Chatter bugs Jason Kelce, Stefen Wisniewski giving Eagles rare combo

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Chatter bugs Jason Kelce, Stefen Wisniewski giving Eagles rare combo

Brandon Brooks joked that it actually gets on his nerves sometimes. 

During the middle of games, Jason Kelce and Stefen Wisniewski go second-level in their conversations. It's almost like having two centers geeking out at times. 

"After every play and between every play," Brooks said, "they're looking at each other and talking about the different coverages going on, like, 'If the safety's two feet over, he might do this.'"

The Eagles are in a unique position having two players starting next to each other with significant starting experience at center. The center, often one of the smartest players on the field, is responsible for partially diagnosing coverages and making line calls. 

The Eagles have two. 

With Wisniewski at left guard next to Kelce, sometimes he'll see something Kelce misses, so he passes along the information. They're in constant communication throughout every game. 

Lane Johnson said Wisniewski and Kelce are among the smartest football players he's ever been around. That combined knowledge means a lot to the Eagles. 

"He's played center, he's played guard, he's played all over the place," Kelce said of Wisniewski. "He's a very, very smart guy who understands the calls because he's the next guy in at center, so he has to know the calls. He's just as involved in the game plan, in terms of that, as I am."

Wisniewski said Kelce obviously has final say on all the calls, but is always willing to listen to his input. As a center himself, Wisniewski said the more information coming in, the better. 

"It's a lot of fun. I enjoy playing with Kelce," Wisniewski said. "He's a really smart guy. I've learned a lot from him. Hopefully, he's learned some things from me, too." 

Wisniewski didn't become the Eagles' starter at left guard until Week 4. Before that, the Eagles began the season with Isaac Seumalo and then even gave Chance Warmack the first chance to start after Seumalo was benched. Wisniewski was the third option this season. And that comes after he was behind Allen Barbre and Seumalo last year. 

Since arriving in Philly in 2016, Wisniewski hasn't been shy about his desire to become a starter again. The former second-round pick started 77 NFL games in Oakland and Jacksonville before joining the Eagles. 

On Friday, he admitted it was "tough" waiting for his turn this season. Since being inserted as the starter, he's clearly won the job. The line has been much better with him in there. 

"I think I'm playing well this year and I know I'm a starting-quality player," Wisniewski said. "I think I'm playing at a high level and showing that I deserve to be a starter."

Wisniewski signed a three-year deal this offseason to remain in Philly, which was a little bit of a surprise because of his desire to become a starter again. When he signed the deal, the team still had Barbre and Seumalo and the day before had brought in Warmack. 

At the time, Wisniewski seemed like the fourth option to get in at guard. But now he's the starter and it doesn't look like he'll give up the job anytime soon. 

"He's played a lot of games in this league," head coach Doug Pederson said. "For him and Isaac earlier in the year and Chance a little bit, and now Stefen has kind of settled into that spot. He's playing well, and it just solidifies your offensive line."

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

On a day that will be remembered most for a player the Eagles lost to an injury (see story), they did learn that they are getting another player back after a long injury rehab.

The Eagles are finally going to get a look this week at rookie second-round pick Sidney Jones at practice. Whether he actually gets into a football game this year is still in doubt.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said that nine months after he blew out his Achilles and eight months after the Eagles drafted him, Jones has finally been medically cleared to practice and will participate to some extent Wednesday when the Eagles get back to work following their win over the Rams Sunday in Los Angeles.

“We're just to the point of just want to see him out there running around, doing football activities outside of the normal workouts that he's been doing,” Pederson said Monday. “Just really changing direction and doing more football work this week.”

Jones tore his left Achilles during his pro day workout on March 11 and has spent the entire season so far on the reserve-non football injury list, which is for players with preexisting conditions dating before the first day of practice.

The Eagles had a window running from Week 7 until this week to activate Jones for practice, and once he practices on Wednesday, they’ll have 21 days to either activate him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the year.

The Eagles have the luxury of taking their time with Jones, thanks to the play of starting corners Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, slot corner Patrick Robinson and fourth corner Rasul Douglas.

Before his injury, Jones was projected as a first-round draft pick. The Eagles got him with the 43rd pick, but even if he doesn’t play until opening day next year, he will still be only 22 years old and under contract through 2020.

Jones had nine interceptions, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 8½ tackles for loss and 145 tackles in 40 career games for the University of Washington.

It remains to be seen where Jones will fit in next year, but Robinson, although he has played well, is due to become a free agent this offseason and turns 31 in September.

Douglas and Jones are signed through 2020, Mills through 2019 and Darby through 2018.

Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

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Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

Remember when the Eagles lost Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles and plenty of folks thought the season was over? 

Doug Pederson does. 

Sure, this isn't exactly an apples-to-oranges comparison. Losing a left tackle or a middle linebacker or a running back isn't the same thing as losing an MVP-level quarterback entering his prime. It would be unfair to suggest they're the same. 

But Pederson has seen his team hurdle over every obstacle this year. With the biggest one yet now in front of it, it's his job to convince his team it can do it again. 

On Monday, Pederson tried to convince fans who have prematurely canceled Christmas. 

"To the fans out there, you can't lose faith," Pederson said. "This has been a resilient football team all season long. If there's ever an opportunity for me as a head football coach to rally the troops, now might be the time. 

"We just came off a tremendous victory to win the NFC East. Guys are riding extremely high. It's a little bittersweet. But you know what? We've got the Giants this week and we've got an opportunity to ... if you win Sunday, you get a first-round bye. There's still a lot to play for. That's what's exciting about this season. We're still playing for the opportunity to hopefully be in that game."

Pederson, just after delivering news of a torn ACL, was adamant that his team can overcome the loss of Carson Wentz

"It sure can," he said. "Heck yeah." 

It won't be easy. Before leaving Sunday's game, Wentz threw his 33rd touchdown pass of the 2017 season, breaking the Eagles' franchise record that had stood since 1961. But more than touchdown passes, Wentz made special plays seemingly every week, plays that only a handful of quarterbacks in the world can make. 

Nick Foles is a pretty adequate backup, and he did a nice job when called upon against the Rams. But he ain't Carson Wentz. Everyone, including his teammates, knows that. 

It's just that they don't have time to wallow in the loss of their superstar leader. Next weekend might be huge. 

A win against the Giants would earn the Eagles a first-round bye. A win against the Giants, paired with a Vikings loss, would earn them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. After another obstacle was dropped in front of them on Monday morning, the Eagles can still help themselves. 

Pederson's role in all this is vital. He has to be the guy to hold it all together.  

"It's huge," he said. "I think even the guys felt it after the game yesterday. We just rally and we support the next guy. From my standpoint, you don't waver, man. You don't let people see you sweat, you just put your head down and you go to work. You get everybody ready to play. It was evident yesterday when Carson was out of the game, you saw Nick come in and come back and lead us to victory in that game. That right there is a great step in the right direction."