NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles

Foles: Jackson was 'great teammate to me'

April, 20, 2014
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Philadelphia Eaglesquarterback Nick Foles served as an honorary captain for the Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul in their 54-41 victory over the Jacksonville Sharks on Saturday.

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Foles was queried by Comcast SportsNet and wound up answering a number of questions about the Eagles.

Several questions pertained to the Eagles’ recent decision to release wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was ultimately signed by the Washington Redskins.

“You know, it's surprising,” Foles told Comcast SportsNet's Derrick Gunn on Jackson’s release. “But at the same time, you learn that it's a business. It's a tough business at times. We develop a lot of friendships on a team and I've had many of my close teammates let go. It's very tough, but at the same time you know it's part of the game, part of the business.”

Foles was asked again about his relationship with Jackson.

“He was a great teammate to me,” Foles said. “We had a great relationship on and off the field. Everybody has other things going on, but to me, personally, I really enjoyed playing with him and I'm excited that he landed on his feet. He's a heck of a player. … You wish them well. He landed on his feet and I know he's going to do well. He's a great player, he's been tremendous for me. But at the same time, we have to keep moving forward as an organization. But I do wish DeSean well. I had a blast playing with him.”

Foles also was asked about the direction of the Eagles, specifically at wide receiver.

“It will be interesting but I know that [the front office] is going to do a great job doing it,” Foles said. “Another teammate that I love dearly is [Jason] Avant, but he landed on his feet. I spoke to him the other day and I'm excited for his new journey. I know he's going to make a great impact there for [the Carolina Panthers] as he has for Philadelphia. And I'm excited for Philadelphia. I'm excited to see what happens because we've got a great group of guys and great coaches, so it'll be a good time.”

Barkley's role in offense still developing

April, 18, 2014
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In last year’s NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to select USC quarterback Matt Barkley in the fourth round.

It was an interesting decision since Barkley didn’t seem to be the type of quarterback coach Chip Kelly would like to run his offense. Then again, neither is Nick Foles and he had a record-setting season in Kelly’s offense.

Barkley
Barkley’s grade has to remain incomplete. He didn’t get many snaps and was pushed into playing time when Foles and Michael Vick went down with injuries. Barkley attempted 49 passes and threw four interceptions.

Since the Eagles signed Mark Sanchez, it’s hard to figure out where Barkley fits this season.

But Barkley was worth a fourth-round pick since he had so much success in college. Having a full offseason of organized team activities and training camp should be even more beneficial.

“If you want to take that and jab me with that, that’s fine,” Barkley told CSNPhilly.com of his numbers last season. “I’m not going to make excuses. I know what I did wrong, and I’m going to learn from it, but at the same time, I’m capable of a lot more. I’m a better quarterback than that, and I know that and the people who have watched me and know me and watched me play the last four years -- and even the last eight years, going back to high school -- know that I’m a better quarterback than that.”

When the Eagles make their fourth-round pick in next month's draft, it remains to be seen what direction they'll head. At this stage, they’ll be looking for the best player available.

Sometimes, it takes a few years to really determine if the pick was the right one. That's certainly the case with Barkley.

Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Eagles 

April, 17, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles have the No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft after finishing 10-6 last season. A wide receiver, linebacker or defensive lineman would make sense for the Eagles.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's fourth 2014 NFL mock draft is out on ESPN Insider today and his choice for the Eagles is a headline-grabber.


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Gauging Eagles' direction in draft not easy

April, 17, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles proved to be unpredictable in last season’s NFL draft.

Especially in the second round when they selected Stanford tight end Zach Ertz.

Tight end didn’t appear to be a glaring need with Brent Celek as the starter, but the Eagles went ahead and selected Ertz with the third pick of the second round. By the way, the Eagles also had added James Casey in free agency, so the selection of Ertz was even more surprising considering the needs on defense.

It’s an interesting thing to watch as the 2014 draft inches closer.

