White, who’s going into his fifth year, and said he’ll worry about competition when the time comes. "We all know we’re going to compete, but he’s a vet, he’s been in the league longer, so I ask him questions about things he’s seen that I probably haven’t seen,” Taylor said. "It’s helped me a lot.” That really goes for all the Eagles linebackers. Taylor said they’re a close-knit group, focused on helping one another learn and grow and develop. "We’re helping each other out,” he said. "When the time comes I know we’re going to have to compete, but right now it’s about getting better as a team and getting better as a group.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/davion-taylor-not-concerned-where-he-fits-eagles-crowded-linebacker-room
  10. Eagles add veteran safety with starting experience The Eagles have finally addressed the safety position, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal with veteran Jaquiski Tartt Tartt, 30, has played his entire seven-year NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers. In those seven years, Tartt has played in 80 games with 64 starts. Tartt played and started 14 games for the Niners last season. You might remember Tartt as the player who dropped what would have been a crucial interception in the fourth quarter against the Rams in the NFC Championship Game in January. The Rams won 20-17 and went on to win the Super Bowl a couple weeks later. "I deserve all the criticism my way!” Tartt tweeted the night of the loss. With the Eagles, Tartt help bolster what was the weakest position group on the team. The presumed starters were Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps. Tartt should be able to push one of them. If nothing else, this signing gives the Eagles some much-needed depth at the position. Their top backups were K’Von Wallace, Andre Chachere and Jared Mayden. At least now the Eagles have a few decent safeties. Last year, the Eagles rotated Harris, Epps and Rodney McLeod. The 49ers drafted Tartt in the second round out of Samford in 2015. Tartt has four career interceptions and 18 pass breakups. Tartt was ranked as the 72nd-best safety in the NFL last season by ProFootballFocus. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-signing-veteran-safety-jaquiski-tartt-1-year-deal
  11. Eagles’ veterans break down their new rookie teammates The Eagles had an abbreviated spring practice schedule so the work was limited on the field … but they did get to connect. That’s one of Nick Sirianni’s favorite core values, of course. The Eagles held a three-day rookie minicamp before welcoming back the veterans for OTAs. At those practices, rookies and veterans took the field and shared the meeting rooms. So it was the first chance for the established players on the team to be around their youngest teammates and in some cases the guys who will one day replace them. Since we have a long break before training camp begins on July 26, I went back through every interview with veterans this spring to find out what they said about their rookie teammates: Dallas Goedert asked to name an under-the-radar player who stood out this spring: “(UDFA receiver/returner) Britain Covey. He’s got a lot of potential. He’s a good player. He’s really smart in his route running. He was the one that probably stood out the most.” Jason Kelce on second-round center Cam Jurgens, whom he helped scout: "I’m pretty excited about the kid. I liked him a lot. I like his tools, I like his mentality. Probably overstated a little bit, my involvement in that selection. So I’d like to kind of step that back a little bit. I think I’ve looked at a few guys the past couple years when they’ve asked my opinions. He’s here obviously because Jeff Stoutland and Howie Roseman, Nick Sirianni, all these people, watched his tape and really believe in him. I think although he does have a lot of similar traits to me, he’s going to be his own player and I’m looking forward to helping out any of these young guys, in particular Cam.” Landon Dickerson on his advice for Jurgens "Gotta be ready to learn every day and get better. You’re going to make mistakes; can’t let it weigh down on you. Take it on the chin, keep moving forward.” Brandon Graham on the Eagles’ picking nose tackle Jordan Davis with the No. 13 pick: "It gives us great depth together. Man, I’m excited for big boy because he’s going to be taking two or three people with him, hopefully, and take a lot off of us. I just believe that he added more depth for us. And it’s going to be a lot of fun once we get everyone up to speed. That’s a big boy for real. That’s another Jordan Mailata on the defensive side. I just can’t wait to see him, man, kind of pick his brain and see what he knows. From Georgia, watching him, you see it. It’s like, OK, this boy explosive, this boy can run and it’s just all about making sure he can do that at a high level.” Javon Hargrave on the Davis pick: "Of course we were happy. He definitely adds a big piece to us. A great defensive lineman, so it’ll just make us even deeper. We’re just ready to get rolling with him.” Fletcher Cox on the addition of Davis: "It’s great. I’ve talked to him, picked his brain. The little time I have been here with him, I’ve been on him a little bit, just how to be a professional. Trying to teach him how to be a pro, how to practice, how to handle certain situations. It’s good. I think the more talent we have on the D-line, the better we are. Dickerson on blocking Davis as a teammate at Alabama: "It was a great experience in college. Obviously, he’s a very good player. Look forward to practicing against him and seeing him grow as a player now that he’s in the league.” Haason Reddick on the additions of first-rounder Davis and third-rounder Nakobe Dean: "Some more youth, some energy. Can’t wait to see what they actually do on the field. But Jordan Davis, hopefully he can be a big help in the middle, as big as he is. And then getting Dean, I’ve heard lots about him in terms of him being an intelligent linebacker. So hopefully getting him on the field too and have them guys help the team in any way that they can.” T.J. Edwards gives his early impressions of Dean: "Nakobe is a sponge and I think he really wants to be a good player. He’s asking questions to everybody and I think everybody is also trying to make sure they’re pushing each other too.” Davion Taylor on Dean: "He’s a great player. I feel like me and him clicked, personally, just because we’re both from Mississippi, we’re both from the south. We talk a lot and we play the same position so, me personally, I don’t see it as competition yet. Right now, it’s OTAs so we’re just connecting. We’re helping each other out. I’m helping him learn what he’s doing. When the time comes, I know we’re going to have to compete. But now is all about connecting and getting better as a team and as a group.” Reddick on hearing that sixth-round pick Kyron Johnson emulates him: "I remember being in his position and people asking me the same question. At the time, I was trying to model my game after Von Miller at the time. For him to say that about me, you know, it’s amazing. It’s just a testament to my work and a testament to how far I’ve grown thus far in the NFL.” Dallas Goedert on his role as a leader to sixth-round pick Grant Calcaterra: "Obviously was really excited to be here for four more years and my leadership role without Zach is definitely growing. Grant, met him a few times at the agency, watched his film. He’s a tremendous player. I’m excited to get him here and teach him everything I know. And pick up anything he knows that I don’t know. And just excited for how he’s going to be able to improve the group as the whole.” Hurts remembers being teammates with Calcaterra at Oklahoma in 2019: "Our time at Oklahoma was kind of cut short due to his issues and overcoming concussions. But I’m so happy that he’s made a return to the game and now we have an opportunity to finish what we started at OU. I know when I talked to him, he was very excited, he was very excited, ready to come to work, ready to build off what we started at Oklahoma my last year, my senior year. I’m excited to get to work with him.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/what-eagles-veterans-think-rookies-jordan-davis-nakobe-dean-and-more
