Eagles

Eagles' incumbent corners welcome Ronald Darby, increased competition

Eagles' incumbent corners welcome Ronald Darby, increased competition

"Bring it on!"

That's the message from Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas, the two young Eagles cornerbacks who potentially stand to lose the most playing time with the acquisition of Ronald Darby.

Mills is a 2016 seventh-round pick out of LSU, Douglas is a rookie third-round pick from West Virginia.

"Let’s compete, you know?" Mills said. "Regardless of whatever they brought him in for, it’s a great addition to the room. I know him, I know his game from when he was at Florida State. I actually thought he’d be a first-round pick. He’s a great player, I love the move."

Mills and veteran Patrick Robinson have been the de facto starters throughout camp, but Robinson has been inconsistent and isn't even guaranteed a roster spot.

Rookie second-round pick Sidney Jones won't play for most or all of the season because of an Achilles injury.

Darby, a two-year starter with the Bills, was brought here to start, although everything beyond that is unknown.

“Man, it’s just focus on the task at hand," said Mills, whose 662 snaps were second-most among Eagles corners last year. "When I’m out there, make my plays and let those guys decide.

"As far as my approach, it’s not going to change. You can only control what you can control. When I’m out there, when my number is called, make my plays.

“As far as upstairs goes? I’m still trying to learn how that process works, but I know Darby is a great player, a great corner, had a great first two years in Buffalo, so it was a great pickup for us.”

The Eagles have been unsettled at cornerback for nearly a decade. Since the franchise last won a playoff game in 2008, with Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown at corner, they've used an astonishing 20 different starting cornerbacks in eight seasons.

Including Roc Carmichael, E.J. Biggers, Brandon Hughes, Trevard Lindley and, yes, Eric Rowe.

That number will rise this year.

The plan is for Douglas and Jones to eventually be the long-term starters. Darby is only signed through next year.

But the Eagles clearly want to win now, and Darby gives them a dimension of experience none of the other young corners on the roster has.

Douglas, like Mills, said he sees the addition of Darby as nothing but a positive.

“That’s not up to me, whether we need a corner or we don’t," he said. "I’m a player. Everyone’s here to compete and try to play.

"Doesn’t matter if there’s another corner here or 10 more corners come in, football’s all about competition anyway, so you like that. The room gets better. When we’re all competing at a high level, it brings everybody up. It brings out the best out of everybody. Competition is good."

There are now 11 corners on the roster. Darby, Mills, Douglas, Robinson, Jones, former CFL Grey Cup winners Aaron Grymes and Mitchell White, incumbents Ron Brooks and C.J. Smith and camp long-shots Tay Glover-Wright and Jomal Wiltz.

Jones and Douglas are 21, Mills and Darby are 23 and Smith is 24. This is what Howie Roseman has been looking for at corner. Young talent instead of the same old tired retreads.

"We're all young, we're all learning, we're all competing," Douglas said. "We’re going to get better. … You have no choice but to get better. That’s what I like. I see it in myself that I’m getting better. Things I didn’t catch on in OTAs, I’m seeing it now. We’re going to get better, definitely.

“I don’t worry about playing time. I just try to get better every day. When my number is called, I’ll be ready.”

Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins has been here three years and has already played alongside nine starting cornerbacks, not including guys who’ve gotten first-team reps this year.

He said he likes the current philosophy of going young at corner and finally trying to build a secondary that can grow together.

"The biggest thing is just finding guys who can get as much experience as they can and get evaluated that we feel comfortable with that can go compete and don’t have to worry about somebody taking their jobs," Jenkins said.

"That’s the point of training camp. Get that evaluations, get those reps, and you just added that much more competition with this acquisition.

“Just from a feel standpoint, it’ll be good for us to kind of know who that starting four or five is and we can kind of work together making sure we see the game the same way, getting used to who you’re tandem with a lot.

"I think it’s important from a secondary jelling standpoint. That part is down the road. We’ll get there."

David Akers on years with Eagles: 'The fans changed my life'

ap-david-akers.jpg
AP Images

David Akers on years with Eagles: 'The fans changed my life'

Editor's note: This story originally ran Aug. 31.

When you talk about David Akers, you pretty much have to talk about opening day 2000.
 
It wasn’t just the hottest game in NFL history and one of the Eagles' greatest wins over the Cowboys, it was the start of an 11-year run in which the Eagles went to the playoffs nine times, reached five NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl and averaged 10½ wins per year.
 
