Eagles

NFL Notes: Cowboys release former Eagles DT Cedric Thornton

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NFL Notes: Cowboys release former Eagles DT Cedric Thornton

FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have released defensive tackle Cedric Thornton, their most expensive free agent a year ago, and claimed Brian Price off waivers from Green Bay to replace him.

The Cowboys acquired linebacker Jayrone Elliott from the Packers on Sunday for a late-round pick in the 2018 draft. Dallas made room for Elliott by waiving linebacker Mark Nzeocha, a seventh-round selection in 2015.

Thornton had 18 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in one season with the Cowboys after signing a $17 million, four-year deal with $9 million guaranteed. He couldn't beat out Terrell McClain in 2016, and worked behind free agent pickup Stephen Paea while nursing a hamstring injury in training camp this year.

Jameill Showers made the practice squad for the third straight season, and second as a safety after moving from quarterback. Defensive tackle Lewis Neal and 6-foot-10 offensive lineman Dan Skipper were among the undrafted rookies to make the 10-player squad (see full story).

Dolphins: Former Eagle Parkey claimed to replace Franks
DAVIE, Fla. -- Kicker Cody Parkey has been claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins, who released Andrew Franks, their kicker the past two seasons.

The Dolphins also claimed former Kansas City Chiefs starting linebacker Justin March-Lillard on Sunday. He played in only five games last year because of a broken hand.

Parkey was released Saturday by the Cleveland Browns. In next Sunday's season opener he'll kick in the same stadium where he missed three field goal attempts for the Browns last year when they lost to Miami in overtime. In other games he went 17 for 19.

Parkey made the Pro Bowl in 2014, when he went 32 for 36 on field goals for the Eagles and set an NFL rookie record with 150 points (see full story).

Bills: Williams a surprise cut after team claims 3
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Add running back Jonathan Williams to the mix of former Buffalo Bills draft picks no longer on the team.

The 2016 fifth-round selection was regarded as the most surprising Bills player cut Sunday, when Buffalo was required to make room for three players acquired on waivers. Williams had 121 yards rushing and a touchdown this preseason, and was projected to be LeSean McCoy's primary backup.

The backup role now falls to a combination of veteran fullback Mike Tolbert and Joe Banyard, with Buffalo preparing to open the season hosting the New York Jets next weekend.

The Bills also released receiver Philly Brown and linebacker Gerald Hodges. Brown became the odd-man out a day after Buffalo dealt cornerback Kevon Seymour and acquired receiver/returner Kaelin Clay in a trade with Carolina.

The moves coincided with Buffalo claiming former Detroit Lions tight end Khari Lee, linebacker Deon Lacey and rookie tackle Conor McDermott, who was drafted in the sixth round by New England. Lacey has three seasons of Canadian Football League experience, and spent this offseason with the Miami Dolphins before being cut Saturday (see full story).

Even without Wentz, Eagles will chuck it

Even without Wentz, Eagles will chuck it

The question that everyone is waiting to get answered is can Nick Foles lead this team into the postseason by clinching home-field advantage and a first-round bye?

Winning two of the final three games will give the Eagles both home field and the bye. Also, an Eagles win and a Vikings loss this weekend would accomplish both of those goals, as well. 

And I am confident in Foles' ability to lead this team. His challenge will be to get the ball to his playmakers. This is the difference between Foles and Carson Wentz. Wentz is the playmaker. Foles has to be the facilitator for the playmakers. Our expectations for Foles have to be focused on just that — a facilitator.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has lost his best offensive playmaker, but he believes in his new starting QB's ability to throw the ball. In fact, I see the Eagles’ offense throwing more because of the trust Pederson has in his veteran QB. So, I know everyone is dead set on the Birds running, but I would put money on Pederson's run-to-pass ratio being 2-to-1 in favor of passing.

There are playmakers everywhere in this offense on which Foles can rely:

• Alshon Jeffrey — 50/50 ball, red-zone threat.

• Nelson Agholor — slot WR and explosive player.

• Zach Ertz — red-zone threat and more than likely Foles' security blanket to pick up first downs.

• Corey Clement — screen game and red-zone threat.

But more importantly, the other phases of the team will have to adjust to Wentz's absence.

The defense may have to play more reps throughout the course of a game. Wentz was unbelievable at extending drives with his scrambling and picking up the first down. At times, picking up the first down on a 3rd-and-8 was as easy as 3rd-and-2 to this offense.

So, how aggressive will the Eagles be in 3rd-and-longs? It is a little easier to be aggressive with Wentz at the helm, which means, the defense will have to step up. There will be more reps for the defense during games. It may be up to 10 more plays for this defense in a game. That’s 10 more opportunities the opposing QBs will have to execute with their offense.

