Eagles

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."

Getting over gut-punch loss of Chris Maragos no easy task for Eagles

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USA Today Images

Getting over gut-punch loss of Chris Maragos no easy task for Eagles

It was late last Thursday night in Charlotte, well after the celebrating in the locker room subsided and well after most of his teammates had already gotten on the bus to take them to the airport. 

Eagles special teams captain Chris Maragos, with a heavy brace on his right leg, emerged from the visitors' locker room and limped through the cement bowels of Bank of America Stadium. The pissed off look plastered on his face as he left the field after injuring his right knee in the fourth quarter had given way to a look of resignation. He knew. 

Maragos was officially placed on injured reserve on Thursday, which means the Eagles will have to continue what they hope will be a magical season without one of their unquestioned leaders. 

"It was rough, man," said fellow special teamer Najee Goode, who collided with Maragos on the play that injured him. "That's my dawg. Chris is a beast. He brings a lot of energy to special teams. But we're going to replace him. He's still going to be there, making sure we do what we need to do." 

If any team is prepared to get over the loss of a player like Maragos it might be these Eagles. They've already survived — thrived, really — after losing Darren Sproles, Ronald Darby, Rodney McLeod, Fletcher Cox, Jordan Hicks, Lane Johnson and Wendell Smallwood for varying lengths of time. 

But like when they lost Sproles for the season, the Eagles are going to miss more than just Maragos' on-field play. He's also the captain of Dave Fipp's excellent special teams group. Maragos, one of five captains on the team, said at the time he was voted a captain that it meant more to him than any other accomplishment in his career. 

And that's saying a lot. Maragos' story is pretty amazing. He was originally a wide receiver in college until then-Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema saw Maragos track down a DB after an interception and moved him to defense on the spot. Eventually, Maragos worked his way into the NFL as an undrafted free agent and eventually won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks before coming to Philly. 

Early in his time with the Birds, Maragos actually played a significant role on defense. But when the new coaching staff arrived, it was clear his role would be on special teams, so he threw himself back into it. And he's been incredible. 

Last November, Maragos signed a three-year, $6 million extension that goes through the 2019 season and was already off to a good start in 2017. He led the Eagles in special teams snaps with 126 (74 percent) and was tied for the team lead in special teams tackles with six. 

How the heck do you replace that? 

"I don't think you'll ever be able to fill Chris' role," tight end and special teamer Trey Burton said. "He plays such a big role on special teams. He was able to do so much, but we're going to have to do something. Everybody's going to have to step up."

Head coach Doug Pederson said it will be "tough" to replace Maragos, but the team will probably do it with a committee approach at first. That means more Corey Graham and Jaylen Watkins. Even recently signed draft pick Nate Gerry will have a role if he's active. 

Perhaps the bigger loss will be Maragos' leadership. He's one of just five players on the team who has won a Super Bowl, and he's always happy to answer any questions his teammates have — about football or life. 

In his absence, Goode said he and Burton will attempt to fulfill that leadership void as much as possible. 

"It's really tough," Burton said. "That's my best friend. Him not being here, being around as much. It's tough for him too because he's out of the loop on things and doesn't really know. He would love to be here and in meetings and stuff but he's not going to be able to."

While Maragos won't be around for a while, Burton expects him to visit more once he's healed more. And he'll certainly be watching. 

"Heart's heavy, but I lift my eyes," Maragos tweeted on Thursday. "I'll miss being out there with my brothers but I promise you this, I'll be back stronger!"

That's good news for 2018, but the Eagles will have to go the rest of the season without him. Maragos apparently had a message for his teammates. 

"He knows injuries happen," Goode said. "We play full speed and that's something that comes with the game. His whole thing — Chris is a great team dude — was that we keep propelling and keep getting better for the future." 

Eagles Injury Report: Ronald Darby practices again, but Mychal Kendricks limited

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Eagles Injury Report: Ronald Darby practices again, but Mychal Kendricks limited

Updated: 3:16 p.m.

Ronald Darby is practicing for the second straight day. 

The Eagles' cornerback, who missed the last five games with a right ankle dislocation he suffered in the opener, was back on the field on Friday afternoon after being a limited participant in (and a focus of) Thursday's practice. He was again a limited participant on Friday. 

During the portion of practice open to reporters, Darby went through warmups and individual drills. He also spent some 1-on-1 time working on technique with defensive backs coach Cory Undlin. Darby was listed as a limited participant on Friday afternoon on the official report. Earlier in the week, head coach Doug Pederson said the "stars have to align" for Darby to play on Monday night. 

In addition to Darby, it looked like every other member of the Eagles' 53-man roster was on the practice field Friday. While the Eagles have dealt with plenty of injuries this season, they seem pretty healthy heading into Monday's game against Washington. 

The only new addition to the report is linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who was a limited participant with a hamstring injury.

Jordan Hicks (calf) was the only other limited participant. He was also limited Thursday.

Beau Allen (foot) and Tim Jernigan (ankle) were both full participants after being limited Thursday. 

The other full participants listed on Friday's update: Fletcher Cox (calf), Brandon Graham (shoulder), Lane Johnson (concussion), Wendell Smallwood (knee) and Destiny Vaeao (wrist). 

Pederson said on Thursday that the plan for Smallwood was to start him off slow this week and ramp it up, so it was a little bit of a surprise that he was a full participant to begin the week. The Eagles will throw him back into the mix immediately on Monday. Expect him to be their third-down back.