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? 

Eagles bring back special teams maven Bryan Braman

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Eagles bring back special teams maven Bryan Braman

The Eagles have brought back a former special teams ace for the stretch run. 

Special teamer Bryan Braman on Tuesday signed with the Eagles to rejoin Dave Fipp's special teams group.

Braman, 30, had been with the Eagles from 2014-16, when he was a major contributor for Fipp's top-end special teams unit. He can help fill the void left by the season-ending injury to Chris Maragos earlier in the season. 

During his three seasons with the Eagles, Braman led all Eagles with 1,214 special teams snaps. He played more special teams snaps than any other Eagle in each of the last two seasons. He played in all 48 games over those three seasons, but was mainly a special teams player. 

After officially placing quarterback Carson Wentz (ACL) on Injured Reserve Tuesday, the Eagles had one available roster spot. It looks like it will be filled by Braman. 

Braman was not resigned by the Eagles this past offseason. He spent some time in New Orleans but was placed on their IR and was then released. He hasn't been with a team since early September. 

Eagles' offense 'full steam ahead' with Nick Foles at QB

Eagles' offense 'full steam ahead' with Nick Foles at QB

Carson Wentz is out, Nick Foles is in. 

And the Eagles claim their offense isn't going to change. 

On it's face, that seems somewhat absurd. After all, Wentz is more than an average quarterback. He's the face of the Eagles' franchise and was an MVP candidate through 13 weeks. Foles was once a Pro Bowler, but there's a reason he wasn't a starter entering this season. 

So how will the offense look different? 

"I don't expect it will look different at all," Foles said adamantly.  

Why is that? 

"Because it's our offense," Foles answered. "This is the Eagles' offense. This is the one that is the DNA of this team. And we're going to do what we do. We have so many tremendous players on offense that can do a lot of different things. We just have to go out there and execute and have a great week of work and just keep moving." 

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich finally admitted that there will be "very minor tweaks" to the Eagles' weekly game plans with Foles in at quarterback. But he made the same point as Foles, that the system is built around the QB, but also around the other talent on offense. 

There is, however, one pretty significant difference between Wentz and Foles. 

"Now, Carson has some unique physical traits that he does exceptionally well, but it's nothing that Nick can't handle," Reich said. "We're full steam ahead."

The Eagles run plenty of run-pass option plays, but head coach Doug Pederson pointed out on Monday that the Eagles very rarely use their quarterback to run the ball in those situations. And as far as RPOs go, Foles has used them plenty before. 

Another part of the offense that has been tailored to Wentz is the autonomy the quarterback has at the line of scrimmage. Wentz has been able to make calls and checks pre-snap based on what the defense shows. It seems like Foles will have that same ability, which is something he's excited about. 

"Understand this, he's a veteran player who has played and won a lot of games, not only here, but other places that he's been," Pederson said. "Nick's a highly intelligent football player."

Pederson said he and Foles will talk weekly to make sure his quarterback is comfortable with the plays that go into the game plan. So, theoretically, things could be different. But based on what the offensive leaders of the team have said, don't expect wholesale changes. 

Now, what might change about the offense isn't necessarily by design. Because of Wentz's unique physical gifts and escapability, he's able to make incredible plays. The escape in Washington, the throw to Corey Clement in the end zone, the deep flick down the sideline in Seattle, those are plays only a handful of guys in the world can make. It would be unfair to expect Foles to make them. 

But as far as game-planning goes, the Eagles are going to do what they've done. 

"I feel comfortable in this offense," Foles said. "I love this offense. We're going to run this offense. Nothing's going to change."

Foles dealt with elbow soreness during the summer, but says his elbow now feels "amazing" and is not an issue. That's good news for the Eagles, because at least Foles has plenty of starting experience. His backup, Nate Sudfeld, has never even been active for an NFL game. 

The Eagles' hopes in 2017 rest on the shoulders of Foles. 

"I've always been a gunslinger, just let it rip," Foles said. "That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to play loose, count on the guys, lead this team. There's no other place I'd rather be. That's why I came back here. ... I'm ready to step up and help this team win."