Eagles

C.J. Mosley: The next DeMeco Ryans?

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C.J. Mosley: The next DeMeco Ryans?

DeMeco Ryans is the catalyst of the Eagles’ defense. The heart and soul. The glue that holds it together. He played the most snaps on defense last year -- in the NFL -- so you can easily argue that Ryans is the defense’s most important player.

But he also turns 30 this summer, is slated to make nearly $14 million over the next two seasons and doesn’t have the range in pass coverage that he once had.

If the Eagles are looking in the first round of May’s draft to find Ryans’ successor, they could feasibly pounce at the opportunity to take C.J. Mosley, an inside linebacker who played at Alabama, the same school that produced Ryans.

Daniel Jeremiah, a former Eagles scout who now serves as an analyst for the NFL Network, expects Mosley to be off the board when the Eagles pick at 22. But if he’s there, or if the Eagles trade up to land him, Mosley would fit snugly into the team’s scheme, Jeremiah said.

“C.J. Mosley is somebody who doesn’t get talked about enough,” Jeremiah said during a draft conference call hosted by the NFL Network. “We talk about guys being clean players on tape. I don’t have a lot of negatives when I watch him. I think he’s very good in coverage. I think he’s an excellent blitzer.

“But the most impressive aspect of his game is his instincts. I remember scouting DeMeco Ryans at Alabama, and that’s what set him apart was his instincts. I personally think he’s a better player than DeMeco was coming out, and DeMeco has had a nice career.”

The book on Mosley reads just like Ryans’. He’s considered a film junkie and natural leader, a defensive quarterback with an exceptional football IQ and humble. Mosley is excellent in coverage against both tight ends and pass-catching running backs.

This past season, he won the Butkus Award given to the nation’s top linebacker and shared the Southeastern Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award with Missouri linebacker Michael Sam.

With his athletic prowess and high character, Mosley sounds exactly like the kind of guy Chip Kelly wants leading his defense.

But let’s hold off on sending out “Save the Dates” for this potential marriage.

First, several analysts -- including Jeremiah -- believe Mosley will be drafted in the top 15 picks. Some see Mosley as an ideal middle linebacker for a 4-3 defense even though Alabama’s front more resembles the Eagles’ 3-4 scheme.

Second, and more significantly, the Eagles have a known allergy to drafting linebackers in the first round. A familiar refrain every April is the team’s 1979 selection of Jerry Robinson in the first round out of UCLA. Robinson remains the last linebacker drafted by Eagles in the first round.

Thirty four years … and counting.

Third, for whatever reason, although Alabama’s defense is annually among the nation’s best and the foundation of coach Nick Saban’s three championships with the Crimson Tide, several of its players picked in the first round lately haven’t dominated at the NFL level.

Another former Tide linebacker, Rolando McClain, went eighth overall to the Raiders in 2010. Then considered one of the best overall prospects in the entire draft, McClain managed just three seasons with Oakland before getting released.

He tried to latch on with Baltimore last year but retired abruptly after his arrest for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

“I know there’s been recent Alabama big linebackers that haven’t played up to capability perhaps,” said NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis, who joined Jeremiah on the call. “But I don’t think that C.J. Mosley is one of those guys. I really like him a bunch.”

Best of NFL: Cowboys offense sputters again in loss to Chargers

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Best of NFL: Cowboys offense sputters again in loss to Chargers

ARLINGTON, Texas — Philip Rivers threw for 434 yards and three touchdowns in his first Thanksgiving game in his 14th season and the Los Angeles Chargers beat the fading Dallas Cowboys 28-6 on Thursday.

Desmond King returned an interception 90 yards for the punctuating touchdown as the Chargers (5-6) moved within 1 1/2 games of AFC West-leading Kansas City after starting 0-4 while the Chiefs won their first five.

The defending NFC East champion Cowboys (5-6) lost their third straight by at least 20 points, all without star running back Ezekiel Elliott, in a damaging defeat for their fading playoff hopes.

Dallas, playing its 50th Thanksgiving game, finally ended a touchdown drought at a team-record 10 quarters on Rod Smith's 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter.

Keenan Allen had a career-high 172 yards on 11 catches with a touchdown, giving him 23 grabs for 331 yards and three scores in the past two games (see full recap).

Vikings beat Lions, stay on Eagles' heels
DETROIT — Case Keenum threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score all in the first half to give the Minnesota Vikings a double-digit lead and they went on to beat the Detroit Lions 30-23 Thursday.

The Vikings (9-2) took a huge step toward winning the NFC North, taking a three-game lead over the second-place Lions.

Detroit (6-5) made mistakes in every phase of the game and Minnesota took advantage.

Keenum was 21 of 30 for 282 yards with both TD passes to Kyle Rudolph that gave the Vikings a 20-3 lead late in the second quarter.

The Lions rallied to pull within four points early in the fourth quarter on Matthew Stafford's second TD pass to Marvin Jones.

Xavier Rhodes ended Detroit's comeback hopes with an interception at the Detroit 37 late in the game (see full recap). 

Redskins beat Giants in turkey of a Thanksgiving game
LANDOVER, Md. — Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes to compensate for a pick-6, and the Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants 20-10 on Thursday night on a drab field in a drab game between two injury-depleted teams that did not look ready for prime time.

The first half, in particular, was devoid of highlights: The NFC East rivals combined for nine punts and only six points.

But Cousins led Washington (5-6) on two TD drives in the second half, connecting with Jamison Crowder on a 15-yarder in the third quarter that broke a 3-all tie, and with Josh Doctson on a 14-yarder with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the game.

In between, cornerback Janoris Jenkins intercepted Cousins' pass and returned the ball 53 yards to make it 10-all.

In the second half, the Giants (2-9) had one possession end with an interception by Eli Manning, four end with punts and another when they turned the ball over on downs (see full recap). 

Eagles injury report: Jake Elliott still in concussion protocol

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Eagles injury report: Jake Elliott still in concussion protocol

Eagles kicker Jake Elliott is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol but it looks likely that he’ll be able to play on Sunday.

Elliott was a full participant in Thursday’s practice after being a limited participant on Wednesday. In Phase 4 of the concussion protocol, players are allowed to participate in non-contact drills.

Elliott suffered a concussion in the first half of Sunday’s game in Dallas and the team played the second half without a kicker. If Elliott can’t play against the Bears the Eagles will either bring back Caleb Sturgis from IR or sign an outside kicker.

While Elliott was able to practice  on Thursday, Beau Allen (knee) and Trey Burton (back) did not practice. Allen has missed practice Wednesday and Thursday.

Rodney McLeod (oblique) was a full participant on Thursday.