Eagles

Eagles CBs Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson pass first test in preseason loss to Rodgers-less Packers

usa-ap-patrick-robinson-jalen-mills.jpg
USA Today Images/AP Images

Eagles CBs Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson pass first test in preseason loss to Rodgers-less Packers

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Near the end of the first quarter in Thursday night's preseason opener, the Eagles' starting defense came out of the game. 

Except for two players. 

Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson, the current frontrunners to win the starting cornerback jobs (well, maybe not anymore), remained in the game and played an extra series. Cornerback has been the hottest topic of conversation surrounding the Eagles for months. 

On Thursday night, though, the top corners held up. Although Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was a spectator for his team's 24-9 win. 

"We played maybe two series, three series," Mills said. "And that offense is way different without No. 12 in the backfield. We just have to work onto next week and just get better."

With Rodgers and his favorite target Jordy Nelson on the bench, backup Brett Hundley had trouble getting anything going against the Eagles' first-team defense. The Packers went three-and-out on the first drive and Fletcher Cox forced a fumble that Robinson recovered on the next. 

The biggest play either of the starters gave up was an 18-yard pass from Hundley to Davante Adams on the third series. Robinson was beaten on that play but he looked pretty good on Thursday and picked up a pass defensed. The veteran has had a rough training camp, but played much better in the game. 

Mills started strong, tackling Randall Cobb for a 1-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. 

"Going into a preseason game you really don't know how much you're going to play, especially me coming off being a rookie last year and trying to compete for the starting job," Mills said. "I felt pretty good though."

One third of the Eagles' current group of starting cornerbacks was injured on Thursday night. Ron Brooks, who appears to be the lead candidate to be the team's slot corner, left the game with a hamstring injury. He was the first man down the field near Trevor Davis before Davis broke off a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown. It's unclear how significant the injury is, but Brooks seemed to be walking fine late Thursday night. 

It's no secret that the Eagles' cornerbacks are a weak spot on the team. It's a major reason that on Friday they traded Jordan Matthews and a third-round pick to the Bills for third-year corner Ronald Darby. Last week during his press conference, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz — for the second time during training camp — noted that most of the questions were about the position. 

He knows why. 

"All those guys have shown something," Schwartz said about his group of CBs. "I don't know that anybody is consistent enough where we don't look at anybody else. I said the same thing coming into camp, or maybe back in OTAs, that it would be nice to have solid guys or solid starters at those positions, but we're still in the middle of a competition. Everybody is striving to be consistent."

Second-year player C.J. Smith wasn't consistent on Thursday night, but he did bounce back. In the second quarter, Smith gave up a 10-yard pass to Geronimo Allison and then two plays later was beaten by Jeff Janis on a little double-move for a 20-yard touchdown. It was ugly. 

But Smith had a short memory and made a couple nice plays later. 

Rasul Douglas, the third-round pick from West Virginia, had a pretty quiet night but could still make a charge for playing time. And Aaron Grymes is still in the mix. 

With three preseason games remaining, the competition at cornerback is far from over. 

"We played good but I always look for improvement," Mills said. "Always those little bitty things whether it's keying down-and-distance or formation. Just have to learn from those little bitty errors that we made and get better next week."

Raiders beat Chiefs in thriller with touchdown on final play

uspresswire-raiders-team-celebrate.jpg
USA Today Imagesd

Raiders beat Chiefs in thriller with touchdown on final play

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Wins have been so hard to come by for the Oakland Raiders that it took three tries at the final play for them finally to pull this one out and possibly save their season.

Derek Carr threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on the final play after the game was extended by two straight defensive holding calls and the Raiders snapped a four-game losing streak with a 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

"We didn't give up," Crabtree said. "We got a team full of fighters. We believe. ... No matter how hard the game was, we believed. We came out with the W and I'm excited. It's a good way to win, a great way to win."

With their season on the line following the recent slump, Carr led an 85-yard touchdown drive in the final 2:25 to give the Raiders (3-4) the thrilling comeback in a game they trailed by nine points heading into the fourth quarter.

Carr finished 29 for 52 for 417 yards and three touchdowns, with Amari Cooper catching 11 passes for 210 yards and two of the scores. The Raiders had struggled to get the ball downfield while being held to 17 or fewer points in four straight games but Carr repeatedly beat the Chiefs with deep passes.

"No. 4 kept making plays," coach Jack Del Rio said. "This is a special, special win."

Alex Smith threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns but it wasn't enough for the Chiefs (5-2). They lost consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 11-18, 2015, and had their 12-game winning streak in the AFC West snapped in a thrilling finish.

"I've never been part of a game that came down so dramatic," linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "But, still had a chance to win. Period. Just have to make a play. One play. One play."

