Eagles

Eagles rookie report: Barnett gets on the board; Hollins comes up clutch

Eagles rookie report: Barnett gets on the board; Hollins comes up clutch

The rookies were active early and often in the Eagles' 28-23 win in Carolina on Thursday night (see breakdown).

First-rounder Derek Barnett got on the sack board with a half-sack, WR Mack Hollins came up in the clutch and CB Rasul Douglas had an eventful night.

Here are a few highlights from Thursday's huge win.

1st quarter, 9:07, 1st-and-10 at CAR 49 - Eagles 0, Panthers 0
Hollins recorded two receptions late but made a big block early on. The rookie receiver is lined up to the left and tight to the line. LeGarrette Blount is running off tackle to that side. Veteran safety Jairus Byrd reads the play well and creeps up to the line of scrimmage. Hollins comes across Byrd's face and puts him on the ground with a nice block. Hollins' effort springs Blount for a 14-yard run.

1st quarter, 7:02, 4th-and-7 at CAR 32 - Eagles 0, Panthers 0
How good has Jake Elliott been? Well, even a poor snap couldn't stop him. Long snapper Rick Lovato snaps the ball off to the right. Punter/holder Donnie Jones does a tremendous job reaching to his right and still putting down a perfect hold. Elliott does an excellent job not losing his focus and nails a 50-yarder to give the Eagles an early lead (see 10 observations).

2nd quarter, 10:34, 1st-and-10 at CAR 16 - Eagles 3, Panthers 3
Welcome to the NFL, Rasul Douglas. The Panthers use a ton of motion, which is effective because of playmakers like rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel and, of course, former league MVP Cam Newton. With both rookies in the backfield, Newton runs a triple option. With Vinny Curry crashing hard on McCaffrey going up the middle, Newton keeps it and gets 10 yards down the field before he even sees a defender. The defender he sees is Douglas, whom Newton fakes out of his cleats for a 16-yard score.

2nd quarter, 6:34, 3rd-and-5 at CAR 14 - Panthers 10, Eagles 3
Payback! In reality, Fletcher Cox makes this play by ferociously collapsing the pocket and forcing Newton to throw it up for grabs (more on Cox here). Douglas still has to be alert enough to know the ball is in the air and has reliable hands to come down with the ball. One of the easiest picks Douglas will ever get, but he still had to pull it in.

3rd quarter, 12:18, 1st-and-goal at PHI 5 - Eagles 18, Panthers 10
One of Carolina's biggest assets is its big receivers. On this play, Newton is looking for former first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin on a fade route. This plays right to Douglas' strength as a tall, long corner. The throw could've been better by Newton, but Douglas is in perfect position and makes a play on the ball. This was a big play. The Panthers would eventually have to settle for a field goal.

3rd quarter, 10:37, 2nd-and-10 at PHI 43 - Eagles 18, Panthers 13
Hollins makes his first of two big catches. On this play, the Eagles are lined up with trips to the right with Hollins being the receiver on the line. Nothing fancy here. Hollins runs an in and pulls in a huge 18-yard reception on third down. This play eventually led to a field goal.

3rd quarter, 1:21, 3rd-and-16 at PHI 18 - Eagles 21, Panthers 13
If the play on the field goal drive was big, this play was critical. On 3rd-and-forever, Carson Wentz does what he's done all season: stand up in the face of pressure and delivers an on-target throw to convert. Again, nothing fancy here by Hollins. Just a solidly run 20-yard in route. The rookie hauls it in for a big first down. This play led to the deciding touchdown (see report card).

4th quarter, 4:23, 2nd-and-10 at CAR 47 - Eagles 28, Panthers 23
This had to feel great for Barnett. Funny enough, after winning so many battles and coming up empty, Barnett loses early on this down. But as he's done all season, he doesn't give up on the play. The coverage is solid and Barnett is able to grab Newton's leg from behind. The rookie holds on for dear life and brings down one of the toughest QBs in the league to corral. 

Analysis
Six games in and the monkey is off Barnett's back. Really, it was only a matter of time. Two plays later, Barnett pressured Newton into a bad throw that was almost picked off by Douglas. Hopefully the sack (technically a half-sack) was the first of many for the 21-year-old.

Hollins looks like he's going to be a solid pro. As mentioned, he didn't do anything earth-shattering on either catch, but he ran the right route and secured the catch. That's more than can be said for some of the receivers that have come through here recently. 

Of course Newton made Douglas look silly on that TD, but Newton has done that to many DBs. It was another solid performance from the rookie overall. He nearly had a second pick later in the game. He led the nation in interceptions last season, so it's not a coincidence that this kid is always around the ball.

And ho-hum, Elliott nailed two more field goals (50, 48). Bye, Caleb Sturgis.

Eagles Injury Update: Zach Ertz clears concussion protocol

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Eagles Injury Update: Zach Ertz clears concussion protocol

The Eagles finally got some good news this week. 

