Eagles

What's the plan behind Carson Wentz?

What's the plan behind Carson Wentz?

There are any number of things to concern yourself with heading into this season if you’re an Eagles fan.

Is Doug Pederson the answer? Can Carson Wentz take that huge leap into superstardom? There’s the cornerback spot, the running back position. Will it be a committee thing? Can Wendell Smallwood stay healthy? How much does LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles have left in the tank? Will the defensive ends get to the quarterback enough to cover for the corners? Linebacker depth comes to mind as well.

Suffice to say backup quarterback doesn’t jump to mind. 

But maybe it’s time to start giving it some thought. Nick Foles has been nursing a sore elbow. He has yet to play in a preseason game and has been wearing a baseball cap for most of training camp. The club has downplayed the significance of his absence and injury, but we’re just a little more than two weeks from the start of the season and options behind Wentz are not ideal. 

In fairness, this is the case throughout most of the NFL. Dallas was the exception last season when their No. 1 went down and Dak Prescott stepped in as a rookie and led the Cowboys to the playoffs. The Eagles do have a history of success with backups. Be it A.J. Feeley or Michael Vick or Foles in his first go-round here. But for the most part when your starter goes down, so do your season’s hopes.     

That doesn’t mean you wave the white flag with who’s lined up behind Wentz. With Foles out, Matt McGloin has logged the large majority of the reps. He’s attempted 88 passes in three exhibition games. His statistics: 62 for 88, 491 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions, 70.5 completion percentage and a 73.6 passer rating. Dane Evans, the rookie out of Tulsa, he of the strong arm, has barely sniffed the field in preseason games.

McGloin, the Scranton, Pennsylvania, native and former Penn State walk-on is a great story of perseverance. And he has four years of NFL experience under his belt from his time in Oakland. But his performance in the preseason thus far has not passed the eye test. 

If Foles' injury is more serious than we’ve been led to believe, is the club confident enough in McGloin as the No. 2? Would it consider bringing someone off the street? Colin Kaepernick perhaps? The organization has not been averse to taking on controversial figures in the past, such as Vick. Politics aside, the Birds have limited cap space, and Colin Kaepernick’s price tag may be too steep. It’s slim pickings elsewhere. Not to mention playing catch-up without a training camp to learn the system.   

Despite a choppy performance in the preseason, the Eagles' offensive line was thought to be a strength coming into 2017. It better be. In the meantime, three words: slide Carson, slide.

Getting over gut-punch loss of Chris Maragos no easy task for Eagles

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USA Today Images

Getting over gut-punch loss of Chris Maragos no easy task for Eagles

It was late last Thursday night in Charlotte, well after the celebrating in the locker room subsided and well after most of his teammates had already gotten on the bus to take them to the airport. 

Eagles special teams captain Chris Maragos, with a heavy brace on his right leg, emerged from the visitors' locker room and limped through the cement bowels of Bank of America Stadium. The pissed off look plastered on his face as he left the field after injuring his right knee in the fourth quarter had given way to a look of resignation. He knew. 

Maragos was officially placed on injured reserve on Thursday, which means the Eagles will have to continue what they hope will be a magical season without one of their unquestioned leaders. 

"It was rough, man," said fellow special teamer Najee Goode, who collided with Maragos on the play that injured him. "That's my dawg. Chris is a beast. He brings a lot of energy to special teams. But we're going to replace him. He's still going to be there, making sure we do what we need to do." 

If any team is prepared to get over the loss of a player like Maragos it might be these Eagles. They've already survived — thrived, really — after losing Darren Sproles, Ronald Darby, Rodney McLeod, Fletcher Cox, Jordan Hicks, Lane Johnson and Wendell Smallwood for varying lengths of time. 

But like when they lost Sproles for the season, the Eagles are going to miss more than just Maragos' on-field play. He's also the captain of Dave Fipp's excellent special teams group. Maragos, one of five captains on the team, said at the time he was voted a captain that it meant more to him than any other accomplishment in his career. 

