Eagles

Super Bowl spectacle causes sloppiness at Eagles practice

Super Bowl spectacle causes sloppiness at Eagles practice

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — After days of interviews and a lot of silliness the Eagles finally got on the practice field on Wednesday, but they didn't bring their pads. 

The team hit the field at the Gibson-Nagurski Complex on the campus of the University of Minnesota for a lighter practice than they've had in recent weeks. In fact, the team won't strap on pads all week. 

"We had a great week last week, honestly, back in Philly," head coach Doug Pederson explained on Thursday morning. "Had all our prep last week. This is about just fine-tuning, keeping the guys fresh for Sunday. We had a great practice yesterday from a tempo standpoint. Guys were flying around and doing what I've asked them to do this week. I just decided to back off this week and keep them fresh for Sunday."

This week's practices are closed to media aside from one designated pool reporter.  

During Wednesday's session, the Eagles simulated the extended Super Bowl LII halftime break when Justin Timberlake will take the stage. They broke for 30 minutes during practice, but when they started up again, things were sloppier than Pederson would have liked. 

"I think just addressing it early in the week before the game is huge," quarterback Nick Foles said. "The guys are aware of it. Coach does a great job of teaching in those moments. Glad it happened now." 

The head coach noted that it was a few days since the Eagles' last practice, suggesting that could have been one of the reasons for the sloppiness. Pederson said he didn't start "browbeating" his players but simply talked to his veterans. 

"We're so late in the season now, we know how to practice," Pederson said. "Just making sure that we understand the importance of (it), that's why I put us in that situation. Now we understand it. So it's a very teachable moment for our guys, our coaches for how to prepare for the second half of the football game."

When asked about the sloppiness coming out of the simulated halftime, tight end Zach Ertz definitely didn't seem concerned. He noted that Wednesday practices in the NFL are typically sloppy and he never feels great after one day of work. 

Really, no one seemed too concerned. 

"We're not going to put too much stock into it," Ertz said. "I expect a better practice today."

The Eagles finished up their media obligations for the week on Thursday morning before practice. Because of the schedule during the week, they'll get their last two practices after their obligations are through. The Patriots practiced Thursday morning, but still have one more media session on Thursday afternoon. 

After days of a bunch of hoopla, the Eagles were just happy to finally get on the field and begin to narrow their focus to Sunday's game alone. 

"We were really excited to get back out there, get moving around," Foles said. "The first couple days here were great. A lot of obligations, but we enjoyed them. Just being back out there playing football, going through walkthroughs, that's what it's about. Just getting the work in, it took a little bit to get warmed up, get things flowing, but I feel like we got a lot of good work. As coach said, the second half of practice after the halftime wasn't as clean as we wanted, but at the same time watching practice, learning from it. I felt like there was a lot of improvements going into this game, so that's great."

Eagles Stay or Go — A few easy choices for once

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USA Today Images

Eagles Stay or Go — A few easy choices for once

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Mack Hollins
Roob: Hollins wasn't really a factor later in the season, once Torrey Smith got going, but he did show early in the year what kind of player he can be, notably with that 64-yard TD catch in the second Redskins game. Depending on what the Eagles do about Smith, Hollins should be either the Eagles' third or fourth receiver this fall. Either way, he'll be here, and I expect him to make a big jump in Year 2.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Hollins caught just 16 passes as a rookie and it seemed like he just never started producing the way he seems capable of. Even when Smith struggled, Hollins got more playing time and didn't produce. The good news is he's still young and plays a role on special teams. The Eagles will probably bolster their receiving corps in some way, but if they don't, Hollins will have a shot at starting if Smith is gone next season. 

Verdict: STAYS

Alshon Jeffery
Roob: Jeffery really played better than his stats this year. He made every big catch, caught every big third-down pass, made huge plays in the end zone. Jeffery was a star receiver without a star receiver's stats. His unselfish attitude carried over to the rest of the receivers and throughout the roster. And he did it all with a rotator cuff injury that required post-season surgery. Can't wait to see what Alshon can do healthy.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Jeffery didn't put up eye-popping numbers during the regular season, but if you needed any proof he's a No. 1 receiver, go back and watch Super Bowl LII, when he made that ridiculous catch in the end zone for a huge touchdown. The good thing about Jeffery is he really doesn't care at all about his numbers. There are a lot of diva receivers in the NFL, but Jeffery clearly isn't one of them. All he cared about last year was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy and he certainly helped get the Eagles there. 

Verdict: STAYS

Malcolm Jenkins
Roob: Jenkins has so many roles on and off the field -- community activist, NFLPA organizer, locker room leader -- it's easy to forget just how good a player he is. Jenkins has been here four years and has had four very solid, very consistent, very productive seasons. He made his second Pro Bowl this year and joined Bill Bradley (3) and Dawk (7) as only the third Eagles safety since 1960 to make multiple Pro Bowls. Jenkins is signed to a cap-friendly deal through 2020 and should be an Eagle for many years to come.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: As important as Jenkins is to the Eagles as a safety and defensive back, you could make a legitimate argument that he's even more important to the team as a leader and man. There's a reason he became the guy to follow up Doug Pederson's postgame speeches. He isn't just the leader of the defense; he's the leader of the entire team. And on the field, he's still playing at a really high, Pro Bowl caliber, level. He's 30 now but is still signed through 2020 and maybe outside of Fletcher Cox is the Eagles' most important defensive player. 

Verdict: STAYS

Eagles Stay or Go — 2 young linebackers

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Eagles Stay or Go — 2 young linebackers

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Darrell Greene
Roob: The Hall of Fame cornerback is now 58 years old and 21 years removed from his last Pro Bowl season with the Redskins. Oh wait … wrong Darrell Green. This is Darrell GREENE, and he's a 6-foot-3, 320-pound guard out of San Diego State who's been on the Eagles' practice squad most of the last two years. The Eagles liked Greene enough to keep him around the last couple years, and unless they see something in Chance Warmack that I missed, Greene has a chance to stick around as a young O-line prospect.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Greene has been around now for the last two seasons. He was without a team for most of 2017; the Eagles didn't bring him back to the practice squad until December. The offensive guard had some real potential coming out of San Diego State, and the Eagles paid him a lot of guaranteed money to sign as an undrafted free agent before 2016. But he's never really impressed them enough to stick around for good. 

Verdict: GOES

Jordan Hicks
Roob: With Hicks, it's always about durability, not ability. Hicks has played more than half a season only once in his three NFL seasons, and since he's under contract for 2018 with a modest $2.068 million cap figure, he's obviously not going anywhere. The question is what the Eagles do with him after 2018 when he's due to become a free agent. Hicks can play. We all know that. He needs to prove this year that he can stay healthy in order to get a big-money deal a year from now.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Losing Hicks was a problem in 2017 and his absence started showing up late in the season. He's a big-time playmaker. It's a shame he got hurt last year because if he didn't, he'd be in line for a payday. For now, he'll be back in the final year of his four-year rookie contract until he can prove he's the same player he was pre-injury. 

Verdict: STAYS

Kamu Grugier-Hill
Roob: Grugier-Hill must be Howie Roseman's dream. He's signed at the minimum through 2019 but is an awfully valuable member of the roster — a reserve linebacker and emergency kicker and maybe the team's best special teamer. Kamu's not going anywhere.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: He really doesn't play at all as a linebacker, but Grugier-Hill has become one of the best special teams players in the NFL and had a real chance to be named a Pro Bowler in 2017. He led the team in special teams tackles with 19 last season. He's still young, cheap and is a big part of Dave Fipp's group. 

Verdict: STAYS