Nigel Bradham introduces Panthers to the 'beast' as Eagles' D swarms

Nigel Bradham introduces Panthers to the 'beast' as Eagles' D swarms

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nigel Bradham couldn't believe what he was hearing.

Late in the game, after yet another one of his huge plays, one of the offensive guys on the Panthers came up to him and started yapping.

"He was like, 'Man, I don't know who you is, but you a beast,'" Bradham said. "And I'm like, 'You don't know who I am? You must not know football. But you know me today.'"

Bradham played like a madman Thursday night, with 10 tackles, a six-yard tackle for loss on running back Jonathan Stewart and three pass knockdowns in the Eagles' 28-23 win over the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium (see breakdown).

He was all over the field.

Bradham has been a solid, steady linebacker in his two years with the Eagles, but he took things to another level Thursday night (see 10 observations).

Bradham even played the second half mostly out of position at inside linebacker after the Eagles lost Jordan Hicks to an ankle injury.

"I told him after the game, I said, 'You a beast,'" safety Rodney McLeod said. "I've never seen that side of him. He did a heck of a job down there. Hicks went down and he had to go in and fill a tough role, but he didn't miss a beat. He made a huge impact tonight."

Bradham has gone largely unnoticed in his six NFL seasons, mainly because he hasn't made a ton of big plays. He has just two interceptions and four forced fumbles in 79 career games.

But he's played consistently well for the Eagles under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who also coached him in Buffalo in 2014.

"I feel like my whole career I've been one of the most consistent linebackers in the league, stat-wise, on tape, whatever it is," he said. "I've been making plays since my rookie year, I've been a starter since my rookie year. It's just the respect thing. At the end of the day, some people get more publicity than others."

But a game like this on national TV can help change any player's reputation.

Really, all the linebackers played well Thursday night, stuffing the run and in coverage (see report card). The Panthers' running backs netted one rushing yard, and Cam Newton didn't complete a pass longer than 20 yards.

"As a linebacking corps, we just want to make sure we get our respect," Bradham said. "It's just one of those things, we're just getting our respect."

Bradham was asked if this was the best game he's ever played.

He thought about it for a moment:

"My best game? It's up there. I don't know about best, I can't say, but it's up there."

Asked how he would describe the playmaking zone he was in, he laughed and said: "It's beast mode. That's what they call it. Yeah. That's the kind of zone it is. Just trying to create energy, man."

All the Eagles were marveling at Bradham's play after the game. They've seen him play consistent, steady and sound. 

But this was much more. He was the best player on the field for the Eagles' defense.

"He had a bunch of strong tackles that kept them short of the sticks, he was just flying around out there," Malcolm Jenkins said. "It was impressive, and with Jordan out, we needed it.

"He was a big part of why we had some success today. He got banged up, he had a stinger, he left the game, then came back in and played just as hard. He really injected some juice into our defense. I'm definitely proud of the way he played."

The Eagles got Fletcher Cox back for the Panthers, and Bradham said it's no coincidence that all the linebackers were able to shine with Cox taking on so many guys.

"He's the top defensive tackle in the league, so any time you can get [a guy like that] back, that's huge," Bradham said. "Especially to me. It's probably another reason why my job was a lot easier.

"Our front is unbelievable and I love playing behind those guys."

Brian Dawkins chooses longtime teammate for Hall of Fame intro

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Brian Dawkins chooses longtime teammate for Hall of Fame intro

