Eagles eager to refocus on football

Eagles eager to refocus on football

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The Eagles have been in Minnesota since Sunday afternoon. They've toured the Mall of America, they've marveled at the indoor amusement park, they've answered silly questions at media night. 

Their real week starts on Wednesday. 

"I'm ready," defensive tackle Tim Jernigan said on Tuesday afternoon. "I'm ready to just get back to football and just get back to the X's and O's. We've been doing everything we gotta do just to stay focused and be ready for Sunday. It's going to be real good to be back." 

On Wednesday, the Eagles will get on buses and make the 20-minute drive from the Radisson Blu hotel in the Mall of America to the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis for their first real practice of Super Bowl week.

That's when the circus fades and the real work begins. By Friday, the Eagles will be finished with all their media availabilities and will be able to focus solely on football. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said on Tuesday that he hasn't decided whether or not the Eagles will practice in pads this week as they've done in recent weeks. The resumed padded practices came during the bye week to bring back some physicality to their workouts. It especially helped linemen. 

As far as the schedule of practice, things in Minnesota will be very similar to the way the Eagles did things back at the NovaCare Complex. They'll just be in a different location. 

"The setup over there is really nice," Pederson said. "The University of Minnesota has done a great job of allowing us to use their facility. That's going to be a great place to practice and get our work done this week. 

"The week itself, a lot of obligations, the guys get pulled in a lot of different directions. As we really kind of begin the work week and focus in again on the football game, we can't lose sight of that either. There is a game at the end of the week and my job is to make sure the guys stay mentally plugged in this week. That's why the routine will remain the same. We just adjust. We're flexible. Whatever we're asked to do, we do. At the same time, we stay focused on the task."

The Eagles will practice at the University of Minnesota this week, while the Patriots will use the Vikings' facilities. That will probably make many Vikings fans pretty happy, to not have the team that ousted them take over their building.  

"There really ain't much to do for fun," Jernigan said. "We didn't really come here for fun. We came here for business. It's cold outside. Staying in the hotel and focusing on ball." 

While this week and its distractions are pretty new for the Eagles, Bill Belichick's Patriots have been here plenty of times before, including last year. Belichick did quickly point out that his team has several new players who are experiencing this for the first time. But the majority have been through it all. 

"We talk to our players a lot about preparing for this game," Belichick said on Monday night, when asked if he talks to his players about avoiding distractions. "We try to prepare for the game as best we can, so that includes making good decisions with our time and knowing what's important this week. There will be time for plenty of other things starting Monday." 

The Eagles, obviously, have a similar mindset. This week is fun, sure, but starting Wednesday, football completely takes over. 

Like Jernigan, center Jason Kelce is looking forward to getting back on the practice field. 

"I think that we'll really start work tomorrow, where we'll get back into that standard type of week," Kelce said. "I think the coaches keep saying once we start the week of practice, going to meetings, going from this to this to this, it really kind of happens naturally."

Pederson interviewing 2 for Eagles' OC job

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Pederson interviewing 2 for Eagles' OC job

While many folks are off for Presidents Day, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is hard at work trying to figure out how to replace Frank Reich. 

Pederson is spending his Monday interviewing running backs coach Duce Staley and wide receivers coach Mike Groh for the Eagles' vacant offensive coordinator position, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN's Tim McManus first reported the news Monday. 

It's possible one or both coaches could take over in some sort of offensive coordinator role. 

Reich left his post as offensive coordinator earlier this month when he accepted the head coaching job in Indianapolis. While it might not seem like an OC who doesn't call the plays has a big role, Reich was a good sounding board for Pederson and seemed to be very-well trusted by the head coach. He also helped put the weekly gameplan together. 

It makes sense that the Eagles don't want to go outside the organization to hire an offensive coordinator. Pederson trusts Staley and Groh and the chemistry inside the NovaCare Complex was tremendous during the Eagles' run to Super Bowl LII. 

Either way, Pederson is going to oversee the offense and call plays. Staley or Groh, if one or both are promoted, will handle some extra responsibility, but it'll still all be on Pederson. 

While Staley has been with the Eagles as a coach since 2011, working his way up from a quality control coach to running backs coach in 2013, Groh is a newcomer. He was added to the staff before the 2017 season to take over for Greg Lewis after the Eagles fired him. Groh did an impressive job last season, particularly with helping transform Nelson Agholor from a bust to one of the team's more explosive weapons. 

LeGarrette Blount makes his desire to stay in Philly clear

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LeGarrette Blount makes his desire to stay in Philly clear

LeGarrette Blount is fresh off of his third Super Bowl title and second in two years with two different teams. 

It sounds like he doesn't really want to go to a third team in three years. 

Blount, 31, played on a one-year deal worth around $1.25 million with the Eagles in 2017, but is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts on March 14. He made it pretty clear on Sunday that he wouldn't mind coming back to Philly for another run. 

"It's early so we'll see," Blount said on NFL Network. 

"Obviously I like it a lot there. They like me a lot there. It's a mutual respect and a mutual agreement thing about how we feel about each other. Obviously, you guys know how I feel about the team, the guys; I love those guys. 

"I can't say enough about Duce (Staley), just for the simple fact for how well I was coached there and how good he helped me understand things. I feel like Duce is one of the best running back coaches, one of the best coaches I've ever had in my entire life. I obviously want to be a part of that for a while, so we'll see how it goes."

Blount began the year as the Eagles' top running back, but lost some of his role once the team traded for former Pro Bowler Jay Ajayi. But Blount still played a significant role in the Eagles' run to winning Super Bowl LII. 

During the season, he was the team's top rusher with 173 carries for 766 yards and two touchdowns. But then in Super Bowl LII, he had 14 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown, helping the Eagles to a 41-33 win over his former team, the Patriots. 

The Eagles are going to bring back Ajayi and second-year player Corey Clement. After that, things get murky. Blount and Darren Sproles (coming off injury) are both set to become free agents. 

Blount wasn't shy about his love for the Eagles during his interview on Sunday. He cited trust and how they handled the Ajayi trade with him as big reasons why. 

"They talked to me throughout the process of it happening," Blount said. "They were like, 'we're trading for Jay Ajayi, we just want to let you know.' Like I said, that's obviously another big thing for me, the honesty in that building and how open they are and how they don't keep any kind of secrets for you. They just tell you how it is. It's a big respect thing. Duce was the first person to reach out to me and be like, 'hey, we traded for Jay Ajayi. I just want to let you know.' Again, man, that's why it's a place that I love and I hope to stay there." 

Late in the six-and-a-half minute video, the crew brought out Clement while Blount was answering a question about the rookie. Blount laughed during the middle of his answer, but then got back on track and praised Clement. The two became very close during the 2017 season. 

After Blount's answer, Clement got to chat with his teammate and said getting to work with Blount was a "tremendous opportunity" and would clearly like to keep the core group together in the running back room next season. 

Obviously, it's not up to Clement, but Blount will play a big role and we already know what he thinks of the Eagles.