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The Eagles could use a safety.

Perhaps it isn’t as dire a need anymore, since they decided to bring back Jalen Mills and will convert him to safety, and Rodney McLeod and signed free agent Will Parks.

That doesn’t mean they won’t take one when the 2020 NFL Draft begins in just three weeks.

In addition to Mills, McLeod and Parks, the Eagles also have Rudy Ford and Authentic Marcus Epps Jersey on the roster.

Neither Epps nor Ford are considered to be more of a special team player, though Epps played 99 defensive snaps after being claimed off waivers from the Vikings on Nov. 7. Ford received just 16 defensive snaps in 10 games before he was placed on Injured Reserve with an abdomen injury.

There are options at safety, and Sports Illustrated took a look at who the first one off the board might be in the draft.

The Eagles won’t be the first team that takes a safety.

In fact, they may not get around to shoring up that position until the third day of the draft.In my Eagles mock draft 2.0 I had the them selecting Lenoir-Rhyne’s Kyle Dugger in the second round.

It could still happen, or maybe Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield is in play with their second-round selection, at No. 53.

No matter who they take – or if they take anybody at all – it likely won’t be Alabama’s Xavier McKinney or LSU’s Grant Delpit.

They are considered to be the top two players at their position entering the draft and will likely be gone in the first round or early in the second round at the latest.

Three third-day options for the Eagles could be Kenny Robinson, Clemson’s K’Von Wallace or Louisiana Tech’s L’Jarius Sneed.

Robinson is an interesting prospect in that he was kicked out of West Virginia University in an academic fraud scandal, was unable to enter the transfer portal, so he went into the XFL, picking up valuable experience in a league that had many former NFL players.

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We all know the Eagles’ top two needs this offseason are wide receiver and cornerback but because those needs are so pressing, we’ve all lost sight of another pretty big one.

The Eagles need some help at defensive end.

Sure, the Birds will bring back Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett, their two starters, for the 2020 season but neither of those guys are elite. Graham is on the wrong side of 30 and Barnett has been solid but hasn’t lived up to his draft status.

After those two? Vinny Curry is set to be a free agent, so their top rotational players are Authentic Josh Sweat Jersey, Authentic Shareef Miller Jersey, Authentic Genard Avery Jersey and Authentic Joe Ostman Jersey.

The Eagles might be in the market for some defensive end help this offseason and they’ll have a few options.

We have a long way to go before the start of the 2020 season but we have some jersey number updates from the Eagles.

Most of these new numbers are for new players, but Jalen Mills is also switching out of the number he’s worn for the first four years of his career.

Here they are in numerical order:
Authentic Jalen Mills Jersey: 21

Mills spent the first four years of his career in No. 31. But his rookie contract is over and he’s returning as a safety in 2020. So new position, new number.

“It’s just recreating myself,” Mills said this week. “Recreating that Green Goblin, that monster. It’s a new position, it’s a new feel, and it’s going to be new energy.”

Mills said he admires guys like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, who each changed their jersey numbers throughout their NBA careers.

The No. 21 became available after Ronald Darby left in free agency to head to Washington. Darby wore 41 back in 2017 when he arrived in a training camp trade; Patrick Robinson had the 21 on his one-year deal.

Complete Eagles history at 21: James Zyntell, Les Maynard, Paul Cuba, John Kusko, Herschel Stockton, Allison White, Chuck Cherundolo, William Boedeker, Al Pollard, Jim Carr, Joe Scarpati, Ray Jones, Jackie Allen, Wes Chesson, Al Clark, John Sciarra, Evan Cooper, Eric Allen, Bobby Taylor, Matt Ware, William James, Joselio Hanson, David Sims, Roc Carmichael, Jerome Couplin, Leodis McKelvin, Patrick Robinson, Ronald Darby
Darius Slay: 24

In Detroit, Slay wore No. 30 during his rookie season back in 2013 but had the No. 23 in the next six years. But in Philly, Rodney McLeod has 23, so Slay is happily changing to 24 to honor the late Kobe Bryant.

“I’m going Kobe mode,” Slay said. “Black mamba. Rest in peace to the One of my favorite players. I will look good in 24.”