  12. Cox ready to teach his enormous understudy all he can Jordan Davis is noticeably taller that Fletcher Cox but that doesn’t stop him from looking up at the Eagles great. Now that the two are teammates, Davis wants to soak up as much knowledge as he can from Cox. And Cox is eager to teach. "I want to be able to share a lot of information with Jordan and I know he’ll get it,” Cox said last week. "I know it’s a lot for him. He’s a rookie. I’ve been in that same position before, when guys have kind of taken me under their arms and kind of led the way. "I’m excited about Jordan and we converse all the time and talk about football and, more importantly, about life. About how have things been lately with you. I’m excited about him to see him go in training camp.” Cox, 31, has been with the Eagles since he was the 12th overall pick back in the 2012 draft. He’s been to six Pro Bowls and has 58 career sacks. He’ll go down as one of the greatest players in franchise history. But his willingness to teach a guy who could become his eventually replacement is just another line to add to his impressive resume. Cox looks back at the leaders who were on the team when he arrived in 2012 and wants to continue that legacy for Davis, who was drafted with the No. 13 overall pick less than a couple moths ago. "He’s one of those guys that I look up to,” Davis said. "And it’s crazy to say that I’m playing next to him. Regardless, he’s always coaching me up. I feel that he wants me to be the best player I can be for the betterment of the team.” Cox arrived late for the voluntary program this spring but popped his head in as a sign of respect. So he did get some time on the practice field with his understudy — half what could be a deadly defensive tackle rotation. While Cox might not be back in 2023 (he’s on a one-year deal this year), he’s part of a rotation with Davis, Javon Hargrave and Milton Williams. That’s a really impressive four-man rotation. "It’s great. I’ve talked to him, picked his brain,” Cox said. "The little time that I have been here with him, I’ve been on him a little bit about just how to be a professional. Just trying to teach him how to be a pro, how to practice, how to handle certain situations. It’s good.” In recent seasons, Cox has really embraced his role as a veteran leader. He’s helped some younger players like Williams, Marlon Tuipulotu, Raequan Williams, Destiny Vaeao and others. He has gotten this down to a science, but now he has a premier talent to tutor. Maybe in a decade, Davis will be passing down some of the tips Cox is giving him this offseason. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-fletcher-cox-ready-teach-jordan-davis-all-he-can
  13. Sirianni has been learning from two Philly coaching legends Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER If you’re going to get advice from other coaches, you may as well get it from two of the best ever. Dick Vermeil is one of seven coaches in history to take two teams to a Super Bowl and he’ll be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame later this summer. Jay Wright is one of only 15 coaches in college basketball history to win two national titles and the recently retired Villanova coach is already in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Unless you're hanging out with Vince Lombardi and John Wooden, you can’t do much better than that. Nick Sirianni isn’t in any Hall of Fames just yet and is only one year into his NFL head coaching career, but he sure seems to know how to pick out his friends. Sirianni said this past week he’s grown close with both Vermeil and Wright and has used both as sounding boards as he navigates his own coaching path. "I get to go out to dinner with Jay Wright, one of the best basketball coaches of all time, and Dick Vermeil — and that's the first time I've said ‘Jay’ or ‘Dick Vermeil.’ It's 'coach,' right?" Sirianni said. "And to be able to go out there, and yeah, I'm asking them questions. Obviously I'll keep those conversations private, but what great knowledge they have and how unbelievable (an opportunity). "I feel so honored that they're willing to share that with me. Coach Wright being an Eagles fan, he's willing to share that with me, and his amount of information that he has, and same thing with coach Vermeil.” Vermeil hasn’t coached in 17 years, and Wright coached a different sport before stepping down at Villanova in April. But none of that really matters because there are so many lessons successful coaches can teach that transcend their sport. Lessons in communication, leadership, persistence, dealing with adversity. And Vermeil is one of the few other people in the world who can write "Eagles head coach" on his resume. "Everything we learn is from somebody,” Sirianni said. "You don't just step into this role. You learn it by watching somebody. That's how I feel like you get into a role like this is because you've been so observant about the good coaches you've been around in the past and the bad coaches you've been around in the past and what you're going to repeat. "I've had that from the very beginning with my dad, growing up in a coach's house. I've learned a lot of good things there, to college, to the NFL coaches I've worked with, like Frank Reich. And then … I love reading and really more watching the documentaries on these guys and what makes good teams work and good players work and good coaches work.” It took Vermeil three years to reach the playoffs as an NFL head coach and 10 seasons (plus a 14-year gap) to win a Super Bowl. Wright didn’t have a winning record until his fourth year at Hofstra and didn’t win a national title until his 22nd season. But both became legends and Hall of Famers, and Sirianni said he kept in touch with both during his rookie season as a head coach, when the Eagles became only the fifth team in NFL history to reach the playoffs after a 3-6 start. "I got encouragement and support from those guys through the entire year,” Wright said. "They have my cell phone number, and I’d get a text from them. Win or lose, when it felt like I needed a good text of some support or some advice, I was getting that. "That's what good coaches do. They know when to give some support, they know when to give some advice, they know when to praise. "Those guys are really phenomenal coaches, and I'm very thankful I'm able to have their number to ask them a question here or there. I would have loved to have them as a 23-year-old coach, and be like, ‘Hey, I'm going to call Coach Wright.’ But I have them now, so that's awesome.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/nick-sirianni-eagles-dick-vermeil-jay-wright
  14. Ranking Eagles' positional strengths leading into 2022 training camp Expectations are high for the Eagles in 2022 and, at least on paper, they have a strong roster. It wasn’t easy to rank their position groups, but here’s what I came up with, from strongest to weakest: 1. Offensive tackle The Eagles have one of the best starting tackle combinations in the NFL with Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata, who are both Pro Bowl caliber players. Both were Pro Bowl snubs last year but they played at that level. When he’s healthy, there’s not a better right tackle in the NFL than Johnson. And Mailata is already a very good left tackle and will presumably keep getting better. And after those two guys, the Eagles have solid backups in Andre Dillard, Jack Driscoll and Le’Raven Clark. 2. Defensive tackle Even if we recognize that Fletcher Cox isn’t the same dominant player he once was, we have to realize he’s still pretty good. And he’s part of a rotation with Pro Bowler Javon Hargrave, as well as first-round pick Jordan Davis and last year’s third-round pick Milton Williams. That’s a very good and deep four-man rotation that will keep these guys fresh throughout the season. 3. Cornerback The Eagles’ cornerback duo of Darius Slay and James Bradberry has the potential to be one of the best in franchise history. While it might only last for one year, it should be fun to watch. And then you can toss in Avonte Maddox, who proved himself to be one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the league last year. You can question their depth but the Eagles have a bunch of young cornerbacks like Zech McPherson, Tay Gowan, Kary Vincent, Josiah Scott and Jimmy Moreland. All of those guys have potential. 4. Receiver The Eagles entered last year with Jalen Reagor as their No. 2 receiver. They enter this season with Reagor as the No. 5. That goes to show how much better this unit should be in 2022. They have A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal and Reagor, who round out the top five. And if they want to keep six, they have some intriguing options with guys like John Hightower, Devon Allen and Britain Covey. 5. Interior offensive line Jason Kelce is 34 now but he’s coming off yet another All-Pro season and will likely remain very good in 2022. On his left, you have Landon Dickerson, who began to play increasingly well as his rookie season went on. He’ll hopefully man that left guard position for the next decade. And then at right guard, the Eagles are giving Isaac Seumalo the first crack at the position. Seumalo has struggled to stay healthy but was once a solid left guard who is making the switch. And they have depth inside too with Cam Jurgens, Driscoll, Sua Opeta, Kayode Awosika and more. 6. Off-ball linebacker The fact that this isn’t all the way at the bottom of this page says a lot about how far the Eagles have come. But having a linebacker room with Kyzir White, T.J. Edwards, Nakobe Dean, Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley is pretty impressive. Ton of potential there and a baseline that’s much higher than it’s been in many years at the position. 