Coach Dave Fipp will also need to get his special teams back on track after struggling in punt protect against the Rams last week. Having a punt blocked and allowing good returns for the better part of the last few games forced the Eagles to bring back special teams guru Bryan Braman.

Role talk, Giants' mess, quotables and more

Role talk, Giants' mess, quotables and more

Marcus Johnson felt like he had carved out a nice little role with the Eagles this season. The second-year receiver wasn't playing a ton but had averaged nearly 12 snaps per game as the team's fifth wide receiver. 

Until three weeks ago. 

That's when Johnson was inactive against the Bears. That was just the start. Without much warning, Johnson has gone from being a contributor to being inactive in the last three games, replaced by rookie draft pick Shelton Gibson.

"I was [surprised]," Johnson said Friday. "It's part of it. It's part of how it goes. I felt like I was doing a pretty good job. Being undrafted, you have to stand out. You can't just fit in."

Johnson caught just two passes in nine games, but he seemed to find a role as the team's receiver when the Eagles use 13 personnel (three tight ends). Johnson thinks the switch was more about special teams instead of offense. Because while Gibson has barely played on offense since becoming an active player, he has averaged eight special teams snaps per game, while Johnson averaged just 6.5. Even that seems like a little bit of a stretch. 

The Eagles haven't really offered a definitive reason for the switch. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich, the week after the first time Gibson was active over Johnson, said it was about "spreading the love a little bit."  

"It's frustrating as a competitor," Johnson said. "You want to be out there. I want to be out there. I want to be productive. I want to help this team, whether that's special teams, offense or whatever it may be. And when you're not out there, you're watching and it's definitely frustrating." 

Johnson, 23, has taken this news in stride for the last month. He's been trying to continue to work hard in practice; he doesn't want coaches to see any type of dropoff because he knows he'd be in trouble then. 

"Tough situation, but I feel like I handled it well," he said. "I just have to be ready when I get back out there." 

A Giant mess
The last time the Eagles and Giants met was in Week 3 and the Eagles handed the Giants their third straight loss to start the season. But it was just a three-point loss, so plenty of folks in North Jersey probably thought things could only get better from there. 

Those people were wrong. 

The Giants ended up losing their first five games, have won just two all year and have seen their head coach and longtime general manager get the boot midseason. 

"It's been a rough one," interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo said on a conference call with Philly reporters earlier this week. "You just never know when these things are going to happen, not only in the NFL but in life. Sometimes it gets tough to get back on course. 

"You can make all the right decisions and I'm going to say this like I've been saying up here all week: I think Ben McAdoo is a terrific head coach. I thoroughly enjoyed working for him, I'm indebted to him for having kept me here two years ago.

"We're all tired of this. I'm tired of the failure as well. I don't forget that. Now, I've had to step in to do this job; I'll do it with honor. I respect this organization and love the New York Giants and we're going to just move on and hopefully unite, and try to find a way to win some games has been the motto." 

The late Bum Phillips once found a pretty succinct way to sum up the coaching professions: "There's two kinds of coaches, them that's fired and them that's gonna be fired." 

Yup. Pretty much. 

Pretty much every NFL coach either has been — or will be — fired. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is no different. He was a part of that 2012 coaching staff under Andy Reid that was fired. While the Eagles let that staff finish out the year, pretty much everyone saw the writing on the wall. Pederson joined Reid in Kansas City the next season. 

"It's not what you wish on anybody," Pederson said. "As a coach, you're looking for where am I going to be next spring? As players, it's very uneasy and unsettling a little bit. The one thing I know about Spags is he's going to continue to rally. He's going to continue to coach his tail off. He'll have those guys ready to play." 

Take a seat 
The Eagles didn't have Joe Walker (neck) for last week's game in Los Angeles, but it didn't really matter. The Rams used three-wideout sets all game, so the Eagles were in their nickel defense all game. That meant the MIKE linebacker in the base defense — normally Walker, but Najee Goode last week — didn't see the field. 

Expect that to continue this weekend. The Giants' offense normally revolves around 11 personnel, which means they have three wideouts on the field. That forces you to use either nickel or dime defenses to combat it. The Giants haven't used 11 personnel as much this year because of injuries at the receiver position, but they still prefer to use it. 

That should make for a lighter workload for Walker as he returns from injury this week. 

Quote of the Week I: "What happened is, I'm an idiot." — Jason Kelce on his temper tantrum after getting cleated during Thursday's practice (see story)

Quote of the Week II: "I've always been a gunslinger, just let it rip. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to play loose, count on the guys, lead this team." — Nick Foles 

Quote of the Week III: "All due respect to our trainers, they are not a challenge to cover, and he's only been working with those guys." — Jim Schwartz on Sidney Jones' return to practice (see story)

Random media guide note: Donnie Jones' first job was working at the Chicken Shack at Blue Bayou, a water park in Baton Rouge.