Eagles training camp Day 15 observations: Blount finds no room in live periods

Dave Zangaro | CSNPhilly.com

Eagles training camp Day 15 observations: Blount finds no room in live periods

Two days after the preseason opener in Green Bay, the Eagles were back on the practice field in Philadelphia … without Jordan Matthews. 

Saturday, of course, was the first day since the big trade that sent Matthews and a third-round pick in 2018 to Buffalo and brought cornerback Ronald Darby to Philly. 

Without wasting time, here are 10 observations from Day 15 at training camp: 

1. *Clears throat* injuries: Nick Foles (elbow), Bryce Treggs (leg soreness), Paul Turner (shoulder), Wendell Smallwood (hamstring), Ron Brooks (hamstring), Aaron Grymes (personal reasons), Josh Andrews (hand), Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee), Brandon Brooks (hamstring) and Anthony Denham (calf) did not practice. 

Vaitai injured his knee during Thursday's game. It initially looked like a scary injury but he had just a sleeve on his leg Saturday. Head coach Doug Pederson said they're expecting Big V to just miss a couple days of practice. Ron Brooks injured his hamstring in the game but said after practice Saturday keeping him out is just precautionary. 

Trey Burton and Chance Warmack left practice early with undisclosed injuries. 

2. The Eagles had their third and final live period (tackling to the ground) of training camp. It seemed like a pretty long and tough practice for two days after the first preseason game, but that was the plan all along. 

Pederson wasn't swayed to make it tougher because of sloppy play against the Packers. 

"I just wanted to do it after a ball game just because the starters didn't play a ton in that game," he said. "Wanted to give them a day, then come back with a spirited, live period practice."

3. LeGarrette Blount missed the live periods earlier in training camp, so Saturday offered a chance to see him in real football situations. He didn't do very well. In the game Thursday, Blount had four carries for nine yards. It was more of the same at practice. 

He had several carries but gained just a few yards. Maybe we won't really see what he has left until the season starts. 

4. Shelton Gibson has turned things around. He made another great catch near the sideline over C.J. Smith in 11-on-11s, but he's not completely over his troubles. He had a pretty egregious drop in the game Thursday. And on Saturday, he crossed the middle of the field and made an awkward jump catch when he didn't need to jump. He's going in the right direction but isn't there yet. 

5. With Matthews gone, Nelson Agholor settled into the top slot receiver position as expected. Agholor didn't just work with the first team Saturday, he worked with the twos and even the threes as well. It's clear the Eagles are now working to get him a ton of reps in the slot to prepare him for the season. He's going to need to spend a lot of time there. Others will be worked in the slot as well. Mack Hollins had an active day in the middle of the field. 

6. With Ron Brooks' hamstring injury, the Eagles had Malcolm Jenkins work as the nickel cornerback Saturday. That's exactly what the team did in 2016 when Brooks was lost for the year after rupturing his quad tendon. Jenkins likes playing in the slot, but it really weakened the team on the back end. 

On Saturday, though, it was newcomer Corey Graham who filled in for Jenkins at safety when Jenkins moved up to slot corner. Graham is already ahead of Jaylen Watkins and Terrence Brooks for the third safety slot. The Eagles will probably feel more comfortable moving Jenkins into the slot cornerback spot if needed with Graham as his replacement. 

7. Donnel Pumphrey fumbled a ball during an 11-on-11 rep Saturday. Not a good sign for the young rookie, who struggled in his preseason debut Thursday night. He had trouble securing the ball in that game. Rookies who put the ball on the ground have a hard time getting on the field. 

8. Carson Wentz didn't have a very sharp day. His best pass of the morning went to a streaking Torrey Smith, who snuck behind Jalen Mills in coverage. It'll be fun to see Smith go up against Ronald Darby once the new corner is practicing. Wentz kind of seemed sluggish Saturday; in fact a lot of the team did. Perhaps it was a sort of hangover after losing Matthews in the trade. He was a favorite in the locker room and, while some don't want to believe it, football players are people with emotions. 

9. Defensive end Alex McCalister has started to pick it up over the last week. He still might have an uphill battle to make the team, but he's really been improving. He made a few plays in the game — against the third team, but still — Thursday night. And he kept it going Saturday. He showed an impressive move inside that was obviously set up by the fact that offensive tackles need to respect his speed. He made a quick move inside and the tackle was left flat-footed as he got in on the QB. 

10. Jordan Hicks has the unbelievable ability, especially for a linebacker, to just always be around the ball. On Saturday, he broke up a pass he probably should have caught in the first 11-on-11 drills but redeemed himself later. In a red zone period, he floated back and picked off Matt McGloin in the middle of the end zone. He just has a knack for making big plays. 