Last season, Jordan Howard wore the No. 24 during his one-year stint with the Eagles.

Complete Eagles history at 24: Howard Auer, Joe Carpe, Dick Lachman, Jack Knapper, Herman Bassman, Joe Pilconis, Rabbit Keen, Bill Schneller, Dom Moselle, George Taliaferro, Don Schaefer, Nate Ramsey, Artimus Parker, Henry Monroe, Zac Henderson, Ray Ellis, Russell Gary, Reggie Brown, Alan Reid, Alan Dial, Corey Barlow, Tim McTyer, Darnell Autry, Rod Smart, Blaine Bishop, Sheldon Brown, Joique Bell, Brandon Hughes, Nnadmi Asomugha, Bradley Fletcher, Ryan Mathews, Corey Graham, Jordan Howard
Will Parks: 28

During the first four years of his NFL career, Parks wore No. 34 in Denver as a sixth-round pick. But that number is owned by Cre’Von LeBlanc in Philly.

So Parks will hop into the No. 28 that was vacant for most of last year until Jay Ajayi was signed during the season.

Complete Eagles history at 28: Dick Thornton, Guy Turnbow, Algy Clark, Joe Pilconis, Max Padlow, J. “Stumpy” Thomason, Harry Klopenburg, Ray Keeling, Bob Jackson, Paul Dudley, Jim Gray, Bill Bradley, Lou Rash, Greg Harding, Don Griffin, Mel Gray, Clarence Love, Amp Lee, Correll Buckhalter, Ramzee Robinson, Marlin Jackson, Dion Lewis, Earl Wolff, Wendell Smallwood, Jay Ajayi
Nickell Robey-Coleman: 31

As an undrafted player, Robey-Coleman came into the league and wore No. 37 for his first three seasons in Buffalo before he got a big-time improvement and took over 21 in 2015. For the last three seasons, he wore 23 with the Rams but that’s taken by McLeod here.

So he’ll be in the 31 that Mills wore for the last four years.

Complete Eagles history at 31: Joe Carter, Tom Graham, Irv Kupcinet, William Brian, Bob Masters, Emmett Mortell, Jerry Ginney, Phil Ragazzo, Jim Castiglia, Ted Williams, Art Macioszczyk, Dan Sandifer, Ebert Van Buren, Ron Goodwin, Tom Bailey, Wilbert Montgomery, Troy West, Tyrone Jones, Brian O’Neal, Derrick Witherspoon, Al Harris, Daryon Brutley, Dexter Wynn, Ellis Hobbs, Curtis Marsh, Shaun Prater, Byron Maxwell, Jalen Mills
Trevor Williams: 41

You might have forgotten the Eagles signed Williams back in January, but the cornerback and Penn State product has 39 NFL games and 27 starts to his name with the Chargers and Cardinals.

He has previously worn 42, 24 and 22.

Complete Eagles history at 41: Ted Schmitt, Foster Watkins, Buist Warren, Gil Steinke, Frank Ziegler, Jerry Norton, Bob Freeman, Howard Cassady, Harry Wilson, Richard Harvey, Randy Logan, Earnest Jackson, Keith Byars, Alvin Ross, Fred McCrary, Johnny Thomas, William Hampton, Thomas Tapeh, Stephen Spach, Tanard Davis, Antoine Harris, Jarrad Page, Emil Igwenagu, Randall Evans, Ronald Darby, De’Vante Bausby
Jatavis Brown: 53

Everyone pretty much understood that Nigel Bradham wasn’t going to return to the Eagles in 2020 but now they went ahead and gave his number away. Bradham wore 53 for the last four seasons in Philly.

During his first four NFL seasons with the Chargers, Brown was No. 57 but that’s occupied in Philly by second-year linebacker T.J. Edwards.

Complete Eagles history at 53: Walt Masters, Alex Wojciechowicz, Ken Farragut, Bob Pellegrini, John Simerson, Bob Butler, Harold Wells, Fred Whittingham, Dick Absher, Dennis Franks, Fred Smalls, Jody Schulz, Dwayne Jiles, Maurice Henry, Ivan Caesar, John Roper, Bill Romanowski, N.D. Kalu, Hugh Douglas, Mark Simoneau, Moise Fokou, Ryan Rau, Najee Goode, Nigel Bradham
Javon Hargrave: 93

Not long after news broke that Tim Jernigan was heading to Houston, Hargrave got his jersey number.

