Eagles

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Pop quiz for newbie; Carson Wentz's escapability

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Pop quiz for newbie; Carson Wentz's escapability

As if new Eagles safety Trae Elston's head wasn't already spinning, some jerk reporter gave him a pop quiz Thursday. 

When the Eagles claimed Elston off waivers this week, they became his fifth team in the NFL since going undrafted just a year ago. 

Could he name all of them in order? 

"I think," he said. "All right, go ahead."

All right, first you were where? 

"Saints … yeah." 

Then where'd you go? 

"I went to Tampa." 

Then …?

"Then Cleveland." 

Then you were claimed …

"By Buffalo … now I'm here." 

OK, you got it. Good job. 

Elston starting smiling. "It's crazy though." 

It really is. Coming out of Ole Miss, Elston signed with the Saints in May 2016 and lasted until final cuts. He joined the Bucs' practice squad in October but lasted just until November. In December 2016, he was signed to the Browns active roster for two weeks before he made it to their practice squad. He was with Cleveland until this past April. From there, the Bills claimed him. He made their team out of training camp but lasted just a couple weeks into the season. He was cut by the Bills on Tuesday, claimed by the Eagles on Wednesday and joined his new team at practice for the first time Thursday. 

He's right. It is crazy. 

"Sometimes you can say it's a bad thing, but it's a good thing also because I'm learning a lot," he said Thursday at an unmarked locker in the middle of the wrong position group. "All that knowledge I'm getting from a lot of old heads that's on all these teams and learning how they play things, learn how they do things. I try to take it all in. I take a lot of notes and I keep all the notebooks. And I think it's going to help me in the long-term."

The Eagles didn't show any interest in him before last year's draft, but he doesn't care much about that anymore. Elston is just trying to make the most of his next opportunity. This one with the Eagles arose because of a few injuries to their secondary. 

The day before his arrival, the Birds had just two healthy safeties on their practice field. 

How quickly can he pick up this new system? 

"I think I'll be very quick to pick it up," Elston said. "I'm a pretty smart guy."

And it's not like he hasn't done it before. 

Giant compliment
Through two games, Carson Wentz has been hit more than any quarterback in football. But what has really stood out about him is how he's able to get away from other hits. 

He's pulled off some Houdini moves in the first two weeks of the season and it sounds like the rest of the league is taking notice. 

"Looks like he has eyes in the back of his head out there," Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said on a conference call with Philadelphia reporters this week. "He's really playing with good instincts in the pocket. He's escaping the pocket well, moving well in the pocket. Strong with two hands on the ball. He can get out of the pocket and get in position to make a deadly throw down the field in a heartbeat."

During the summer, the Eagles kind of tried to downplay the idea that Wentz and Alshon Jeffery needed more time to jell. Jeffery missed some time with an injury and then more time when Doug Pederson decided to give him extra rest. Still, the pair worked together whenever they could. That rapport finally showed against the Chiefs, when Jeffery caught seven passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. 

As a veteran offensive coach, McAdoo knows these things take time. 

"I think the more they play together, the more the chemistry will come," McAdoo said. "It's hard to manufacture the chemistry, it just takes time. Development takes time and chemistry takes time. Trying to work with a quarterback and a receiver, especially when you factor in the defenses they're going to see. They're going to see the same defense every day in OTAs and in training camp. It's different when you get into the season and you face different types of coverages and leverages. I think it takes a little time to get that chemistry down."

Literally running the offense
Wentz is the Eagles' leading rusher through two games. That's not ideal and says more about the Eagles' rushing attack than it does Wentz. But it also shows that Wentz isn't a statue in the pocket. He's able to buy time and when there's nothing downfield, he'll take off. He has 61 yards rushing already. 

Wentz joined Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick as the only Eagles quarterbacks to rush for 60 yards through the first two games of the season. That sounds great, but those other three were actually trying to run some of the time. 

"I think my scrambling is very situational," Wentz said this week. "Even on those runs, my eyes are downfield when I was scrambling and then I just took off. That's something the Chiefs presented where they were dropping eight. Things weren't opening up and I was able to buy some extra time, O-line was able to hold up, just kind of keep plays alive that way.