The Eagles have needs at a number of positions such as wide receiver and linebacker, but anything is possible. Drafting Ertz is certainly proof of that fact.

Celek remained the starter, but he caught just 32 passes -- the fewest for him since becoming the top option in 2009. Celek started 16 of the Eagles’ 17 games, which included the divisional playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Casey wasn’t utilized all that much yet he was solid on special teams.

Ertz wound up with 36 receptions for 469 yards and four touchdowns and proved his mettle more and more as the season continued.

But just because the Eagles have certain needs in the draft doesn’t mean they’ll go that way. General manager Howie Roseman made that abundantly clear last year.

Eagles may look to add linebacker depth

April, 14, 2014
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There are so many different ways the Philadelphia Eagles can go when the NFL draft takes place next month.

The Eagles have needs at wide receiver, defensive line and special teams among others.

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They also could look to add some depth at linebacker.

DeMeco Ryans played more than 1,000 snaps last season -- 1,156, to be exact, according to Football Outsiders -- and he's going to be 30 in July. Mychal Kendricks developed into a solid player last season, but adding another piece at linebacker would help.

Montana linebacker Jordie Tripp recently visited the Eagles.

Another interesting name is UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. The 6-foot-5 Barr is a converted running back and he blossomed the last two seasons as he compiled 23.5 sacks for the Bruins.

A pass-rusher like Barr, who could play linebacker, would be a huge upgrade for the Eagles. He would probably need some time to improve as a coverage linebacker, but under coach Chip Kelly, he could definitely thrive immediately.

Barr is not lacking confidence as the draft inches closer.

"I think I am the complete package," Barr told the L.A. Times. "I can help a team right away win football games, playoff games and championships. It's something that I always dreamed about. The teams that do pass on me will regret it."

But Barr also realizes he has work to do.

"I don't think I'm a finished product by any means," Barr told FoxSports.com. "There are a lot of areas that I need to work on and improve on. But I think I've been able to learn over the past two years and to do what I've done says a lot. It just shows that I have a lot of room for improvement and growth and if I continue to work at it the sky is the limit."

Eagles reportedly made offer for Jordan

April, 11, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles recently made an offer for Miami Dolphins pass-rusher Dion Jordan, according to a report in the Delaware County Daily Times.

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Jordan
Jordan played sparingly for the Dolphins last season but was a standout for Eagles coach Chip Kelly when they were at the University of Oregon.

The Delaware County Daily Times also reported that the Eagles included defensive end Brandon Graham, a former first-round pick, along with a second-round draft choice.

Jordan was taken No. 3 overall by the Dolphins a year ago, but his playing time was scarce due to injuries, and he finished with just 26 tackles and two sacks.

But Dolphins coach Joe Philbin remained optimistic about his young pass-rusher, who averaged about 20 snaps per game.

“We feel like with a full offseason, with more time devoted to his fundamentals, he will have a better grasp of the position that he’s playing,” Philbin told ESPN.com. “We do want to do a better job with the numbers and rotating in.”

The Dolphins traded up to select Jordan, so it’s likely they would be looking for an enhanced trade from the Eagles.

If the Eagles can somehow find a way to acquire Jordan, it would be a major upgrade at defensive end. With Trent Cole on one side and Jordan on the other, suddenly the Eagles would be a much more dangerous group in terms of rushing the quarterback.

Marqise Lee has attention of Eagles

April, 11, 2014
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Todd McShay’s latest mock draft on ESPN.com has the Philadelphia Eagles drafting USC wide receiver Marqise Lee with the No. 22 overall pick.

It sure looks like a distinct possibility.

Lee visited the Eagles this week for a third time at different venues, according to a report on FoxSports.com.

Lee registered 248 receptions for 3,655 yards and 29 touchdowns in a stellar three-year career at USC.

After releasing DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have met with a litany of wide receivers in advance of the NFL draft.

Lee put up huge numbers with the Trojans despite a coaching change and a shuffle at quarterback. Through it all, Lee continued to produce even if his numbers dipped as a junior.

