Eagles

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Torrey Smith owns up to not falling on fumble

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Torrey Smith owns up to not falling on fumble

It didn't look good and Torrey Smith knows it. 

As the ball rolled on the grass just in front of the 50-yard line at FedEx Field, and as players from both sides, including Carson Wentz, tried to jump on it, Smith stood and watched. 

That's when Washington linebacker Mason Foster grabbed the loose ball to give his team great field position in a game that still could have gone either way. 

"Oh gosh," Smith said when asked Thursday about what happened on the fumble. "First of all, I didn't know it was a fumble and that's why I didn't jump on it, which is pretty stupid because everything tells you, you pick it up regardless of what the situation is."

After the play was over and after the ref signaled that it was Washington's ball, replays show Smith standing over the play as a bunch of Washington players celebrated around him. 

"Yeah, you feel stupid," Smith said. "Like, 'Come on, man' type. It goes against everything you're coached to do. I just thought that it was high and [Nelson Agholor] dropped it. I didn't realize it was a fumble." 

A part of the reason the play even resulted in a fumble was that Smith wasn't able to block cornerback Kendall Fuller at the onset of the player. He explained that Thursday too. 

Smith said he was watching the ball for the snap because, being in a loud road stadium, he couldn't hear the cadence. Just before the snap, Fuller shifted to his left and while Smith saw it out of the corner of his eye, he didn't want to move and get called for offsides.

"And by the time I looked out, he's flying, ready to blow right by me," Smith said. 

At least Smith owned up to his mistakes because it certainly didn't look very good at the time. 

Bringing in a spy?
When the Eagles signed former Kansas City cornerback De'Vante Bausby this week, it was nearly impossible for everyone who heard the news to not roll their eyes.

They signed a spy? 

Bausby smiled before the question was finished. He knew it was coming and couldn't help but laugh. 

"They actually didn't even need me, honestly, " he said Thursday. "Because our assistant DB coach (Dino Vasso), he was like the brainiac over there in Kansas City. He knows everything. And Doug Pederson used to be the OC. I wasn't needed. They already had that figured out."

Still, Bausby said the coaching staff did ask him a few questions about specific receivers, but he didn't ask him any technical questions about the Chiefs' defense.  

The Eagles actually gave Bausby a workout last week and then decided to sign him this week, perhaps brought on by the injury to Ronald Darby. After spending training camp with the Chiefs, Bausby has spent the last couple weeks without a team and without actually playing football. He was a little sore two days in. 

Down with the deep ball
The Eagles weren't able to connect on most of their deep balls in their season opener. In fact, Carson Wentz completed just one of his six passes that went 20-plus yards in the air. That one was to Agholor for the 58-yard touchdown. 

He was close to hitting Smith a few times but they couldn't quite connect. Still, just the threat of going deep should have an impact on the Eagles' offense and how defenses try to stop them. 

"They'll respect it," Smith said. "They'll have to. If they don't, then hopefully we dial it up a lot." 

When offensive coordinator Frank Reich was asked about the effect those deep balls have, he got a little more technical. He explained how important it was to have someone run a long post route behind deep crosses. The reason there is to keep the free safety honest. If there's no threat of going deep over the top, the safety is going to "drive" up toward the underneath patterns. He can't do that if Smith is running deep posts and has the potential to go for a long touchdown. 

The players who will benefit most from the deep balls are going to be the ones catching passes on shorter routes in the middle of the field. Basically, those deep patterns just open up the field. Eventually, the Eagles will need to hit on them but for now, defenses at least know they have it in their arsenal. Reich noted that defensive coordinators watching the film from the opener will see that. 

"I think you saw it a little bit," Wentz said. "I think you'll see it even more going forward, things open up. Obviously, we missed a couple down the field to Torrey. We just have to get on the same page. I gotta hit him on those ones. 

"But if nothing else, people saw that Torrey can get behind the defense and I think it's going to open up some things even more going forward for guys like Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor in the slot, Darren Sproles underneath. I think that's kind of the name of our game. We just have to find the right balance of taking those shots and staying underneath."

Light in the wallet
Eagles backup linebacker Joe Walker was fined $24,309 for a hit early in the fourth quarter on a punt against Washington. He was flagged for unecessary roughness on the play when he came in late and hit Jamison Crowder, who was already on the ground. Walker has a base salary of $540,000 this season, so this fine is about 4.5 percent of his salary in 2017. 

LeGarrette Blount advises Eagles to 'stay humble' after 5-1 start

LeGarrette Blount advises Eagles to 'stay humble' after 5-1 start

With a 5-1 record, the Eagles sit all alone atop the division and conference standings, and are tied for the best mark in the NFL. Their quarterback was recently given the best odds of winning the league’s Most Valuable Player award. So, yes, right now, a trip to the Super Bowl seems to be very much on the table for this squad.

