New — and old — faces soak in in first taste of the Linc at Eagles open practice

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New — and old — faces soak in in first taste of the Linc at Eagles open practice

They waited nearly seven months. And then a day.

After the threat of rain pushed the Eagles' first open practice of 2017 from Saturday to Sunday, 23,000 fans packed into the Linc on a near perfect morning to get their initial in-person taste of the green and white.

But while Sunday was an opportunity for the Birds faithful to watch their team close out the first week of training camp, it was also a chance for a handful of new faces to experience Philly fans for the first time. And head coach Doug Pederson gave two of his most dangerous offensive weapons plenty of time to shine with 1-on-1 drills throughout much of the latter half of practice.

"It was a great experience," wide receiver Alshon Jeffery said. "We had a lot of fun out here, slinging the ball, making plays. It was great for competition but also great for the city of Philly. ... A lot of people came out here to support. It means a lot to the city. It’s new to me, but it was a great experience."

On the other side of the field, fellow wideout Torrey Smith held court, soaking in the atmosphere and posing for photos with a handful of fans.

"I’ve been around two of the best fan bases in Baltimore and San Francisco, but I don’t think there’s anything like this with a massive fan base," Smith said.

"They’re very passionate and I’m glad to be a part of it. It’s cool for us to break from each other and be in front of the fans."

Following a season in which Carson Wentz was often searching for outside targets and options deep down the field, the Eagles have five solid receivers and a handful of players competing for the sixth spot. So whether it was Jeffery breaking a cornerback's ankles, Smith hauling in a deep bomb from Wentz right at the front pylon or Nelson Agholor and Marcus Johnson blowing past their defenders for easy scores, there were oohs and aahs throughout the crowd.

And the guys on the field certainly felt a different energy as well.

“Everyone’s a little more ramped up," Smith said. "We get a reaction when big plays happen so your adrenaline’s definitely going a little more.”

Although the excitement Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field was new for some, it was a welcome return for others. Nearly 1,000 days removed from his last game in an Eagles uniform, Nick Foles was anxious to walk back onto the turf where he put up the best season of his career just four years ago.

"I knew the moment I stepped back on this field would be really emotional," Foles said. "I believe when LeSean McCoy came back here he kissed the Eagle, and trust me, I’ve thought about stepping on this field even though it’s only for a practice for a while.

"You reminisce on a lot of times, a lot of great memories in this city and there always will be, so it’s really cool to be back on this field and with this team. It’s been a special day, even though I couldn’t practice, to see the fans, see the atmosphere and just see the excitement ready for this season."

With a sore throwing arm, Foles stood on the sidelines for a second straight day (see Sunday's practice observations), but when he was reintroduced to the crowd, it felt like he'd never left. Despite a two-year stretch in which the Arizona alum played just 14 combined games in St. Louis and Kansas City, throwing as many touchdowns as interceptions, Foles was ready to be back with "the most unique fan base" he's ever been around.

"I’ve been around great fans with other teams — obviously, Arrowhead and Kansas City, that’s one of the loudest places to play and I really enjoyed that," Foles said.

"Those fans were awesome, but this place is so unique and the reason being that they live or die with the Eagles. And I felt that when I played here. We win and the city’s on fire and when we lose it’s not a fun week. We feel the same thing, so like I talked about in my previous press conference, you have the boos, you have all this stuff and there’s nothing better than playing in this stadium at the Linc. It’s my favorite place to play and I’m excited to play here again."

Concert celebrating Eagles' Super Bowl season sounds pretty epic

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Concert celebrating Eagles' Super Bowl season sounds pretty epic

Eagles fans will probably never stop reliving the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

While watching highlights, wearing championship apparel and occasionally just looking in the mirror and reminding yourself, "We won the Super Bowl" are all good ways of remembering what the Birds accomplished, there's a pretty unique new way that you'll be able to experience it all over again.

On July 24, the Mann Center will be hosting "A Championship Season," a special event to honor the Eagles. 

Going by the Mann Center's description, it should be an incredible night.

The Mann Center, NFL Films, and the Philadelphia Eagles take center stage this summer to celebrate the Eagles’ Championship Season with the world premiere of this “Philly Special” concert event. Hosted by the “Voice of the Eagles,” Merrill Reese, relive NFL Films’ stunning video highlights of the Philadelphia Eagles Championship Season on three giant screens alongside the great Philadelphia Orchestra, performing live the inspiring, uplifting and wonderfully symphonic music of NFL Films. 

Part of the proceeds from "A Championship Season" will benefit the Eagles Autism Challenge and the Mann Center's free art education programs. 

If you want to be part of the epic celebration, get your tickets here

Carson Wentz was great in 2017, but there's one thing he'd like to improve

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Carson Wentz was great in 2017, but there's one thing he'd like to improve

He was among the NFL’s best in virtually every category. Fourth in passer rating. First in touchdown percentage. Eighth in interception percentage. Second in TD-to-INT ratio. He was even third in wins despite missing the last three regular-season games.

So what’s Carson Wentz’s approach going into 2018?

“I think we can improve everywhere,” he said. “Overall, I think we can keep making strides and keep our foot on the gas.”

And that starts with completion percentage.

Wentz completed just 60.2 percent of his passes last year, which ranked 23rd of 30 quarterbacks who threw at least 400 passes. 

Ahead of only Blake Bortles, Andy Dalton, Mitch Trubisky, Cam Newton, Trevor Siemian, Jacoby Brissett and DeShone Kizer.

Not the kind of company he wants to keep.

Wentz was so good in every other area he still fashioned a passer rating over 100. In fact, his 101.9 rating was the highest in NFL history by a quarterback completing 60.2 percent of his passes (minimum 400 attempts).

The league average last year was 62 percent. And for the sake of comparison, Nick Foles completed 64.7 percent of his passes if you combine the regular season and postseason.

Wentz dropped from 62.4 percent as a rookie to 60.2 percent last year.

Among 36 active NFL quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 1,000 passes, Wentz’s 61.5 completion percentage ranks 21st.

 “I know I’d like to see my completions go higher,” Wentz said last week. “I think I was right around 60 percent and I expect more out of myself in that area.”

After 2016, Wentz identified red zone and third down as two areas he hoped to improve on. 

And he wound up leading the NFL in both red zone efficiency (NFL-best 116.3 passer rating) and third-down efficiency (NFL-best 123.7 rating).

“Third down, red zone, we were really good,” he said. “That’s something we really focused on from Year 1 to Year 2, but we (still) all feel we can definitely improve in those areas.”

Wentz also committed nine fumbles in 13 games, and only Jameis Winston and Russell Wilson had more.

“I think we had too many fumbles,” he said. “Balls on the ground too many times.”

Wentz, now nearly five months out from his knee injury, said he’s used a lot of his extra time at the NovaCare Complex this offseason focusing on what he can improve on in 2018, and one of those things is his upper-body strength.

“With all the extra rehab and not being able to run and do a lot of things early on you’ve really just got to focus on some different things and I got to do a lot of seated throwing and trying to build my arm strength and really take care of my upper body more than I have in the past,” he said.

“It’s been an interesting process not being able to get that true conditioning and that rehab in, but it’s exciting to start easing into the running and conditioning stuff. … 

“I feel good. I definitely feel working with the strength guys, we had some friendly competition stuff with the other (injured) guys in there rehabbing and I definitely feel like I’m making some strides in there.”