Eagles

Ellerbe says Eagles feel like 2012 Super Bowl Ravens

Ellerbe says Eagles feel like 2012 Super Bowl Ravens

With Jordan Hicks hurt and then Joe Walker hurt, the Eagles turned to veteran Dannell Ellerbe as their first-down linebacker late in the season.

Ellerbe, a nine-year veteran and a Super Bowl winner with the Ravens in 2012, signed with the Eagles on Nov. 13, and after playing just one snap his first five weeks here, he played 27 in the win over the Raiders and 48 in the regular-season finale against the Cowboys.

We spoke with Ellerbe about Ray Lewis, winning the Super Bowl and what he likes about this Eagles team on this week's "5 Minutes with Roob."

Roob: You came into the league as an undrafted free agent back in 2009. What were the challenges of starting your career undrafted?

Ellerbe: Originally, I was on the scouting reports with a first-round grade going into the draft, but I got hurt and some other things came up. So I just wanted to show that I belonged in the league. You have a guy with a first-round grade who’s an undrafted free agent, it’s not because of his play. So I decided to go to the Ravens because they’re known for defense, and it worked out.

Roob: You got to play from 2009 through 2012 in Baltimore with Ray Lewis. What was that like?

Ellerbe: One of the greatest to ever do it. He was a great guy to study and the energy that he brings, I haven’t been with anybody like him since.

Roob: You intercepted Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game back in 2012, helping the Ravens get to the Super Bowl. What's it like picking off the greatest quarterback ever on that stage?

Ellerbe: Our defense was clicking on all cylinders. So it was great. Everybody was making plays, so it was just my turn to make my play. I had a broken thumb so I had a big cast on my hand, and that made it even more special.

Roob: How tough was it being on the street the first three months of this season?

Ellerbe: I knew I was going to get picked up sooner or later. I was just trying to treat my body right and trying to stay in shape and keep working out. I got away from the game completely. I didn’t watch any games until I started getting interest from teams. I just wanted to be fresh.

Roob: Why did you ultimately choose to sign with the Eagles?

Ellerbe: I came here because this was the team that really wanted me. There was no turning them down.

Roob: How hard is it to get into shape to play regular-season football without a training camp?

Ellerbe: The only way you can be in football shape is to play football. Even when I come to training camp, I’m prepared, but the only way you can prepare to play football is to play football and getting those reps.

Roob: You’ve been here two months now. What’s your impression of this team?

Ellerbe: It’s like a family. It’s like a family. It’s like we felt when I was at the Ravens. Everybody vibing with everybody and everybody getting along. It just feels like a family atmosphere.

Roob: You’re one of several guys on this team that's won a Super Bowl. Malcolm Jenkins, Corey Graham, Torrey Smith, LeGarrette Blount. What can you guys who’ve been to the top of the mountain teach the younger guys? 

Ellerbe: Basically just staying focused. At the end of the day, it’s still football. The only thing that magnifies this game is the outside, the outside people and the crowd. At the end of the day, we’re doing the same thing. We’re playing a nameless faceless team. We’ve just got to go out there and play our game.

Roob: Is that a tough lesson for young guys to learn?

Ellerbe: For the young guys right now, I don’t think they’ll fully understand it until they get older. They’re just living in the moment right now. But we try to preach to them that this is not guaranteed. My first four years in Baltimore, we were in the playoffs and I got used to being in the playoffs, and after we won the Super Bowl, I haven’t been back to the playoffs since, so this is my first playoff game since the Super Bowl.

Roob: That was a crazy Super Bowl. What do you remember about that moment?

Ellerbe: They cut the lights off! Winning it, it was a feeling like no other. I just started running around on the field. My body just left me. I just broke down and prayed. It was great.

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

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USA Today Images

Doug Pederson's preseason comparison doesn't look so ridiculous now

When Doug Pederson said back in July that the 2017 Eagles "probably have more talent" than the Super Bowl Packers teams of the 1990s that Pederson played on, more than a few eyebrows were raised.

Millions of eyebrows maybe.
 
The Eagles? Who hadn't won a playoff game since 2008 and were coming off a 7-9 record in Pederson's first season?
 
More talented than a team that went to the playoffs virtually every year from the early 1990s through the mid-2000s behind Hall of Famers Brett Favre and Reggie White and reached back-to-back Super Bowls in 1996 and 1997, winning one?
 
"I look back on my time in Green Bay as a player when we were making those playoff runs, those Super Bowl runs there," Pederson said on July 17.
 
"And do we have as much talent on this team than we did then? We probably have more talent, right?"
 
Seriously, Doug?
 
Six months later, Pederson's comments — which seemed so ridiculous at the time — don't seem so ridiculous, do they?
 
Because here are those 2017 Eagles, sitting 13-3 with a playoff win over the Falcons in the books and a berth Sunday in the NFC Championship Game against the Vikings despite a rash of injuries to some of their best players.
 
The Eagles haven't lost a game with postseason implications since Carson Wentz was lost for the season, and they're one home win from reaching their third Super Bowl.
 
Pederson, who had two stints backing up Brett Favre with the Packers — from 1996 through 1998 and 2001 through 2004 — was reminded of his comments Friday before practice.
 
"I don't have a crystal ball, obviously, and it's hard to predict," he said. "You'd love to sit here and go, 'Yeah, in the summer, (I thought we were) going to be 13-3 and win the NFC East.' You'd love to be in that situation, or 16-0, or whatever it might be.
 
"I did have a feeling back then when I made that statement that we could be, we had the potential to be a good football team because of the way we've practiced and the talent that we brought to the roster and the progression of Carson in his second year.
 
"And then defensively, the front, the way they performed, and the back end, I saw a lot of the same similarities. So you just have that gut feeling when I made that statement."
 
Back in July, when Pederson made those comments comparing the Eagles to the Packers, he tempered them by saying talent isn't always enough. It takes much more for a team to have success.
 
"I (said) it takes great coaching, teaching, mentoring to also have our guys prepared each week to be in this position," Pederson said. "So all of that has kind of culminated. I think you look back on it and you go, 'Wow, maybe it was a true type of thing.'
 
"But we just keep doing our jobs, keep doing what we've been coached to do. Players play what they can do and what's in their control, and we're here today."

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

Veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) is the only Eagles player listed as questionable for this week's game. Everyone else on the 53-man roster is expected to be available. 

Ellerbe, 32, missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday. 

The Eagles' starting MIKE linebacker was also listed as questionable last week and was able to play, so expect him to be good to go. After all, this is the NFC Championship Game. There's no resting for anything else. 

In Minnesota, wide receiver Adam Thielen (lower back) and safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) are both listed as questionable. 

Thielen, the Vikings' top receiver, missed Wednesday's practice and was limited on Thursday and Friday. Just like Ellerbe, there's no saving him for next week. 

Sendejo was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, was a full participant on Friday, but is still technically in the NFL's concussion protocol. He'll need to clear that before he's able to play, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he's optimistic Sendejo will be able to play. 

Meanwhile, third defensive tackle, Shamar Stephen (knee/ankle), missed practice all week and has been ruled out. While Stephen isn't a starter, he played just under 40 percent of the Vikings' snaps this season, so missing him is still a loss.

After practicing indoors on Wednesday and Thursday, the Eagles loaded up on buses and spent their Friday practice outside at Lincoln Financial Field. Head coach Doug Pederson likes to get his guys outside for at least one day per week. 

The Eagles will have a walkthrough on Saturday before they'll be back at the Linc for Sunday's 6:40 p.m. kickoff in the NFC Championship Game.