Chris Long

What they're saying: Long says older guys won't stop moving during lengthy halftime

What they're saying: Long says older guys won't stop moving during lengthy halftime

BLOOMINGTON, Minnesota -- Chris Long's been through this before, but he says that there's really no good way to prepare for Super Bowl week. There's no great way to prepare for the quirks of Super Bowl Sunday, either. 

"The weirdest part of Super Bowl Sunday, but it really shouldn't be because it happens every time we play a night game, is I take a nap on Sunday," the Eagles defensive end said. "You're about to close your eyes and take a nap and you're like, 'When I get up, I'm getting my butt on a bus, and I'm going and playing for a world championship.' 

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"I think that illustrates how everybody tries to keep everything as normal as possible, even though the game is tremendous magnitude. Everyone tries to keep things as normal as possible. The hardest thing about when you get there is that lengthened pregame and halftime."

And the best way to deal with halftime, the former Patriots defensive end explained, is to just keep moving. 

"It all flies by, in reality," Long said. "It is longer, but as long as you stay moving around . . . For some of us older guys that means not stopping moving at all. Some of the younger guys may be able to kick their feet up and lay down at their lockers."

Here are some of the other things Eagles were saying on Thursday . . . 

Eagles running back Jay Ajayi on embracing the underdog mentality: "Obviously being the one seed and being the underdog is interesting to us, but we've embraced it, and me personally I've always had a chip on my shoulder. It's just about going out there, believing in us and believing in what we have in our room."

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Eagles center Jason Kelce on squaring off with Patriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown: "He's athletic. He bends well so he plays with good leverage. You watch him two-gap a center, it's like he mirroring him. He's not behind him like a lot of guys are in some situations. And on double-teams he plays with good technique. He holds the center, prevents him from getting to the second level so linebackers can get free. And it seems like he's a smart player. I don't know. But that's what it looks like on film." 

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No trash talk, plenty of respect from Eagles

No trash talk, plenty of respect from Eagles

FOXBORO - Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins got a lot of attention locally for declaring Philadelphia wasn’t “worried about what’s in front [of them]. We’re going to run through what’s there,” shortly after his team won the NFC title game over Minnesota in decisive fashion. 

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In Philly, they loved the confidence. Here? Not so much. Those words were read as Jenkins disrespecting the Patriots. How dare he? Doesn’t he know the Pats won the Super Bowl last year? Two of the past three? Five in the Belichick/Brady era? What a dope. 

You know what's gotten a lot less attention since that the Eagles earned their spot in the Super Bowl opposite the Pats? How much respect they have for the franchise that is the standard-bearer in the NFL.

“I think everyone in the league sort of envies their success to some extent,” said Eagles coach Doug Pederson. “Rightfully so. They’ve been there and done that many times that’s something that every other team would love to have.”

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Chris Long played for the Pats a season ago. He wasn’t used the way he would have preferred but subjugated his ego for the greater good of the team. It worked. Long earned not only his first ever playoff win in a long and storied career but his first Super Bowl title. Now a member of the Eagles, playing a style much more in line with his skill set, Long's pleased with his decision to leave New England for Philadelphia. He also knows first-hand the challenge the Eagles now face.

“Everything runs through number 12 [quarterback Tom Brady] and 87 [tight end Rob Gronkowski]. In my opinion, those are two of the greatest to ever play at their positions. You can make an argument that they are the greatest,” he said. “They work well as a team. Everything they do, they do on the same page. They have four or five really good running backs. Their offensive line, they’ve got one of the best-coached units in the league...they just have a ton of weapons. You have to do everything well to beat them.”

Brady will be there on Super Sunday. He’s already been removed from the injury report after that bizarre and scary injury from practice last week - an injury that compelled owner Bob Kraft to cut a trip to Florida short and get on a plane so he personally could check on the franchise quarterback. 

“Anybody is defined by wins, particularly a quarterback. He has a lot of them,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. “Go one layer above. You’re defined by championships. He has a lot of those too.”

“What makes him so unique is he gets rid of the ball fast and is not going to take many hits,” said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. “He knows what he’s doing when the ball is snapped. It’s going to come down to guys getting after him and making him uncomfortable.”

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As for Gronk, he still in the concussion protocol. Every indication we’ve gotten so far is that he’s progressing and the expectation is he will play, but there will likely be some trepidation until we see the big fella doing what he does on game day. 