Lee recently performed at USC’s pro day in front of a number of NFL coaches.

“The main thing I really tried to focus on was my position drills,” Lee told the L.A. Times. “Getting in and out of breaks, catching the ball no matter where it’s at — just showing them that I still got that in me.”

If the Eagles pick Lee, he would likely be third on the depth chart at wide receiver behind Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly coached against Lee while at the University of Oregon. It might help explain why Kelly has met with Lee three times as the draft inches closer.

“Lee may be the best receiver I've had the opportunity to coach against,” Kelly recently told reporters. “He's impressive on film, but even more impressive [in person].”

Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Eagles 

April, 10, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles have the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft after finishing 10-6 last season. A wide receiver, linebacker or defensive tackle would make sense for them.

Todd McShay’s fourth 2014 NFL mock draft is out on ESPN Insider today and his choice is a headline grabber for the Eagles, who own the No. 22 pick.


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McCoy, Sproles will give Eagles options

April, 9, 2014
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LeSean McCoy turned into one of the most durable and dependable running backs in the league last season.

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McCoy should be even fresher in 2014 with the addition of Darren Sproles.

Sproles was acquired by the Philadelphia Eagles last month and then was signed to a two-year contract extension through 2016. Sproles, 30, will give the Eagles multiple options out of the backfield and on special teams. Sproles' speed may not be what it was three or four years ago, but it's still good enough for him to be an impact player.

With McCoy and Sproles in the backfield at the same time, defenses won't be able to focus on one player. It will give coach Chip Kelly plenty of options, especially on third down.

The change of scenery will give Sproles a fresh start.

Sproles
“I just wanted a choice,” Sproles told reporters. "I didn't want them to put me on a team or wherever that really didn't fit me. That's why I wanted to be released, so I could really choose. ...When I heard it (was Philadelphia), I was just happy. They could have traded me somewhere where I didn't want to be. So I was real happy about it."

Sproles led the league with 2,696 all-purpose yards in 2011, but his rushing, receiving and return total numbers have decreased in the following two seasons. Yet he’s coming to a team which doesn't need him to put up those kinds of numbers. The Eagles just need him to be a consistent element in their offense and special teams.

Amazingly, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles had one more yard rushing (221) than Sproles (220) last season. But Sproles' contribution won’t simply be on the ground. He can catch passes and turn them into huge gains. He can stretch the field. He can return kickoffs and punts. And he can block.

If Sproles can perform at a fairly high level, it will be a major benefit to McCoy.

Eagles: Expectations are high for Maclin

April, 7, 2014
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So much talk has centered around the loss of DeSean Jackson that it has been easy to forget about the return of another wide receiver.

The Philadelphia Eagles recently signed Jeremy Maclin to a one-year deal. Maclin missed all of last season with a torn ACL in his right knee.

Maclin
From 2009-12, Maclin caught 258 passes for 3,453 yards and 26 touchdowns. Maclin, 25, has never had less than 56 catches in a single season.

Maclin is dependable and consistently grabs passes across the middle. The biggest hurdle for Maclin will be overcoming the ACL injury and having the confidence to take those hard hits on a daily basis.

Maclin, the Eagles' first-round pick from Missouri in 2009, suffered the injury at the beginning of training camp last year.

“I’m excited to see Jeremy play in our offense,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly told CSNPhilly.com. “You saw the potential of that in the spring and summer, but obviously he didn't get an opportunity last year. However, what was great to see was how he was literally here every single day since being injured. You can see he has a passion for the game of football. When he was on the field last spring and summer, you saw his intelligence, you saw his great route-running ability and you saw how tough of a one-on-one matchup he could be.”

Maclin recently said he wasn't sure if he would be cleared in time for organized team activities that begin April 21. But he expects to be ready for the start of training camp in late July.

If Maclin can play like he did from 2009-12, the Eagles will have another threat on offense. Maybe not the deep threat like Jackson, but a stellar wide receiver nonetheless who has put up big numbers in the past.