7. Tight end The Eagles have a top-5 tight end in Dallas Goedert, who comes into this season as the unquestioned No. 1. Early last season, he had to split those snaps with Zach Ertz. Overall, the Eagles’ tight end room was better this time last year because of Ertz but now Goedert will be able to really unlock all of his potential. And they added sixth-round pick Grant Calcaterra to a room that already included Jack Stoll. The depth isn’t great but it’s hard to overlook the stud at the top. 8. Edge We’re putting all the "overhang” guys together here in a group that includes Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett. The Eagles addressed their edge deficiency by adding Reddick but didn’t improve at the defensive end position, instead electing to bring back Barnett on a two-year deal. I thought edge rusher was a possible early-round draft pick but the Eagles waited until the sixth round to take Kyron Johnson out of Kansas. 9. Quarterback This is the toughest one to place because it really depends on what you think of Jalen Hurts. To me, Hurts is a borderline top-15 quarterback, which really puts him in the average quarterback in the NFL. Can he get better? Absolutely. We just need to see it. And having a good backup like Gardner Minshew does help this ranking. 10. Running back Miles Sanders is a good running back when healthy but he’s missed nine regular season games over the last two years. Last season, Sanders played in 12 games but had a career-high average of 5.5 rushing yards per attempt. After him, the Eagles have solid rotational guys like Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell, who figures to have an expanded role in Year 2. They are, however, missing a big bruising back like they had last season with Jordan Howard. 11. Specialists Jake Elliott is coming off a career year and Rick Lovato is solid as a long snapper. But punter Arryn Siposs really struggled last year as a punter and the Eagles haven’t brought in any competition for him. And if we extend this to the return men, Reagor didn’t do much as a punt returner last year and the Eagles might not have a better option. Could a guy like Covey or Allen make the team as a return specialist? Maybe. But that’s far from a sure thing. 12. Safety The Eagles let Rodney McLeod walk and despite interest in some top free agent safeties, the Eagles right now have a starting duo of Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps. The Eagles showed that they wanted to improve the position and they got worse. Especially when you consider the lack of depth, which includes K’Von Wallace, Andre Chachere, Jared Mayden and Reed Blankenship. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/ranking-eagles-positional-strengths-leading-2022-training-camp
  15. PFF loves Eagles’ offensive line going into 2022 The Eagles’ team-building philosophy for decades has been to start in the trenches. So it should be no surprise that their offensive line has been ranked by ProFootballFocus as the best unit in the entire NFL heading into the 2022 season. PFF’s Michael Renner put four offensive lines in Tier 1 and led off with the Eagles at No. 1 overall, followed by the Browns, Lions and Buccaneers. Here’s what Renner wrote about the Eagles’ OL: "There may not be a single below-average starter along the Eagles' offensive line. Pair that with arguably the best tackle duo in the NFL, and there’s no debate about which team's offensive line belongs at No. 1 heading into 2022. Jordan Mailata's incredible development at left tackle can't be understated. After not playing a snap in his first two NFL seasons, Mailata went from spot starter at left tackle in 2020 to the third-highest-graded player at the position in the NFL last season.” Based on what we saw at OTAs and based on the way the Eagles’ coaching staff talked about the right guard position, it clearly seems like it’s Isaac Seumalo’s to lose. Seumalo, the former starting left guard, has been flipped to the right side of the line to replace recently retired Brandon Brooks, who missed most of the 2021 season. So here’s a look at the Eagles’ projected starting offensive line: LT: Jordan Mailata LG: Landon Dickerson C : Jason Kelce RG: Isaac Seumalo RT: Lane Johnson The combination of Mailata and Johnson as the bookend tackles might be the best in the entire league. Last year, Mailata ranked as PFF’s No. 3 tackle in the NFL and Johnson came in at No. 10. And then on the interior of the line, Kelce is 34 now but was an All-Pro again in 2021. Meanwhile, Dickerson after a rough start to his rookie season played so well at left guard that the Eagles decided to keep him there. Seumalo was a solid left guard at one point in his career and is the weak spot of this line as he comes back from a Lisfranc injury. But if he’s able to stay healthy, should be their best option there. This doesn’t even mention the Eagles’ depth on the OL. Even after cutting Nate Herbig, the Eagles have solid depth: Andre Dillard, Cam Jurgens, Jack Driscoll, Sua Opeta, Le’Raven Clark and more are all on their bench. If you’re wondering about the other offensive lines in the NFC East, the Cowboys ranked at No. 6, the Commanders at No. 15 and the Giants at No. 18. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-offensive-line-ranked-best-nfl-profootballfocus
  16. 'Got to get him going:' How Eagles are approaching Reagor Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER They haven’t given up on Jalen Reagor. Why would they? Whether or not the Eagles can salvage anything out of their 2020 1st-round pick remains to be seen, but simply because of his salary cap situation it makes sense for them to continue trying to turn him into a productive NFL player. Reagor will cost the Eagles more in cap space if they cut him ($6.03 million in dead cap in 2022, $1.8 million in 2023) than if they keep him ($3.02 million in 2022, $3.6 million in 2023). So there's nothing to lose. Is it a longshot? Probably. But every NFL player develops at his own pace, and it looks like getting something out of Reagor this year is one of the Eagles’ projects this summer. "He’s just been working consistently hard, man,” said Darius Slay, who’s always been a big supporter of Reagor. "Right now, he’s just been grinding. "We brought A.J. (Brown) in, so A.J.’s teaching him a little bit, too,. So he’s understanding the game more. "He’s still young. I think Reagor’s only 23 years old and in his third year going into the league and (23) was my second year in the league, so he’s still learning. "He’s works hard, and we’ve got to get him going. That’s it. We’ve got to all be behind him.” Slay is right, and Reagor doesn’t turn 24 until January. Through two years in the league, he has 64 catches for 695 yards and three touchdowns. He’s among only four WRs in the last 40 years to start at least 10 games in each of his first two seasons and finish both with fewer than 400 yards. The others are Miles Boykin, Nelson Agholor and Darrius Heyward-Bey. But the Eagles will keep trying. "He's explosive,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said Friday. "That's one of his biggest assets. He's an explosive player. He still has that ability to run routes and be fast and strong and physical, and again, we're just continuing to improve on those things every single day.” Agholor is the closest precedent if you’re looking for hope. Nelly’s numbers his first two years were almost identical to Reagor’s – five fewer catches, 47 fewer yards, same number of touchdowns. But he became a functional player over the next two years with 126 catches, just over 1,500 yards, 12 TDs and a brilliant Super Bowl. Then he had nearly 900 yards and eight TDs for the Raiders in 2020. So it is possible. Stranger things have happened. At best Reagor would be the Eagles' 5th WR behind Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal. And there's also steady Greg Ward in the mix and other projects such as Devon Allen, John Hightower and Britain Covey. Reagor, the 21st player drafted in 2020, is one of two wide receivers the Eagles drafted in the early rounds in the years after the Super Bowl who's trying to jumpstart his career this summer. J.J. Arcega Whiteside, a 2nd-round pick in 2019, has just 16 catches for 290 yards and one TD in three seasons. He caught just two passes last year. He’s the only wide receiver drafted in the first or second round in the last 30 years to play at least 40 games and catch fewer than 20 passes in his first three seasons. JJAW has converted to tight end this summer and faces even longer odds than Reagor. "Those are two great men, two great guys and great players,” Jalen Hurts said. "They come in here with the mentality of going to work every day. "They’re asking questions, they’re eager to learn, eager to do things right, execute their assignments and their job. I’m excited to see what they do for us this year.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/jalen-reagor-eagles-approach-2022-nfl-season