“He’s the top tight end in this league for a reason,” said Jenkins. “He does a great job of creating contact and using his body to separate the defender from the ball. He catches contested throws, he’s faster than most people think and Brady puts it in a spot only he can get it. He’s a great player, tough to get down. I’m looking forward to that matchup. Whoever’s got that on any given snap has got their hands full.”

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz concurs.

"He's set pretty much every tight end record out there," Ertz said Wednesday. "The guy is a physical specimen, a freak...He's a beast after the catch. He's able to use his body whenever he wants to get open. Even if he's not open, he's open with his frame and the ball skills he has...He's an unbelievable player."

But while the focus is almost always on Brady and Gronk, Schwartz warns that just worrying about those two is a recipe for disaster.

“In the NFL, in general, particularly the Patriots, you can’t scheme for just one player. If you do, they have plenty of other players that can make plays,” Schwartz said. “You have to do a good job against their entire offense. You really can’t make it about one person.”

See? The Eagles aren't stupid. They know how hard beating the Patriots will be. It's just that they aren't cowering either. I got news for you: that's as it should be when the top two teams in football meet on the game's biggest stage. 

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Long skill set accentuated in Philly, now has a shot at ring No. 2

Long skill set accentuated in Philly, now has a shot at ring No. 2

FOXBORO -- Chris Long handled his responsibilities without a peep. It might not have been the best way to use his skill set, in his eyes, but it was what Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia wanted him to do. So, he did it. And in Super Bowl LI he drew a fourth-quarter holding penalty that helped him earn his first Super Bowl ring.

Last season in New England, Long was asked to play more on the inside despite being more accustomed to aligning wide. He often played as a five-technique with the Patriots, which means he was asked to play head-up on opposing offensive tackles. And because the Patriots typically ask their linemen to two-gap and focus on stopping the run, Long wasn't able to pin his ears back in quite the same way he did in St. Louis.

"At the end of the day, I wanted to get back to playing football the way I played for a long time," Long said at a press conference after joining the Eagles last offseason. "It was a blessing to be a part of the Patriots last year, but I wanted to be in a situation where I can prove myself all over again."

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He added: "We played a lot of nine technique, seven technique [with the Rams]. It was definitely closer to what we do here. I fit in well. For me, the No. 1 thing going into free agency was to find a good football fit. Schematically, this is a fit for my skill set."

Now, with a full season in Philly under his belt, it's hard to argue with the choice Long made. Playing in the Eagles rotation on the defensive line, Long finished the year with five sacks, four forced fumbles, 18 quarterback hits and 38 hurries, per Pro Football Focus. 

Even Belichick, who could've used some edge help this season, didn't blame Long for choosing Philadelphia as a free agent. 

"Yeah, I think his defensive role is similar to what it was when was with the Rams," Belichick said. "Chris has a lot of good skills, but his overall skill set and experience is probably more in -- it definitely is more in the system that he’s in than it was in our system, which is closer to the system that he played in with the Rams.

"He did a great job for us. Look, there was no better teammate or guy that tried to embrace the program than Chris, but in the end, he probably has a better fit there for his skills and for this point in his career than maybe we had for him. I understand that. He probably made a good decision. He probably did."

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Unfortunately for Belichick, now he has to prepare for Long, who is coming off an impressive performance against the Vikings with two quarterback hits and five hurries. That Long makes up the deepest defensive line group the Patriots will see this season, makes the challenge all the more difficult. 

Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Timmy Jernigan, Derek Barnett, Beau Allen and Brandon Graham will rotate in and out, providing the Patriots a steady dose disruptive players with relatively fresh legs. Even if only four are on the field at any one time, their front-four is more of an octet.

"Yeah, it’s a lot more than four," Belichick said. "I wish it was just four. Yeah, it’s about eight, nine. It’s a very disruptive group. They’re hard to run against, hard to throw against. Again, they’re well coached, very instinctive. Screens and plays like that that you think will take the edge off the pass rush don’t look as good. When you run them they don’t look as good as what you think they’re going to look like . . .

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"A lot of times they blow those plays up, too. They do a good job. They’ve got a lot of good players. They have good inside rushers. They have good outside rushers."

And even though that wasn't exactly Long's full-time role in New England, Belichick is fully aware that his former five-technique is among the latter. 

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