Eagles

Malcolm Jenkins' message to young Eagles

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USA Today Images

Malcolm Jenkins' message to young Eagles

Malcolm Jenkins knows what his young teammates are going to experience Saturday.

He knows they're all dying to make a huge play. To win the game. To be Superman.

He's been there himself. And his message to them is to suppress that desire and just go play football the way you have all year.

“It’s something I struggled with as a young player, going out there and wanting to make one of those big plays," Jenkins said this week.

"You watch the games last weekend and see the (Marcus) Mariota play and (Jalen) Ramsey and his interception and you think, 'I want to make those plays.' But in all actuality, you have to put yourself in position to make those plays and the way you do that is the basics. 

"It's good technique, it’s eye discipline, it’s tackling, it’s being around the ball, it’s communicating, and those plays come. The differences in these games are usually the mistakes. Missing a field goal, penalties, not doing your assignment, blowing a coverage, missing tackles. 

"These games usually come down to who makes the most mistakes or who makes the last mistake, and it’s been important for us to keep relaying to the guys, especially the young guys, that it’s the same game. 

"The things that win football games in the preseason are the same things that win games in the postseason. Taking away the football. Running the ball. Stopping the run. The energy’s going to be there because we have our backs against the wall, it’s win or go home, so the energy’s going to be there regardless. But we’ve got to focus on the small things."

More than half the players on the Eagles' active roster — 29 of 53 players —  have never dressed for a playoff game. Only four of today's projected starters has played in more than two postseason games. 

This team has a handful of playoff savvy guys —  Jenkins, LeGarrette Blount, Corey Graham, Brent Celek —  but it's largely a young, inexperienced team.

“It took me till my … what year was it … probably till my fifth year to kind of really figure it out," Jenkins said. 

"My rookie year I was just out there. I didn’t even have time to even know anything about the game. That was 2009, just out there doing my own thing. In 2010 I was hurt and missed the playoffs. In 2011 we played the Lions at home and it was my first time starting in the playoffs and I played terrible. I played horrible. 

"Followed it up the next week and played OK in San Francisco, but I watch those two games and it was like I wasn’t doing any of the small things right. Wasn’t focusing on technique, my eye placement wasn’t in the right place, I wasn’t tackling with my arms, and it hurt me. 

"The next opportunity I got was in 2013 and I played significantly better. I wasn’t trying to make plays, I was just making the ones that came. Played solid ball and had more success. It took me a while to learn that lesson, but it’s important."

So that's been Jenkins' strongest message this week to the rookies, the guys without playoff experience.

There's more at stake today when the Eagles face the Falcons at the Linc with a berth in the NFC Championship Game up for grabs. 

But in the end, it's just another football game. Treat it that way.

“It’s something you can tell them and it goes into the way you practice," he said. "'Hey, it’s the same game, man. If you weren’t excited three weeks ago when we played the Raiders in the same fashion, then there’s something wrong.'

"It’s the same game. Every win matters. Every game matters. Obviously what’s on the other end of this either hurts a lot more or feels a lot better but at the end of the day it’s the same game, so we’re preparing to win and we don’t need to do anything out of the norm, we don’t need to freak out or get over-excited. Just focus on the small things. 

"Nobody needs to be Superman. We haven’t had any Supermen all year. Except Carson sometimes. But everybody else has just done their job and it’s been enough. We’ve won as a team and that’s the formula for us to win moving forward."

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

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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.