Eagles

NFL Notes: Jets QB Christian Hackenberg ignores critics, focuses on progress

NFL Notes: Jets QB Christian Hackenberg ignores critics, focuses on progress

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Christian Hackenberg has plenty of critics, many of whom think the New York Jets' second-year quarterback will never be an NFL starter.

And that's before the former Penn State starter has even played in a regular-season game.

"That's their opinions," Hackenberg said of the naysayers. "I can't really speak for them, whoever it is."

Hackenberg was drafted in the second round last year, a pick some thought was a reach because of his struggles with the Nittany Lions in his last two seasons following a fabulous freshman campaign. He was widely considered a project who needed work on his mechanics, footwork and overall approach.

It didn't help that Hackenberg went 17 of 47 for 159 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in his two preseason appearances last summer. And, even as the quarterbacks carousel spun with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith and Bryce Petty taking turns under center during the regular season, Hackenberg never saw the field.

"I know what I can do," Hackenberg said. "And I know what my coaching staff feels I can do, so I'm just confident in my abilities. And when I get my opportunity to play, I'm going to do that."

Sounds like a guy who knows he has lots to prove -- to everyone other than himself.

"I'm confident that I can play at this level, and play at a high level," he said. "So, when I get my opportunity, I'm going to take advantage of that."

Ravens: Pitta released after 3rd hip injury
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have released tight end Dennis Pitta with an injury waiver after he hurt his right hip for a third time in practice last week.

The injury occurred during an offseason practice session Friday. Each time Pitta hurt the hip previously, the injury was serious enough to be considered career-threatening.

That appears to be the case again following his release Wednesday.

The 31-year-old Pitta began his career with Baltimore in 2010 and caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl when the Ravens won the 2012 NFL title.

Pitta first injured his hip in 2013 and hurt it again in 2014. He played in four games in 2013, three in 2014 and sat out the entire 2015 season.

Last year, however, he returned to catch 86 passes, most by a tight end in franchise history.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said last week: "Dennis is one of the great Ravens, and he has done everything he can to make our team better."

Cardinals: QB Palmer disputes notion he’s over the hill
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The national perception seems to be that Carson Palmer's skills have eroded with age, that he's lost some zip off his fastball and therefore the Arizona Cardinals are doomed to another mediocre season.

Las Vegas oddsmakers peg the Cardinals for eight wins.

The 37-year-old Palmer said he doesn't read such summertime predictions. He acknowledged that aging affects every football player, but quarterbacks less so than others.

"I think it's easier to play the quarterback position later on in your career because of the repetition," he said Wednesday after the second day of the Cardinals' three-day minicamp.

"There have been a handful of quarterbacks that have had success early in their careers," he said, "but you just look at the history of the game. Guys can have success into their 30s just because you rely so much on experience, so much on `been there, done that' type of situations."

A prime example, of course, is Tom Brady, who turns 40 this summer.

They are two distinctly different style of quarterbacks, though. Brady rarely throws deep. Palmer made his reputation on his powerful right arm.

To preserve Palmer's arm strength, coach Bruce Arians started giving him Wednesdays off midway through last season. The difference was apparent and Palmer had the Arizona offense moving late in the season.

Now, for the first time in his career, Palmer didn't throw in the winter months this year or in the early OTAs.

NFL: Police investigating assault complaint against Rex Ryan
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nashville police are investigating a misdemeanor assault complaint made by a man who says former Buffalo Bills and New York Jets coach Rex Ryan grabbed him by the neck.

Police spokesman Don Aaron said that Matthew Havel, a 30-year-old from Pueblo, Colorado, made the complaint Sunday night.

Havel told police that he saw the Ryan brothers -- Rex and former NFL defensive coordinator Rob Ryan -- at the Margaritaville restaurant in downtown Nashville near Bridgestone Arena. Aaron said Havel indicated he went up to the Ryans' table and was there for over an hour before Rex Ryan "reached across and grabbed at his neck."

Havel told police the incident was unprovoked.

Aaron said no arrests have been made and no charges are presently outstanding.

Rex Ryan is a longtime Nashville Predators ticket holder who has been seen at many of their playoff games, including one of their second-round road matchups in St. Louis. He also was shown Saturday smashing a Pittsburgh Penguins car for charity in front of Bridgestone Arena while Rob looked on before the Predators' Game 3 victory in the Stanley Cup Final.

