Eagles set to welcome Dolphins for 'intense' joint practices this week

Eagles set to welcome Dolphins for 'intense' joint practices this week

According to Eagles rookie wide receiver Mack Hollins, the coaches have laid down a few rules for the team’s joint practices with the Miami Dolphins, which run Monday through Wednesday.

“The ground rules are pretty basic, same rules as if it was in a game,” Hollins said. “Don’t act a fool, don’t fight, basically don’t do stuff you wouldn’t do in a game.”

That might sound simple on paper, but several Eagles players acknowledged there tends to be a different level of competitiveness when another team shares the field.

“It’s always intense when you have new people you’re going against,” defensive end Steven Means said. “It’s just like the first day of practice, so I’m pretty sure it’ll be cranked up a bit.”

The Eagles last held a joint practice two years ago, when the Baltimore Ravens visited Philadelphia. (The Eagles won that week’s game, 40-17). That means Monday will be Carson Wentz’s first time practicing against another team.

“I’m excited for them to come up,” Wentz said. “In training camp, you're going against your own team for so long, practices just get to be long and you start to figure out each other a little bit.”

Wentz’s big target, Alshon Jeffery, who has missed substantial time practicing against his teammates, is looking forward to facing the Dolphins.

“It’s a good chance to see where we’re at, just bond, build team chemistry,” Jeffery said. “Just keep working and keep competing.”

Jeffery mentioned he’s glad he’ll have the opportunity to catch up with new Dolphin Jay Cutler, his quarterback for the first five years of his career.

Despite the time he’s spent on the sidelines, Jeffery insisted Sunday he doesn’t think he’s behind (see story).

While adding the caveat he never places too much weight on how he performs during the preseason, fellow wide receiver Torrey Smith is as eager as his offensive teammates to take on a different defense.

“It’s some of the best competition we can get,” Smith said. “It’s like a game, just not hitting each other.”

Once the three days of practice conclude, the Eagles and Dolphins will finally be able to tackle each other Thursday night under the lights of Lincoln Financial Field.

Eagles agree to deal with WR Mike Wallace

Eagles agree to deal with WR Mike Wallace

The Eagles have found their replacement for Torrey Smith. 

Heck, they found an upgrade. 

On Thursday, the Birds agreed to terms with veteran speedy receiver Mike Wallace on a one-year deal. The deal is worth $2.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. 

This signing makes a ton of sense for the Eagles, especially if they weren’t ready to hand Mack Hollins the starting spot Smith left. Hollins can now split time with Wallace. Even if the Eagles didn’t trade Smith, they weren’t going to keep him at his price tag, so adding Wallace gives the Eagles a veteran with speed at a cheaper cost. 

Wallace, 31, is coming off a season in which he caught 52 passes for 748 yards (14.4 yards per reception) and four touchdowns. For comparison, in 2017, Smith caught 36 passes for 430 yards (11.9) and two touchdowns. And Smith dropped seven passes, while Wallace dropped just three, according to ProFootballFocus. In fact, Wallace's numbers weren't far off from Alshon Jeffery's stats last year (57 receptions, 789 yards, 9 touchdowns). 

While Wallace isn’t coming off his best season in 2017, he went over 1,000 yards in 2016 and has averaged 15.0 yards per reception during his nine-year NFL career. The Eagles hope he'll be the deep threat they thought they were getting in Smith. 

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Wallace is second in the league in 40-yard receptions and in 50-yard receptions. He has 43 receptions of 40-plus yards (behind DeSean Jackson's 56) and 26 receptions of 50-plus yards (behind Jackson's 36). 

If that's not recent enough for you, the Eagles had seven pass plays of 50-plus yards in 2017; Wallace had three on his own. He can still stretch the field. 

The Eagles can now start Alshon Jeffery and Wallace on the outside, which will allow them to keep Nelson Agholor in the slot, where he was great last season. Then they’ll still have Hollins and Shelton Gibson (both draft picks from 2017) off the bench. Not bad. 

Wallace will turn 32 before the season starts, so the Eagles have added another veteran player, something they’ve done plenty this season. They already added Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. It’s pretty clear the Eagles see the need to maximize their window of opportunity and getting players to join them is probably easier coming off a Super Bowl win. 

Signing veterans on one-year deals certainly worked well for the Eagles last season and if this one works out too, they will have found a good fit for the 2018 season.  

Eagles' Super Bowl odds changed by free agency

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Eagles' Super Bowl odds changed by free agency

The Eagles pulled off trades and signed a few free agents after the new league year began on March 14 ... and it's shortened their Super Bowl odds. 

The Eagles' odds to win Super Bowl LIII improved from 9/1 to 17/2 between Feb. 5 and March 22, according to Bovada. Despite beating them in Super Bowl LII less than two months ago, the Eagles still trail the Patriots, who stood pat at 5/1. 

Here's the full top 10: 

1. Patriots: 5/1
2. Eagles: 17/2
3. Vikings: 9/1
4. Steelers: 12/1
5. Packers: 14/1
5. Rams: 14/1
7. Saints: 18/1
8. Falcons: 20/1
9. Texans: 22/1
9. Jaguars: 22/1
9. Raiders: 22/1

As for the rest of the teams in the NFC East, the next closest to the Eagles are the Cowboys, but their inactivity this offseason gave them longer odds, going from 18/1 to 28/1. The Giants' odds stayed at 50/1, while the Redskins' odds went from 50/1 to 66/1. 

And here's a fun prop bet: The over/under for Michael Bennett sacks in 2018 is set at 8. Last season, he had 8½ with the Seahawks. Now, he's playing on a dynamic defensive line but also figures to play less because of the Eagles' rotation.