Eagles

NFL Notes: Patriots star WR Edelman out for season with knee injury

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NFL Notes: Patriots star WR Edelman out for season with knee injury

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots star wide receiver Julian Edelman will miss the 2017 season after tearing the ACL in his right knee in a preseason game.

The Patriots announced Saturday that Edelman, Tom Brady's favorite target and one of the NFL's most clutch receivers, would be sidelined all season after the non-contact injury in the first quarter of Friday night's preseason game at Detroit.

The 31-year-old Edelman headed downfield after a catch and when he planted his right foot into the turf, he tore the ligament.

Edelman, whose spectacular fourth-quarter reception helped the Patriots' record comeback win in the Super Bowl in February, signed a two-year contract extension earlier this year. He has been, by far, Brady's top pass catcher with 436 receptions over the past four seasons, including the playoffs (see full story).

Jaguars select Blake Bortles starting QB heading into season
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars are sticking with Blake Bortles -- because of his legs.

Coach Doug Marrone selected Bortles as his starting quarterback for the season opener Saturday, a surprising turnabout that said more about the team's offensive line than its signal callers.

Marrone's decision came a little more than a week after he opened up the job and pleaded with Bortles and veteran Chad Henne to "go out there and take it."

Marrone said he "had enough information" to stay with Bortles. The third overall pick in the 2014 draft will make his 46th consecutive start when the Jaguars open Sept. 10 at Houston.

Going back to Bortles was a clear indictment of the team's shaky offensive line, which has been underwhelming in three preseason games. The Jaguars are planning to start rookie Cam Robinson at left tackle and are undecided at left guard. The right side is far from rock solid, too.

"Blake has the ability to extend plays for us, which I think is going to be helpful in what we have to get done," Marrone said.

Henne started Thursday's exhibition game against the Panthers and had some decent moments, but the 10th-year pro also got sacked three times in the first half (see full story).

Chiefs planning for life without Ware after knee injury
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Chiefs coach Andy Reid floated the idea not long ago that he might keep his top four running backs when trimming the roster to 53 players next weekend.

That may not be such a difficult decision now.

The Chiefs could be without top running back Spencer Ware for the first portion of the season after he hurt his right knee in Friday night's preseason game in Seattle. The initial diagnosis was a sprain but Ware was due for an MRI exam Saturday amid reports he injured one of his ligaments.

If that's the case, he could miss anywhere from several weeks to the entire season.

"He gets his MRI today so I think we just have to see on it," Reid said Saturday. "It's not one of those things that's clear-cut, end-of-the-season or I'd tell you. That's not what it is."

Ware was hurt early in the Chiefs' third preseason game, when he tried to fight for a few extra yards on a carry deep in Seattle territory. He immediately grabbed at his right knee while trainers ran onto the field, and he wound up riding a cart to the locker room.

Reid said that Ware was sore Saturday but "you have to go through the whole process here." (see full story)

5 realistic options for Eagles at No. 32

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5 realistic options for Eagles at No. 32

There’s a chance the Eagles don’t even pick tonight. They own No. 32 but could try to move back to gain more draft picks. Very possible. 

But if they don’t, here are five options at 32 from Paul Hudrick and Dave Zangaro: 

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
PH:
Guice is a bell cow back that will make an impact immediately at the NFL level. If there wasn’t an athletic freak like Saquon Barkley at the top of the draft, Guice would be RB1. He’s powerful, explosive and has outstanding vision.

Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
PH:
Michel shared the backfield during his time at Georgia, but was productive every time he received an opportunity. The tape that stands out is his game against Alabama. He showed elite quickness and elusiveness against the highest level of competition. Michel is a complete back, but just a notch below Guice.

Eagles RB situation
DZ:
The Eagles bring back Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement this season, but after that? There’s nothing in stone. LeGarrette Blount left in free agency. Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey are on the roster, but aren’t locks. Kenjon Barner is back on the street, along with Darren Sproles, who might be a candidate to bring back in the summer. Even if the Eagles don’t draft a RB in the first, it would be somewhat surprising if they don’t take one at some point.

Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
PH:
Harrison has phenomenal size, length and athletic ability. He’s physical and fluid in his movements. Discipline has to be the biggest concern. At times, he’ll take poor angles or go for the big hit leading to missed tackles. He should excel against tight ends in coverage at the next level.