A switch was necessary for Hargrave, who wore 79 during his first four seasons in the NFL with the Steelers. The Eagles already have a No. 79 who is pretty good in right guard Brandon Brooks. And Hargrave wore 97 in college but that number in Philly is owned by Malik Jackson.

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Free agency has been relatively kind to the Eagles. For the same 2020 cost as Byron Jones, Howie Roseman was able to rally an army of free agents to solidify the defense. As all eyes turn toward the NFL Draft, and more prominently, the deepest WR class in years, there’s one position that continues to fly under the radar – Running back.

Maybe it’s because a late breakout from Miles Sanders somewhat eased concerns over Jordan Howard’s injury. The Penn State product exploded in the absence of Howard, coming on leaps and bounds as a runner and continuing to flourish as a receiver. In fact, since 1965, only 2 players have rushed for 800+ yards, received for 500+ yards, and averaged rushing for 4.5+ yards per carry in the same season – Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders.

Sanders’ sensational season left Eagles fans purring and almost nullified any concern about depth at the position…but it shouldn’t have. As things stand, the Eagles have three running backs on the roster. Boston Scott partners Authentic Elijah Holyfield Jersey behind Sanders in what is now a position light on depth and notable names.

It’s not that the backfield necessarily ‘needs‘ the draw of a big name, but if you look at every re-incarnation of Pederson’s stable of running backs, there are specific roles handed out.

1: The bowling ball: (LeGarrette Blount, Jordan Howard, Jay Ajayi)
2: Mr do-it-all: (Darren Sproles, Miles Sanders)
3: Change of pace: (Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement)

  • Before you shout, I’m aware most of these running backs have filled numerous roles in the offense, but for the sake of simplicity we’re condensing them down.

Corey Clement is now a free agent, Darren Sproles hung up the cleats, and Jordan Howard is a Miami Dolphin. In theory, the Eagles could easily roll into next season with an abundance of confidence in Boston Scott to fill the shoes of Darren Sproles, but it would be a lot to expect Holyfield to become that north-south runner that wears down defenses.

It’s all well and good thinking ‘Sanders is more than capable of becoming the bell-cow back’, which he absolutely is (after all, that’s why he was drafted), but it’s also naive. Pederson’s offense will likely see Sanders being used everywhere and as often as possible. He averaged 3.9 targets and 11 carries per game last year and that number isn’t going to decline any time soon. He came out of college with plenty of rubber on his tires, but for every snap Sanders is used in the slot or on wheel routes, or as a blocker, they’ll need a plan-b.

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Wes is joined by Philadelphia Eagles QB Cheap Kyle Lauletta Jersey about his thoughts on if the coronavirus pandemic and the sports shutdown were to happen when he was in the draft process. Kyle also gives some insight on teams allowing players to use their own doctors as opposed to team doctors, and how he ended up with the Eagles organization.

The Eagles have Cheap Carson Wentz Jersey set as their franchise quarterback, but one of the under-the-radar questions of this offseason is who will serve as his backup in 2020? The Eagles took a big step toward answering that question on Tuesday morning as they agreed to terms with quarterback Nate Sudfeld on a one-year deal. Sudfeld was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday.

“We’re very comfortable with Nate,” Head Coach Doug Pederson said at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. “We’ll see what happens this spring when we get down the road with him, but he’s put himself in position to compete and possibly be the No. 2.”

Sudfeld served as the No. 3 quarterback last season behind Wentz and Josh McCown. Wentz, Sudfeld, and Kyle Lauletta are now under contract for the upcoming season. McCown is recovering from a hamstring injury suffered in the season-ending loss to Seattle. The 40-year-old McCown is set to be a free agent and has not yet made any decisions about his football future.

A former sixth-round selection of Washington in 2016, Sudfeld was claimed off waivers by the Eagles at the start of the 2017 regular season. Sudfeld served as the primary backup in the latter half of the run to the Super Bowl and set what was at the time the record for highest completion percentage (82.6 percent) in an NFL debut in the regular-season finale against Dallas. He threw his first touchdown pass in the 2018 regular-season finale against his former team.

