Eagles

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Shelton Gibson, Marcus Smith, Nelson Agholor

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Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Shelton Gibson, Marcus Smith, Nelson Agholor

It was a pretty ordinary punt on Sunday against the Bears. The first of the game. Donnie Jones hit it perfectly and Joe Walker downed it inside the Bears' 10-yard line. 

It was a special punt for Shelton Gibson. 

It was the first NFL snap of the young receiver's career. He used a quick twitch inside to beat his man and could have downed the ball if it bounced to him instead of Walker. 

"I had to take advantage of my opportunity," Gibson said. "That's what I had to do. I want to do that every single week."

Gibson, who had been inactive for the first 10 games of the season, played in his first game last Sunday. He found out on Tuesday that he was going to be active, but claims he didn't treat the week of practice any differently. 

When asked why Gibson was active over Marcus Johnson, offensive coordinator Frank Reich said it was about "spreading the love a little bit." But Gibson earned a chance. If he hadn't worked hard in practice over the first few months of the season, he doesn't get that shot. 

The rookie from West Virginia had a rough go during the spring and part of training camp. He dropped way too many passes and probably would not have made the team had he not been drafted in the fifth round. 

Most of the season for Gibson has been spent as a scout team player, responsible for giving the defense the looks it needs for that upcoming week. On top of that, Gibson still needs to be on top of the Eagles' playbook. It is basically like having two jobs. 

Gibson said the biggest thing he tried to take from his time waiting to play was to learn how to be a pro. Learning how to be a pro is somewhat of a cliche, but to Gibson it means consistently having energy in practice. He's learning that from Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery. 

In his first regular-season NFL game, Gibson played four offensive snaps and seven on special teams. 

"No jitters at all," Gibson said, "just because I've been listening to my coaches and every practice here is like a game. That's how we practice every day. Just do the same thing every day."

Hello, old friend
The Eagles will see a couple familiar faces this weekend in Seattle in Matt Tobin and Marcus Smith. 

Smith, of course, was the Eagles' first-round pick in 2014 and never came close to living up to that draft status. He never even started a game in Philly and was released in July. 

He hasn't suddenly turned into a Pro Bowler in Seattle, but he does have 2 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble in 10 games with the Seahawks. He's already tied his career-high for sacks, which he set last season. 

Smith has played 184 defensive snaps (24.7 percent) for the Seahawks this season, despite a few injuries. Smith played a career-high 218 for the Eagles last season. 

"We thought he had plenty of ball left," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Sometimes guys go places and the expectations are so high that it's hard to meet up with it. You get a high draft pick like that and your expectations are so high that it just doesn't fit. We saw him as a guy that could help us, jump in and be versatile. He's done all of that. He's been a good addition to our team. We're happy to have him."

Scene of the crime
This weekend the Eagles are back in CenturyLink Field, where things finally toppled over for Nelson Agholor last season. 

Agholor faked Richard Sherman out of his shoes and was wide open. Maybe too wide open. He dropped a perfect pass that hit his hands. 

It wasn't that drop or that game that pushed things over the edge, but that was the final straw. Agholor was given a mental health day the next weekend when the Packers came to town. He was a healthy scratch. 

That decision was a big one for Agholor, but also for Pederson. 

"I think it was definitely big on both our parts because it was the first time I've really had to sort of bench a player for the performance or whatever or just the sort of the slump that he was in," Pederson said. "I really think that it was a great — it was a wakeup call I think for him, but he embraced it the right way. Part of the conversation that he and I had leading up to me sitting him that week — like I said, he embraced it. 

"It's a learning experience for both of us, but he came out of it much better. [He was] a lot more confident when he came out of it, and really from that point on, even the last couple games of the season, began to play like the Nelson Agholor we thought we had."

That decision obviously ended up working out for Agholor and the Eagles. He came to spring practices as a confident player and has been a real threat since. He has 458 receiving yards and six touchdowns this season. And he's become dynamics when he gets in space. 

Quote of the Week I: "He's trimmed down. I mean, you see him walking around. He's got abs now. I don't think that's something he had in training camp." — Lane Johnson on if LeGarrette Blount is looking faster  

Quote of the Week II: "If last year, people were judging me on that, then shame on them. You feel me? Turn the tape on this year and you know what's up." — Vinny Curry 

Quote of the Week III: "It's pretty cool. Ton of respect for a guy like LeBron. I was a kid watching him tear up the league when he was a rookie. I love watching that guy play. He's unbelievable, quite the talent, one of the most impressive athletes in the world. It's pretty humbling to hear that stuff." — Carson Wentz on hearing he's LeBron James' favorite player

Random media guide note: Carson Wentz's favorite TV show is "Friday Night Lights" — wonder if he's a Riggins or Saracen guy? 

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.