Eagles

Eagles backup QB Nick Foles 'feels great,' not worried about missing preseason

Eagles backup QB Nick Foles 'feels great,' not worried about missing preseason

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Nick Foles was asked after the game whether he would need surgery on his elbow if this injury happened in the offseason.

"No, no, no, no, no!"

Can't be much clearer than that.

Foles, who missed most of training camp with an elbow injury, didn't play Thursday night against the Jets at MetLife Stadium and wound up not getting into a game the entire preseason.

But after the game, he said his elbow is 100 percent and he sat out only as a precaution. For the first time, he revealed that the injury is a strained flexor tendon.

"I know everyone's freaking out because nobody's really gotten a lot of answers, but it feels great," Foles said after the Eagles' 16-10 loss (see breakdown). "When you're a throwing athlete, it's just something you have to deal with sometimes."

Foles, who spent the 2012 through 2014 seasons with the Eagles before single seasons with the Rams and Chiefs, returned to the Eagles this offseason to back up Carson Wentz.

He did finally put on an Eagles game jersey Thursday night for the first time in three years, and he threw a little bit before the game. But that's the closest we got to actual game reps (see 10 observations).

"Obviously, it's good to get reps and all that, but sometimes injuries do happen, and this was one of the occurrences that was unfortunate," he said. "But I feel great now. The training staff did a great job with it. We just felt it was best at this time to treat it and continue to get healthy because the season is right around the corner, and you want to be healthy for the season.

"I'm fine. I feel great. I was able to throw in pregame warm-ups and get the feel of it again. Obviously, I've played in some games, and I can really just lean on that."

Head coach Doug Pederson has said all along that he wasn't concerned about Foles, and he repeated that after the game (more from Pederson here).

"He's right where he needs to be going into the season," Pederson said. "Just decided to rest him."

Why isn't he concerned when his No. 2 quarterback hasn't taken a snap all preseason and is dealing with an injury that dates back to last year?

"Because I'm not concerned based on what I'm getting from the medical staff and based on Nick's feeling and based on the way he worked out today and really threw this week in practice a little bit," he said. "Kind of building himself up. There's no concern."

Pederson was asked what he liked about Foles' pregame workout and said, "I thought the velocity, the ball was coming out of his hand nice, nice spirals, accuracy. Even the way he was moving in his drops. Really was eye-catching to watch. He had no issues, so very comfortable with that."

Foles, a Pro Bowler during his historic 2013 season, has a 20-16 career record, including a 15-9 mark with the Eagles.

"I feel really comfortable," Foles said. "You go to a new team and something like this happens, it's a little bit more difficult.

"I know this offense. Obviously I played for Doug (in 2012) and Coach (Andy) Reid, and that helps a lot."

Carson Wentz was great in 2017, but there's one thing he'd like to improve

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Carson Wentz was great in 2017, but there's one thing he'd like to improve

He was among the NFL’s best in virtually every category. Fourth in passer rating. First in touchdown percentage. Eighth in interception percentage. Second in TD-to-INT ratio. He was even third in wins despite missing the last three regular-season games.

So what’s Carson Wentz’s approach going into 2018?

“I think we can improve everywhere,” he said. “Overall, I think we can keep making strides and keep our foot on the gas.”

And that starts with completion percentage.

Wentz completed just 60.2 percent of his passes last year, which ranked 23rd of 30 quarterbacks who threw at least 400 passes. 

Ahead of only Blake Bortles, Andy Dalton, Mitch Trubisky, Cam Newton, Trevor Siemian, Jacoby Brissett and DeShone Kizer.

Not the kind of company he wants to keep.

Wentz was so good in every other area he still fashioned a passer rating over 100. In fact, his 101.9 rating was the highest in NFL history by a quarterback completing 60.2 percent of his passes (minimum 400 attempts).

The league average last year was 62 percent. And for the sake of comparison, Nick Foles completed 64.7 percent of his passes if you combine the regular season and postseason.

Wentz dropped from 62.4 percent as a rookie to 60.2 percent last year.

Among 36 active NFL quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 1,000 passes, Wentz’s 61.5 completion percentage ranks 21st.

 “I know I’d like to see my completions go higher,” Wentz said last week. “I think I was right around 60 percent and I expect more out of myself in that area.”

