Eagles

How Eagles will try to sleep before biggest game of their lives

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USA Today Images

How Eagles will try to sleep before biggest game of their lives

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — On Saturday night, after the Eagles' final team meeting wraps up around 9 p.m., Brandon Graham will retire to his room in the Radisson Blu and sit in front of a screen. 

He won't watch film. His preparation for the big game will be over. But he'll try to stick to his normal routine as best as he can, even with the biggest game of his life looming. 

Graham hopes to get around six or seven hours of sleep, but first thing's first. 

"I'm on Game of Thrones now," Graham said. "I just started it."

The night before Super Bowl LII is arriving rapidly. The night before the moment the Eagles have worked toward for months and some of them for their entire lives will be so close they can taste it. 

And they'll have to try to go to sleep. 

"No different than any other Saturday night that we've had," return man Kenjon Barner said. "Everybody wants to make a big deal of where we're at. Yeah, we know where we're at and what game we're playing in. ... You just don't let the moment get too big. You know where you're at, you know what you're playing for, but at the end of the day, it still 60 minutes of football."

Barner is a music lover with extremely eclectic taste. There's not any sort of specific music he listens to the night before a game; it's whatever mood he's in. He might listen to alternative, country, classics, latin, many different things. Before then, he'll hop in an epsom salt bath, relax and pray. On game day, he'll go back to listening to his music and will call his dad just before the game to pray with him. 

Tight end Zach Ertz said he hasn't thought too much about Saturday night. Like everyone else, he'll try to go through his normal routine. That means a massage before the team meeting and hanging with teammates after. He probably won't build in any family time; he says they know the drill. 

From there, he'll watch a little film, drink some Dream Water and try to crash. He said he doesn't normally get nervous before games. 

But how about this game? 

"We'll see," he said. "Obviously, I've never played in this. We'll see on Saturday, I'm sure. As we get there on Friday and Saturday and as we get closer to the game, it's going to feel more real, like we're actually playing in the Super Bowl."

That's the thing. For as much as many Eagles players will try to settle into their routines and act like the game the following day isn't the Super Bowl, it still is. And aside from a few guys who have played in it before, they have no idea what it's going to be like. 

As a young player, Lane Johnson learned the negative side of peaking too early and wasting energy. He's going to try to stay in his routine this weekend. That means listening to rap or country music before he trades in his dog mask for a sleep apnea mask. His sleep apnea sometimes wakes him during the night. 

"Your mind's racing, going everywhere," he said. "The thing you want to do is calm it down to where you don't think about anything. You've already put in the work. Now it's just put it on autopilot."

Defensive line coach Chris Wilson said he'll have no trouble falling asleep. His game day is really throughout the week as he prepares his players. When Saturday night rolls around, he turns into their biggest fan. At that point, the yelling and teaching is over. His job is to get his players mentally prepared. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said he hopes this Saturday night is like the night before the Vikings game. He was completely at peace and got a good night of sleep, confident his team was prepared. 

Rodney McLeod watches film the night before games. While some players would struggle to go to sleep right after film study, McLeod doesn't have any issues. He wants to spend as much time as he can on it. 

He was probably a little more honest when asked what the night will be like.  

"I think it's going to be very emotional for us, knowing once we wake up, it's here," he said. "The Super Bowl is finally here, man. Everything we've been preparing for has come. I know it's going to be a lot of nerves but more so just guys being anxious and excited to get out there. We've been preparing for two weeks, so we're just ready to get out there." 

Eagles reach decision at offensive coordinator

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Eagles reach decision at offensive coordinator

Doug Pederson has made his decision. 

The Eagles are promoting wide receivers coach Mike Groh to offensive coordinator, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN's Tim McManus first reported the move.  

On Monday, Pederson interviewed Groh and running backs coach Duce Staley for the vacant offensive coordinator job after Frank Reich became the Colts' head coach earlier this month. 

Groh, 46, just joined the Eagles last offseason, taking over for Greg Lewis. In his first year in Philly, he did a masterful job with the Eagles' receivers and had a bigger role in the offense and game-planning than a typical receivers coach. 

There had been a report that Pederson was thinking about not having an official offensive coordinator for the 2018 season. He already calls the plays. But it looks like he saw the value in filling Reich's old spot. 

It'll be interesting to see how this goes over with Staley, who has been with the Eagles as a coach since 2011 and has been in his current role as running backs coach since 2013. He has previously expressed interest in moving up the ladder. 

When Pederson hired Reich to be his offensive coordinator, he said he was interested in what Reich could bring to the downfield passing game. If that's still important, it would make sense for him to hire a receivers coach with a background as a quarterback over a former running back and running backs coach. 

The 2018 staff is starting to come together. Press Taylor is expected to be named the team's quarterbacks coach (filling in for John DeFilippo), Groh is OC and Staley will stay with the running backs. The last shoe to drop appears to be filling Groh's old post of receivers coach. 

Eagles might lose backup defensive back

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Eagles might lose backup defensive back

Jaylen Watkins' time in Philadelphia might just be coming to an end. 

The Eagles don't plan to tender Watkins, who is a restricted free agent, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

Watkins, 26, played a decent role with the Eagles in 2017. He came into the summer as a safety, but when the team needed him at corner, he began to fill in there. He offered them a backup at multiple spots. 

So why won't the Eagles tender him? 

Well, if the Eagles did place a tender on Watkins, it would have been an original-round tender. He was drafted in the fourth round back in 2014. So teams could have negotiated with Watkins as a RFA but if the Eagles didn't match the offer sheet, they'd get back a fourth-round pick. Sounds great, except for one thing. 

The problem with the original-round tender is that it would bring back Watkins on a one-year deal worth just over $1.9 million. That's a projection after last year's number was just under $1.8 million. 

Watkins proved to be a valuable backup for the Eagles in 2017, but $1.9 million is probably just a little too pricey, especially as the Eagles are sitting around $9 million over the cap and have to trim that number down. 

And the Birds should have plenty of younger depth at corner in 2018. 

Not tendering Watkins doesn't necessarily mean he won't be back. What it does mean is he'll be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts on March 14. He will be able to negotiate with any team freely, but that will also include the Eagles, who might be willing to bring him back for a lesser price.