Monthly Archives: August 2017

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PHILADELPHIA — Carson Wentz got things rolling with his two new receivers Thursday, throwing for touchdowns to Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 38-31 preseason win over the Miami Dolphins.

Smith’s first catch in an Eagles uniform was a big one, as he took advantage of busted coverage for a 50-yard TD early in the first quarter. Wentz began targeting Jeffery later in the period, finding him for a 20-yard gain before coming back to him for a 15-yard touchdown down the seam.

It was far from a perfect day for the Eagles’ offense. Wentz absorbed a number of shots in his quarter’s worth of work, the offensive line leaking for a third straight week.

QB depth chart: Wentz ended 6-of-10 for 129 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He was under pressure on more than 60 percent of his throws Thursday, according to Pro Football Focus tracking. One of his most impressive snaps was also among the most chaotic, as he stumbled as he dropped back, regained his footing, spun to avoid contact and flung the ball across the field to Zach Ertz, who rumbled for a sizable gain.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz ends preseason play 16-of-23 for 241 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. AP Photo/Michael Perez
His preseason now complete, Wentz finished 16-of-23 for 241 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

Nick Foles continues to deal with elbow soreness in his throwing arm and missed the game. That injury is starting to become a concern with the regular season fast approaching. Matt McGloin and Dane Evans got the work in his absence.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Eagles looked …: Up and down on defense. Cornerback Ronald Darby has drawn nothing but positive reviews since being acquired from the Buffalo Bills. But he appeared to mistime a jump on a 72-yard DeVante Parker catch-and-run that led to a Jay Ajayi TD and was flagged for pass interference on Kenny Stills deep in Eagles territory to set up another Dolphins score. One positive? Defensive end Vinny Curry, who has had a quiet summer, came charging off the right side and jarred the ball loose from Jay Cutler on Miami’s first drive.

One reason to be concerned: The O-line is expected to be a strength but has been shaky through three preseason games. Wentz took some shots, including one when he was bent backward by linebacker Lawrence Timmons during a pass attempt. His interception was forced by defensive end William Hayes, who got in deep on tackle Lane Johnson and tipped the ball as it was coming out of Wentz’s hands. This group needs to improve before the opener at Washington on Sept. 10.

 

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That guy could start: Running back Wendell Smallwood showed the burst that opened eyes during training camp. Back from a hamstring injury, he had four carries for 28 yards (7.0 average). Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said this week Smallwood has the makings of a three-down back, though he’ll have to straighten out his pass protection to stay on the field on third down.
Rookie watch: First-round pick Derek Barnett got the start in Brandon Graham’s absence (elbow). He had a pretty quiet night overall. Cornerback Rasul Douglas dropped Damien Williams for a big loss, torpedoing into the backfield to chop down the back. Receiver Mack Hollins had five catches for 44 yards.

Kendricks for MVP: Linebacker Mychal Kendricks had his third interception of the summer, snaring a Matt Moore pass that was tipped by teammate C.J. Smith, and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown. Those three picks match his career regular-season total. The subject of heavy trade speculation, Kendricks looks like a motivated player.

Injury update: Linebacker Jordan Hicks (quad), Graham (elbow) and Foles (elbow) were among those who did not suit up. Rookie linebacker Nathan Gerry left with a hamstring injury.

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Philadelphia Eagles tackle Lane Johnson is not taking any chances.

He says that supplements are “totally out” of his regimen now after being hit with a 10-game suspension last season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs a second time. He believes the positive test last year was the result of taking an amino acid he purchased online that was contaminated. One more positive test, and he’d face a two-year league ban, so he’s doing things the old-fashioned way now to ensure there are no “mishaps.”

“The deal with supplements is it’s supposed to supplement your diet, but if you get everything in your diet [that you need], you don’t have to do it,” said Johnson.

Fried food and sweets had to be largely cut out as well. Instead it’s chicken, beef, fish and potatoes, and plenty of vegetables like kale and spinach. Johnson explained that one of the reasons NFL athletes take certain supplements is to help fight against inflammation to protect their joints “because the season is so long.” He plans on relying on good nutrition to keep his body feeling its best throughout the 16-game regular season and potentially beyond. While it’s to be determined exactly how that goes, he’s pleased with the early results: Johnson says he is as heavy he’s ever been at 325 pounds, and feeling stronger than ever.

