Eagles

Legendary Lambeau Field offers Eagles' rookies special 1st taste of NFL

Legendary Lambeau Field offers Eagles' rookies special 1st taste of NFL

As the first half turns into the second Thursday night in Green Bay, undrafted quarterback Dane Evans from Tulsa will start getting ready to enter his first NFL game. 

In the same stadium where one of his idols made a career. 

When most think about Lambeau Field, it's impossible to not start thinking about Vince Lombardi and all the history that comes along with it. Evans, 23, thinks back to his childhood. 

"I'm really excited about it," he said. "Obviously, getting to play at all. And then you add the fact that we're playing Green Bay in Lambeau, growing up a (Brett) Favre fan, it's really cool. I'm just excited about it. Talking to all the coaches and guys that have been around, they say it's one of the best places to play. So no better way to start off a career."

While Evans grew up in Texas and went to Sanger High School, not too far from Dallas, he just gravitated toward Favre. 

"Just watching him and how he played, it's hard to watch him and not root for him," he said. "He plays like a little kid out there all the time. His love for the game, just watching it, would get you excited. Just to play and throw the ball around where he built a career and did it for so long is really cool."

Evans said he's spent some time visualizing the first time he runs onto an NFL field and the first time he enters the game, he's trying to not think about it too much. He just wants to enjoy it as much as he can. 

For Evans and plenty of his Eagles teammates, Thursday night will offer their first taste of the NFL. And they'll get to play their first games in the league's most revered stadium. 

"I'm stoked, man," sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls said. "Even though it's just a preseason game, I get to play in my first NFL game. It's not something that you can really prepare for. You've been dreaming about this and visualizing this and thinking about this for so long, it's not something you can bring to reality until it is reality, until that day."

While some players are allowing themselves to start enjoying the special moment, others are trying as much as they can to treat Thursday night like they would any other game. 

First-round pick Derek Barnett, as even-keel as they come, said he's looking forward to Thursday night simply because "it's a chance to play a game." 

Just like any other game. At least that's how he wants to treat it. 

"I don't think it's going to be hard to [treat it like any other game]," he said. "Go in and make sure my technique's good and just play hard. If my technique's sound and I'm playing hard on every snap, everything else is going to fall into place."

If nothing else, Barnett is looking forward to facing some other competition. During the last two weeks, he's battled against the Eagles' offensive linemen, who he says have picked up on his moves. It'll be nice to try them on someone else.  

While Thursday night will be the first NFL game for many Eagles rookies, it'll also be the first time ever attending one for a couple. Receivers Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson said they have never even been to an NFL game, although they've played in NFL stadiums while in college. 

"Yeah, I thought about it but it still hasn't hit me, actually playing in an NFL game," undrafted receiver Greg Ward said. "I think it's just going to hit me whenever that time comes."

That time is almost here. 

Judge grants Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott reprieve, cleared for 49ers in Week 7

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USA Today Images

Judge grants Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott reprieve, cleared for 49ers in Week 7

NEW YORK -- Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott has been granted another legal reprieve in the running back's fight to avoid a six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations.

A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order blocking the league's suspension Tuesday night, clearing Elliott to play Sunday at San Francisco.

U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty's ruling comes five days after a federal appeals court overturned a Texas court's injunction that had kept Elliott on the field this season.

Crotty granted the request for a temporary restraining order pending a hearing before the presiding judge, Katherine Polk Fialla.

Elliott, last year's NFL rushing leader as a rookie, was barred from the team's facility Tuesday as players returned from their off week. The NFL placed him on the suspended list Friday, a day after the ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The Eagles visit Dallas in Week 11 on Sunday night, Nov. 19. They host the Cowboys in Week 17 on New Year’s Eve.

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles can taste top spot

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AP Images

NFL power rankings roundup: Eagles can taste top spot

After beating up on the Cardinals, 34-7 in Week 5, the Eagles traveled to North Carolina for a Thursday night matchup against the Panthers. The Birds would use another composed and meticulous performance from Carson Wentz to sneak past the Panthers, 28-23.