Stupid Observation of the Day: Blount seemed so happy to get his No. 29 back, but as he came out of the NovaCare Complex for practice, he had his jersey rolled up so no one could see the number.

David Akers on years with Eagles: 'The fans changed my life'

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David Akers on years with Eagles: 'The fans changed my life'

Editor's note: This story originally ran Aug. 31.

When you talk about David Akers, you pretty much have to talk about opening day 2000.
It wasn’t just the hottest game in NFL history and one of the Eagles' greatest wins over the Cowboys, it was the start of an 11-year run in which the Eagles went to the playoffs nine times, reached five NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl and averaged 10½ wins per year.
And when Akers talks about memories of his 12 years with the Eagles, he has to start on that blazing hot afternoon, Sept. 3, 2000, at Texas Stadium.
"It was my first game, first year as a full-time kicker, my first kickoff as a full-time kicker," Akers recalled. "And Andy Reid comes in before the game and says if we lose the coin toss, we're opening the game with an onside kick.
"I was like, 'You're kidding, right?' I was really worried about not doing well and now we're starting the game with an onside kick? I had already been cut by three teams, and I was like, 'Man, if I screw this up, I might as well just pack up and leave.' "
As we all know, Akers' onside kick was perfect, Dameane Douglas recovered, and just a few minutes later Donovan McNabb's TD pass to Stanley Pritchett had the Eagles on their way to a historic 41-14 win over the Cowboys in what came to be known as the Pickle Juice Game.
Before he was finished with the Eagles, Akers scored a franchise-record 1,323 points and played a franchise-record 188 games. Along with Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas and Brian Dawkins, he became one of four players in franchise history to play in 10 postseason wins.
On Wednesday evening, Akers learned that this fall he'll become the 50th inductee in the Eagles Hall of Fame.
Akers is scheduled to be inducted Oct. 23 at halftime of the Eagles-Redskins game at the Linc.
“I loved my time in Philly," said Akers, who kicked here from 1999 through 2010. "The fans changed my life. People talk about the billboard we left (when he left Philly), but honestly, it was a true bottom-of-the-heart thank you from my family.
"I hope when the fans look at everything, they know I tried the best I could. I always did it for the team, the organization, the fans, and the reality is that none of us are perfect and obviously I would like to have some field goals back in my career, but if I rewrote how things went down, I probably wouldn’t change very much. And I wouldn’t change where I played my 12 years."
After getting cut by the Panthers, Redskins and Falcons as an undrafted kicker out of Louisville, Akers found a home in Philadelphia. And even though he finished his career with brief stops in San Francisco and Detroit — it was with the 49ers that he tied the then-NFL record with a 63-yard field goal — it was in Philly that he put up historic numbers and made five of his six Pro Bowls.
In NFL history, only three kickers have played in more postseason wins with the same team than Akers — Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots has played in 15, Adam Vinatieri played in 13 for the Patriots and Roy Gerela of the 1970s Steelers played in 11.
"The one thing about Philly fans, they’re so passionate, and it was an honor to play for them as long as I did," Akers said. "They go to the games when we're not doing well. They let you hear it but they're always going to be there. And when you're doing well? This is the greatest city to be around when you're playing well, and guys who don’t get a chance to experience that, it’s a shame."
Akers ranks 12th in NFL history with 1,721 points and 11th in history with 386 total field goals. He's the No. 2 scorer in NFL postseason history with 175 points, 59 fewer than Vinatieri.
He's also 12th in NFL history with 27 field goals over 50 yards.
And now he joins five former teammates — Dawkins, McNabb, Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Westbrook and Troy Vincent — along with Jim Johnson as the seventh representative of the Andy Reid Eagles in the team's Hall of Fame.
“When Mr. Lurie (owner Jeffrey Lurie) called me, I have to say that I was shocked but humbled just because I have so much gratitude for what the Eagles did for me," Akers said.
"They gave me the opportunity when the Redskins and Panthers and Falcons had not been successful for me. My first kickoff in the NFL went 90 yards for a touchdown the opposite way, and I missed a 49-yarder, then got cut two days later.
"It's unbelievable how quickly those 12 years went with the Eagles. Such great runs with so many wonderful players and great coaches, a lot of who were very successful after moving on from the Eagles."
Akers learned he had been selected to the Hall of Fame Wednesday night during the Taking Flight for Autism fundraiser at the Linc.
"Obviously the one thing that sticks with me is the last time I played in an Eagles uniform is not a day I'd like to remember (2010 playoff loss to the Packers)," he said.
"So it was a little surreal being back on the stage at the Linc where a lot of other positive memories happened. Looking back on my career, just overwhelmed with gratitude, to be honest with you."

