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. 

Eagles Injury Update: Zach Ertz clears concussion protocol

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Eagles Injury Update: Zach Ertz clears concussion protocol

The Eagles finally got some good news this week. 

Tight end Zach Ertz has cleared the NFL's concussion protocol and will be able to practice as the Eagles begin preparations for the Giants. 

"He's good to go," head coach Doug Pederson said. 

Ertz missed the Rams game with the concussion, although it appeared he was close to being cleared then. 

Despite missing two games this season, Ertz still has 57 catches for 663 yards and seven touchdowns. Only Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski and Delanie Walker have more receiving yards among tight ends. Only Jimmy Graham (9) has more touchdown catches.

Left guard Stefen Wisniewski is "doing good," according to Pederson. Wisniewski left Sunday's game with an ankle injury but will practice Wednesday. He will be monitored, but Pederson said Wisniewski should be able to play this weekend. 

Wednesday is a big day for Sidney Jones. The Eagles' second-round pick, who has been recovering from a torn Achilles that dropped him out of the first round, will practice for the first time. 

Pederson said the plan is to bring along Jones slowly, much like the Eagles did with Ronald Darby a few weeks ago. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said this will almost be like the first week of OTAs for the rookie. 

"All due respect to our trainers, they are not a challenge to cover, and he's only been working with those guys," Schwartz said. 

Pederson said the Eagles will use Jones on their scout team and get him some special teams work. 

What does Pederson want to see? 

"We've watched [Jones] through his progression and his training these last few weeks," he said. "And now just want to see him in football conditions, the true transition of stopping and starting. Making a play on the ball and seeing his instincts and things like that, things we haven't been able to monitor this season."

Torn ACL, players' day off, and Wentz still helps Foles plan for Giants

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Torn ACL, players' day off, and Wentz still helps Foles plan for Giants

They've been together every day since training camp began. Carson Wentz and Nick Foles.

And now that Wentz's season is over and Foles is the Eagles' quarterback?

That won't change.

"He'll be a huge help," Foles said Tuesday of Wentz. "He was around today. (I was) just having conversations with him and how grateful we all are that Nate (Sudfeld), him and I have gotten to spend so much time together developing that relationship.

"He's going to come back stronger than ever. I know his mentality, him as a person, him as an athlete, this is just part of his journey, and we all continue to pray for him. And he's going to be instrumental every single week here on out for this team."

What does it say about Wentz that Tuesday — the players' day off and just two days after suffering that devastating injury — he was at the NovaCare Complex working with Foles and going over what he'll face Sunday against the Giants?

But nobody who's been paying attention all year should be surprised.

"He's fully supportive," Foles said. "We've been together this whole year, preseason, OTAs, and that he's going to be there every step of the way and I know he's got my back, and that will never change, and that goes both ways."

Foles will make his first start since last November and first in an Eagles uniform since November 2014 on Sunday when the Eagles face the Giants at 1 p.m. at the Meadowlands.

A win gives the Eagles a first-round bye in the playoffs. A win combined with a Vikings loss to the Bengals gives the Eagles home-field through the NFC Championship Game.

Foles is 15-9 as the Eagles' starting quarterback, including a 14-4 record since his rookie year.

Wentz was 11-2 in his 13 starts this year and is a Pro Bowl lock and still in the MVP race despite the season-ending injury.

"I think Carson will be a huge support," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "I mean, first of all, I can't even tell you the kind of support Nick was for Carson, and I'm sure Nick will still be that kind of support for Carson going through what he's going through.

"That (quarterback meeting) room cannot, from a chemistry standpoint and from a character standpoint, it can't get any better. That room is the best room. So Carson will add into that. 

"Just getting to know Carson the way we all know him, he'll help, but he's a guy who has a lot of ideas, and he's very engaged like that, as is Nick. So I think Carson will have the maturity to understand, 'Hey, Nick's running the show right now, so just be there to support him in whatever way he can.'"

Because of the injury, Wentz likely won't be allowed on the sidelines with the other quarterbacks and coaches and work directly with Foles on gameday.

But head coach Doug Pederson said he expects Wentz to be with the team Sundays and helping Foles in some capacity.

"A lot like Jordan Hicks and Jason Peters and these guys, he can be around and be in the meeting rooms," Pederson said.

"He can watch the tape (and) be there on gameday and just be another set of eyes for the quarterbacks, for Nick, and just having his input and having him around … it would be a big boost.

"(It's) an opportunity for him now to kind of put the coaching hat on and to help Nick."

Chase Daniel was Wentz's backup last year, but the Eagles released Daniel on March 13, the same day they signed Foles to a two-year, $11 million contract.

Foles and Wentz have become very close over these last 10 months, and Foles said he'll draw on that now that he's replacing his friend.

"Right now, as a teammate, someone who cares a lot about him, you hurt, but you're there to support him, pray for him," Foles said.

"Carson is such a huge part of this organization and will be for a long time and he's done so much for this team on the field and in the locker room, and a big part of coming here.

"Well, my job now is to step in that huddle and keep this thing rolling, and that's what I plan on doing."