The 27-year-old Oklahoma product was one of six players mentioned by Doug Pederson last week when the coach was asked who stood out during OTAs. He’s been working at left tackle in place of Jason Peters, who has stayed away from these voluntary practices. The expectation is that Peters will return for this week’s mandatory minicamp (June 13-15), meaning Johnson will go back to his normal station on the right side.

The idea is to shift Johnson to Carson Wentz’s blind side when the 35-year-old Peters calls it a career or moves on.

“I’d say I’m a top-10 tackle in the league, right or left,” said Johnson. “I’m not trying to be arrogant or anything, but if you go watch the film, whenever I’m playing … my deal is just stay on the field.”
Availability has been the one major issue in a young career that has shown plenty of promise. His suspension in 2016 proved to be an absolute crusher for an Eagles team operating with a rookie quarterback and a first-year head coach at the helm. They were 5-1 when Johnson was in the lineup and 2-8 during his time away. To suggest those records were solely tied to Johnson’s presence would be oversimplifying things, but it was a significant factor.

Back in the mix, Johnson is bullish on the Eagles this season.

“This is the best I’ve seen the team look since I’ve been here. Not talking out of my ass. I feel like we’re in a good spot,” he said.

Whether that holds true depends in large part of Johnson holding up his end of the bargain.

“I’m just going to go out there and go show people what kind of tackle I am,” he said. “I think I’m one of the best in the league. Go out there and do a lot less talking and just show people what I can do.”

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The Philadelphia Eagles made a surprise move Wednesday by trading veteran offensive lineman Allen Barbre to the Denver Broncos for a conditional 2019 draft pick.

A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that it’s a seventh-round pick.

The trade came hours after the Eagles announced they intended to release Barbre.

The Broncos will not surrender the draft pick if Barbre fails to make the roster, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. Barbre will compete for a spot as a guard in Denver, which could have as many as four new starters on the offensive line.

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Broncos make trade to add Allen Barbre to offensive line competition
Allen Barbre is expected to compete for the left guard job on a Broncos team that could have as many as four new starters on the offensive line.
“I don’t see why not. I have played in multiple systems,” Barbre told Denver7. “I know what they are trying to do there. It’s up to me to pick up the terminology quickly.

“But I am excited to get there. This is a great opportunity.”

Barbre, 33, started 12 games last season for Philadelphia, playing left guard and some right tackle. He missed part of the spring with a calf injury. When available, he shared first-team reps at left guard with second-year player Isaac Seumalo.

Seumalo is going into training camp as the starter, offensive coordinator Frank Reich revealed earlier Wednesday.

“Isaac’s the starter and then there’s just competition from there. That’s the great thing about training camp, the great thing about this business: It’s just so stinking competitive,” Reich said. “It’s what the guys love about it. It’s what we love about it. So, again, it’ll play itself out.”

The trade came on the day veterans reported to camp.

“Allen Barbre is a pro’s pro,” Eagles executive Howie Roseman said in a statement issued before the trade was announced. “Not only did he help the team with his solid play as a starter at left guard, but his ability to step up and play multiple positions helped us battle through some difficult situations.”

The Eagles appear to have good depth along the interior. They signed former first-round pick Chance Warmack in free agency and re-upped fellow veteran Stefen Wisniewski.

Also on Wednesday, the Eagles waived defensive end Marcus Smith, their first-round selection (26th overall) in the 2014 draft. Smith was due a roster bonus of nearly $600,000 on the third day of training camp. Philadelphia avoided paying that and gets about $1.5 million in cap relief with the move.

In a corresponding move, the Eagles signed linebacker Steven Daniels to a three-year deal.

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When Philadelphia Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount hops on the scale in late July, a good chunk of change will be on the line.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Blount can earn $50,000 if he weighs between 240-250 pounds on the team’s reporting day for training camp.

Blount is listed at 6-foot, 250 pounds on the team’s website. At the end of the Eagles’ mandatory minicamp, Blount said he would spend the next five weeks training “wherever I’m at,” noting that he had a lot of moving to do as he makes the transition from New England to Philadelphia. Asked what he weighed, Blount only responded, “I’m gonna be training.”