Wentz finished with 222 passing yards and three touchdowns — backing up his best performance of the season so far in Week 5 against the Cardinals.

A victory over the Panthers puts the Birds at 5-1. They now hold the best record in the NFC and a 1.5-game lead in the NFC East over the Redskins who sit at 3-2.

Now the Eagles shift their attention to Washington, which is coming off of a 26-24 victory over the 49ers.

Before the Birds host Washington on Monday night, here's a roundup of where the Eagles landed in this week's national power rankings:

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio: Up three spots to No. 2
Florio wrote, “Carson Wentz needs to avoid contact, or the Eagles won’t be able to avoid having to play multiple games without him.”

Wentz has been hit a total of 41 times this season on dropbacks, the eighth most in the NFL. And that doesn’t include the number of times he has been hit when running. Wentz has to err on the side of caution when it comes to getting hit because the Eagles would take a huge hit in performance, morale and confidence if he were to be out for a significant amount of time.

NFL.com's Elliot Harrison: Stayed at No. 2
Harrison wrote, “Two things I like — LeGarrette Blount getting 14 carries. Keep working him. Also, Nelson Agholor contributing big plays including the touchdown reception to end a second-half drive.”

Agholor received a lot of criticism the past two seasons because of his inability to catch the football and deservedly so. He has had a solid start to the season thus far. In total, he has caught 20 balls on 30 targets for 321 yards and four touchdowns. The four touchdowns through six games this season are more than his total in his previous 28 games (three). Agholor has become a large part of the passing offense along with tight end Zach Ertz. Don’t expect it to change.

USA TODAY: Up three spots to No. 2
USA TODAY wrote, “Fletcher Cox leads front four that anchors league's best run defense and consistently jeopardizes quarterbacks without much blitz help."

Cox has been invaluable for the Birds this season and as a result, the run defense is in the top five. In the four games he has played this season, he has six total tackles and 2.5 sacks. The Eagles haven’t been rushing more than four on most occasions and have been able to get to the quarterback with ease. Moving forward, Cox’s value is huge to disrupting opposing offenses because of his size and speed in the middle of the line.

Yahoo! Sports' Frank Schwab: Up two spots to No. 2
Schwab wrote, “A good argument can be made for them being No. 1. However, they played the No. 1 team and lost. It was a competitive game in Kansas City, but it’s still part of the resumes.”

Each rankings outlet used in this piece outside of The Washington Post is reluctant to put the Birds at the top spot. While losing to the Chiefs in a close one at Arrowhead could be the tiebreaker for most, I think it is worth considering the Eagles at No. 1. The Chiefs losing at home to a lost Steelers team is something to be taken note of for later.

CBS Sports' Pete Prisco: Up one spot at No. 2
Prisco wrote, “They are on a roll and showed at Carolina that they are one of the best teams right now. The defensive front is nasty.”

Last week, I wrote the game against Carolina was the Eagles’ biggest test thus far and they passed with flying colors. The game wasn’t as close as the score indicated because of a late Carolina touchdown. Cam Newton didn’t have any time to throw and his three interceptions came as a result of the defensive front for the Birds stepping up once again.

The Washington Post's Mark Maske: Up two spots to No. 1
Maske wrote, “They have earned the top spot after an impressive triumph Thursday night at Carolina. Second-year QB Carson Wentz is getting better all the time while utilizing the help he has around him on a bolstered offense.”

Maske had the guts to put the Birds at the top and they have earned it. The fact of the matter is rankers can’t come to terms with the Eagles at the top because of what happened last year after a 3-1 start. Waiting in the wings on Monday night is Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins, who are looking for revenge after an embarrassing performance against the Eagles in Week 1.

ESPN: Up two spots to No. 2
ESPN wrote, “The 5-1 start to the Eagles' season is bolstered by the fact they've won three on the road. Now they get to play their next three at home, where they're 2-0 this season and 8-2 over the past two years.”

Lincoln Financial Field has been good to the Eagles over the last two seasons and fans should expect the Linc to be filled to capacity on Monday night. The buzz surrounding the team continues to grow exponentially. Now all the Birds have to do is keep the momentum going.