  17. New NFL WR rankings should have Eagles fans pumped Howie Roseman went out and seriously upgraded the Eagles' wide receiver room on Draft night when he added A.J. Brown in a trade with the Titans. The move, along with the rest of Roseman's excellent offseason, took the Birds' window and moved it from "the future" to "right now". At least, that's how fans see it. But is it a little bit of recency bias and overexuberance? Are the Eagles' weapons really as good as fans think they are? The experts are chiming in, and it seems like they agree. Pro Football Focus, everyone's favorite group of polarizing film-crunchers and obscure-numbers-users, put the Eagles a sky-high fourth (!) in the entire NFL in their new wide receiver corps rankings. Fourth! In the whole dang league! Here's what they had to say about the Birds' WR room: "A.J. Brown, a legitimate No. 1 option who can win over the middle of the field, changes everything for Philadelphia’s receiving corps. The only wide receivers to average more receiving yards per route run than Brown — who the Eagles traded for on Day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft — since he entered the league in 2019 (2.61) are Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson. "Brown, DeVonta Smith and one of the more underrated tight ends in the league (Dallas Goedert) is a nice core with players like Quez Watkins and the thus-far disappointing Jalen Reagor adding some speed behind them on the depth chart." The only teams ahead of the Eagles in PFF's rankings were the Bengals, Buccaneers, and Dolphins. It's hard to argue the Eagles' WRs are better than any of those groups. PFF put six teams in the top tier, the "Elite" tear: those three, the Eagles, the Raiders, and the 49ers. I imagine some people will say the Raiders belong ahead of the Eagles, and I would have a hard time disagreeing. I think you have a better argument for the Eagles ahead of the Niners. Regardless, it's clear the Eagles are viewed as having a straight-up elite WR group in Brown, Smith, Watkins, and Goedert (who isn't a WR, but also basically is a WR). That's a far cry from what it felt like at the end of the season, when fans all over were calling for a serious upgrade at the position. Thank you, Howie. Now it's up for these guys to get open - and for Jalen Hurts to get them the ball. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/pffs-wide-receiver-corps-rankings-put-eagles-dolphins-top-5
  18. Nakobe Dean, pride of Horn Lake, was always destined to be a star Nakobe Dean’s favorite food is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He’ll take them with creamy or crunchy peanut butter; either way. But his mother, Neketta Dean, insists her son ‘Kobe will declare a house with a fully stocked refrigerator to be devoid of food if it lacks the necessary ingredients to create his culinary masterpiece. "That’s his absolute favorite food,” she says. In part, Neketta Dean, the rock of the Dean household, tells me this about her son so I can get to know him beyond the surface. It’s just a fun little fact. It does, however, make Dean a tad more relatable. He likes a good PB&J. Oh yeah, she continues, he also likes to dance. Although he’s a bit shy — with a serious demeanor — and doesn’t let that fact slip out all that often. He might not be too happy she’s sharing this. In plenty of ways, Nakobe Dean is just an ordinary guy from Horn Lake, Mississippi. But in so many more, he’s extraordinary. And his mom didn’t want this reporter to hang up the phone without knowing how much her son loves a particular sandwich, how he has a fun side and — you better believe it — how he went through his high school career without receiving any grade lower than an A. Neketta Dean is proud of her son, the Philadelphia Eagles rookie who has demanded excellence from himself for years and has achieved it. After a storied career at Horn Lake High School and then at the University of Georgia, Dean is ready for the next chapter of his life in the NFL. A star at Horn Lake Brad Boyette, the former head coach of the Horn Lake Eagles, is vacationing in Northern Virginia, about 10 miles outside Gordonsville, when his phone rings. Despite the somewhat choppy cell reception inside his yurt, Boyette insists on continuing the conversation about Dean. "I’ll talk about that kid as long as you’ll stay on the phone with me,” Boyette says. It’s funny, then, that Boyette had to be somewhat convinced about Dean back in 2015. It wasn’t that Boyette didn’t see something special in Dean back then; he did. But he also didn’t like to play freshmen and he was concerned about putting a 14-year-old kid in a bad situation. But after plenty of spirited discussions with his assistants, Boyette gave in. Not only did Dean start the first game of the year, but he played every defensive snap that season. Dean was the only freshman to play varsity that year. "Yeah, that’s 100 percent true,” former Horn Lake cornerback Alonzo Hunt says without a hint of jealousy. "They knew he was special.” On his first day of ninth grade, Dean’s English teacher asked their students to write down goals for their high school careers. Among Dean’s goals: Win a state title, become an Under Armour All-American and achieve straight A’s. Check, check and check. Before Dean left Horn Lake, he helped turn around a program that had just three playoff wins in school history before his arrival and led them to a state championship as a senior. He became a five-star prospect and one of the top recruits in the country, winning the high school Butkus Award. And he did it all with humility while excelling in school and giving back to his community through his family’s philanthropic ventures. "If any one of us adults could go back to 9th grade and do it all over again with an adult mentality,” Boyette says, "I think we would all go back and be much better versions of what we were. I think Nakobe had that figured out the first time through.” All eyes on ‘Kobe It was September of 2018 and the Eagles were well on their way to a perfect 15-0 record and a state title as the recruitment of Nakobe Dean hit full throttle. It wasn’t uncommon to see college football’s top coaches descend upon Horn Lake to get a glimpse or have a chat. At its peak, Boyette estimates Dean was getting 10-15 recruiting phone calls per day. Even if Dean wasn’t overly interested in a school, he would still respectfully have a conversation. You can imagine, though, that it was a bit much for anyone — let alone a teenager — to handle. All that attention, all those phone calls, all the curiosity about the looming decision. So Boyette sat down Dean about a third of the way through Dean’s senior season and told him that if he was ready to make a decision it would go a long way to eliminating the circus that followed his recruitment. It could give him a little relief and take one huge item off his plate. But Dean wasn’t interested. "Coach, as long as I don’t commit, there are coaches coming by here,” Dean answered. "That may help somebody else on the team.” Dean, of course, was right. The coaches kept showing up and when they watched him they would see his teammates. And some of those teammates ended up with opportunities they might not have had otherwise. It’s hard to overstate how big of a deal Dean’s recruitment was in Mississippi at the time. When he eventually made his decision on signing day in December, lifting a Nike shoebox to reveal a Georgia t-shirt, it was broadcasted nationally on ESPN. One of Dean’s former teammates remembers Nick Saban showing up at the school. Another recalls spotting Kirby Smart at their state championship parade. So this was a big deal, a huge deal, but Dean never acted like it. "Honestly, you wouldn’t even know,” former Horn Lake linebacker Micheal Campbell says. "I don’t think he even acted like he was under pressure. He was real humble so he didn’t even talk about having all the offers and schools talking to him and stuff like that. I know a lot of people would ask him and he would tell it how it is. But he didn’t ever seem like he was under pressure.” Former Horn Lake offensive lineman Matt Williams even remembers that Dean would often bring up his teammates whenever college coaches would talk to him. Boyette says he wishes every high school kid would handle the recruiting process like that. Neketta Dean, when asked how her son was able to deal with all that pressure, says it probably stemmed from his upbringing. Dean grew up in a single-parent household with his mom, his older brother Nikolas and his younger sister