The 6-6, 227-pound Sudfeld was poised to be the primary backup to start the season for the first time in 2019. However, Sudfeld suffered a fractured wrist in the preseason opener, and the Eagles turned to the veteran McCown. Sudfeld returned for Week 3 of the regular season. He was active for five games this season but did not get any snaps on offense.

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PHILADELPHIA — When Eli Harold was growing up in Virginia Beach, Va., in the 2000s, he was self-described huge Washington Redskins fan. He said he had former Redskins players Phillip Daniels, Andre Carter and Lorenzo Alexander on his wall. At one point, he met those players at the Virginia Beach Pavilion.
Now, he’s learning from them. Carter coached Harold with the San Francisco 49ers earlier in his career. And after the Philadelphia Eagles acquired Harold from the Buffalo Bills in a trade Friday evening, Daniels will be his position coach.

“I was talking to Phillip yesterday,” Harold said Sunday. “I’m like, ‘Yo, this is amazing.’ Like, I’ve now played for two of my former favorite players.”

Harold has other reasons to be excited after the trade, too. In addition to getting the chance to learn from Daniels, who is in his first year as the defensive line coach, Harold thinks he’s going to get a real chance to compete for a roster spot and showcase his ability as a pass rusher.

“It’s nice to feel wanted,” Harold said.

Read more: Eagles training camp report: Taking a closer look at personnel as camp winds down
Harold is the second veteran defensive end the Eagles have added in the past week. When training camp standout Joe Ostman went on injured reserve, the team signed Kasim Edebali. Harold was sent to Philadelphia in exchange for undrafted free agent offensive lineman Ryan Bates.

The top of the defensive end depth chart — Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry — feels set for the Eagles. Second-year pro Josh Sweat, rookie Shareef Miller and third-year pro Daeshon Hall are competing behind them, and the addition of Harold and Edebali should boost the level of that group.

Harold spent the first four seasons of his NFL career as an outside linebacker with the 49ers, who selected him in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and Detroit Lions. Under Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Harold will return putting his hand on the ground as a defensive end for the first time since college at Virginia.

“I love it, man,” Harold said. “That’s my natural position. No matter what, going forward is always better than dropping into coverage a lot, so I’m excited.”

 

It’s unlikely that Graham, Barnett and Curry will play much the rest of the way in the preseason — if it all — so there are plenty of available reps for the rest of the depth chart, and Harold could use the next three games as a sort of showcase to the Eagles and the other 31 teams.

“I’m just going to take one day at a time, man, and attack it, give all I got and just try to be me every day,” Harold said. “Whether it’s enough time or not, I’m going to just do what I do and try to impress the best way I can and control what I can control, and that’s just to go all out every time I’m on the field.”

Even with a truncated schedule — the Eagles had their 13th day of training camp Sunday — both Schwartz and Harold expect him to be in the flow of things quickly.

“Good body for what we are looking for,” Schwartz said. “Our scouts had liked him a couple years ago. He has had a little bit of production. He played sort of a hybrid role last year for Detroit, but we are a little bit different. Put his hand in the ground and let him come. He’s big, he’s strong and we will add him to the mix and see where it turns out, but he does have a little bit of experience. It’s a little bit different than a rookie coming in. We should get him up to speed pretty quickly.”
Harold brings a bit of a track record to the Eagles. He has nine sacks in four seasons, including a career-high four last season. He got off to a hot start for the Lions with three sacks in his first three games, including two of Tom Brady in an upset win over the New England Patriots.

Harold played at least 23 percent of Detroit’s defensive snaps in three of the first four games, but his playing time soon plummeted. He had a seven-game stretch where he was inactive twice — once was because of the birth of his daughter — didn’t play once and saw just nine defensive snaps. He had a couple games where he played more than half the snaps down the stretch, but it was clear his future wasn’t in Detroit.

“Um, I really don’t like talking about the past, but I’ll touch on it a little bit,” Harold said. “Just the opportunity wasn’t there, I feel like. A guy had got hurt, and my playing time had went up, and then when I had my daughter — my daughter was born the fourth week, fifth week of the year — then after that, I feel like it just fell off.