The Raiders had an apparent go-ahead touchdown pass to Jared Cook with 18 seconds left overturned when replay ruled he was down at the 1. An offensive pass interference on Crabtree wiped out another touchdown on the next play.

But holding calls on Ron Parker and Eric Murray set the stage for the final play. Carr hit Crabtree in the front corner of the end zone to tie it at 30. Giorgio Tavecchio won it with the extra point , setting off a celebration on a wild night that included Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch getting ejected in the second quarter for shoving an official.

Hot tempers
The game took an odd turn midway through the second quarter after Kansas City's Marcus Peters hit Carr late, angering the Raiders. Offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn confronted Peters and Lynch sprinted off the Oakland sideline to join the fray. Lynch, a close friend of Peters, ended up shoving line judge Julian Mapp and getting ejected . Peters also was called for a personal foul on the play. Lynch congratulated his teammates in the locker room after the game but didn't speak to reporters.

"I was disappointed he ran out because I knew we had a 15-yard penalty and we'd be in good shape," Del Rio said.

Long drive
After Marquette King pinned the Chiefs at their own 1 with a perfect punt early in the second quarter, Kansas City needed little time to turn the momentum. Smith hit Demarcus Robinson on a 33-yard pass on the first play of the drive. After a short run, Tyreek Hill beat David Amerson for a 64-yard touchdown pass that gave the Chiefs their first 99-yard drive since doing it Dec. 3, 2006, against Cleveland.

Deep connection
Carr had not connected on a single deep ball to Amari Cooper all season before the two teamed twice for long TDs in the opening quarter. On the first, Cooper appeared to push Terrance Mitchell but the officials picked up the flag and gave Cooper the 38-yard TD . Later in the quarter Carr and Cooper connected on a 45-yard score, making Cooper the first Raiders receiver with two TD catches in the first quarter since Mervyn Fernandez in 1989.

Kicking woes
The Raiders were hurt last week when a bad snap by Jon Condo led to a missed extra point by Giorgio Tavecchio in a 17-16 loss to the Chargers. That was Tavecchio's first missed kick of any kind this season but he then had a 53-yarder blocked and missed a 45-yarder wide left in the second quarter. Tavecchio also had a false start on an extra point in the third quarter.

Up next
Chiefs: Host Denver on Oct. 30.

Raiders: Visit Buffalo on Oct. 29.

Carson Wentz feels 5-1 Eagles 'just wired different this year'

Carson Wentz feels 5-1 Eagles 'just wired different this year'

There's something special going on around here, and Carson Wentz isn't afraid to say it.

“We’re made different this year," Wentz said after practice Thursday. "We have a different character makeup in that locker room, and nobody’s going to ever settle for anything less than greatness. So we’re going to go out there every day and attack it.”

The Eagles, 5-1, go for their fifth straight win Monday night against the Redskins, who they beat on opening day at FedEx Field.

Wentz, in only his second season, has elbowed his way into the NFL MVP conversation (see story). His emergence as the unquestioned leader of this team has mirrored the team's emergence as one of the NFL's elite teams.

Wentz spoke Thursday about how he sensed something different, something special, as far back as spring workouts.

“You could just see it, even going back to OTAs," he said. "You could see the competitive nature, even in practice. You couldn’t wear pads. You couldn’t even press cover outside. You could just see the competitive nature.

"And then through training camp, it just kept getting elevated even more. You could just see it from the leadership on down. We’re just wired different this year.”

When Wentz tells his teammates to strive for greatness, they listen, because here's a kid who in just 22 career games has established himself as one of the NFL's best young quarterbacks. He has 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions this year and has posted a passer rating of 90 or higher in five of six games.

“It’s something that we always strive for," Wentz said. "And really, in everything we do in life, you strive for greatness.

"When we’re sitting where we’re at right now, we can just never let that slip. We can never let that slip from our preparation in the film room, the meeting room, the weight room, in practice, so that’s just something I feel like we have to always keep focusing on.

"Never settle, never settle, and just keep striving for that greatness.”

Wentz said he didn't feel anything lacking last year, when the Eagles went 7-9 and missed the playoffs for a third straight year.

It's just that head coach Doug Pederson is in Year 2, coordinators Frank Reich and Jim Schwartz are in Year 2 and Wentz is in Year 2.

The whole program is in Year 2 and there's a confidence, an attitude, a swagger that was nowhere to be found last year or really the last few years.

“I think it was just a natural growth," Wentz said. "You go back and look at last season again. We were so close in so many of those ballgames but [it's] just the natural growth that’s taken place both from coach and just really all of us being in this together and having a year under our belt."