For new Eagles, Dallas rivalry only a rumor

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
5:45
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- It has been a long time Eagles linebacker Seth Joyner stood at his locker doing TV interviews wearing a “Dallas Sucks” t-shirt.

On Wednesday, Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin talked about the upcoming Cowboys game while wearing a t-shirt touting SEPTA, the regional transit system. Barwin is in his first year with the Eagles after playing in Houston. The Cowboys are a divisional opponent, but a rivalry?

“I’m starting to learn about it,” Barwin said. “From the fans and just doing some radio shows, you can tell there’s a little more excitement. I expect it to be a playoff-type atmosphere at Lincoln (Financial Field) on Sunday.”

Across the locker room, former Ravens cornerback Cary Williams was talking about how he always “hated” the Cowboys for personal reasons. But his rivalries in Baltimore were with Pittsburgh and New England.

“I understand the importance of winning your divisional games,” Williams said. “When I get out there, I already have a way of developing a certain hate for people. Not outside the game, but it’s a mind set you go into. You have to turn it on.”

It has also been a long time since Buddy Ryan fanned the fans’ loathing of Dallas by insulting the Cowboys’ coaches on and off the field. Chip Kelly said he hasn’t noticed any special animosity toward the Cowboys.

“No, just because there are a lot of other teams they don't like, either,” Kelly said. “They all seem to be in the NFC East, though, which is a good thing. We played two of them and now we are getting to play the third, so I'm sure it will be the same. “

Kelly may get a better feel Sunday. Even though the Giants have been better recently, and younger fans see them as a bigger obstacle to the Eagles, there’s just something about the Cowboys.

They were the class of the division when Dick Vermeil was trying to build a winner in the 1970s, and they were the team Vermeil’s Eagles defeated to go the Super Bowl after the 1980 season.

The Cowboys went from a team Ryan’s defense bullied -- he started an eight-game winning streak against Dallas, and the Eagles sacked Troy Aikman 11 times in a 1991 game -- to a team that won three Super Bowls in the 1990s. Twice, they beat the Eagles in the playoffs on their way to the Lombardi Trophy.

Playoff losses in Dallas were the final games for Eagles legends Reggie White (1992), Randall Cunningham (1995) and Donovan McNabb (2009).

So yes, it’s a special rivalry for the fans here, even if the coach and many of his players haven’t experienced it yet.

Notes: Quarterback Michael Vick was limited in practice Wednesday. That’s the same as last week. So it was a mistake to read too much into his apparent progress during preparation for the Tampa Bay game. Vick was listed as a full participant Friday, likely because it was a less demanding practice.

Left tackle Jason Peters (shoulder, finger) did not practice again Wednesday. Kelly still seemed to be planning for Peters to play Sunday. Backup running back Chris Polk (shoulder) also didn’t practice. Safety Patrick Chung (shoulder) was limited, while tight end James Casey, who missed Sunday’s game with a groin injury, was full go.

The Eagles signed tight end Emil Igwenagu to the practice squad. Igwenagu, who was inactive for the first six weeks, was waived Tuesday. The practice-squad spot opened when wide receiver Greg Salas was signed by the New York Jets.

Phil Sheridan

ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter

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