“I was still doing everything I could. I was doing my best and I would talk to the coaches, and they would say that nothing was wrong and I was doing everything I was supposed to do, so I don’t know what happened. I guess they were telling me one thing, but saying another thing in meetings or whatever, but I went to work every day, tried to be better and that’s all I can do. It just didn’t work out.”
Read more: Who impressed Doug Pederson in Eagles preseason opener?
Harold told The Detroit News at the time that Lions coach Matt Patricia was “100 percent supportive” of Harold during a complicated childbirth process.

Harold has some familiarity with the Eagles because safety Rodney McLeod is also a Virginia alum, and Harold described former Eagles defensive end Chris Long as a “big brother.” He also played with cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc in Detroit, and LeBlanc, a hero for the Eagles down the stretch and in the playoffs last season, has shared a similar sentiment as Harold about getting a fair chance to make an impact in Philadelphia.

Harold wants to make the most of it. He’s on a tight timeframe, and there’s already a talented group of players on the depth chart. But Harold already feels comfortable with the Eagles, and he wants to take the next step of his career in South Philly.

“It’s a business, but to come to a new place, and I already feel it,” Harold said. “The guys, I feel like they’ve accepted me already, and I haven’t even been here 24 hours, and being in a room with a lot of veterans plays a big part in that, and it’s just a veteran team and they know how to win here, and I’m just glad I’m here.”

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Philadelphia Eagles roster hopeful DeAndre Thompkins is grateful to have the opportunity to try out for a team that has Carson Wentz at quarterback.
Recently, the Philadelphia Eagles wrapped up the start to the offseason. After a month of voluntary activities, followed by three mandatory minicamps, the team is off to do their own thing for the next month or so. Late next month, the Eagles entire 90-man roster will be back at the Nova Care Complex in Philly for the beginning of the end of the offseason.

The final phase might be exciting to some, but to 37 guys it will be a stressful time. By the beginning of September, the roster will need to be cut down to 53 players. As we know, not everybody can make the team. We know who the locks are, but very rarely do we get too comfortable with the hopefuls, rightfully so.

Although the hopefuls know their position within the organization, they don’t ever tend to lose hope. If a player can prove they belong, it won’t go unnoticed. And fortunately for the Eagles, they have roster locks around the roster hopefuls that are willing to elevate them to give them the best chances to make the team.

Recently, undrafted rookie wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins discussed his journey to making an NFL roster. Two months ago, he signed a deal with the Eagles shortly after going undrafted. While Thompkins knows how deep the receiving core is for the Eagles, and just how hard it’s going to be for him to make the team, he’s still rather grateful to have the opportunity to work with Carson Wentz. Now, it seems as though the leadership issues from last season are in the rearview.

What’s being said about Wentz?
After last season’s showing, you would think that Wentz was a one-hit wonder in 2017. He might not have been an MVP in 2018, but he still showed improvement in some areas. However, his 2019 offseason, which contains a healthy Wentz for the first time in two years has shown that maybe he didn’t truly lose a step like many speculated. Instead, he’s just as good, if not better than that Sophomore season. DeAndre Thompkins wasn’t around then, but now he understands the hype surrounding Wentz since he’s been with the Eagles.

“Man, it’s crazy, he’s very talented as everybody knows, very smart. He’s a natural-born quarterback. You can feel it in the huddle. You can feel it whenever you’re around him,” Thompkins told PennLive’s, Daniel Gallen. While we know Wentz is talented, there have been some question marks surrounding his leadership skills after last season. According to a piece with quotes from anonymous players, Wentz was not the best acting captain in 2018.

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NEXT: Eagles upset fans with training camp schedule announcement
In fact, Wentz was accused of being selfish at one point by a respected veteran. However, the roster hopeful’s words do not help support that claim.

“One thing I would say is he does a good job of elevating everyone around him, he treats me and JJ [Arcega-Whiteside] just like he treats D-Jacc, Nelly and all those guys. He expects you to perform at a high level, and then if you don’t understand something or something happens, he’s the first one to come over and explain to you what you gotta do, why you gotta do it. So to have somebody like that, man, it’s a blessing.”