Rex Ryan coached the Jets from 2009-14 and the Bills from 2015-16 before being fired in December. Rob Ryan has been a defensive coordinator for several NFL teams and was on his brother's staff in Buffalo last year.

Eagles LB Joe Walker named Ed Block Courage Award winner

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Eagles LB Joe Walker named Ed Block Courage Award winner

Eagles linebacker Joe Walker, who missed all of last year with a serious knee injury, has been voted by his teammates this year's Eagles recipient of the prestigious 2017 Ed Block Courage Award. 

Walker joins such hallowed names in Eagles history as Andre Waters, Kevin Turner, Correll Buckhalter, Chad Lewis and Jason Avant in receiving the award, given annually to a player on each team who shows a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage on and off the field.   

Walker, a seventh-round pick out of Oregon in 2016, suffered a knee injury the second week of training camp last summer but bounced back to make the 53-man roster this year and has played in all six games for the 5-1 Eagles.

With Jordan Hicks hurt in the second half Thursday night in Charlotte, Walker played a career-high 13 snaps on defense against the Panthers. He's played 53 special teams snaps this year.

Ed Block was the Colts’ trainer from 1954 through 1977 after earning a Purple Heart in the Army under General Patton in the tank corps in World War II.

The 32 Ed Block Courage Award winners will be honored at the annual Ed Block Courage banquet in Baltimore this spring.

For more information on the program, go to www.EdBlock.org.

Here is a list of all the Eagles’ Ed Block Courage Award winners since the inception of the program in 1984: 
 
2017     Joe Walker
2016     Nolan Carroll
2015     Fletcher Cox
2014     Jeremy Maclin
2013     Jason Kelce
2012     Colt Anderson
2011     Mike Patterson
2010     Jason Avant
2009     Michael Vick
2008     Jon Dorenbos
2007     Montae Reagor
2006     Jerome McDougle
2005     Chad Lewis
2004     Derrick Burgess
2003     Correll Buckhalter
2002     Shawn Barber
2001     Duce Staley & Tommy Brasher
2000     Cecil Martin
1999     Mike Mamula
1998     Bobby Taylor
1997     Rhett Hall
1996     Kevin Turner
1995     Charlie Garner
1994     Fred Barnett
1993     Andre Waters
1992     Jerome Brown
1991     David Alexander
1990     Ron Solt
1989     Mike Quick
1988     Wes Hopkins
1987     Gerry Feehery
1986     Jody Schultz
1985     Ron Jaworski
1984     John Spagnola

Despite raising bar in 2017, Philadelphia won't host 2018 NFL draft

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Despite raising bar in 2017, Philadelphia won't host 2018 NFL draft

The City of Philadelphia did an incredible job hosting the 2017 draft.

And it still wasn't enough to keep the event. 

The NFL announced the 2018 draft will be held in the Dallas Cowboys' home, AT&T Stadium. Dallas — or technically Arlington, Texas — will be the third city to host the draft in three years, following Chicago and Philly. 

It has been rumored for months that Jerry Jones had his city as the favorite to host the next draft. Turns out those rumors were right. 

Good luck topping what Philly did in 2017 though. 

“Philadelphia raised the bar by taking the Draft to another level, and this new opportunity in Dallas will enable us to continue the event’s evolution and grow it even further,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We are grateful to the Dallas Cowboys, the cities of Arlington, Dallas, and Frisco, and the Dallas Sports Commission for their leadership in turning this vision into reality.” 

The 2018 draft will begin on April 26. The NFL's release said the draft site will include the field, stands and outdoor plazas. 

According to the NFL, at the 2017 draft, a record 250,000 fans attended the three-day event along the Ben Franklin Parkway. The estimated economic impact for the city was $94.9 million. 

“The Draft was a family-friendly event for Philadelphians and visitors across the country,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “I thank all of our public and private partners, especially the City employees and first responders, who made this event a success and allowed Philly to shine in the national spotlight once again.”

Aside from the numbers, the draft in Philly was aesthetically pleasing. The television shots from the Parkway were gorgeous and the vibe around the entire event was special. 

Things went so well, NFL senior vice president of events Peter O'Reilly said the draft in Philly was a "resounding success." 

It won't be coming back in 2018, but the next time it does, the city will be ready.