And when Akers talks about memories of his 12 years with the Eagles, he has to start on that blazing hot afternoon, Sept. 3, 2000, at Texas Stadium.
 
"It was my first game, first year as a full-time kicker, my first kickoff as a full-time kicker," Akers recalled. "And Andy Reid comes in before the game and says if we lose the coin toss, we're opening the game with an onside kick.
 
"I was like, 'You're kidding, right?' I was really worried about not doing well and now we're starting the game with an onside kick? I had already been cut by three teams, and I was like, 'Man, if I screw this up, I might as well just pack up and leave.' "
 
As we all know, Akers' onside kick was perfect, Dameane Douglas recovered, and just a few minutes later Donovan McNabb's TD pass to Stanley Pritchett had the Eagles on their way to a historic 41-14 win over the Cowboys in what came to be known as the Pickle Juice Game.
 
Before he was finished with the Eagles, Akers scored a franchise-record 1,323 points and played a franchise-record 188 games. Along with Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas and Brian Dawkins, he became one of four players in franchise history to play in 10 postseason wins.
 
On Wednesday evening, Akers learned that this fall he'll become the 50th inductee in the Eagles Hall of Fame.
 
Akers is scheduled to be inducted Oct. 23 at halftime of the Eagles-Redskins game at the Linc.
 
“I loved my time in Philly," said Akers, who kicked here from 1999 through 2010. "The fans changed my life. People talk about the billboard we left (when he left Philly), but honestly, it was a true bottom-of-the-heart thank you from my family.
 
"I hope when the fans look at everything, they know I tried the best I could. I always did it for the team, the organization, the fans, and the reality is that none of us are perfect and obviously I would like to have some field goals back in my career, but if I rewrote how things went down, I probably wouldn’t change very much. And I wouldn’t change where I played my 12 years."
 
After getting cut by the Panthers, Redskins and Falcons as an undrafted kicker out of Louisville, Akers found a home in Philadelphia. And even though he finished his career with brief stops in San Francisco and Detroit — it was with the 49ers that he tied the then-NFL record with a 63-yard field goal — it was in Philly that he put up historic numbers and made five of his six Pro Bowls.
 
In NFL history, only three kickers have played in more postseason wins with the same team than Akers — Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots has played in 15, Adam Vinatieri played in 13 for the Patriots and Roy Gerela of the 1970s Steelers played in 11.
 
"The one thing about Philly fans, they’re so passionate, and it was an honor to play for them as long as I did," Akers said. "They go to the games when we're not doing well. They let you hear it but they're always going to be there. And when you're doing well? This is the greatest city to be around when you're playing well, and guys who don’t get a chance to experience that, it’s a shame."
 
Akers ranks 12th in NFL history with 1,721 points and 11th in history with 386 total field goals. He's the No. 2 scorer in NFL postseason history with 175 points, 59 fewer than Vinatieri.
 
He's also 12th in NFL history with 27 field goals over 50 yards.
 
And now he joins five former teammates — Dawkins, McNabb, Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Westbrook and Troy Vincent — along with Jim Johnson as the seventh representative of the Andy Reid Eagles in the team's Hall of Fame.
 
“When Mr. Lurie (owner Jeffrey Lurie) called me, I have to say that I was shocked but humbled just because I have so much gratitude for what the Eagles did for me," Akers said.
 
"They gave me the opportunity when the Redskins and Panthers and Falcons had not been successful for me. My first kickoff in the NFL went 90 yards for a touchdown the opposite way, and I missed a 49-yarder, then got cut two days later.
 
"It's unbelievable how quickly those 12 years went with the Eagles. Such great runs with so many wonderful players and great coaches, a lot of who were very successful after moving on from the Eagles."
 
Akers learned he had been selected to the Hall of Fame Wednesday night during the Taking Flight for Autism fundraiser at the Linc.
 
"Obviously the one thing that sticks with me is the last time I played in an Eagles uniform is not a day I'd like to remember (2010 playoff loss to the Packers)," he said.
 
"So it was a little surreal being back on the stage at the Linc where a lot of other positive memories happened. Looking back on my career, just overwhelmed with gratitude, to be honest with you."