Are we saying this so-called anonymous respected veteran was wrong about Wentz’s locker room personality last season? No, we’re not. But we do believe that whatever was going on last season, is now left in the rearview. With the franchise locking Wentz in to a long-term deal, there are no longer any questions as to who is the captain of the ship. Wentz knows his place, and is aware that his leadership can make or break the offense. So far, everything sounds good.

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Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham has accepted a deferred prosecution program in relation to his felony battery charge from last summer, court documents show, which diverts the case out of the courts and could result in no jail time if the conditions of the program are met.

Bradham was arrested just before training camp last July following an incident at the Hilton Bentley Miami in trendy South Beach. He was accused of striking a hotel employee and breaking his nose.

Bradham was charged with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony. The trial date has been delayed multiple times. The most recent was scheduled for this week.

Bradham also faces a misdemeanor gun charge for a separate incident, when he brought a weapon to the Miami airport. Documents show there is a hearing in that case scheduled for July 24.

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The New England Patriots’ quest for a fifth Lombardi Trophy, you might recall, began with the not-so-small task of surviving a quarter of the season without one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

With Tom Brady serving his Deflategate suspension for the first four games last season, the Patriots leaned on the ground game — and, more specifically, running back LeGarrette Blount — in what turned out to be a tone-setting 3-1 start. They ran the ball 53 percent of the time over that span compared with 45 percent when Brady was back in the fold. Blount was in the middle of it all. He averaged 25 carries and 99 yards and scored four times over the first three games, all New England wins.

Positioned as the lead back, he went on to set new career highs in carries (299), yards (1,161) and touchdowns (18).

“Just the number of opportunities,” Blount said, explaining why he experienced such a spike in production in Year 7 of his NFL career. “Obviously, Tom missing four games played a part in the opportunities that I had. Just taking advantage of all of them.”
LeGarrette Blount rushed for an NFL-best 18 touchdowns last season in New England, and the Eagles are hoping he can take some pressure off quarterback Carson Wentz in 2017. John Jones/Icon Sportswire
Blount, 30, finds himself in another situation ripe with opportunity. He signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles in May, joining a backfield in desperate need of a lead dog. Ryan Mathews (neck) is expected to be cut once he is cleared medically, creating a need for a physical, downhill runner to go with the lighter Darren Sproles (5-foot-6, 190 pounds), rookie Donnel Pumphrey (5-foot-8, 169 pounds) and unproven second-year back Wendell Smallwood.

At 6-foot, 250 pounds, Blount fits the bill. He rumbled for 518 yards after first contact last season, good for sixth in the NFL, per ESPN Stats & Information. He picked up 67 first downs (fifth in the league) with a 50 percent conversion rate on third-down attempts. And his 18 rushing touchdowns were the most in the NFL since Adrian Peterson matched that number in 2009.

“Just get back to pounding the ball a little bit, just imposing your will on these defenses, being able to get Blount out there in the secondary,” Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley said about what the revamped backfield could bring. “I’m pretty sure those safeties will think twice about hitting him.”

Blount’s presence should help the Eagles achieve a primary goal of being more run-heavy in 2017. Quarterback Carson Wentz was put in precarious positions far too often as a rookie. He set a franchise record for most pass attempts in a season (607) despite being green to the league and operating with substandard offensive weapons. Wentz attempted 40 or more passes seven times, including 60 attempts in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in early December.

Some of that can be pinned on the playcalling of head coach Doug Pederson and issues along the offensive line during right tackle Lane Johnson’s 10-game suspension, but a less-than-reliable running back group (with the exception of Sproles) was also a factor. The hope is that the additions of Blount and Pumphrey, a fourth-round pick out of San Diego State, will bring more balance to the force.

“Oh, Doug communicated it himself,” Staley said. “He talked about running the ball: ‘We’re not bringing these guys in here just to sit them up on the shelf. We want to run the ball, and we want to impose our will.'”