He has plenty of incentive to do so.
LeGarrette Blount set career highs with the Patriots last season, with 299 carries, 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns. John Jones/Icon Sportswire
Blount was a workhorse back for the Patriots last season, setting career highs in carries (299), yards (1,161) and touchdowns (18). His 18 rushing touchdowns were the most in the NFL since Adrian Peterson set that number in 2009.

The 30-year-old signed a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the Eagles in May, joining a backfield in desperate need of a lead back. 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.

Blount fits the bill. He rumbled for 518 yards after first contact last season, good for sixth in the NFL, per ESPN Stats & Information, and picked up 67 first downs (fifth in the league) with a 50 percent conversion rate on third-down attempts.

Blount is not the first back to have a weight incentive in his contract. For example, Eddie Lacy’s contract with the Seahawks includes a clause that could earn him up to $385,000 based on the results of seven different weigh-ins. In May, Lacy had to be at 255 pounds or less to earn the incentive $55,000, which he did, weighing in at 253. In June, he made another $55,000 for being at or below the 250-pound mark.

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The Philadelphia Eagles open training camp July 27 at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia. Here’s a 53-man roster projection:

Quarterbacks (3): Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Matt McGloin

Foles is back for his second stint with the Eagles, replacing Chase Daniel in the backup role. He becomes part of an expansive support system for Wentz, who is firmly entrenched as the team’s starting QB.

Running backs (4): LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey, Wendell Smallwood

A nice blend of power and speed in this backfield now that Blount (6 feet, 250 pounds) is in the fold. This is a big summer for Smallwood, the second-year back out of West Virginia. Rookie Corey Clement will try to push him for a roster spot in training camp.

Wide receiver (5): Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews, Mack Hollins

NFL Training Camp Coverage
Who’s on the bubble? Which rookie could surprise? NFL Nation reporters take a crack at a preliminary 53-man roster and starting lineup projection and preview what to expect in training camp for every team.
Hollins, a rookie out of UNC, impressed in OTAs. Fellow rookie Shelton Gibson, meanwhile, had his share of struggles and will need to have a strong showing this summer to claim a spot. Marcus Johnson, a second-year receiver out of Texas, is a name to keep in mind if they go with six receivers on the 53-man. If this projection proves true, the Eagles will have only two receiver holdovers from last season — Agholor and Matthews. Quite an overhaul for a unit that finished 31st in receiving yards and last in drop rate.

Tight end (3): Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, Trey Burton

Head coach Doug Pederson likes to have someone on the roster who can flex into the fullback position if need be. Perhaps a TE/FB will emerge before summer’s end. Anthony Denham out of Utah had a couple nice moments during offseason training.

Offensive line (10): Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Isaac Seumalo, Chance Warmack, Stefen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Dillon Gordon

There is some starting-caliber depth in this group, particularly along the interior. The biggest question mark is at backup tackle. Peters, 35, needs to stay healthy and Johnson needs to stay off the suspension list to ensure this line matches the high expectations that surround it.

Defensive line (9): Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan, Vinny Curry, Chris Long, Derek Barnett, Destiny Vaeao, Steven Means, Elijah Qualls

We’re projecting DT Beau Allen (pectoral) receives an injury designation to start the year. That could open the door for Qualls, the 6-foot-1, 321-pound rookie out of Washington. This could be the year the Eagles part with former first-round pick Marcus Smith.

Linebacker (6): Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Joe Walker

There have been trade talks surrounding Kendricks for a good portion of the offseason. I’m not sure how wise it is to weaken what is already shaky linebacker depth, especially given that Bradham could face disciplinary action from the league in relation to his arrests last year. Perhaps a player-for-player swap would be the move in a potential Kendricks deal.

Cornerback (6): Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Patrick Robinson, Ron Brooks, Aaron Grymes, C.J. Smith
Rookie Sidney Jones (Achilles) could receive an injury designation to start the year, so we’ll keep him off the list. Douglas, a rookie out of West Virginia, and former CFL player Grymes had pretty good springs. With some major question marks about the quality of this group, the Eagles desperately need players to step up.

Safety (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Chris Maragos, Terrence Brooks

The first three seem like locks. Brooks looks the part and opened a few eyes during OTAs and minicamp. The former Raven could land a roster spot with a strong preseason.

Specialists (3): Caleb Sturgis, Donnie Jones, Jon Dorenbos

Same group as last year. The full-time magic gig will have to wait for Dorenbos, who agreed to a new deal with the Eagles last season.