Best of NFL: Ezekiel Elliott's 3 TDs, 219 yards lead Cowboys past 49ers

ap-ezekiel-elliott-cowboys-49ers.jpg
AP Images

Best of NFL: Ezekiel Elliott's 3 TDs, 219 yards lead Cowboys past 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Ezekiel Elliott gained 219 yards from scrimmage and tied a career high with three touchdowns just days after a legal reprieve put his suspension on hold and the Dallas Cowboys beat the winless San Francisco 49ers 40-10 on Sunday.

Elliott was granted his second temporary restraining order on Tuesday, putting his six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations on hold and then gave the Cowboys (3-3) a big boost on the field.

Elliott matched his season total of rushing touchdowns with two in the first quarter and then took a short pass from Dak Prescott 72 yards for another touchdown on Dallas' first possession of the second half to put the 49ers (0-7) away. Elliott ran for 147 yards on 26 carries to go with the big catch, setting a career high in scrimmage yards in a game.

That performance spoiled the starting debut of rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard, who was sacked five times, lost two fumbles and failed to lead the 49ers into the end zone until he scored on a run with the game out of hand in the fourth quarter (see full recap)

Super Mismatch: Patriots continue mastery of Falcons
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and the New England Patriots toyed with the Atlanta Falcons -- sound familiar? -- 23-7 in a fog-filled Super Bowl rematch Sunday night that wasn't particularly super.

New England scored the final 31 points to win the NFL championship in February. Placards and shirts reading 28-3 were ever-present in and around Gillette Stadium as the Patriots (5-2) scored the first 23 points in this prime-time mismatch. The Falcons (3-3), who led New England by that 25-point margin in the third quarter of the Super Bowl before folding, were outplayed throughout this one.

While Atlanta looked tentative, if not intimidated, Brady and his offense clinically tore apart the Falcons. Mixing runs and passes, New England controlled the clock and field position. And its defense, ranked at the bottom of the entire league through six weeks, stymied the NFL's fifth-ranked offense.

Brady threw a shovel pass to Brandin Cooks that traveled perhaps a foot, and the receiver used his speed to get into the left corner of the end zone. The other TD was a 2-yarder to James White, who had three touchdowns, including the winner, in the Super Bowl (see full recap).

Goff leads Rams to shutout as Cardinals' Palmer breaks arm
Already one of the more dynamic offenses in the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams found a new gear against the Arizona Cardinals.

Jared Goffran for a touchdown and threw for another and Greg Zuerlein made four field goals as the Rams won for the first time in three appearances in Britain, beating the Cardinals 33-0 at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday.

Goff completed 22 of 37 passes for 235 yards with an interception and Todd Gurley ran for 106 yards and a touchdown for the NFC West-leading Rams (5-2), who finished with 425 yards of offense - their most in a game in more than three years.

Los Angeles has also won five of its first seven games for the first time since 2003, which was the last time the Rams finished with a winning record.

"We haven't been in this position, but we're definitely grateful," Gurley said. "We've just got to take it game by game."

Arizona (3-4), meanwhile, heads home with significant questions after quarterback Carson Palmer broke his left arm in the second quarter (see full recap).

Saints recover late to topple Packers 
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The way that the New Orleans Saints won on the road on Sunday might serve as a valuable lesson in their quest to return to the playoffs.

The defense gave up a long touchdown run on the first series to the Green Bay Packers. Drew Brees had two interceptions — and the Saints weren't even out of the first quarter yet at Lambeau Field.

But Brees bounced back to throw for a touchdown and run for another, Mark Ingram rushed for a score and the Saints recovered for a 26-17 win.

Green Bay lost its first game with Brett Hundley starting at quarterback for the injured Aaron Rodgers (see full recap).

Wilson throws 2 second-half TDs, Seahawks D dominates Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Russell Wilson threw three second-half touchdown passes and the Seattle Seahawk limited the New York Giants' receiver-depleted offense to 177 yards in a 24-7 win on Sunday.

Wilson hit Doug Baldwin with a go-ahead 22-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter. He put the game away with a 38-yard TD throw to Paul Richardson on a play that had to be reviewed because of simultaneous possession and he closed out the scoring with a 1-yard toss to Jimmy Graham with 2:14 to go.

The Seahawks (4-2) limited the Giants (1-6) to 46 yards rushing, 14 first downs and just 24:34 in time of possession. The defense only forced one turnover, but the fumble by Eli Manning led to the Richardson touchdown.

The Giants, who stunned Denver on Sunday night for their first win, were only in this game because their defense made plays and limited the Seattle to a field goal in the first half despite being on the field for more than 20 minutes (see full recap)