Tight end Zach Ertz has cleared the NFL's concussion protocol and will be able to practice as the Eagles begin preparations for the Giants. 

"He's good to go," head coach Doug Pederson said. 

Ertz missed the Rams game with the concussion, although it appeared he was close to being cleared then. 

Despite missing two games this season, Ertz still has 57 catches for 663 yards and seven touchdowns. Only Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski and Delanie Walker have more receiving yards among tight ends. Only Jimmy Graham (9) has more touchdown catches.

Left guard Stefen Wisniewski is "doing good," according to Pederson. Wisniewski left Sunday's game with an ankle injury but will practice Wednesday. He will be monitored, but Pederson said Wisniewski should be able to play this weekend. 

Wednesday is a big day for Sidney Jones. The Eagles' second-round pick, who has been recovering from a torn Achilles that dropped him out of the first round, will practice for the first time. 

Pederson said the plan is to bring along Jones slowly, much like the Eagles did with Ronald Darby a few weeks ago. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said this will almost be like the first week of OTAs for the rookie. 

"All due respect to our trainers, they are not a challenge to cover, and he's only been working with those guys," Schwartz said. 

Pederson said the Eagles will use Jones on their scout team and get him some special teams work. 

What does Pederson want to see? 

"We've watched [Jones] through his progression and his training these last few weeks," he said. "And now just want to see him in football conditions, the true transition of stopping and starting. Making a play on the ball and seeing his instincts and things like that, things we haven't been able to monitor this season."

Torn ACL, players' day off, and Wentz still helps Foles plan for Giants

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Torn ACL, players' day off, and Wentz still helps Foles plan for Giants

They've been together every day since training camp began. Carson Wentz and Nick Foles.

And now that Wentz's season is over and Foles is the Eagles' quarterback?

That won't change.

"He'll be a huge help," Foles said Tuesday of Wentz. "He was around today. (I was) just having conversations with him and how grateful we all are that Nate (Sudfeld), him and I have gotten to spend so much time together developing that relationship.

"He's going to come back stronger than ever. I know his mentality, him as a person, him as an athlete, this is just part of his journey, and we all continue to pray for him. And he's going to be instrumental every single week here on out for this team."

What does it say about Wentz that Tuesday — the players' day off and just two days after suffering that devastating injury — he was at the NovaCare Complex working with Foles and going over what he'll face Sunday against the Giants?

But nobody who's been paying attention all year should be surprised.

"He's fully supportive," Foles said. "We've been together this whole year, preseason, OTAs, and that he's going to be there every step of the way and I know he's got my back, and that will never change, and that goes both ways."

Foles will make his first start since last November and first in an Eagles uniform since November 2014 on Sunday when the Eagles face the Giants at 1 p.m. at the Meadowlands.

A win gives the Eagles a first-round bye in the playoffs. A win combined with a Vikings loss to the Bengals gives the Eagles home-field through the NFC Championship Game.

Foles is 15-9 as the Eagles' starting quarterback, including a 14-4 record since his rookie year.

Wentz was 11-2 in his 13 starts this year and is a Pro Bowl lock and still in the MVP race despite the season-ending injury.

"I think Carson will be a huge support," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "I mean, first of all, I can't even tell you the kind of support Nick was for Carson, and I'm sure Nick will still be that kind of support for Carson going through what he's going through.

"That (quarterback meeting) room cannot, from a chemistry standpoint and from a character standpoint, it can't get any better. That room is the best room. So Carson will add into that. 

"Just getting to know Carson the way we all know him, he'll help, but he's a guy who has a lot of ideas, and he's very engaged like that, as is Nick. So I think Carson will have the maturity to understand, 'Hey, Nick's running the show right now, so just be there to support him in whatever way he can.'"

Because of the injury, Wentz likely won't be allowed on the sidelines with the other quarterbacks and coaches and work directly with Foles on gameday.

But head coach Doug Pederson said he expects Wentz to be with the team Sundays and helping Foles in some capacity.

"A lot like Jordan Hicks and Jason Peters and these guys, he can be around and be in the meeting rooms," Pederson said.

"He can watch the tape (and) be there on gameday and just be another set of eyes for the quarterbacks, for Nick, and just having his input and having him around … it would be a big boost.

"(It's) an opportunity for him now to kind of put the coaching hat on and to help Nick."

Chase Daniel was Wentz's backup last year, but the Eagles released Daniel on March 13, the same day they signed Foles to a two-year, $11 million contract.

Foles and Wentz have become very close over these last 10 months, and Foles said he'll draw on that now that he's replacing his friend.

"Right now, as a teammate, someone who cares a lot about him, you hurt, but you're there to support him, pray for him," Foles said.

"Carson is such a huge part of this organization and will be for a long time and he's done so much for this team on the field and in the locker room, and a big part of coming here.

"Well, my job now is to step in that huddle and keep this thing rolling, and that's what I plan on doing."