Eagles

Possible kicker options for Eagles to replace injured Caleb Sturgis

Possible kicker options for Eagles to replace injured Caleb Sturgis

Word broke Monday after Doug Pederson’s press conference that kicker Caleb Sturgis is expected to miss several weeks with a quad strain in his plant leg.

The Eagles signed Sturgis on Sept. 28, 2015 following a season-ending injury to Cody Parkey and he's been a solid addition ever since, eventually beating out Parkey for the job. With the Eagles, Sturgis has converted 56 of 66 field goal attempts — with a long of 55 yards — and 66 of 70 extra points.

There were 14 NFL kickers cut by NFL teams this preseason. Here’s a look at all 14 and who could be available for the Birds:

Mike Meyer — Meyer was waived by the Falcons and has been a member of two practice squads, in 2015 and 2017, but has yet to play in in NFL game.

Roberto Aguayo — A highly-publicized second-round selection by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2016, Aguayo was waived by both the Bucs and the Bears within a month. The three-time All-American for Florida State has gone 22 for 31 in his NFL career.

Jake Elliott — A fifth-round pick this season by the Cincinnati Bengals out of the University of Memphis, Elliott lost the job to veteran kicker Randy Bullock out of camp. The 2015 All-American connected on 21 of 26 field goals for the Tigers in 2016 and hit a program-record 81 during his career.

Cody Parkey — The former Eagles kicker, who was waived by the Cleveland Browns, has been signed by the Miami Dolphins. He's not available. 

Nick Novak — Novak is the most experienced kicker on the list. Since 2005, Novak has appeared in 111 NFL games with five different teams and has made 82.8 percent of his career attempts. Novak went 35 for 41 with a long of 53 yards for the Houston Texans in 2016 but was waived in favor of Ka'imi Fairbairn.

Sam Ficken — Known for kicking at Penn State, Ficken was waived by the Kansas City Chiefs in early September. He has not appeared in an NFL game.

Josh Lambo — Lambo caught on with the San Diego Chargers for two seasons before losing out to Younghoe Koo during camp. Lambo has connected on 52 of 64 kicks during his two-year career.

Travis Coons — Coons was a member of the Cleveland Browns for two seasons in 2014-15. He has connected on 28 of 32 field goals, with a long of only 47 yards. He tried out for the Los Angeles Rams this season and was waived in early September.

Marshall Koehn — Koehn made 77.8 percent of his kicks in college. He was a member of the Dolphins' practice squad in 2016 and was waived by the Minnesota Vikings in early September.

Mike Nugent — Drafted in the second round after a standout career at Ohio State in 2005, Nugent has played in 153 NFL games for the Bengals, Buccaneers and New York Jets. He has made 80.8 percent of his kicks lifetime, but struggled the past three seasons, finishing below 80 percent in two of them with Cincinnati.

Ross Martin — Martin is Duke's leader in field goals made (78) and highest field goal percentage (89.3 percent). He spent last season on the Jets' practice squad and did not make the team out of camp this season.

Giorgio Tavecchio — Tavecchio was released by the Oakland Raiders out of camp but was added to the 53-man roster when Sebastian Janikowski went down with an injury. In Week 1, he became the first player in league history to hit two 50-plus yard field goals ​in his NFL debut.

Nick Rose — Rose was released by the Falcons in 2016 and again by the San Francisco 49ers in early September. He has not appeared in an NFL game.

Zach Hocker — Drafted in the seventh round in 2014 out of the University of Arkansas, Hocker signed a four-year deal with the Washington Redskins but was released during final roster cuts before the 2014 season. He has since kicked 14 field goals in the NFL, connecting on 10 of them, but hasn’t appeared in a game since 2015. He was waived by the Buccaneers in September.

What you need to know for Eagles-Vikings tailgate

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What you need to know for Eagles-Vikings tailgate

Several parking lots outside the Linc will open as early as 11:30 a.m. Sunday for fans who require extra time preparing for kickoff for the NFC Championship Game.

The Wells Fargo Center lots as well as the M and N lots — located just east of the stadium — and the P lot, next to Citizens Bank Park, are scheduled to open at 11:30 a.m., the Eagles announced.

The Linc's K lot, just north of the stadium, will open at 1 p.m.

The Citizens Bank Park lots are scheduled to open at 3 p.m.

Gates to the Head House Plaza open at 3:30 p.m. and the inner gates to the stadium open at 4:30 p.m. Located on the north end of the stadium, The Head House Plaza offers outdoor bars, food stands, live music and numerous other pregame activities for fans arriving early. It also includes an entrance to the Eagles Pro Shop.

The Eagles and Vikings kick off the NFC Championship Game at 6:40 p.m.

Eagles-Vikings NFC Championship Game predictions

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Eagles-Vikings NFC Championship Game predictions

Another week, another game with the Eagles being the underdog.

After a dominant defensive performance in a 15-10 win over the Falcons in the divisional round, the Eagles will welcome the No. 2 seed Vikings to the Linc for the NFC Championship Game (6:40 p.m. on FOX).

Despite the Eagles being the No. 1 seed and having home-field advantage, Minnesota is the favorite to advance and play the Super Bowl on their home field in Minneapolis.

Our analysts all had the Birds winning last week. This week, we’ll see who has the Eagles advancing to Super Bowl LII.