Best of NFL: Ezekiel Elliott's 3 TDs, 219 yards lead Cowboys past 49ers

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Best of NFL: Ezekiel Elliott's 3 TDs, 219 yards lead Cowboys past 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Ezekiel Elliott gained 219 yards from scrimmage and tied a career high with three touchdowns just days after a legal reprieve put his suspension on hold and the Dallas Cowboys beat the winless San Francisco 49ers 40-10 on Sunday.

Elliott was granted his second temporary restraining order on Tuesday, putting his six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations on hold and then gave the Cowboys (3-3) a big boost on the field.

Elliott matched his season total of rushing touchdowns with two in the first quarter and then took a short pass from Dak Prescott 72 yards for another touchdown on Dallas' first possession of the second half to put the 49ers (0-7) away. Elliott ran for 147 yards on 26 carries to go with the big catch, setting a career high in scrimmage yards in a game.

That performance spoiled the starting debut of rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard, who was sacked five times, lost two fumbles and failed to lead the 49ers into the end zone until he scored on a run with the game out of hand in the fourth quarter (see full recap)

Super Mismatch: Patriots continue mastery of Falcons
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and the New England Patriots toyed with the Atlanta Falcons -- sound familiar? -- 23-7 in a fog-filled Super Bowl rematch Sunday night that wasn't particularly super.

New England scored the final 31 points to win the NFL championship in February. Placards and shirts reading 28-3 were ever-present in and around Gillette Stadium as the Patriots (5-2) scored the first 23 points in this prime-time mismatch. The Falcons (3-3), who led New England by that 25-point margin in the third quarter of the Super Bowl before folding, were outplayed throughout this one.

While Atlanta looked tentative, if not intimidated, Brady and his offense clinically tore apart the Falcons. Mixing runs and passes, New England controlled the clock and field position. And its defense, ranked at the bottom of the entire league through six weeks, stymied the NFL's fifth-ranked offense.

Brady threw a shovel pass to Brandin Cooks that traveled perhaps a foot, and the receiver used his speed to get into the left corner of the end zone. The other TD was a 2-yarder to James White, who had three touchdowns, including the winner, in the Super Bowl (see full recap).

Goff leads Rams to shutout as Cardinals' Palmer breaks arm
Already one of the more dynamic offenses in the NFL, the Los Angeles Rams found a new gear against the Arizona Cardinals.

Jared Goffran for a touchdown and threw for another and Greg Zuerlein made four field goals as the Rams won for the first time in three appearances in Britain, beating the Cardinals 33-0 at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday.

Goff completed 22 of 37 passes for 235 yards with an interception and Todd Gurley ran for 106 yards and a touchdown for the NFC West-leading Rams (5-2), who finished with 425 yards of offense - their most in a game in more than three years.

Los Angeles has also won five of its first seven games for the first time since 2003, which was the last time the Rams finished with a winning record.

"We haven't been in this position, but we're definitely grateful," Gurley said. "We've just got to take it game by game."

Arizona (3-4), meanwhile, heads home with significant questions after quarterback Carson Palmer broke his left arm in the second quarter (see full recap).

Saints recover late to topple Packers 
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The way that the New Orleans Saints won on the road on Sunday might serve as a valuable lesson in their quest to return to the playoffs.

The defense gave up a long touchdown run on the first series to the Green Bay Packers. Drew Brees had two interceptions — and the Saints weren't even out of the first quarter yet at Lambeau Field.

But Brees bounced back to throw for a touchdown and run for another, Mark Ingram rushed for a score and the Saints recovered for a 26-17 win.

Green Bay lost its first game with Brett Hundley starting at quarterback for the injured Aaron Rodgers (see full recap).

Wilson throws 2 second-half TDs, Seahawks D dominates Giants
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Russell Wilson threw three second-half touchdown passes and the Seattle Seahawk limited the New York Giants' receiver-depleted offense to 177 yards in a 24-7 win on Sunday.

Wilson hit Doug Baldwin with a go-ahead 22-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter. He put the game away with a 38-yard TD throw to Paul Richardson on a play that had to be reviewed because of simultaneous possession and he closed out the scoring with a 1-yard toss to Jimmy Graham with 2:14 to go.

The Seahawks (4-2) limited the Giants (1-6) to 46 yards rushing, 14 first downs and just 24:34 in time of possession. The defense only forced one turnover, but the fumble by Eli Manning led to the Richardson touchdown.

The Giants, who stunned Denver on Sunday night for their first win, were only in this game because their defense made plays and limited the Seattle to a field goal in the first half despite being on the field for more than 20 minutes (see full recap)