Eagles S situation
DZ:
Safety is one of the more under-the-radar needs. The Eagles have Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, but Jenkins is getting older and McLeod’s cap number is rising. With how much the Eagles moved Jenkins around last season, and with Corey Graham gone, the Eagles’ third safety is important. Chris Maragos isn’t the answer; he’s too important on special teams. And despite how much the team has talked up Tre Sullivan, is he really the guy? A safety at 32 makes sense. He wouldn’t start but could play a lot.

D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
PH:
I have Moore as WR1. He has unbelievably quick feet and reliable hands. He’s tremendous after the catch, always looking to turn up the field. He also shows serious toughness from the wide receiver position. He’ll have to refine his route running, but he could become an elite WR on the outside or in the slot. Moore also has experience returning punts and kicks.

Eagles WR situation
DZ:
Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Mike Wallace and Mack Hollins. Good start, right? But after that, the Eagles have a bunch of unproven guys, starting with Shelton Gibson. Even Hollins has more to prove. Agholor finally lived up to his draft status last year but it’s time to start thinking about this future. And Wallace is on a one-year deal. The Eagles could use another weapon … especially one who can return.

Connor Williams, OT, Texas
PH:
This pick represents great value. Williams’ 2016 tape had him as the best tackle going into 2017. An injury derailed his season and draftniks began questioning whether he had the length to succeed at OT. The 2016 version of Williams is an elite lineman, whether at tackle or guard – or even center.

Eagles OL situation
DZ: The starters are set, but Jason Peters is aging and Halapoulivaati Vaitai is the only solid depth piece at tackle if you don’t include super-versatile Isaac Seumalo. The interior depth guys are Seumalo and Chance Warmack. The Eagles always emphasize building along the lines, specifically the offensive line.

Eagles taking a RB at No. 32? History suggests it's unlikely

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Eagles taking a RB at No. 32? History suggests it's unlikely

The last running back the Eagles drafted in the first round was Keith Byars. That was 32 years ago.

The last running back they took anywhere in the first three rounds was LeSean McCoy. Believe it not, that was nine years ago.

It’s been true for decades, and it’s still true today. The Eagles simply do not believe in using premium draft picks on running backs.

And it’s hard to blame them.

The Eagles have had 61 picks in the first three rounds over the last 20 years and used just four of them on running backs – McCoy in the second round in 2009 and Brian Westbrook (2002), Ryan Moats (2005) and Tony Hunt (2007) in the third round.

Shady, who is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career, is actually the only running back the Eagles have taken in the first two rounds since Charlie Garner back in 1994.

“I think running backs the last few drafts you’ve been able to see guys contribute from every part of the draft,” vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said. “You think about third-round picks, guys like Dave Johnson, Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara. Those guys weren’t first- or second-round picks.”

A lot of mock drafts and experts had the Eagles taking a running back in the first round of last year’s running back-rich draft.

But they took a lineman, Derek Barnett, for the 19th time in their last 25 first-round picks.

And they managed to cobble together a running back corps that wound up third in the NFL in rushing yards despite not a single back taken in the first four rounds of the draft in a key role.

“Coming out of the draft everyone thought last year we needed to get a [running back] high,” Douglas said.

“And we ended up addressing it acquiring one player in the draft (fourth-rounder Donnel Pumphrey, who didn’t play), another player after the draft (Corey Clement) and then two more veterans after the draft (LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi). So there’s a lot of different ways you can get those guys.”

Blount and Clement came into the NFL as undrafted rookies. Ajayi was a fifth-round pick. Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood were both late-round picks.

Add it all up and you have a Super Bowl backfield without a running back taken in the first 148 picks of a draft.

“We thought maybe there would be an opportunity to get one of those running backs [last year], maybe a different guy than Pump,” executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said.

“But we went and as a staff attacked it, getting LeGarrette, who had a great year and was really a huge part of our team, and then making a trade and getting Jay. 

“We’re going to attack it in the draft, we’re going to attack it in June, we’re going to attack it in August, and we’re going to attack it at the trade deadline. … This is not the end of talent-acquisition season. It’s really just starting.”

Teams often will bypass even the most talented running backs in the first round simply because their shelf life is so limited.

For every Adrian Peterson, there are 10 Larry Johnsons, C.J. Spillers or Beanie Wells.

The last running back the Eagles took in the first round to rush for 750 yards in a season was Steve Van Buren.

They’ve drafted 10 since taking him in 1944.

But Douglas said the Eagles aren’t philosophically opposed to taking a running back in the first round, although it’s almost impossible to imagine them actually taking one.

“Great running backs are difference makers,” Douglas said. “We’ve seen that in today’s NFL. Special guys coming out of the backfield and can hurt you in the pass game. If it’s the right player, we’re not opposed to taking him.”