“I would say our expectations are he's going to be a really good player for us this year," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman told CSNPhilly.com. "He has the traits we look for at the receiver position. It's no secret that we thought he was going to have a big year, and he had an unfortunate injury. That's our expectation. He adds another dynamic threat to our offense.”

It will be the first chance for Maclin in playing under Kelly. Judging by how the Eagles' offense fared last season, it's safe to assume Maclin will have a chance to shine.

WR prospect Latimer has Eagles' attention

April, 6, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles are scheduled to meet with Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer sometime before the NFL draft in May, according to the Indianapolis Star.

With DeSean Jackson signing with the Washington Redskins following his release from the Eagles, this is an interesting player to watch as the draft inches closer.

In three seasons with the Hoosiers, Latimer caught 135 passes for 2,042 yards and 17 touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Latimer had an impressive junior season with 72 catches for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns.

Latimer reportedly ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash at Indiana’s pro day in the aftermath of foot surgery, so his draft stock likely got a bit higher.

The Eagles pick at No. 22 in the first round and it looks as if they’re keeping a close watch on Latimer, who recorded five games with at least 100 yards receiving, including three touchdowns against Illinois.

“I think I put up some good numbers that caught scouts' eyes,” Latimer told the Indianapolis Star after his pro day. “That’s all I needed to do.”

The Indianapolis Star noted that Latimer also was scheduled to visit with the Carolina Panthers, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams and New York Giants before the draft.

“I’ve been back to jogging through routes, and I’m starting to cut now,” Latimer told the Indianapolis Star. “Hopefully those [visits] go well, and just go from there.”

Latimer was a second-team All-Big Ten selection this past year and he could wind up being a nice fit in Eagles coach Chip Kelly's high-octane offense.

Eagles' offseason schedule set

April, 5, 2014
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So many positive things happened in coach Chip Kelly’s first season with the Philadelphia Eagles.

They won 10 regular-season games, six more than the previous season, captured the NFC East title and hosted a divisional playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field.

For all the good vibes, the Eagles still must be peeved in the aftermath of a heartbreaking 26-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Saints had never won a road playoff game until beating the Eagles.

“We lost to a team that wasn’t necessarily better than us,” Eagles cornerback Cary Williams told CSNPhilly.com. “They weren’t better than us. Period. But [they were] better tonight. They got the job done.”

The best solution for a team trying to overcome the sting of a tough loss is simple: get back on the field as soon as possible.

“There’s a bunch of things that went wrong that is really, like, messing with me right now,” All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters told CSNPhilly.com. “But we just got to get over it.”

The time to move on officially begins this month.

On Thursday, the NFL announced the starting dates for each team’s offseason workouts, minicamps and strength and conditioning programs.

The first day of strength and conditioning for the Eagles will be April 21 -- 16 days from now.

The Eagles’ OTA workouts are scheduled for May 27-29, June 2-3, June 5 and June 9-12.

Philadelphia will host a mandatory minicamp from June 17-19.

Training camp will begin in July.

NFL hands Jake Knott four-game ban

April, 4, 2014
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Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jake Knott has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2014 regular season for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.

Knott
Knott, who had six tackles in 12 games last season, is eligible to participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games. Knott earned a roster spot as an undrafted rookie from Iowa State.

“We’re very disappointed to learn of his suspension,” the Eagles said in a statement. “We have spoken to Jake and he is fully aware of the mistake he made and owned it. The key for him, however, is to learn from that mistake and move forward with his preparation for the 2014 season.”

Knott also issued a statement.

“Several weeks ago, I was shocked to learn that I tested positive for a stimulant that is banned by the NFL,” Knott said. “I have never knowingly ingested a banned substance, but like most players, I take nutritional supplements. Unfortunately, I now know that supplements are not regulated and thus may contain things that are not listed on the label. The NFL policy is very strict, so I have chosen to take immediate responsibility.

