Eagles

Eagles rookie report: Derek Barnett struggles vs. All-Pro Trent Williams

Eagles rookie report: Derek Barnett struggles vs. All-Pro Trent Williams

Our weekly rookie report got off to a modest start in Week 1 with only three rookies active in the Eagles' 30-17 win over the Redskins on Sunday (see breakdown).

First-round pick Derek Barnett, fourth-round wideout Mack Hollins and undrafted rookie running back Corey Clement were the only first-year players to dress at FedEx Field.

Here are a few highlights from their debuts:

1st quarter, 15:00, Eagles 0, Redskins, 0
If you had Clement as the first rookie to make an impact play, you nailed it. Caleb Sturgis drove the opening kick to the 1-yard line, forcing Bashaud Breeland to make a return. Clement stayed in his lane and when Breeland tried to break the return to the left, Clement was there to greet him. He made a sure tackle and forced the Redskins to start at their own 16.

Clement was also in on a special-teams tackle in the third quarter on an ill-advised return by Breeland at the Washington 19. Clement seems pretty comfortable out there on the Eagles' kickoff unit.

1st quarter, 14:12, 3rd-and-11 at WAS 15, Eagles 0, Redskins, 0
Barnett got into the action early on and got a tough assignment. Barnett was lined up on the right side against perennial All-Pro Trent Williams. It was an interesting personnel grouping by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. With Barnett on the right, Chris Long was in at left end with Brandon Graham kicked in at tackle and Fletcher Cox at the other inside spot. The matchup went how you'd expect. Barnett tried an outside rush and Williams just ate him up, giving Kirk Cousins time to hit Terrelle Pryor for a 12-yard gain and a first down.

1st quarter, 12:49, 3rd-and 11 at WAS 26, Eagles 0, Redskins, 0
Pretty much the same scenario as the previous one for Barnett in the same personnel grouping. This time Barnett gets chipped by tight end Jordan Reed who was lined up in the backfield. Again, Barnett doesn't sniff Cousins.

2nd quarter, 11:35, 1st-and-10 at WAS 36, Eagles 13, Redskins 0
Barnett records his first NFL tackle and it's one for a loss. The Redskins attempt to block Barnett on the backside of a run with tight end Vernon Davis. Barnett tosses Davis aside and brings down Robert Kelley for a short loss. Barnett is relentless in pursuit and won't give up on plays that aren't run to his side. And forget trying to block him with a tight end. It was a very Brandon Graham-esque play. How many times have we seen Graham come from the backside to blow up a running play?

3rd quarter, 6:59, 2nd-and-6 at WAS 40, Eagles 19, Redskins 14
On this play, the Redskins inexplicably have Reed blocking Barnett 1-on-1. Barnett wins with a bull rush but is then tackled by Reed as the pocket collapsed around Cousins. There definitely should have been a hold called on Reed. Instead, Cousins is able to escape the pocket and scramble for seven yards and a first down.

Analysis
Barnett is a rookie and looked like one. It was a tough assignment for him in his first NFL game. Williams is arguably the best left tackle in football, and he engulfed Barnett for the most part. But don't freak out Eagles fans. These matchups will only make the 21-year-old better. 

Hollins only played one offensive snap, but he wasn't a factor on the play. He did make a special-teams tackle in the fourth quarter on punt coverage.

The only reason Clement is active on game day is his ability to play special teams. I don't see him getting any offensive snaps anytime soon, but it's nice to see him contribute on kickoff coverage.

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

On a day that will be remembered most for a player the Eagles lost to an injury (see story), they did learn that they are getting another player back after a long injury rehab.

The Eagles are finally going to get a look this week at rookie second-round pick Sidney Jones at practice. Whether he actually gets into a football game this year is still in doubt.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said that nine months after he blew out his Achilles and eight months after the Eagles drafted him, Jones has finally been medically cleared to practice and will participate to some extent Wednesday when the Eagles get back to work following their win over the Rams Sunday in Los Angeles.

“We're just to the point of just want to see him out there running around, doing football activities outside of the normal workouts that he's been doing,” Pederson said Monday. “Just really changing direction and doing more football work this week.”

Jones tore his left Achilles during his pro day workout on March 11 and has spent the entire season so far on the reserve-non football injury list, which is for players with preexisting conditions dating before the first day of practice.

The Eagles had a window running from Week 7 until this week to activate Jones for practice, and once he practices on Wednesday, they’ll have 21 days to either activate him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the year.

The Eagles have the luxury of taking their time with Jones, thanks to the play of starting corners Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, slot corner Patrick Robinson and fourth corner Rasul Douglas.

Before his injury, Jones was projected as a first-round draft pick. The Eagles got him with the 43rd pick, but even if he doesn’t play until opening day next year, he will still be only 22 years old and under contract through 2020.

Jones had nine interceptions, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 8½ tackles for loss and 145 tackles in 40 career games for the University of Washington.

It remains to be seen where Jones will fit in next year, but Robinson, although he has played well, is due to become a free agent this offseason and turns 31 in September.

Douglas and Jones are signed through 2020, Mills through 2019 and Darby through 2018.

Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

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Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

Remember when the Eagles lost Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles and plenty of folks thought the season was over? 

Doug Pederson does. 

Sure, this isn't exactly an apples-to-oranges comparison. Losing a left tackle or a middle linebacker or a running back isn't the same thing as losing an MVP-level quarterback entering his prime. It would be unfair to suggest they're the same. 

But Pederson has seen his team hurdle over every obstacle this year. With the biggest one yet now in front of them, it's his job to convince his team they can do it again. 

On Monday, Pederson tried to convince fans who have prematurely canceled Christmas. 

"To the fans out there, you can't lose faith," Pederson said. "This has been a resilient football team all season long. If there's ever an opportunity for me as a head football coach to rally the troops, now might be the time. 

"We just came off a tremendous victory to win the NFC East. Guys are riding extremely high. It's a little bittersweet. But you know what? We've got the Giants this week and we've got an opportunity to ... if you win Sunday, you get a first-round bye. There's still a lot to play for. That's what's exciting about this season. We're still playing for the opportunity to hopefully be in that game."

Pederson, just after delivering news of a torn ACL, was adamant that his team can overcome the loss of Carson Wentz. 

"It sure can," he said. "Heck yeah." 

It won't be easy. Before leaving Sunday's game, Wentz threw his 33rd touchdown pass of the 2017 season, breaking the Eagles' franchise record that had stood since 1961. But more than touchdown passes, Wentz made special plays seemingly every week, plays that only a handful of quarterbacks in the world can make. 

Nick Foles is a pretty adequate backup, and he did a nice job when called upon against the Rams. But he ain't Carson Wentz. Everyone, including his teammates, knows that. 

It's just that they don't have time to wallow in the loss of their superstar leader. Next weekend might be huge. 

A win against the Giants would earn the Eagles a first-round bye. A win against the Giants, paired with a Vikings loss, would earn them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. After another obstacle was dropped in front of them on Monday morning, the Eagles can still help themselves. 

Pederson's role in all this is vital. He has to be the guy to hold it all together.  

"It's huge," he said. "I think even the guys felt it after the game yesterday. We just rally and we support the next guy. From my standpoint, you don't waver, man. You don't let people see you sweat, you just put your head down and you go to work. You get everybody ready to play. It was evident yesterday when Carson was out of the game, you saw Nick come in and come back and lead us to victory in that game. That right there is a great step in the right direction."