Gunn-on-One: Jalen Mills talks leadership, Odell Beckham Jr., more

Gunn-on-One: Jalen Mills talks leadership, Odell Beckham Jr., more

In this week's "Gunn-on-One," which you can see Sunday on CSN's Eagles Pregame Live, Derrick Gunn chats with defensive back Jalen Mills:

Gunn: Before the Chiefs game, you got to break down the huddle in front of all of the veterans. How did you get that role and what was it like to get these guys fired up for a game?
Mills: It all kind of happened last year and we were kind of going through rotations and guys were saying what they were feeling. I don’t remember what game but Jenk (safety Malcolm Jenkins) tapped my shoulder and I looked at him and he told me to let the group hear something. When that time comes, all of the anticipation comes out from waiting to play and you get ready.
Gunn: What aspects of your game are a lot better this year compared to your rookie season?
I mean, my play recognition. I am seeing a lot of plays come out a lot slower, I am seeing formations and where the quarterbacks are looking as well as run and block shedding.

Gunn: You have been tested a lot through the past two games. Honestly evaluate your play so far. 
Mills: I am very critical of myself. Knowing my capabilities, out of 10 I would give myself a six. I don’t think the game against the Chiefs was my best but there is always room for improvement.
Gunn: There is a chance the secondary could be depleted this Sunday, how does that change how you all approach the game on the back end of the defense?
Mills: You have certain guys who do things well. We also have a great room. We all study together and we are communicating a lot at practice. The communication is there and we all see the same thing at the same time. I don’t think there is going to be a big difference.
Gunn: How surprised are you that the Giants are 0-2?
Mills: Very surprised. Especially with the pickups they got. They got Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram, who I played against when I was at LSU. It is a long season and anything can happen. They are not going to come in and lay down. They are hungry to win.

Gunn: Giants coach Ben McAdoo said they are going to “change some things.” How do you prepare for the unexpected?
Mills: We have to trust the scheme. Whatever it is, whether it is a new running back or wide receiver, we have to stay committed and just play fast.
Gunn: Do you agree with this assessment? The worst opponent to play is sometimes a wounded opponent.
Mills: You know they are itching and hungry for a win and they will do whatever they must in their power to get that feeling. At the same time, we can’t think we are going to run over them because they will come after you.
Gunn: You played with Odell Beckham Jr. for two years at LSU. Give me your breakdown of the pluses and minuses of Odell.

Mills: Pluses: I know a lot of people see things in the media and they push a negative cloud on him. He is a great teammate who works hard. He has great passion and a great love for the game. I don’t have anything negative to say about him.
Gunn: Do you talk to Odell leading up to the game and throughout the season? Is there any trash talk there? 
Mills: I don’t talk to him that much during the season. We do talk a little bit in the offseason. We both know what is at stake and we are out here to compete and win. There is not too much trash talk there with Odell.
Gunn: Is there any way to get him off of his game? 
Mills: I think Josh Norman got him off of his game last year and got him frustrated, but it calmed down after that. Not much gets him off of his game.
Gunn: Rasul Douglas could be getting his first professional start. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing the same. What do you tell him to get ready? 
Mills: First, if he does get the start, he has to trust himself. If you are out here, the coaches and players trust you. You have to believe in yourself. 
Gunn: Malcolm Jenkins said the Eagles are the team to beat in the NFC East. Do you agree?
Mills: Yes.
Gunn: I saw you were on the injury report with a hand injury. Is your wagging finger fine? 
Mills: My wagging finger is definitely fine.

Gunn: Who has the better hair? You or Odell? Why?
Mills: Me of course. My hair is green and I think I pull it off pretty well.

Gunn: If Rasul or Patrick Robinson guards Odell, what do you tell them?

Mills: Stop Odell. There isn’t a certain formula because everybody’s body is different. I would just say do what you do best.

Doug Pederson responds to Chris Thompson's comments about Eagles fans

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Doug Pederson responds to Chris Thompson's comments about Eagles fans

Redskins running back Chris Thompson doesn't want to bring his family to the Linc Monday night because he's afraid of what Eagles fans will do.

Doug Pederson hopes Thompson changes his mind.

"Philly fans are some of the meanest fans I've ever experienced," Thompson told ESPN radio's Washington affiliate, ESPN 980, on Wednesday, according to a story in the Washington Post.

"I heard that's the one stadium you keep your family from going to. My family will be (up from Florida) this week, and they were like, 'I want to come to the Philly game.' I said, 'Absolutely not, you're going to have to wait until Dallas comes around. … I was told that right away my rookie year: Keep your family away."

Pederson said he loves Eagles fans and the energy and passion they bring but also said he hopes Thompson or any opposing player feels comfortable bringing his family to the Linc.  

"I just know that playing at home is a great advantage for us," Pederson said before practice Thursday. "Our fans are great, they're energetic, I love playing at the Linc. 

"You know, I hope every family can watch their sons play. I think it's important that they're there and have a chance to watch their siblings play, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents.

"Right now in the league, every stadium is great for the home team and ours is no different. We're just excited now to finally be getting a stretch of games where we can play for the home fans."

Thompson, a fifth-year running back out of Florida State, has played at the Linc twice, in 2015 and 2016, both Redskins wins.

The Eagles, 5-1, host the 3-2 Redskins in a national TV game Monday night at the Linc. The Eagles are 8-2 at home under Pederson, including a 2-0 mark this year, although they're only 4-6 at home against the Redskins over the last 10 years.

Ronald Darby returns to practice for Eagles, status for Monday uncertain

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Ronald Darby returns to practice for Eagles, status for Monday uncertain

There's some good news coming out of the NovaCare Complex on Thursday: Ronald Darby is back at practice. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said Darby, who has missed every game since the opener with a dislocated ankle, will practice this week, at least as a limited participant. 

"I can't commit at this time if he's going to be ready (to play on Monday night)," Pederson said, "but we're going to give him some reps this week and see where he's at but he's doing extremely well."

Darby will be practicing this week but it seems unlikely he'll play on Monday night at the Linc. Pederson said "stars (would) have to align" for that to happen. 

Still, practicing is a great sign.

Darby was carted off the field in the second quarter of the opener against Washington with a pretty gruesome-looking ankle injury. It looked like his season was over. But the Eagles put a "4-6 week" label on the injury and there's a reason they didn't put him on IR. 

The injury was a dislocated ankle that didn't need surgery. That last time he spoke to reporters, in mid-September, Darby was confident he'd return in 4-6 weeks. 

So what would Darby have to show to play this week? 

"Obviously with the time off, there's a lot of things that are involved, conditioning No. 1," Pederson said. "That's probably the most important thing. How sore does he get during the week? And by no means do I want to rush him back and just say 'hey, we said this is the week, let's go play.' There's a lot of factors that have to be sort of right, stars have to align for him to be ready to go. But this week will be good just to get back and begin that process of practice and getting that conditioning back."

Darby's return to practice isn't the only good news on Thursday. Jordan Hicks (ankle) and Wendell Smallwood (knee) will also practice. 

Hicks left last week's game early with that ankle injury but Pederson said Hicks is "fine " and there "should be no issues."  

Smallwood has missed the last two games with a knee injury he suffered in LA against the Chargers. Pederson said Smallwood will be limited to start the week but they'll ramp it up as the week goes on.