Brooklyn. Neketta worked long hours as a director of community/public affairs at the county and because of that, the Deans were latchkey kids. They had to help out at home and they certainly didn’t "have room for foolishness.” It created an atmosphere where Dean had to be responsible and stay out of trouble. If he or his siblings were involved in any "craziness”— mom’s term, not mine — and Neketta had to leave her job to deal with it, that would have been unacceptable. That maturity flowed into sports. "Nakobe, with all the sports he’s played,” Neketta Dean says, "he doesn’t feel like he needs to shine out. He really grasped the concept of team. So it’s not big I, no little you. It was, we all win. If we leave one behind, we’re only as strong as our weakest man, so we have to help each other.” Competition started early The Dean household required maturity but there was fun to be had too. And a bulk of that fun happened on Freestyle Fridays. OK … what’s a Freestyle Friday? It was a way for the Dean family to relax after a hectic work week. They’d order pizza or wings, the kids could invite over a friend or two, and they’d have some fun. Those are the nights when the family would get into heated games of Yahtzee, Scrabble and UNO. That same competitiveness also showed up in school, on and off the field. Hunt told his favorite story about Dean. It happened during their ninth or 10th grade year. In what was a common scene for the Eagles, a few of the football players began to wrestle after practice one day, just fooling around. But when Dean, the star linebacker, joined in, they ganged up on him. There were a few defensive backs, a couple linemen and they all started going after Dean. "We caught him off guard,” Hunt remembers. "He somehow still beat all of us. Everybody just got up and took off running from him.” Dean was also drawn to sports at a young age. He would carry around a ball, any ball, as a sort of security blanket. When he was just 6 months old, the only way Neketta could get him to cooperate for a photo was by placing a football next to him. Then he was happy. The Dean kids were also very competitive about school. Neketta didn’t give her kids allowances. Instead, they were rewarded for grades. If they got straight A’s on their report card, they’d get $100. But just one B would drop their reward all the way down to $25. These rewards were handed out in front of all the kids and so it became a competition. After he got a B in his seventh grade typing class — Dean used to joke to Boyette that his fat fingers were to blame — he always pulled in $100. Smarts on the field and off If you haven’t figured it out by now, Dean is pretty smart. He was an engineering major at Georgia and hasn’t ruled out eventually going pre-med, perhaps one day aiming to work in the field of prosthetics. You already know that he had straight A’s in high school, but he also had a 3.55 GPA at Georgia. When he decided on going to Georgia, he told Boyette that he wanted to go somewhere where he could win a national championship without sacrificing his academics. He did just that. There are plenty of examples of Dean’s intelligence. Williams has another one. Dean once received a hoverboard as a Christmas present and even though Williams was a 250-pound offensive lineman, he wanted to give it a try while he was visiting the Dean home … so he did. "I ended up breaking it,” Williams says. "I was outside and he was inside the house. I put it in his room but he’s smart and as soon as he got in his room, he noticed it.” Dean has put that intelligence to work during his football career, especially in the film room. Several of his high school teammates credit Dean for helping them learn how to really break down game tape and use it to their advantage. Boyette says he had plenty of players who were willing to watch a ton of film, but none of them have had the ability to retain and process it like Dean. There’s one particular moment that stands out to Boyette. In the 2018 MHSAA 6A state championship game, Dean made a play only he could make. During their week of film study, the Horn Lake coaches showed their defense a play Oak Grove ran just once in Week 6; this was Week 15. On the play, there was a tell. If Oak Grove was in a certain formation and went in motion, the running back was running a wheel route and the Horn Lake defense would be susceptible. Dean knew the boundary safety was responsible for the running back out of the backfield but also realized his teammate wasn’t going to remember that. So Dean left his assignment and broke up the pass nowhere near his responsibility. Fans in the crowd assumed Dean had man coverage and simply did his job. But Boyette was standing there in amazement that a high school kid just pulled that off. The state championship Long before Dean led the Georgia Bulldogs to a national championship win over powerhouse Alabama, he led the Horn Lake Eagles to their first-ever state title. But it wasn’t easy. Coming into that game, the Eagles expected Oak Grove to run the ball and the Eagles were exceptionally good at defending the run. But after the first few series didn’t yield much, Oak Grove and quarterback John Rhys Plumlee (now at UCF after transferring from Ole Miss) abandoned the run and began to throw the rock, catching the Eagles off guard. What resulted was a back-and-forth, high-scoring affair that came down to the final moments, when an Eagles interception sealed the win. Throughout the stressful game, it was Dean’s leadership and calming voice that settled his teammates down. "We just needed a stop,” Williams says. "It was our first championship so everyone was nervous. He kept everybody calm on the sideline and kept everybody’s spirits high.” Just before the game-sealing interception, Dean made one last effort to calm his teammates. He was always in control. "Nakobe just made sure that everybody’s head was on straight and made sure that everybody was ready,” Hunt says. "It’s like he can sense it, whenever it’s about to happen.” Dean is known for having an alpha personality. It’s what made him such a great leader for the national champion Bulldogs. But his high school teammates saw it long before all that. Nakobe the role model Earlier this spring, the City of Horn Lake honored the Philadelphia Eagles’ third-round draft pick on Monday, May 9: Nakobe Dean Day. "They had a Nakobe Dean Day,” repeats Neketta with pride. Horn Lake Mayor Allen Latimer that day presented Dean with the official proclamation in a frame. "Well, I’ll tell you what,” Latimer says after promptly returning a voicemail. "He is fulfilling his dream of getting to play pro ball and being a credit to his family and he certainly has been a role model for our youth in this town. He has certainly been a role model. He was involved in the community, still stays involved in the community when he gets a chance. His family is just outstanding, just rock citizens, the kind every town would love to have. He is a gentleman all around.” Being a role model isn’t something Dean takes lightly. His quest to be a positive example likely comes from his upbringing. He was raised by Neketta in a Christian household where community service was the norm. Every Saturday she would haul her kids and sometimes her kids’ friends to volunteer. They’d give their time at homeless shelters, nursing homes, they’d give toys to needy families, Nakobe gave his time to the Boys & Girls Club. And Neketta would try to impress upon her children that they were fortunate in their situation and God required them to give back; and so they gave back a ton. Nakobe wants to continue to set a positive example, which doesn’t come as a surprise to his high school teammates. They looked up to him years ago; why wouldn’t kids look up to him now? "We couldn’t ask for a better representative,” the mayor says. The Philadelphia Eagles held a rookie minicamp last month and it was Dean’s first chance at an NFL press conference. When he was asked about the draft slide that had him falling to No. 83 overall, he admitted it’ll provide some motivation. But he also said it wouldn’t be the primary source. Aside from his family, what motivates Dean? He wants to be a role model for kids in his community. "When I go back home, I try to tell the kids, I don’t want y’all to try to be like me,” Dean says. "I want y’all to be better than me. But I’m going to make it hard.” If you ask anyone in Horn Lake, he already has. All photos in this story are courtesy of the Dean family. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-nakobe-dean-georgia-horn-lake-destined-nfl-star
