After finally turning a corner, Eagles' Shelton Gibson hopes to keep it going

After finally turning a corner, Eagles' Shelton Gibson hopes to keep it going

It was something Eagles wide receiver Shelton Gibson started doing while in college at West Virginia. 

It was a little way for him to keep his focus. 

Gibson would scribble the words "What are you going to do to be great today?" on a notepad and put it on the dashboard of his car to serve as a near-constant reminder. 

"And every time you get into your car, you see it," Gibson said Thursday. "You sit there in the car and you think. Where am I driving to right now? Am I driving to go to the field or am I driving to go see a girl or something?"

The notepad will be back on the dash over the next month and a half before training camp, as the fifth-rounder tries to keep his momentum going in the right direction after a solid last two days of the mandatory minicamp. 

Those last two days were very much needed.

Before the penultimate practice, this spring hadn't exactly gone to plan for Gibson. By his own admission, he was struggling greatly, and it was pretty evident for those who watched him play during OTAs. He dropped pass after pass, wasn't running crisp routes and looked like he just wasn't ready to be in the NFL. 

"It's definitely tough. It's never going to be easy," Gibson said. "This game is about how you can bounce back. There's always a learning curve. Whether it's your first year of high school or your first year in college or in the NFL, you always have a learning curve."

But something happened recently that turned everything around for Gibson — at least he hopes. During Wednesday's practice, he caught a ball in heavy traffic during a team portion of practice. A few minutes later, he made another tough catch. Then Thursday, he didn't seem to be in over his head anymore. 

Gibson said receivers coach Mike Groh gave him a different way to learn his plays. Instead of just learning his "X" receiver position, Groh gave him a new way to write down the plays and learn all the receiver spots, from one side of the field to the other. 

This new method helped Gibson understand the offense better and helped him slow everything down. 

"It's just like, I gotta slow it down," he said. "I always play fast and even when I run out there 100 miles per hour, if I'm doing the wrong assignments, then that's not a good thing. Even with catching the ball, I was so thrown off by 'oh I have to run right here, am I in the right split, running the right depth' and then I just get lost. That's what I was saying, I just have to sit down, slow down and focus." 

Gibson isn't the first player to come to spring practices and struggle and he certainly won't be the last. But as a receiver, his problems were much more noticeable than from players at other positions. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said the best way to help a struggling rookie is to "define a specific role" for that player; let them focus on what they need to do. After that, they can give them specific plays that they know. 

"So with young players," Pederson said, "you can start building their confidence back that way if you just get real specific with them and limit some of the action that they are seeing but also give them plays, again, both sides of the ball that they are comfortable executing."

Gibson admitted that during the OTAs and even the first day of minicamp, he wasn't playing with his typical confidence and it showed on the field. 

"When I first came in here," he said, "I was all over the place, just thinking a lot."

Finally, over the last two days, Gibson started to make some progress, but it came as the entire team is heading out on break. He was invited by Wentz to go to North Dakota with the rest of the skill position players and plans on attending (see story)

Until then, it'll be on Gibson to stay on himself. He said right now is the hardest part.  

"People go home and you lose that waking up every day at 6 a.m. and going to work and training every single day and working on your stuff, your craft," he said. "You go home and see your friends and you want to go see a movie that's coming out tomorrow or anything like that. Or are you going to go home and work? My intention is to go home and work." 

Eagles LB Joe Walker named Ed Block Courage Award winner

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Eagles LB Joe Walker named Ed Block Courage Award winner

Eagles linebacker Joe Walker, who missed all of last year with a serious knee injury, has been voted by his teammates this year's Eagles recipient of the prestigious 2017 Ed Block Courage Award. 

Walker joins such hallowed names in Eagles history as Andre Waters, Kevin Turner, Correll Buckhalter, Chad Lewis and Jason Avant in receiving the award, given annually to a player on each team who shows a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage on and off the field.   

Walker, a seventh-round pick out of Oregon in 2016, suffered a knee injury the second week of training camp last summer but bounced back to make the 53-man roster this year and has played in all six games for the 5-1 Eagles.

With Jordan Hicks hurt in the second half Thursday night in Charlotte, Walker played a career-high 13 snaps on defense against the Panthers. He's played 53 special teams snaps this year.

Ed Block was the Colts’ trainer from 1954 through 1977 after earning a Purple Heart in the Army under General Patton in the tank corps in World War II.

The 32 Ed Block Courage Award winners will be honored at the annual Ed Block Courage banquet in Baltimore this spring.

For more information on the program, go to www.EdBlock.org.

Here is a list of all the Eagles’ Ed Block Courage Award winners since the inception of the program in 1984: 
2017     Joe Walker
2016     Nolan Carroll
2015     Fletcher Cox
2014     Jeremy Maclin
2013     Jason Kelce
2012     Colt Anderson
2011     Mike Patterson
2010     Jason Avant
2009     Michael Vick
2008     Jon Dorenbos
2007     Montae Reagor
2006     Jerome McDougle
2005     Chad Lewis
2004     Derrick Burgess
2003     Correll Buckhalter
2002     Shawn Barber
2001     Duce Staley & Tommy Brasher
2000     Cecil Martin
1999     Mike Mamula
1998     Bobby Taylor
1997     Rhett Hall
1996     Kevin Turner
1995     Charlie Garner
1994     Fred Barnett
1993     Andre Waters
1992     Jerome Brown
1991     David Alexander
1990     Ron Solt
1989     Mike Quick
1988     Wes Hopkins
1987     Gerry Feehery
1986     Jody Schultz
1985     Ron Jaworski
1984     John Spagnola

Despite raising bar in 2017, Philadelphia won't host 2018 NFL draft

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Despite raising bar in 2017, Philadelphia won't host 2018 NFL draft

The City of Philadelphia did an incredible job hosting the 2017 draft.

And it still wasn't enough to keep it. 

The NFL has announced the 2018 draft will be held in the Dallas Cowboys' home, AT&T Stadium. Dallas — or technically Arlington, Texas — will be the third city to host the draft in three years, following Chicago and Philly. 

It has been rumored for months that Jerry Jones had his city as the favorite to host the next draft. Turns out those rumors were right. 

Good luck topping what Philly did in 2017 though. 

“Philadelphia raised the bar by taking the Draft to another level, and this new opportunity in Dallas will enable us to continue the event’s evolution and grow it even further,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We are grateful to the Dallas Cowboys, the cities of Arlington, Dallas, and Frisco, and the Dallas Sports Commission for their leadership in turning this vision into reality.” 

The 2018 draft will begin on April 26. The NFL's release said the draft site will include the field, stands and outdoor plazas. 

According to the NFL, at the 2017 draft, a record 250,000 fans attended the three-day event along the Ben Franklin Parkway. The estimated economic impact for the city was $94.9 million. 

“The Draft was a family-friendly event for Philadelphians and visitors across the country,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “I thank all of our public and private partners, especially the City employees and first responders, who made this event a success and allowed Philly to shine in the national spotlight once again.”

Aside from the numbers, the draft in Philly was aesthetically pleasing. The television shots from the Parkway were gorgeous and the vibe around the entire event was special. 

Things went so well, NFL Senior Vice President of Events Peter O'Reilly said the draft in Philly was a "resounding success." 

It won't be coming back in 2018, but the next time it does, the city will be ready.