“I look forward to participating in team workouts, training camp and the pre-season with my team. During the suspension, I will work extremely hard to stay in top football shape and be ready to contribute immediately upon my return. I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches, my family and fans for the impact of my mistake on the team.”

Knott played mostly on special teams as a rookie and made his debut in the season opener at Washington on Sept. 9, where he recovered an onside kick with 1:14 remaining to help seal a 33-27 Eagles victory.

CB Nolan Carroll could impact secondary

April, 4, 2014
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The secondary became one of the most-improved units for the Philadelphia Eagles last season.

Carroll
Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin jelled quite nicely by the end of the season.

With the addition of free agent cornerback Nolan Carroll, the group should be even better in 2014. Carroll’s signing was a little bit under the radar, but these are the types of quiet moves that can really benefit a team.

Carroll, 27, can play on special teams and will certainly compete for a starting job.

“I’m coming in and doing whatever role is needed from me,” Carroll told reporters soon after signing a two-year contract. “If I come in and compete and I don’t get the job, then I just have to find my role on the team to help us win. I’m not going to be frustrated or disappointed. As long as I go out and do the things that I need to do to help the team out, that’s all I’m worried about. It’s not about individual success right now, it’s about the team’s success, and that’s what I’m here to do, help the team win.”

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Carroll is a four-year veteran who has started 26 games, including a career-high 12 with the Miami Dolphins last season. He had three interceptions and two sacks last season. More than that, he’ll give the Eagles another option on special teams.

The Eagles allowed more passing yards than any team in the league, so the addition of a player like Carroll is a plus.

Several teams were reportedly interested in adding Carroll before the Eagles stepped in and completed the deal.

“I like the atmosphere that is here with (coach) Chip Kelly and what his philosophy is for this team, and I’m excited,” Carroll told reporters. “They’ve got me excited. Just being around here in this building, listening to everybody around here, meeting different people, I’m happy to be a part of this organization.”

In four career seasons with the Dolphins, Carroll compiled 135 total tackles, 22 deflected passes, five interceptions and one forced fumble.

If Carroll does provide a lift, this signing could wind up being huge.

For Malcolm Jenkins, versatility is key

April, 4, 2014
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The Philadelphia Eagles could have gone a variety of ways at safety when free agency opened.

Jenkins
There was Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward, and both players certainly would have helped immensely. The Eagles decided to sign Malcolm Jenkins to a three-year deal worth a reported $16.25 million.

The addition of Jenkins clearly strengthened the Eagles’ secondary. Jenkins was a first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2009, No. 14 overall. His new role will be helping to anchor a secondary, which needed an upgrade.

Safe to say that Jenkins is ready.

“I'm a football junkie,” Jenkins told reporters after being signed by the Eagles. “I can be the quarterback of the defense. When I have the freedom to move around and not be stagnant, that's when I have my best years. I'm not your typical safety. I'm more of that hybrid that the league is moving to with the bigger tight ends, the faster tight ends. You need guys who can be versatile.”

Jenkins’ versatility will be helpful since he has the ability to play deep, in the slot or even cover the tight end. This will allow defensive coordinator Bill Davis to disguise some coverages and blitz schemes.

More than just X’s and O’s, Jenkins was fascinated by coach Chip Kelly and how he turned around the Eagles in just one season. Jenkins wanted to be a part of the transformation.

“I think even before we played them, I think to everybody it was apparent by Week 4 or 5 that there was something different about this team with Chip Kelly, and it caught the attention of a lot of people,” Jenkins told reporters. “So that was my first impression was that he knows how to win, he knows what he’s going to win with and they’re trying to get players that will fit his scheme. Not necessarily the best players, but players that will buy in to what he’s selling. I’ve been a part of winning teams before and that’s where it starts. It starts with good leadership from the top down.”

Jenkins had 68 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions for the Saints last season.

Byrd and Ward may have been better options, but Jenkins is certainly a major improvement.

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