  19. Why Brown expects DeVonta Smith to ‘dominate’ in 2022 The addition of A.J. Brown should really help the Eagles’ passing game this season. It ought to help DeVonta Smith too. "In my opinion, Smitty is a wide receiver 1 and he’s going against a cornerback No. 2,” Brown said on Friday. "I expect Smitty to dominate.” Brown is a former Pro Bowler, an established No. 1 receiver in the NFL, and he’s going to garner attention. A lot of times, that means Eagles’ opponents are going to put their best cornerback on him this upcoming season. That was the treatment Smith received in his rookie season and he still managed to set the franchise mark for rookie receiving yards. If top corners are lining up against Brown … then they can’t line up against Smith. So now Smith is a year older, wiser and with a potentially easier path to putting up big numbers in 2022. No wonder his new teammate is so bullish on Smith’s upcoming second NFL season. Even though he’s going to be deemed the No. 2 on this roster, Brown thinks Smith is a legitimate No. 1 receiver in the league. Why? "Because he’s a really good route runner,” Brown said. "Guys early on in their career, first year, year two, they’re still developing and he can run every route in the route tree. It’s just the little nuances, the things we can all get better at and that will just keep tuning up our game, keep developing. I think the sky’s the limit for Smitty. I’m excited for Year 2, the step he takes.” Smith is entering his second NFL season with the same offensive scheme and the same quarterback. The connection forged with Jalen Hurts last year should pay off this upcoming season. "I think with the time we put in, with the reps we’ve had, I think that is definitely beneficial for our connection,” Hurts said. "I think it will be good for the football team." As a rookie on a team that ended up becoming extremely run-heavy as the season went on, Smith still managed to catch 64 passes for 916 yards and 5 touchdowns. It was a very impressive and encouraging rookie season, but the Eagles still think he’s an ascending player. "He’s just getting better at understanding,” cornerback Darius Slay said. "Like I always tell him, man, in college you were the Heisman Trophy winner, you was better than everybody out there. In the league, man, there’s no separation when it comes to talent. It’s about who does the best technique at the end of the day. I just told him, just make everything look the same, make sure you just be a good player, consistent. He does it very well right now.” The idea that Brown will take pressure off Smith is a very valid one. To start last season, Smith was already the Eagles’ No. 1 and their No. 2 was Jalen Reagor. Eventually, Quez Watkins wrestled away that second spot from Reagor. But the Eagles went from their top four options in 2021 being Smith, Reagor, Watkins and Greg Ward to their top four in 2022 being Brown, Smith, Watkins and Zach Pascal. That’s quite an upgrade. Last year, the Eagles weren’t shy about the way they game planned their passing attack. They wanted to get the ball to Smith and Dallas Goedert. The presence of Brown will obviously change that. So it’ll be up to the coaching staff to feed all the mouths. "I think with anything you go into game plans you have three really good players that you have to get the ball to,” offensive coordinator and play caller Shane Steichen said. "Every game is going to be different. I always say this, there's one football, and you have three really good players along with other additions that we have, so we're working through that every single day, and that'll take place through training camp and going into the season.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-aj-brown-expects-devonta-smith-dominate-2022-nfl-season
  20. Goedert explains how Hurts has changed Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER Now it’s not just theoretical. Now it’s not just speculation. After two weeks of OTAs, his coach and his favorite target both raved about Jalen Hurts and how different he looks from last year. It’s early. It’s 7-on-7. It’s non-contact. All the usual caveats apply. But listening to Dallas Goedert and Nick Sirianni Wednesday, it sure sounds like Hurts has made some significant upgrades to his game. Upgrades he had to make. "Jalen looks really good,” Goedert said. "Just him going through his reads, his progressions, I feel like the ball’s got a little more zip on it, he’s getting it out a little bit quicker, you see kind of a 1-2-3 throw. He doesn’t have as many hitches, he’s seeing the game faster, which is really promising.” In that one little quote, Goedert addressed pretty much every criticism of Hurts and every significant area he needed to improve this offseason. Again, we’re a week into June, and it’s a big leap from showing signs of improvement during non-contact OTAs to doing it in regular-season games against big-time defenses in a packed stadium. But it’s a step in the right direction. "Jalen is, in my opinion, more comfortable in the offense,” Sirianni said. "That's just the part of the process the second year (in this offense). He knows where the receivers are going to be vs. different looks. He knows where to go with the football a little bit quicker. … "I've also noticed just the crispness of the drop. It's been the fundamentals -- his fundamentals have improved, and he's really worked hard at that. He’s really seeing where to go with the football and going there quick. "What we've done as coaches is figured out what he likes and what he's good at and all these different things. It's just accumulating those reps.” There’s really no reason to think Hurts wouldn’t improve in his third year in the NFL and second year as a starter in Sirianni’s offense. He made big strides in key areas from Year 1 to Year 2 – accuracy, ball control, decision making. And it sounds like he’s focused on those areas in the five months since last year ended. "The reason we know Jalen is going to continue to get better is because of the character and the football character and the personal character that he has,” Sirianni said. "He's just the type of guy that's going to reach his maximum potential because of all the off-the-field qualities he has.” It’s possible to appreciate some encouraging early signs at minicamp while still acknowledging that in the big picture it doesn’t mean a whole lot. "He's working every day to get better, and I'm really pleased where he is right now, but we have to continue to lay the groundwork,” Sirianni said. "That he went 11 of 12 [Tuesday] in 7-on-7 means nothing. He has to continue to get better and better and better. … Have to keep working that because it's just going to get harder and harder.” Goedert – as well as some of the other pass catchers – spent a lot of time with Hurts since last year ended, and he’s convinced that Hurts will do everything he can to maximize his ability. "His determination to be great is something that you see every day,” Goedert said. "I was out there in California with him working, and the detail that he has with the coaches looking at film, looking at his throwing mechanics, things like that. He really wants to be great and he shows that each and every day.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/dallas-goedert-explains-how-eagles-quarterback-jalen-hurts-has-changed
  21. Davis fitting in and slimming down with Eagles Jordan Davis is a big guy with a big personality. During OTAs this spring, his new teammates are seeing both on full display on the practice field, in the weight room and around the NovaCare Complex. "You can tell he’s a jokester, old soul,” said Brandon Graham, the longest-tenured player on the team. "He knows all the old school songs, he be singing, dancing. We gotta get on him a little bit, ‘You’re a rook, come on man, don’t come in here with all that.’ But we try to let him have his own personality. He’s comfortable.” That last part is pretty obvious. Not long after Graham met with reporters on Friday, the jolly giant himself appeared. Wearing a red long-sleeve Georgia shirt and a grin, Davis plopped himself down in the chair behind the microphone. "Class is in session,” Davis said. "Let’s do it.” When asked who the funniest player on the roster is, Davis didn’t hesitate to name cornerback and resident jokester Darius Slay. It was Slay who played a big role in helping last year’s first-round pick, DeVonta Smith, come out of his shell quicker than expected. But Smith is quieter, more reserved than Davis, who doesn’t need any help getting loose around his teammates. Davis has been letting his jovial personality fly from the moment he arrived in Philly. "Just being confident in myself,” Davis said. "I’m gonna always be me, I’m gonna always be myself. It’s football, it’s a grind. I’m not going to sit here and be one person in one aspect and be one person in another aspect. I’m just going to be me. They have to get on me sometimes. I’m the little brother of the group. But it’s all love. It’s all love. There’s a time and place for everything and I understand that.” He hasn’t been in Philly long, but Davis has already started to learn about the culture in the city. The best thing he’s eaten so far? A cannoli