Eagles

Lane Johnson shares some advice with Halapoulivaati Vaitai

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Lane Johnson shares some advice with Halapoulivaati Vaitai

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Lane Johnson has some advice for teammate Halapoulivaati Vaitai. 

Use it. 

Use everything you can to motivate yourself. The bad games, the naysayers. All of it. Coming off a pretty bad game against the Seahawks last weekend, this would be the time for Vaitai to heed that advice. 

"I think some of the games you don't perform well in, you can learn the most out of," Johnson said at Angel Stadium this week. "Just speaking for myself — suspensions, bad games. I use that as a huge motivator and I think he can too. That's the one thing Jason Peters has done in his career. He wasn't drafted, this, that and the other, and he's about to be in the Hall of Fame. 

"So I think what he needs to do is just bottle up everything that's not right or has gone wrong and use it as a motivator for him. He'll do it, man. He's still young."

Against Seattle last Sunday, Vaitai had his worst game of the season since taking over for Peters at left tackle. He gave up two sacks, one quarterback hit and five quarterback hurries. 

Johnson said he thought the one thing Vaitai had trouble with against the Seahawks was getting off the ball. Because of the crowd noise and silent count, that was a little more difficult, especially from the left tackle position, because right guard Brandon Brooks is the player who taps the center pre-snap. 

That's tough enough, but then Vaitai had to deal with a pretty good and really quick pass rusher in Frank Clark. 

On one particular occasion, Clark used what offensive coordinator Frank Reich called a "wicked pass rush move" to beat Vaitai for a sack. Reich didn't think many guys would have been able to stop it. 

Even after a poor performance last week, Vaitai is still the Eagles' best option at left tackle. He's a fifth-rounder in his second year; there were bound to be hiccups. The only other backups on the team are Isaac Seumalo and Will Beatty. 

Vaitai, who was not made available to reporters after repeated attempts this week, is a player who thrives on confidence. It's why we've seen him get stronger as games go on; he's able to prove to himself he can do it. 

Now, it'll be up to him to figure out a way to regain that confidence this Sunday, when the Eagles face the Rams at the LA Coliseum. 

Eagles' rookie schools veteran in intense practice

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Eagles' rookie schools veteran in intense practice

Rasul Douglas made a huge play during the special teams portion of Wednesday's practice. Going 1-on-1 against veteran special teamer Najee Goode, the Eagles' rookie plowed through him and sent Goode to the turf inside the practice bubble. 

Goode bounced up and locked down the next rep, but for a few seconds, there was pure exuberance on the practice field. A bunch of Douglas' teammates ran toward him and celebrated, while coaches gave him kudos. 

A couple hours later, Douglas didn't even remember it. 

"What play?" the rookie asked. 

After making sure he was serious, out came an iPhone to show Douglas this video: 

"Oh, I don't even remember that," he said. 

While Douglas might have been locked in and focused enough to forget about the most exciting play during the open portion of Wednesday's practice, it was the kind of play that got the whole team going. 

Without remembering the specific instance, Douglas rightly guessed that it was his defensive back teammates, who ran over to congratulate him and celebrate. 

"We get so happy when one of us makes a play because we work hard and we know our goals in our room," Douglas said. "And we know our energy transforms and just passes along to other people. You can get somebody energized and they get somebody else energized." 

Head coach Doug Pederson elected to have his team in pads Wednesday in an effort to keep the team's intensity and physicality high as the team gets ready for the NFC Championship Game. 

That play helped. 

"I think Coach Pederson talks about it all the time; match his intensity," linebacker Nate Gerry said. "So when you see something like that, I guess that's matching the intensity. It just kind of sets the tone for practice."

During the Eagles' first-round bye, the team's players council went to Pederson and asked for an extra day in pads. Pederson planned on one leading into the divisional round game against the Falcons, but his veteran leaders didn't want to go an extra week without that intensity, so the Eagles strapped on their pads. 

They did it again last week and they did it again Wednesday. 

All season the Eagles have believed they're going to play the way they practice, so it shouldn't be much of a shocker. Pederson and the Eagles — despite all the hoopla around the championship — tried to treat Wednesday like any other Wednesday. In part, that meant getting the pads on and going through a tough practice. 

"We ain't going to play on Sunday without pads, so you just have keep in tune with what you do," Douglas said. "I think pads are good." 

Zach Ertz makes largest jump in NFL jersey sales

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Zach Ertz makes largest jump in NFL jersey sales

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has moved into the top 10 in NFL jersey sales this week, according to national sales figures from Dick’s Sporting Goods.

This week’s Dick’s Jersey Report shows Ertz making the biggest jump in the top 10, moving up 22 spots from No. 29 last week to No. 7 this week.

“There must have been a lot of women’s soccer fans buying jerseys this week,” Ertz said jokingly, referring to his wife Julie, a member of the U.S. Olympic soccer team.

Could be. It’s not like Ertz had a huge game Saturday. He caught three passes for 32 yards in the Eagles’ 15-10 win over the Falcons in the conference semifinal playoff round at the Linc. But he did make his first Pro Bowl this year and finished the season with 74 catches for 824 yards and eight touchdowns.

Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who caught the miracle last-second pass from Case Keenum to send the Vikings into the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia on Sunday, also made a huge jump, moving from No. 23 to No. 4.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz remains in the No. 2 position in jersey sales, despite not playing since he tore his ACL Dec. 10 in Los Angeles. Only Tom Brady’s jersey sold better over the past week.

The rest of the top 10 is Rob Gronkowski third, Antonio Brown fifth, Leonard Fournette sixth, T.J. Watt eighth, Julio Jones ninth and Le’Veon Bell 10th.

Wentz remains the top-selling jersey this year, according to Dick’s after finishing last year at No. 3. Tom Brady, the top-selling jersey last year, is No. 2, followed by Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Gronkowski.

There are no Eagles other than Wentz and Ertz in the top 50.