Eagles

Even with trade for Ajayi, Blount says Eagles stayed 'true to their word'

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Even with trade for Ajayi, Blount says Eagles stayed 'true to their word'

Howie Roseman said he's still the starter. Doug Pederson said he isn't going to play any less. And Carson Wentz said he's handling everything really well.

What does LeGarrette Blount think?

Immediately after the Eagles traded for running back Jay Ajayi, it was fair to wonder what Blount thought of the move. It was fair to wonder if it meant his role was going to decrease. It was fair to wonder if he was worried about his standing with the team.

So what was his initial reaction to the deal?

"There was no reaction," Blount said Wednesday afternoon by his locker. "I can only control what I can control. That's a decision that was made from up top. I can't say that I have any influence.

"I can't go up there and say 'don't make this trade (or) do make this trade.' I don't control any of that. I just control what I can do out there. Focus on what I have to focus on and make sure that I'm ready for the game on Sunday."

When asked specifically if he is concerned about losing snaps or carries with the addition of Ajayi to the roster, Blount said it was a question he couldn't answer.

He claimed he is just worried about what he can control.

"Just grind every day like I've been doing," Blount said, "and the touches will come."

Blount said he learned of the move from position coach Duce Staley, head coach Doug Pederson and de facto GM Howie Roseman. Blount said the Eagles are going to "welcome (Ajayi) with open arms."

After making the trade Tuesday, Roseman came out at his press conference and said despite the addition of Ajayi, Blount would remain the team's starter. Pederson didn't say anything to dispel that notion Wednesday.

"It means a lot," Blount said. "As far as respect-wise, just acknowledging the fact that I worked my tail off all offseason for this organization. It just shows a lot of character and they're true to their word."

Blount, 30, is off to a pretty good start this season. He has 467 yards on 100 carries (4.7 average) and two touchdowns.

Since the start of last season, there are seven players who have rushed for over 1,600 yards. With Ajayi and Blount, the Eagles have two.

On a one-year deal, this move could be bad for Blount in the long-term, especially because Ajayi is still cheap in 2018 on his rookie contract and is just 24 years old.

But Blount has been a "tremendous team guy," according to Roseman. And Wentz said Blount seemed excited about the move.

"You can never have enough depth," Blount said. "You can never have enough depth at any position. Obviously, [Ajayi is] somebody who can contribute to our team. He's somebody that can help us a lot." 

Carson Wentz's durability is his biggest strength

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USA Today Images

Carson Wentz's durability is his biggest strength

Forget for a moment all the record-setting touchdown passes, all the dazzling third-down conversions and the highlight-reel red-zone heroics.

One of Carson Wentz's greatest accomplishments these last two years has just been playing football every Sunday. Being out there for his team without fail every week.

That alone puts him in an elite group.

Look around the league. Tyrod Taylor just got benched in Buffalo with the Bills in the playoff hunt. Trevor Siemian was benched just before the Broncos came to Philly. The 49ers benched Brian Hoyer a few weeks before facing the Eagles. 

Last we checked, the Browns have already benched DeShone Kizer, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan this fall.

Heck, even one-time Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco was benched by Ravens head coach John Harbaugh during a loss to the Jaguars.

We've been through all of that. That quarterback carousel. It never leads anywhere.

Wentz on Sunday night will start his 26th consecutive game. Every game the Eagles have played since opening day last year. He's one of only 12 quarterbacks who's started all his team's games over the last two years.

Elite quarterback play is huge for any football team, but quarterback stability is just as important. And Wentz is finally giving this franchise something it's lacked for much of the last quarter century.

Think about it.

From 1991 through 2015, a 25-year span, the only years an Eagles quarterback started 16 games were Donovan McNabb in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2008. And McNabb got benched in 2008.

From 2010 through 2015, the six years between McNabb and Wentz, the Eagles used seven different quarterbacks. Not only did the Eagles not win anything during that span, there didn't seem to be much of a future either. 

The Eagles were stuck trying to build a championship team without an elite quarterback. Which is almost impossible to do.

All of which led Howie Roseman to make the franchise-altering decision that the Eagles had to do anything possible, no matter how drastic, no matter how extreme, to get that guy and turn the franchise over to him.

That realization, that organizational decision and the series of trades that landed Wentz in Philadelphia guaranteed that the Eagles would have quarterback stability and a chance for sustained success for the foreseeable future.

Just by starting 25 games in a row, Wentz has done something no Eagles QB had done since McNabb started 31 straight from opening day 2003 through Week 15 of 2004. With the No. 1 seed locked up, he didn't play the last week of the season.

McNabb started 51 straight games from midway through 1999, when he replaced Doug Pederson, through Week 10 of 2002, when he broke his ankle against the Cards (but threw four touchdowns anyway).

And along with those two McNabb streaks and streaks by Jaws and Randall, Wentz's run of 25 starts is already the Eagles' fifth-longest since Norm Van Brocklin started 36 straight from 1958 through 1960.

You've probably already picked up on the fact that the Eagles' greatest periods of success in the NFL's modern era — the 1960 Championship and the 1980 and 2004 Super Bowl appearances — just happen to coincide with periods of tremendous quarterback stability.

And maybe very soon we can add another era to that list.

Just by being out there every Sunday, Wentz has separated himself from most quarterbacks in the NFL.

Of the 12 QBs who've started every game since opening day last year, only six have a career winning record. And of those six, only Wentz and Dak Prescott -—both 24 — are under 28.

They'll meet for the third time Sunday night in Dallas, and whatever happens, both franchises are in good hands for the foreseeable future.

For the Eagles, these are heady days. Wentz is having an MVP season and Roseman and Joe Douglas have surrounded him with a deep and talented roster.

An entire generation of quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Carson Palmer — will be retiring in the next few years. And most of the young QBs lining up to replace them are unproven. Even guys like Kirk Cousins, Matt Stafford, Cam Newton and Russell Wilson will be in their mid-30s in five years.

How many NFL teams know who their quarterback will be in, let's say, 2023? The Texans with Deshaun Watson, the Rams with Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota in Tennessee and probably Jameis Winston in Tampa. And the Eagles and Cowboys. Anybody else?

Most NFL teams are in a constant search for that elite quarterback. Not around here. Not anymore.

The most important question facing almost every NFL team is one the Eagles won't have to even think about for a decade.

Alshon Jeffery listed as questionable vs. Cowboys

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Alshon Jeffery listed as questionable vs. Cowboys

Alshon Jeffery will be listed as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas. 

The Eagles' receiver popped up on the injury report with an ankle injury on Thursday, when he was limited. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said he expects Jeffery to play and he's optimistic he'll be able to go. On Thursday, Jeffery said he will "most definitely" play against the Cowboys. 

"It's been kind of lingering a little while," Pederson said. "There's no really one particular game or instance. It's hard for me to even put a finger on when it happened or how it happened. 

"It's something too in his case with all the cutting and stopping and starting in practice and games and where we are at that time of the year, you're going to start seeing more and more guys get added to the list or taken some reps off at practice, just so we can keep them healthy for Sunday."

Zach Ertz (hamstring), Ronald Darby (ankle) and Jaylen Watkins (hamstring) were full participants on Wednesday and Thursday, the two most important practice days of the week. Every player -- including Jeffery -- was a full participant in Friday's indoor practice. Barring setbacks, Ertz and Darby should make their returns on Sunday. 

Ertz missed the Denver game and Darby hasn't played since Week 1, when he dislocated his right ankle. 

The Cowboys are reportedly going to be without left tackle Tyron Smith and linebacker Sean Lee. They're also missing Ezekiel Elliott, who will serve the second game of his six-game suspension.