from Dante & Luigi’s he said was "to die for.” "You can tell the culture up here is really heavy,” Davis said, "and you’re going to get a good cannoli.” This is true. This is very true. Of course, the last time Davis spoke to reporters was at rookie minicamp when he said he weighed 345 pounds and was working on cutting his weight down to the 330s in an attempt to hit his peak performance. So cannolis are great … in moderation. And Davis knows that. He’s already putting in the work to reconstruct his body. "I think I look a little bit slimmer,” Davis said as he looked down and rubbed his chest. "I look in the mirror and I’m like, man, I’m getting toned. My arm muscles are looking good. My mom says I’m slimming down. My face is getting slimmer. I think that’s just the continuous work. It’s every day, it’s something. It’s just work. "We put in that work, it’s obviously just gonna fall off. And just keeping in mind, I’m getting paid to do what I do. I’m getting paid to be at my peak. Just working down and cutting down. You can’t just go out and eat everything in the world. You have to have everything in moderation.” The Eagles drafted Davis in late April and while it’s important for him to learn the defense, his role in it, to meet his teammates and forge relationship, it’s also really important for him to work with the nutritionists and athletic trainers at the NovaCare Complex. Because Davis is an exceptional athlete but there’s going to be a fine line when it comes to his weight and body composition. It’s about finding that sweet spot to balance his massive frame while maximizing his unique athleticism. So far, Davis feels like the plan in place from the Eagles is going well. "I’m just sticking to the plan and when the time comes,” Davis said. "I’m sure it’ll be for my benefit.” Aside from the work he’s been putting in off the field, Davis has been learning a ton on the field too. He’s really been learning a lot already from his veteran teammates. Technique, Davis said, is what really separates players in a league that doesn’t allow much margin for error. If Davis can perfect that technique and pair it with his insane athletic profile, the Eagles might have nailed their first-round selection. Graham knew Davis was going to be "massive” but like most people who meet Davis, he ends up being even bigger than you expected. Heck, Davis even dwarfs 6-4, 310-pound Fletcher Cox. On Friday, Graham marveled at the ease with which Davis has been moving massive weights in the Eagles’ locker room. Davis responded with humility, saying the other guys are lifting a lot too. But then Davis was asked who he thinks is the strongest guy on the team. He paused, then grinned. "I don’t want to toot my own horn but I’m might give somebody a run for their money. But anyways … ” he said, drumming on the table before standing up. "Y’all have a great day. I love y’all.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-jordan-davis-fitting-he-slims-down-spring
  22. Graham feels great as things come full circle from low point There was a time earlier in his career when Brandon Graham didn’t hesitate to name the low point in his NFL journey. "The low point was when Wash was here,” Graham said in 2015. "That was my low point.” Jim Washburn was the Eagles’ defensive line coach in 2011 and part of 2012 before he was fired during the season. The gruff position coach had a grating personality and to put it simply, he and Graham didn’t get along. It was bad. But eventually, years later, the old position coach and Graham cleared the air and buried the hatchet. That’s especially good news now because Graham is once again being coached by a Washburn. This offseason, as the Eagles split up their defensive line room into two parts, the overhang players are being coached by Jeremiah Washburn, Jim’s son. That might seem awkward. But Graham claims it isn’t. Graham and Jim Washburn had a nice chat several years ago when Graham accompanied Derek Barnett to Tennessee to work out with the former Eagles position coach. Ever since then, that weight has been lifted. "We buried all that,” Graham said. "I know I was just young and immature at the time and he was tough. He was just tough. That’s why it wasn’t as nice for me, because it was tough. Tough time during that time when he was here, coming off the knee injury and people not believing in me in the city, thinking I was a bust and all this stuff. And even myself, thinking I was at that time, because it’s like, what have I done at that point? But we talked about it, we over it.” This spring, the Eagles’ interior defensive linemen are being coached by DL coach Tracy Rocker, while their overhang players are in are a room with Washburn, who has the title of director of player personnel/senior defensive assistant. Washburn, who has a coaching and scouting background, joined the Eagles in 2019 and stayed on staff during the changeover from Doug Pederson to Nick Sirianni. In the time Washburn has been working with the defensive line — which predates the DL room split this offseason — Eagles players have been overwhelmingly complimentary of him. "For it to happen full circle like this, I’m happy the place that we are in because it’s no animosity towards how me and his dad was,” Graham said. "It’s all about trying to get better and let’s get this ring.” It really has come full circle for Graham. Those moments in 2011 and 2012 were rough on him. It was long before he became a starter, a Super Bowl hero, a Pro Bowler. Now, Graham is 34 and is the longest-tenured pro athlete in the City of Philadelphia. No one thought that would be the case during the Jim Washburn years. Graham, by the way, is feeling really good at OTAs this spring. He has completely recovered from an Achilles tear that ended his 2021 season in Week 2. After working out with the Eagles’ staff all offseason, Graham said he feels "great” as he prepares to enter his 13th NFL season. And just like the feud with Wash, that Achilles injury is in the past too. "I feel like nothing ever happened,” Graham said. "For real.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-brandon-graham-feels-great-things-come-full-circle
  23. Eagles OTAs observations: Kelce already teaching his future replacement The Eagles wrapped up their Organized Team Activities on Wednesday with their sixth and final practice of the spring. The team will now break until July 26, when they begin to report for training camp. So these observations will have to hold us over for a month and a half. Enjoy: 1. The Eagles had pretty good attendance during OTAs, Nick Sirianni said, but they were missing a few key players on Wednesday. They were without DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, Lane Johnson, Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave and Jalen Reagor. Remember, these practices are voluntary. There were a few players out there who weren’t practicing. Among that group: Tyree Jackson, Richard Rodgers, Brett Toth. But we did see the return of Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce and Jordan Mailata, who were all missing from last week’s practice open to reporters. 2. We already know the role Kelce had scouting Cam Jurgens and we knew he’d be more than willing to mentor the rookie from Nebraska. We’re already seeing that in action. Last week, when reporters were at a practice, Kelce wasn’t there. This week, he was and he spent some extra time working with Jurgens between drills, going over technique and little tips. It was fun to watch and will likely be a theme of training camp. These two guys are going to spend a lot of time together over the next year and the Eagles hope it’ll put them in a good position for the future of the franchise. 3. After a bunch of dinking and dunking earlier in practice, the highlight of the day came on back-to-back deep balls late from Jalen Hurts. On the first one, he hit a streaking John Hightower, who got behind Avonte Maddox and Anthony Harris and caught a beautiful pass in stride from Hurts. He celebrated with a little NSFW hip thrust and then was joined by his teammates for the same motion. They were flagged by the staffer in the end zone. The next play was another 40+ yard bomb from Hurts to Quez Watkins, who burned James Bradberry down the field. This pass was a bit more wobbly but it did the job. Hurts celebrated this one with a little dance. Strong finish from the first-team offense after a slow start. 