Reuben Frank (15-2)
Two great defenses blah blah blah. Underdogs blah blah blah. Carson Wentz got hurt blah blah blah. Forget all the storylines you've heard this week, and say these 16 words out loud with me: "Case Keenum is not going to come into the Linc and win the NFC Championship Game." OK, LOUDER: "CASE KEENUM IS NOT GOING TO COME INTO THE LINC AND WIN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME." Maybe I'd feel differently if the Vikings were home or if a future Hall of Famer like Drew Brees were coming to town, but you're talking about a relatively inexperienced quarterback who plays his home games in a dome coming into South Philadelphia and dealing with crowd noise, changing weather, a hostile environment and a ferocious defense that's allowed five touchdowns and 9.2 points per game in its last six home games. I don't think Case Keenum can handle what he's about to face Sunday afternoon. I think we're all headed to Minneapolis. 

Eagles 18, Vikings 9

Dave Zangaro (14-3)
I never thought this day would come, if I'm being honest. If you told me in the summer the Eagles were going to be in the NFC Championship Game, I wouldn't have believed you. 

If you would have told me they were going to be in the NFC Championship Game without Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, Chris Maragos and Caleb Sturgis, I would have told you that you were crazy. 

Now, I'm the crazy one. Because despite all of that and despite the Eagles' technically being the underdogs in this game, I think they're going to win it. 

Had the Saints won last Sunday, I probably wouldn't think that. The thought of Brees coming to town would have been enough for me to pick against the Birds. But then the Minnesota Miracle happened and as great as it was for the Vikings, it could end up being great for the Eagles too. 

Sure, the Vikings are a really good team and maybe they have the best statistical defense in the league and maybe Case Keenum will never come back to Earth. But the Eagles have a pretty good defense too, a good defense that's even better at home. Nick Foles doesn't need to be Wentz, but he will need to make some big-time throws Sunday; I think he does. I think the defense clamps down at home. I think this improbable run somehow keeps going. 

I think the Eagles are going to the Super Bowl. 

Eagles 18, Vikings 13

Derrick Gunn (14-3)
These two teams mirror each other so much. Both are guided by quarterbacks who were backups on their depth charts when this long journey began. Both have defenses that can clamp down on opposing offenses. Both with identical records. And both have never won a Super Bowl (Vikings 0-4, Eagles 0-2). 

For Foles, it's imperative that he stays within himself. Stick to the short, high-percentage passing game and hopefully get some much-needed help from the run game. 

Against the Falcons, the Eagles had 49 yards rushing in the opening quarter but only 47 the rest of the game against Atlanta's ninth-ranked run defense. 

Minnesota's defense is ranked No. 1 overall, No. 2 against the run, No. 2 against the pass and No. 1 in points allowed. 

The Eagles' defensive front has to get to Keenum before he can find Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Both are excellent route runners with exceptional hands. What a matchup up this is. Pat Shurmur's offense against Jim Schwartz's defense. 

I've gone back and forth all week on who will win this game in what could be your basic backyard brawl. So what I came up with is this: In the final seconds of the game, the Eagles will be down one point when Jake Elliott gets the call and nails a 50-yarder as time expires. Eagles win and dance their way to the Super Bowl.

Eagles 23, Vikings 21

Ray Didinger (15-2)
Offenses are scoring at a record pace and yardage totals keep mounting. The typical NFL Sunday is all about the point totals climbing and fantasy owners cashing in. But now we're in the post-season and this is when the defense flexes its muscles. This is when scores go down and hitting picks up.

When the Eagles and Vikings meet for the NFC championship, it will be all about defense. The Vikings allowed the fewest points (15.8 per game) and fewest yards (276 per game) during the regular season. The Eagles allowed the fewest yards rushing (79 per game) and allowed just 26 points in the last three games, including the 15-10 win over Atlanta in the divisional playoff.

The Vikings had the best defense in the league on third down allowing 25.2 percent conversions. The Eagles defense was equally stingy at home (26.6 percent). The key to winning this game on the offensive side will be avoiding negative plays. A sack, a penalty, anything that creates a third-and-long situation will kill a drive. A five-yard run will be a big play in this game.

I think the Eagles pressure will eventually get to Keenum and that will be the difference.

Eagles 16, Vikings 13

Andrew Kulp (14-3)
The Vikings are a vastly better team than the Falcons in 2017-18, so I'm not sure I quite understand the confidence in the Eagles locally. Nonetheless, I tend to agree with the notion that it's hard to pick Keenum at Lincoln Financial Field in the NFC Championship.

Home-field has and will continue to be a big advantage for the Eagles. The crowd will rattle Keenum the way it did Matt Ryan last week, while simultaneously allowing Foles and the Birds' offense to communicate protection calls against the Vikings' exotic pressure packages.

Compare the two rosters side by side, and they're relatively close in terms of talent. It's pretty much a coin flip. The fans are what move the needle here. Plus, the way this entire season has gone, how can anybody around here possibly pick against the Eagles?

Eagles 26, Vikings 17

Corey Seidman (12-4)
Equal QBs. Eagles have the run game advantage. Vikings have the better WR group. Eagles have the better TEs and offensive line. Vikings have the better secondary. 

This one feels like an extremely close game. But with homefield advantage and a better kicker, I’m 52 percent confident the Eagles pull it out and advance to the Super Bowl. 

(Wouldn’t it be the most Philly thing ever, though, if the Jaguars upset the Patriots, Eagles fans go crazy, and then the Birds lose?) 

Eagles 13, Vikings 10