Eagles

Eagles camp notes, quotes and tidbits: Big guys field punts; Alshon Jeffery out 4th straight day

Eagles camp notes, quotes and tidbits: Big guys field punts; Alshon Jeffery out 4th straight day

The Eagles tried out two new punt returners on Friday: Jason Peters and Fletcher Cox. 

Toward the end of Friday's light 10/10/10 practice, head coach Doug Pederson sent Peters and Cox back to field two punts. Peters represented the offense and Cox represented the defense. 

What were the stakes? 

"I don't know if I'm supposed to discuss those things," Carson Wentz said. 

First, Peters needed to go to a knee to catch his ball, but he reeled it in. He estimated it was the first time he fielded a punt in over 10 years. 

Then, the pressure was on Cox. 

"Nah, there wasn't no pressure," Cox said. "No pressure at all. Just had to relax and catch the ball."

And he did. Thanks to Peters and Cox, the Eagles will get out of meetings earlier on Friday, heading into the off day on Saturday. 

A little earlier in practice, Pederson gathered the entire team around kicker Caleb Sturgis as he tried two 55-yard field goals. The stakes for that one were to extend team curfew. Maybe the pressure got to the kicker. He clanked the first off the right upright and sailed the second one wide right. 

"It makes it fun," Cox said. "It makes guys want to be here and be a part of what we're doing. At the same time, we have to work. The last three days have been a grind, with two of those days take-down-to-the-ground days. And yesterday was really a long grind day. I think it was the longest practice we've had with the muggy weather. It was good for us." 

"That's what I love about Coach Pederson," Wentz said. "He's a former player, so he kind of knows the dog days of camp, knows how to break up the monotony a little bit. That was cool today and I'm thankful JP made that catch. That's what Coach Pederson brings: the happy balance of work and keeping it light at times for the players."

Cox said he never questioned whether or not he would catch the punt. "I'm an athlete," he said. "You know that."  

Although, Darren Sproles' job is likely safe. 

"It was really good to see the athleticism," Pederson said. "Maybe if we get in a pinch, we'll stick them back there." 

Jeffery misses practice again
While LeGarrette Blount returned to the team after missing three days for personal reasons, Alshon Jeffery missed his fourth straight day of practice on Friday.

A shoulder injury has kept Jeffery out of practice this week, but Pederson said Jeffery is past the injury and Friday was just a rest day. He hasn't yet decided if Jeffery will play in the first preseason game in Green Bay next Thursday. 

"It's just a matter of keeping him rested," Pederson said. "We're not playing a game. I've seen a lot from him, probably more so than you guys have seen. I'm comfortable with where he's at in our offense. We're going to make sure he's healthy going into the season."

Jeffery hasn't practiced since Sunday. He missed Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week, which meant he missed the two days that featured tackling to the ground. 

Has Wentz had enough time to work with his new weapon? 

"I think the first week of training camp with Alshon, the throwing in Fargo, the spring stuff," Wentz said. "Obviously, I wish he would have been out there, but things happen. I'm excited to get him back, hopefully as soon as possible."

Nick Foles (elbow), Paul Turner (shoulder), Donnel Pumphrey (hamstring), Chris Long (rest), Josh Andrews (hand), Adam Zaruba (concussion) and Mychal Kendricks (groin) also missed practice. 

Corner or safety? 
Veteran defensive back Corey Graham didn't make it to Philly in time to practice on Friday, the day after he agreed to terms of a one-year deal

When the Eagles announced the deal, they listed Graham as a safety, which is important to note. While Graham has played safety for the past two seasons, he has played cornerback in the past. He actually played cornerback for Jim Schwartz in Buffalo in 2014. 

On Friday, Pederson said the Eagles will start the 32-year-old out as a safety but didn't rule out the possibility of his playing corner. 

"We've got to see," Pederson said. "It's been three years since he played (corner). We've got to see that when he gets here." 

The Eagles are clearly in more desperate need of cornerbacks than safeties. 

Next open practice
The Eagles will be back at practice on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Practice starts at 10:05 a.m. 

It's free to come out and watch (parking is free too). Seats are first-come, first-serve. 

Rob's Rants: Hey Philly, don't take the bait and feed the trolls

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Rob's Rants: Hey Philly, don't take the bait and feed the trolls

This week’s Rob’s Rants has a sole focus — or should I say a troll focus. It’s more of a public service announcement, if you will. I am imploring all Philadelphia sports fans: Don’t take the bait!

Trolling was around long before the advent of social media. Contrarians have been going against the grain and saying things they don’t even believe to invoke a reaction since the beginning of time. Or as far back as Jaromir Jagr’s rookie season. Same thing. 

Just six weeks into the NFL season, we’ve already heard from some of the usual suspects, who will go nameless in this post. I refuse to give them the attention and ratings they are so desperately begging for. You know who they are, I know who they are, don’t give them the satisfaction. Don’t continue to line their pockets. Don’t let yourself walk into their trap. A reply on Twitter or some other social platform, a tune in, a reaction, is a win for them.