4. As nice as those two deep balls were, I didn’t think either was his best pass of the day. There was another play that, sure, took a long time to develop, but Hurts eventually rolled to his right and threw an absolute strike about 25 yards to the right sideline for Greg Ward, who hauled it in. Hurts has had his arm strength questioned, but this throw proves that it’s in there. That’s a really tough play to make and it made me tilt my head a bit. 5. Some depth chart items: • The right guard spot still belonged to Isaac Seumalo on Wednesday. The rest of the line remained the same but without Johnson, Jack Driscoll filled in at right tackle. • The Eagles’ first-team defense to start in 7-on-7s was Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Avonte Maddox, Kyzir White, T.J. Edwards, Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps. The first-team offense (to start) was Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, Quez Watkins, Zach Pascal, Greg Ward, Dallas Goedert and Jack Stoll in 12 personnel. Boston Scott also worked in there on offense and Davion Taylor on defense. • Second-team defense: Zech McPhearson, Mac McCain, Josiah Scott, Davion Taylor, Kyzir White, K’Von Wallace, Andre Chachere. Second-team offense: Gardner Minshew, Jason Huntley, John Hightower, Deon Cain, Britain Covey, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. 6. In some 7-on-7 drills, the Eagles had Derek Barnett out there. That makes some sense because the overhang players will occasionally have to drop into coverage. You don’t want to see it too often, but it’ll be a part of their defense. We saw Kyron Johnson dropping too. 7. Kenny Gainwell has the best hands of the Eagles’ running backs but he had an uncharacteristic drop in the flat. But he made up for it later with a nice grab and a stutter step move on Kyron Johnson that had the rookie left in the dust. And keep an eye on Jason Huntley this summer. He’s undersized but the running back is fighting for a roster spot and his speed is undeniable. He put on the burners down the left sideline on Wednesday. Sanders even had a nice grab on air. 8. The best defensive play of the day came on a pass that Minshew tried to sneak in to Covey. But White made a diving PBU and knocked the ball into the hands of Taylor, who picked it off. Maybe it wasn’t the best decision but it was a heck of a play by White. 9. The Eagles had some punt return drills on Wednesday but Reagor was absent. So the punt returners were Ward, Scott, Covey, Gainwell and Watkins, in that order. They all fielded their punts cleanly. 10. Several former Eagles were out watching practice today: Dick Vermeil, Irving Fryar, Frank LeMaster, Ron Jaworski, Barrett Brooks. Stupid Observation of the Day: Nick Sirianni had some fun on Wednesday, trying to egg on the guy with the boxing glove pole to knock out the football during ball security drills. It didn’t work. No fumbles. https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-otas-observations-jason-kelce-already-teaching-cam-jurgens
  24. Slay wants to fill big shoes with Bradberry Darius Slay isn’t just a Pro Bowl cornerback. He’s apparently a little bit of a historian too. At least as it pertains to the Eagles. Because Slay understands how long it’s been since the Eagles have had a cornerback duo that’s as good as the one they seemingly have this year with him and James Bradberry as the starters. Slay talked about that last week during an appearance on SiriusXM Radio. "On the outside, I’ve always been looking in, it’s always been a corner issue here,” Slay said to Alex Marvel and K.J. Wright. "I guess that’s why I got traded here. It’s always been that. "From my look in, just knowing football too much, there aren’t too many teams that had two top-tier corners that played together in the Philly area, except (Sheldon) Brown and Lito Sheppard. We’re trying to make sure we fill them shoes … they set the trend here, trying to fill them shoes up and compete.” Brown and Sheppard were two names that came to a lot of Eagles fans when the Birds signed Bradberry earlier this month. Because Slay-Bradberry is probably the best cornerback duo the Eagles have had since Brown and Sheppard over a decade ago. (And adding Avonte Maddox in the mix as a nickel corner only makes it more impressive.) In fact, when NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank came up with his list of the best cornerback duos in Eagles history, he ranked Brown and Sheppard at No. 2 overall, just behind Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent. Brown and Sheppard played together from 2002-07 but really had a five-year span during those years where they formed one of the best combinations in the NFL. That’s why everyone seems to be so excited about Slay and Bradberry joining forces in Philly for the 2022 season. It’s been a long time. "I think, the sky’s the limit for me and Bradberry, man,” Slay said. "I’m here to help him. He’s here to help me. We both complement each other. We’re trying to really turn something into something great here.” From a talent perspective, Slay and Bradberry could end up pretty high on that list of top Eagles cornerback duos but they might not get to play together too long. Bradberry is here on a one-year deal and Slay is already 31. Still, it’s exciting. Bradberry, like Slay, believes this duo has a lot of potential. But he knows they have to prove themselves too. "I’ve been watching him since I’ve been in the league and I admire his game a lot,” Bradberry said earlier this month. "And I feel like it’ll be a great opportunity to learn from him but also play alongside him because he’s a great corner. "Potential only gets you so far, so I don’t want to speak on potential. I know individually we’re pretty good. The goal is to be great together.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/eagles-darius-slay-wants-fill-big-shoes-james-bradberry
  25. One-time Eagles phenom still trying to recapture magic Reuben Frank EAGLES INSIDER He was a brief blip in Eagles history, an obscure practice squad receiver, then out of nowhere the best wideout in the NFL for five weeks. And then just as suddenly? Back to obscurity. Travis Fulgham is one of the strangest stories in Eagles history. After getting released by the Lions and Packers, Fulgham was in training camp with the Eagles in the summer of 2020. They released him at the end of camp, signed him to the practice squad, then signed him to the 53 out of desperation in early October. For five weeks, it was magic. From Week 4 through Week 8, Fulgham led the NFL with 29 catches, 435 yards and four touchdowns. In his first five career games playing wide receiver, he was the best in the league. He had the 3rd-most yards in Eagles history by a player in his first eight career games ... even though three of those games were with the Lions. "It was amazing, a dream come true,” Fulgham said recently in an interview with the Athletic’s Broncos reporter Nick Kosmider. "I’ve probably never been happier in my life, just going out there and balling and doing what I love and being able to help a city like Philly win some games. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long, but people saw what I can do.” It lasted five weeks and ended with a thud. After joining DeSean Jackson and Terrell Owens as the only Eagles wide receivers in the last 25 years with four straight 70-yard games – including 152 yards in Pittsburgh and a 4th-quarter go-ahead 42-yard TD from Carson Wentz San Francisco – Fulgham fell off the face of the Earth. He caught just nine passes for 104 yards the rest of the year, going from 87 yards per game in his first five games as an Eagle to 13 yards per game. He still managed to lead the Eagles with 539 receiving yards, which probably says more about the 2020 Eagles than Fulgham. The Eagles released him after training camp last year and he spent last year bouncing between the Miami and Denver practice squads. He played in one game for the Broncos at the end of the year, getting seven snaps on special teams and two on offense. By the time the 2022 season opens, he’ll have gone 20 months without catching a pass. But Fulgham hasn’t given up. The Broncos saw enough from Fulgham at practice last year to find a spot for him on the 90-man roster this summer, and according to Kosmider he’s looked good in OTAs over the past couple weeks with a touchdown catch from Russell Wilson on a red zone route and a catch on a deep ball from Josh Johnson. Fulgham is only 26, and although he’s still fighting an uphill battle just to make the Broncos’ roster, there aren’t a lot of guys out there who’ve had 435 yards in a five-game stretch or a 150-yard game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. There’s talent in there somewhere. So far, he’s spent time with five NFL franchises over parts of three seasons and had one incredible five-game stretch and 2 ½ years of virtually nothing. "It’s definitely a business first, I’ll say that,” Fulgham told the Athletic. "All I can do is stick to my game and do what I do. "I didn’t go anywhere. It’s just kind of how the situation ended up. But I haven’t gone anywhere. My game is still here. I can take over a game if I want to.” https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/one-time-eagles-phenom-travis-fulgham-still-trying-recapture-magic
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