And that's saying a lot. Maragos' story is pretty amazing. He was originally a wide receiver in college until then-Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema saw Maragos track down a DB after an interception and moved him to defense on the spot. Eventually, Maragos worked his way into the NFL as an undrafted free agent and eventually won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks before coming to Philly. 

Early in his time with the Birds, Maragos actually played a significant role on defense. But when the new coaching staff arrived, it was clear his role would be on special teams, so he threw himself back into it. And he's been incredible. 

Last November, Maragos signed a three-year, $6 million extension that goes through the 2019 season and was already off to a good start in 2017. He led the Eagles in special teams snaps with 126 (74 percent) and was tied for the team lead in special teams tackles with six. 

How the heck do you replace that? 

"I don't think you'll ever be able to fill Chris' role," tight end and special teamer Trey Burton said. "He plays such a big role on special teams. He was able to do so much, but we're going to have to do something. Everybody's going to have to step up."

Head coach Doug Pederson said it will be "tough" to replace Maragos, but the team will probably do it with a committee approach at first. That means more Corey Graham and Jaylen Watkins. Even recently signed draft pick Nate Gerry will have a role if he's active. 

Perhaps the bigger loss will be Maragos' leadership. He's one of just five players on the team who has won a Super Bowl, and he's always happy to answer any questions his teammates have — about football or life. 

In his absence, Goode said he and Burton will attempt to fulfill that leadership void as much as possible. 

"It's really tough," Burton said. "That's my best friend. Him not being here, being around as much. It's tough for him too because he's out of the loop on things and doesn't really know. He would love to be here and in meetings and stuff but he's not going to be able to."

While Maragos won't be around for a while, Burton expects him to visit more once he's healed more. And he'll certainly be watching. 

"Heart's heavy, but I lift my eyes," Maragos tweeted on Thursday. "I'll miss being out there with my brothers but I promise you this, I'll be back stronger!"

That's good news for 2018, but the Eagles will have to go the rest of the season without him. Maragos apparently had a message for his teammates. 

"He knows injuries happen," Goode said. "We play full speed and that's something that comes with the game. His whole thing — Chris is a great team dude — was that we keep propelling and keep getting better for the future." 

Eagles Injury Report: Ronald Darby practices again, but Mychal Kendricks limited

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AP Images

Eagles Injury Report: Ronald Darby practices again, but Mychal Kendricks limited

Updated: 3:16 p.m.

Ronald Darby is practicing for the second straight day. 

The Eagles' cornerback, who missed the last five games with a right ankle dislocation he suffered in the opener, was back on the field on Friday afternoon after being a limited participant in (and a focus of) Thursday's practice. He was again a limited participant on Friday. 

During the portion of practice open to reporters, Darby went through warmups and individual drills. He also spent some 1-on-1 time working on technique with defensive backs coach Cory Undlin. Darby was listed as a limited participant on Friday afternoon on the official report. Earlier in the week, head coach Doug Pederson said the "stars have to align" for Darby to play on Monday night. 

In addition to Darby, it looked like every other member of the Eagles' 53-man roster was on the practice field Friday. While the Eagles have dealt with plenty of injuries this season, they seem pretty healthy heading into Monday's game against Washington. 

The only new addition to the report is linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who was a limited participant with a hamstring injury.

Jordan Hicks (calf) was the only other limited participant. He was also limited Thursday.

Beau Allen (foot) and Tim Jernigan (ankle) were both full participants after being limited Thursday. 

The other full participants listed on Friday's update: Fletcher Cox (calf), Brandon Graham (shoulder), Lane Johnson (concussion), Wendell Smallwood (knee) and Destiny Vaeao (wrist). 

Pederson said on Thursday that the plan for Smallwood was to start him off slow this week and ramp it up, so it was a little bit of a surprise that he was a full participant to begin the week. The Eagles will throw him back into the mix immediately on Monday. Expect him to be their third-down back.