But take it from LeGarrette Blount, somebody who’s won a couple of world championships — the Eagles can’t afford to get caught up in the hysteria right now.

“We could lose 10 in a row,” Blount said Tuesday. “We could go 6-10, so we don't want to jump the gun, jump to conclusions. We want to make sure we take it week by week, day by day, keep a level head and make sure we're going to be ready for whoever the next opponent is.”

Blount is one of only five Eagles players with a Super Bowl ring, and the only member of the roster who owns multiple. The veteran running back won two of the last three years with the New England Patriots organization, which has been a perennial championship contender for the better part of the last two decades.

In other words, Blount knows better than anybody inside the Eagles’ locker room exactly what it takes to not only reach the big game and come away victorious, but also how to sustain that success.

“You have to stay grounded,” Blount. “You have to stay humble and make sure that all the guys that are in the building are on the same page. The coaches, the staff, everybody is on the same page, ignoring the noise, not worrying about what other teams are doing, what other teams' records are – just worrying about ourselves and locked into us.”

Easier said than done given the week the Eagles just had.

After going to Carolina and upending a tough Panthers squad on Thursday night, the Eagles watched as massive blows were being dealt to some of their stiffest competition over the weekend. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on Sunday, potentially crippling one of the NFC’s elites for the remainder of the season. And Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is awaiting word on the status of a six-game suspension that could seriously hamper the division rival.

But the noise can also be Eagles fans and their exponentially rising expectations, or a media that’s quick to point out any tiny flaw and raise controversy.

Blount has experienced the latter firsthand. Two weeks into the 2017 campaign, he finished a game without a carry — an Eagles’ loss — and was averaging 3.0 yards per carry going back to the preseason. The constant questions coming from reporters about his role easily could have become a distraction.

In the four weeks since, Blount has 344 yards on 56 carries for a 6.1 average. He never allowed the noise to get to him, instead becoming a big reason behind the ongoing four-game winning streak.

“We know what we've been doing to get to this point,” Blount said. “We know what it takes, so we just have to buy in to continue to do that, and continue to do every that it takes to continue winning games.

“A big part of it is just making sure you ignore the noise, don't listen to the outsiders, everything that is in house stays in house, and that you make sure and know that everybody that you see on TV isn't in your corner. Sometimes that can discourage the younger guys. Every now and then you'll hear them say, 'Oh, did you hear them say this,' or, 'Did you hear them say that? Or, 'Did you see this,' or 'Did you see that?'

“The big part is making sure that everybody ignores that stuff.”

Blount has been through extraordinary highs and lows in his football career and learned to maintain an even keel. But Eagles leadership has also done a tremendous job insulating players from the kinds of rumblings that have a tendency to create discord and cause entire seasons to come off the rails.

For evidence, look no further than rumors that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was trying to undermine head coach Doug Pederson — and how quickly such talk dissipated.

“The veteran groups have a lot to do with it,” Blount said. “I also think the coaches have a lot to do with it — keeping the guys grounded, keeping the guys to where we have to continue to come here and work if we want to continue the success.

“Most of the young guys, all of them have bought into the program, and everybody's locked in and knows their role and what they want to do.”

While Blount wouldn’t go so far as to draw parallels between the ways the Eagles and the Patriots handle distractions, it’s clear he’s been able to quickly establish a bond with his new teammates and coaches since signing in May.

“Every team is different,” Blount said. “I can't compare this team to the New England teams, or any other team. We have a really close-knit team. We believe in each other. Everybody loves each other and we have each other’s backs.”

As far as Blount’s performance on the field is concerned, the best may be still to come. He’s finished with at least 12 carries in each of the last four games, and looked explosive and elusive while doing it. And with extra rest between a Thursday night game in Carolina and this Monday’s contest at home against Washington, the bruising runner said he’s feeling refreshed.

Most of all, it sounds as though Blount is in a great frame of mind and feeling comfortable with all of his surroundings. And if you’re looking for a great read on the Eagles’ situation through six games, just listen to the guy who’s come to expect confetti and parades in February.

Judge grants Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott reprieve, cleared for 49ers in Week 7

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Judge grants Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott reprieve, cleared for 49ers in Week 7

NEW YORK -- Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott has been granted another legal reprieve in the running back's fight to avoid a six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations.

A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order blocking the league's suspension Tuesday night, clearing Elliott to play Sunday at San Francisco.

U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty's ruling comes five days after a federal appeals court overturned a Texas court's injunction that had kept Elliott on the field this season.

Crotty granted the request for a temporary restraining order pending a hearing before the presiding judge, Katherine Polk Fialla.

Elliott, last year's NFL rushing leader as a rookie, was barred from the team's facility Tuesday as players returned from their off week. The NFL placed him on the suspended list Friday, a day after the ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The Eagles visit Dallas in Week 11 on Sunday night, Nov. 19. They host the Cowboys in Week 17 on New Year’s Eve.