"I've said it from Day 1: I always want to be a thrower first, even when I start scrambling, I'm always trying to keep my eyes downfield and make a play throwing the ball first. But when the time comes where I have no fear of taking off and running and, again, knowing how to get down and protect myself."

But what about designed runs for Wentz? The Eagles haven't called a play like that yet this season, but offensive coordinator Frank Reich said with a player like Wentz, those calls are "always in your back pocket." 

Reich said every team the Eagles play has to think about Wentz's legs, which is true. But do they actually have to worry about designed runs? Probably not. At least not until the Eagles run one. The Eagles obviously don't want to put Wentz in a situation where he could get injured but Reich said those types of QB runs are always available. 

"Designed runs, in the National Football League, designed quarterback runs are very limited," Wentz said. "It's a week-by-week thing. Coaches know the right time for that. I'm always more than willing. But it's a situational thing."

Ronald Darby returns to practice for Eagles, status for Monday uncertain

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Ronald Darby returns to practice for Eagles, status for Monday uncertain

There's some good news coming out of the NovaCare Complex on Thursday: Ronald Darby is back at practice. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said Darby, who has missed every game since the opener with a dislocated ankle, will practice this week, at least as a limited participant. 

"I can't commit at this time if he's going to be ready (to play on Monday night)," Pederson said, "but we're going to give him some reps this week and see where he's at but he's doing extremely well."

Darby will be practicing this week but it seems unlikely he'll play on Monday night at the Linc. Pederson said "stars (would) have to align" for that to happen. 

Still, practicing is a great sign.

Darby was carted off the field in the second quarter of the opener against Washington with a pretty gruesome-looking ankle injury. It looked like his season was over. But the Eagles put a "4-6 week" label on the injury and there's a reason they didn't put him on IR. 

The injury was a dislocated ankle that didn't need surgery. That last time he spoke to reporters, in mid-September, Darby was confident he'd return in 4-6 weeks. 

So what would Darby have to show to play this week? 

"Obviously with the time off, there's a lot of things that are involved, conditioning No. 1," Pederson said. "That's probably the most important thing. How sore does he get during the week? And by no means do I want to rush him back and just say 'hey, we said this is the week, let's go play.' There's a lot of factors that have to be sort of right, stars have to align for him to be ready to go. But this week will be good just to get back and begin that process of practice and getting that conditioning back."

Darby's return to practice isn't the only good news on Thursday. Jordan Hicks (ankle) and Wendell Smallwood (knee) will also practice. 

Hicks left last week's game early with that ankle injury but Pederson said Hicks is "fine " and there "should be no issues."  

Smallwood has missed the last two games with a knee injury he suffered in LA against the Chargers. Pederson said Smallwood will be limited to start the week but they'll ramp it up as the week goes on. 

Eagles place special teams ace Chris Maragos on injured reserve

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Eagles place special teams ace Chris Maragos on injured reserve

The Eagles will be without one of their best special teamers the rest of the way. 

The team officially placed special teams ace Chris Maragos (knee) on injured reserve on Thursday morning. 

Maragos went down on punt coverage in the fourth quarter last week against the Panthers. Maragos was in pain and was seen leaving the stadium with a huge brace on his right knee. 

To fill his roster spot, the Eagles have promoted linebacker and fifth-rounder Nate Gerry to the active roster. The Eagles also signed WR Rashard Davis to fill Gerry's spot on the practice squad. 

Gerry is converting from college safety to NFL linebacker but could play a role on special teams. 

Maragos, 30, needed to play on defense a few weeks ago because of injury but his main role with the team is as a special teams ace. He has played more special teams snaps (126) than any other player on the Eagles and is tied for the team lead with six special teams tackles.

He was also voted as one of the Eagles' five captains for the season. The Eagles have two offensive captains, two defensive captains and Maragos was their special teams captain. 

Last November, Maragos signed a three-year extension worth $6 million that goes through the 2019 season.