So brace yourself for the inevitable national talking head contrarian with the hot take of, “Carson Wentz looks like a deer in headlights.” Or, “besides the Panthers, who have the Eagles played? Or, “they haven’t even won a playoff game since 2008 and the fans have them in the Super Bowl.”

The trolling won’t be reserved exclusively for Eagles fans either. Prepare yourselves, Sixers fans. As we embark on the start of the NBA season, the anti-process truthers are just lying in wait with pithy Joel Embiid barbs about minute restrictions or injuries or tanking. It’s only a matter of time before we get something like, “see what another year of tanking gets you? Markelle Fultz isn’t even good enough start.” It’s coming.

There’s a fine line between trolling and having a strong, thought-provoking, independent point of view. The goal of any good columnist, radio host, television host or analyst is to make you think or react. Whether you agree or disagree. But there is a cottage industry now of blowhards who don’t have an original, creative or sincere thought of their own. They are either told by a producer or boss or decide on their own to go after a city, player, or team ... one typically with a fan base that will be reactive. You don’t see a lot of shade thrown at the Atlanta Hawks. You know why? No one cares. Not even their fans. Say something about Carson Wentz or snowballs at Santa and loyal Philadelphia fans will go bonkers. Mission accomplished for the troll.

So revel in the Eagles' early season success. Be excited for the infusion of youth for the Flyers. And what could be if Embiid, Ben Simmons, Fultz and Dario Saric can actually stay on the court.

Soak it in. We appear to be exiting out of the dark days. Just be prepared for it and don’t allow yourself to be lured into the troll trap.

NFL Notes: Ezekiel Elliott reportedly getting an emergency hearing

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NFL Notes: Ezekiel Elliott reportedly getting an emergency hearing

A person with direct knowledge of the situation says attorneys for Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott are set for an emergency hearing in federal court in New York as they try again to stop the running back's six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations.

Elliott's legal team filed a request for a temporary restraining order Monday and will get a hearing Tuesday in the Southern District of New York, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the filing hadn't been made public.

Last year's NFL rushing leader is suspended for Sunday's game at San Francisco after a federal appeals court overturned an injunction that had allowed him to play this season.

The case is shifting to New York because the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ordered the dismissal of Elliott's lawsuit in Texas. Elliott's attorneys have indicated they are still pursuing the case with the New Orleans court.

The person told the AP that U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty would hear arguments Tuesday in New York because the presiding judge, Katherine Polk Fialla, is out of town (see full story).

Packers: Rodgers to have surgery on collarbone
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have surgery on his broken right collarbone, and that his season could be over.

McCarthy said Monday that the two-time NFL MVP would have surgery in the near future. He says that there is no timeline for his potential return.

"The key is to get Aaron healthy, it's not to develop a timeline," McCarthy said.

Rodgers got hurt in the first quarter of the 23-10 loss on Sunday at Minnesota.

Brett Hundley is now the starting quarterback. The Packers also promoted third-stringer Joe Callahan from the practice squad to become the backup quarterback.

Cornerback Quinten Rollins was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury to make room for Callahan (see full story).

Steelers: Bryant downplays reported trade demand
PITTSBURGH -- Yes, Martavis Bryant wants a trade.

To the Golden State Warriors.

Otherwise, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver insists he's just fine even after multiple reports that he asked the team to ship him elsewhere.

Asked Monday if he'd like a change of scenery, Bryant reiterated he's happy in Pittsburgh.

"I'm doing fine, everything is good," he said.

Even if -- at least statistically -- in his return from a year-plus suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy has been underwhelming.

Bryant caught two passes for 27 yards in Sunday's 19-13 victory over Kansas City and has just 17 receptions and one touchdown through six games for the first-place Steelers (4-2). His 13.6 yards per catch is more than 4 yards below his career average while splitting playing time with rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster (see full story).

Raiders: Linebacker Bowman signs 1-year deal
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- NaVorro Bowman will make a short move following his release last week from the San Francisco 49ers, signing a $3 million, one-year contract with the Oakland Raiders on Monday.

"It's a refresher for me," Bowman said after taking part in a walkthrough with his new team. "It's a new picture, new scenery. The guys are a special group of guys. You can just see the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball. I'm excited to go out there and play for an offense that is eager to score points. I look forward to it."

Bowman visited the Raiders on Monday and then signed the deal shortly after that, cancelling a planned visit to the Dallas Cowboys. He went right into meetings with the assistant coaches and could be ready to play when the Raiders (2-4) host the first-place Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

Bowman said he will do extra work this week to learn the defense and said he plans to play this week if he's prepared enough. The Raiders will be happy to get him on the field to add some experience to a young group of inside linebackers (see full story).