Blount, an undrafted free agent out of Oregon, has changed teams four times in his career. He started with the Tampa Bay Bucs, went to New England for two years and signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014. He was released that November after leaving the field early during a Steelers win (in which he was used sparingly). He was picked up again by the Patriots a short time later and made his way to Philadelphia after posting a standout season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other player since 1933 to change teams after a season in which he was the NFL’s outright leader in rushing touchdowns was Greg Bell, who went from the Rams to the Raiders in 1990. The challenge in front of Blount is to prove that he can have success comparable to last year while operating outside the Patriots machine.
Blount says he has been welcomed with open arms by the Eagles’ locker room, and he has benefited from having a veteran such as Sproles teach him the finer points of the system. Asked why he chose Philly for this chapter of his career, he pointed to the upside of Wentz, and what’s possible if the young signal-caller can get a boost on the ground.

“I don’t think there was a hole I had to fill or void I had to fill,” Blount said. “It was just [about] adding a lot more weapons around Carson, giving him the opportunity to be better and grow as a quarterback. He’s a young guy. It’s only his second year — just taking a lot of responsibility off of him. I think he’s going to be a really special player, but it takes a lot of responsibility off him and what he’s called on doing.

“They were 7-9 last year. They were pretty close in a lot of games. Carson is going to be a really good quarterback; he’s going to be something special. I think they’re building something good here, and I just want to be a part of it.”

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Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson believes a fire has been lit under receiver Nelson Agholor.

He credits new receivers coach Mike Groh for the spark, and the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith this offseason for fanning the flame.

“As I’ve said all along, competition, man, sharpens you,” said Pederson as OTAs opened Tuesday. “And that’s what I’ve seen from Nelson. He’s done a great job already this spring.”
Eagles coach Doug Pederson likes what he sees from Nelson Agholor this offseason. AP Photo/Chris Szagola
Agholor sported a new look as the players took the practice field moments after Pederson was done speaking. He gave up his old number 17 to Jeffery, opting for a fresh start with a No. 13 jersey previously worn by the departed Josh Huff. It would be a stretch to say Agholor looked like a different player — a better version of his old self might be more appropriate. His speed and fluidity stood out. He moved with confidence and purpose and appeared to catch everything that was thrown his way.

That’s not a description that would fit in last year’s evaluation of Agholor. The 24-year-old struggled through some serious confidence issues. Following a critical miscue during a loss in Seattle in November, Agholor acknowledged the “mental battle” he was dealing with on the field.

“I’ve got to get out of my own head,” he said.

The decision was made to deactivate him the following week against the Green Bay Packers in hopes of getting him back on track. It proved to be a lost season, however. Agholor finished with 36 catches on 70 targets for 365 yards with two touchdowns. He had the third-worst drop rate in the league (9.1 percent).

The 20th overall pick out of USC in 2015, Agholor was widely viewed as one of the most NFL-ready prospects in the draft, with an expectation that he would be able to produce at a reasonably-high level right out of the gates. That proved to be a lesson in the difficulty of forecasting, as Agholor has just 59 catches for 648 yards and three touchdowns over two seasons despite ample playing time. Following Tuesday’s practice, Agholor reflected on how he got off track.

“I think I was worried about taking such a large leap in a day. It’s all about getting better consistently each day, even if it’s just a little bit,” he said. “Some of the best players in this league, they didn’t just become really great the first day they’re there. It took a process and continuous progression every day, so that’s my focus right now.”
But he now faces an uphill climb because of his slow start. Due in part to his lack of production, the Eagles dedicated a good portion of their resources this offseason to bolstering a receiving corps that finished second-to-last in receiving yards and last in drop rate in 2016, per ESPN Stats & Information. They signed Jeffery to a one-year deal worth up to $14 million, signed Smith to a three-year, $15 million contract and selected receivers Mack Hollins of UNC and Shelton Gibson of West Virginia in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively. Add in Jordan Matthews, and that’s a rather crowded wide receiver picture.

The question becomes whether the positive signs that Agholor is showing this spring will translate to the fall, and if he can overcome the competition around him and the demons that have hampered him to realize his potential in Year 3. This is very much a make-or-break year for him, at least as it pertains to his time in Philadelphia.

“Do I feel like [I’m fighting for a roster spot]? I feel like I want to be one of the best players on this team,” he said, “and that takes care of it right there. I want to be a guy, when you watch him on tape, you’re like, ‘Yeah, I need him.’ It don’t matter about a roster spot. The best players play and I want to be one of the best players, and that’s what I focus on every day.”