Brian Dawkins has chosen longtime teammate and close friend Troy Vincent to introduce him this summer at Dawk's Hall of Fame induction.
Dawkins was selected in February for enshrinement in the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.
"The presenter that will actually be on the stage will be Troy Vincent," Dawkins said in a video posted on the Pro Football Hall of Fame's website.
"My teammate in Philadelphia. We came there the same year. Almost from Day 1 he kind of ... not kind of, he took me under his wing on becoming a professional. Not just a football player but a professional. The details. The details that he went through, the particulars of how he played the position of cornerback was the same way he lived his life (and ran) his businesses that he had off the field.
"He's a guy I can call anytime. Any time of night. And tell him 100 percent all what's going on with me, and I know he's not going to judge me, and it's not going to leave his lips (for) anybody else.
"And the most important thing for me, being a man of faith, is that I know he's going to pray with me. So all those things combined are the reasons why Troy was the perfect guy to introduce me to the Hall of Fame."
Vincent, a native of Trenton and graduate of Pennsbury High in Fairless Hills, Bucks County, spent his first four seasons with the Dolphins before signing an offer sheet with the Eagles before the 1996 season that the Dolphins didn't match.
The Eagles drafted Dawkins in the second round a month after signing Vincent, and the two spent eight years together in the secondary, reaching the playoffs five times and the NFC Championship Game three times.
During those eight seasons, Vincent reached Pro Bowls and Dawkins made the first three of his nine Pro Bowls.
Vincent retired after the 2006 season and Dawkins after the 2011 season.
Dawkins, Vincent and Eric Allen are the only Eagles defensive backs picked to five or more Pro Bowls.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 enshrinement ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.
Dawkins' former Eagles teammate, Terrell Owens, will also be inducted. He hasn't yet announced who will present him.
Dawkins will be the 21st former Eagle inducted into the Hall of Fame but only the ninth who spent the majority of his career with the Eagles.

Was Carson Wentz sending Nick Foles a message with Instagram video?

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Was Carson Wentz sending Nick Foles a message with Instagram video?

Offseason quarterback controversies are a rite of passage in the NFL. A time-honored tradition, really. 

We’ve certainly had our share in Philadelphia over the years. There were calls for Ron Jaworski to sit in favor of a young Randall Cunningham. Then cries for Jim McMahon to take Randall’s place. When Andy Reid drafted Kevin Kolb in 2007, that began a groundswell that he was the better choice than Donovan McNabb. Of course, most recently we had the Michael Vick/Nick Foles back and forth. To look back now, it seems silly these were even debates.

Most of the time, when you have these “controversies,” it generally means you have no quarterback on your roster. Not always. The 49ers in the late-80’s and early-90’s had Joe Montana and Steve Young, both Hall of Famers and all-time great quarterbacks. Both also won Super Bowls for San Francisco. But that is the exception. So is the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles’ situation.

I use the word “situation” and not “controversy.” Because there is no controversy. If Wentz is cleared by the Eagles’ medical staff, he starts Week 1. Period. What Foles did was incredible and will go down as one of the great — if not the greatest — stretch we have seen in Philadelphia sports history. He came up as big as you can. But Wentz he is not. That’s no disrespect to Foles. There are a handful of people on the planet who are in Wentz’s class.

Just a refresher course on what Wentz did in 13 games last season (his second in the NFL, by the way). He threw for 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 3,296 passing yards and had a 101.9 passer rating. The 33 TDs were the second-most in the NFL despite his missing the final three games. He also led his team to an 11-2 record before succumbing to that knee injury late into that Rams game that clinched the NFC East. He would have been the league MVP had he not gotten hurt.

There is a great luxury having Foles on this team. Wentz does not have to come back before he is able. If he’s not ready, you have the best backup in the league to start the season. But that’s the only scenario in which Foles plays Week 1. Simply put: Wentz is the better quarterback. And he has earned the right to start the opener if cleared. 

Some people read into Wentz's Instagram video of himself throwing earlier in the week as him somehow sending a message to Foles. I don’t buy it. I think Wentz’s message was to the fans and himself that I’ll be back, better than ever.

Wentz and Foles are both good teammates who put the team above themselves. Sure, Foles is a competitor and would likely prefer to start. But there won’t be any behind-the-scenes maneuvering to undercut Wentz. And Wentz is secure enough to be able to handle a Super Bowl MVP backing him up and all that goes along with that. Not to mention a coaching staff and organization that won’t allow outside noise to become a distraction.

Wentz over Foles. There’s no quarterback controversy.