After 2016, Wentz identified red zone and third down as two areas he hoped to improve on. 

And he wound up leading the NFL in both red zone efficiency (NFL-best 116.3 passer rating) and third-down efficiency (NFL-best 123.7 rating).

“Third down, red zone, we were really good,” he said. “That’s something we really focused on from Year 1 to Year 2, but we (still) all feel we can definitely improve in those areas.”

Wentz also committed nine fumbles in 13 games, and only Jameis Winston and Russell Wilson had more.

“I think we had too many fumbles,” he said. “Balls on the ground too many times.”

Wentz, now nearly five months out from his knee injury, said he’s used a lot of his extra time at the NovaCare Complex this offseason focusing on what he can improve on in 2018, and one of those things is his upper-body strength.

“With all the extra rehab and not being able to run and do a lot of things early on you’ve really just got to focus on some different things and I got to do a lot of seated throwing and trying to build my arm strength and really take care of my upper body more than I have in the past,” he said.

“It’s been an interesting process not being able to get that true conditioning and that rehab in, but it’s exciting to start easing into the running and conditioning stuff. … 

“I feel good. I definitely feel working with the strength guys, we had some friendly competition stuff with the other (injured) guys in there rehabbing and I definitely feel like I’m making some strides in there.”

Forget empty Day 2 of draft, Eagles hoping to find gold in Day 3

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Forget empty Day 2 of draft, Eagles hoping to find gold in Day 3

The Eagles are scheduled to have a pretty boring Day 2 of the draft this year. Because after they pick at No. 32, they don’t have another selection until the 31st pick of the fourth round. 

That means 98 players will be taken between the Eagles’ first and second picks. And they’ll have to watch other teams pick that entire Friday (Rounds 2-3) without them … unless they make a move. 

“We’re not looking at it like we’re sitting out on Friday,” Eagles de facto GM Howie Roseman said. “We’re going through our draft process looking at every scenario. When we get to Friday, we get to Friday.” 

Even if the Eagles don’t make a move, they’ll be plenty busy Saturday, the final day of the draft. They have two fourth-round picks and one pick in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. 

Eagles personnel head Joe Douglas showed up to his media availability with a stat ready to go to illustrate the importance of Day 3. 

“We’re excited that we have five picks on Saturday,” Douglas said. “When you look at the Super Bowl, there’s 22 starters that were third-round picks or lower. Of those 22, 18 of them were fourth-round picks or lower. So 18 starters in the Super Bowl this year were fourth-round picks or lower, including six of them that were undrafted free agents. We choose to keep the glass half full.” 

Douglas is right on all those stats — 22 of 44 starters in the Super Bowl were drafted in the third or lower and 18 of them would be considered Day 3 picks. Not bad. 

Here’s how the Super Bowl starters broke down by round: 1-10, 2-12, 3-4, 4-4, 5-3, 6-3, 7-2, UDFA-6. 

The Eagles accounted for seven of the 18 players who were drafted in the fourth round or later, so the Patriots were the ones who found even more value late in drafts. And of those seven, just three were original Eagles — Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jason Kelce and Jalen Mills. 

Of the six undrafted players who started in the Super Bowl, two were from the Eagles — LeGarrette Blount and Rodney McLeod. Neither was an original Eagle, but the Birds also relied heavily on running back Corey Clement, who was an undrafted rookie last season. 

With a dearth of high draft picks, it would make sense if the Eagles attack the undrafted market following the draft, but Douglas thinks it won’t be as easy as many might think. 

“You would think because we’re coming off a Super Bowl, we don’t have a second or third round pick that it would be a lot easier after the draft,” Douglas said. “But my experience coming off a Super Bowl, it’s sometimes harder to get guys to commit to your roster because agents and players have a perceived notion that it’s going to be that much tougher to make the team. I think that’s going to be a challenge. I think that’s going to be a challenge for us and we know it and we’re going to attack it.”

The Eagles in recent years have shown a willingness to pony up significant money to entice undrafted players to sign with them, and if Douglas is right, they might need to do it again to land some this year. 

Either way, the Eagles know how important Day 3 and beyond can be. So when they’re bored on Day 2, they don’t plan on losing focus.