Eagles

Rasul Douglas won't let himself be forgotten

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Rasul Douglas won't let himself be forgotten

The perfect gameplan for Rasul Douglas’ rookie season was to let him slowly develop behind more seasoned vets in the Eagles' defensive backfield, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Douglas was thrown into the NFL fire early and often.

When Ronald Darby dislocated his right ankle in the season opener in Washington, Douglas was the next man up. The third-round pick out of West Virginia played 39 of the Eagles' 53 defensive snaps against Kansas City the following week. That was an early omen as Douglas would average 42 snaps over his first eight professional games. 

For the most part, Douglas held his own and made plays in between the typical rookie mistakes here and there, but he earned the praise of his defensive backs coach, Cory Undlin. But after playing 37 snaps in a Week 9 romp over Denver, all of a sudden Douglas disappeared from the cornerback rotation. The snap counts over his next six games after the win over the Broncos: zero vs. Dallas, 11 vs. Chicago, one vs. Seattle, zero vs. Los Angeles, inactive vs. New York and four against Oakland. 

Douglas won't fall into the mindset that he's a forgotten entity.

"You just gotta try to stay up, keep preparing as if you’re the starter," Douglas said after the regular-season finale vs. the Cowboys. "You don’t really get those reps in practice. You just gotta take advantage of the reps you do get and get better in those."

With Doug Pederson's deciding to give a number of his starters most of Sunday’s meaningless game vs. Dallas off, Douglas finally was back in the mix. He played all 68 snaps against the Cowboys. 

It was a bone-chilling day at Lincoln Financial Field, but for a guy who had played just 16 snaps the previous six games, it didn’t take long for him to find his footing. He was satisfied with his overall game except for the lone score given up, which he was responsible for on a 20-yard strike from Dak Prescott to Brice Butler. 

"It was cold out there, but I didn’t feel rusty at all," said Douglas, who's amassed 25 tackles and two picks on the season. "You gotta get your feet back together, get your groove on, how you do stuff and you’re fine. We were in zero coverage and [Butler] was giving me double moves. Then he ran a slant and I gave it up. That’s on me. I can’t let anyone get outside. But I'd rather them throw a fade instead of a slant."
 
It’s yet to be determined how much Douglas will be used in the playoffs, if any. But his approach will not waver. 

“I just gotta keep working every day I come to practice, just do like I’ve been doing," Douglas said. "Pick something to get better at and improve as I can."

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.