The completely improbable timeline of Nick Foles and Case Keenum

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The completely improbable timeline of Nick Foles and Case Keenum

Nick Foles and Case Keenum are former teammates, former backups and two guys who were basically thrown into the garbage heap as NFL quarterbacks. 

And both will start in the NFC Championship Game this Sunday at the Linc. 

The Foles-Keenum storyline is one of the biggest of this week and rightfully so. Back even a few months ago, did anyone think this was going to be the quarterback matchup in the NFC Championship Game? No way. But here we are. 

The two quarterbacks are similar in a lot of ways. They both came into the league in 2012, they both are extremely religious and they both began this season on the bench. 

They were even teammates together with the Rams not that long ago. 

"It's pretty wild, absolutely," Foles said this week. "We were on the same team not too many years ago. I've said over and over again, Case's success and the way he plays doesn't surprise me because he and I were together and we prepared together. We were around each other every day. 

"But I think the big message there is no matter what happens, you've just got to keep believing in yourself, keep working hard and just never give up."

Here's a look at a timeline from the intertwining careers of Foles and Keenum as the two former teammates prepare to face off in the NFC Championship Game: 

April 27, 2012 — Foles is drafted in the third round (88th overall) by the Eagles out of Arizona. 

April 28, 2012 — After going undrafted, Keenum, a star at the University of Houston, stays close, signing with the Texans. He'll spend his entire rookie season on the practice squad. 

Nov. 11, 2012 — Foles makes his NFL debut when Mike Vick leaves the Cowboys game with a concussion. Foles completes 22 of 32 passes for 219 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He will make his first start the following week against Washington. 

Oct. 6, 2013 — In his second season, Foles enters the game after Vick suffers a hamstring injury. Foles lost the competition for the starting job in camp but finally gets his shot. He'll become the starter for the rest of the way. 

Oct. 17, 2013 — Texans head coach Gary Kubiak announces that Keenum will start at Kansas City three days later. Keenum is the Texans' third-string quarterback but gets the start over backup T.J. Yates. Keenum will start the next eight games, going 0-8 in the middle of the Texans' disastrous 2-14 season. 

Nov. 3, 2013 — Foles has the best game of his career. He throws seven touchdown passes while completing 22 of 28 passes for 406 yards against the Raiders. The Eagles win 49-20 and Foles' jersey and cleats get sent to the Hall of Fame in Canton. 

Dec. 2, 2013 — Amid constant questions about the Eagles' future at quarterback, head coach Chip Kelly quips that Foles will be his starter for the "next thousand years." 

Jan. 4, 2014 — Foles plays his first playoff game. The Eagles lose 26-24 to the Saints, but Foles isn't the problem. He completes 23 of 33 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. He leaves the field with a lead, but Drew Brees leads the Saints on a game-winning drive. 

Aug. 31, 2014 — Keenum is released by the Texans to make room for incoming quarterback Ryan Mallett. Keenum is claimed off waivers by the Rams the next day. 

Oct. 28, 2014 — Keenum is waived by the Rams but will re-sign with their practice squad two days later. 

Nov. 2, 2014 — Foles breaks his collarbone at NRG Stadium in Houston, ending his disappointing 2014 season and first stint with the Eagles. During this time, Keenum was away from the Texans, on the Rams' practice squad. 

Dec. 15, 2014 — The Texans sign Keenum off the Rams' practice squad and he leads them to two wins as a starter — over the Ravens and Jaguars. 

March 10, 2015 — Foles is traded to St. Louis as a part of the Sam Bradford deal, ending his first run with the Eagles.

March 11, 2015 — The Rams trade to get Keenum back, sending a seventh-round pick in 2016 to the Texans. Keenum and Foles become teammates after being acquired one day apart. 

Aug. 7, 2015 — Foles signs a two-year extension with the Rams for $24.5 million. 

Nov. 16, 2015 — The day after Foles completed just 47 percent of his passes with an interception in a 37-13 loss to the Bears, head coach Jeff Fisher benches him in favor of Keenum. 

Nov. 22, 2015 — Keenum starts his first game for the Rams, a 16-13 loss to the Ravens. He completes 12 of 26 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown but suffers a concussion late in the game. 

Nov. 29, 2015 — With Keenum's concussion, the Rams go back to Foles and things don't get any better over the next two weeks. In losses to the Bengals and Cardinals, Foles completes 55 percent of his passes without a touchdown and four interceptions. 

Dec. 13, 2015 — Keenum takes back over as the Rams' starter. He starts the last four games of the year as the Rams finish 7-9. 

April 18, 2016 — After moving to Los Angeles, the Rams sign Keenum to a one-year deal.

April 28, 2016 — The Rams draft Jared Goff with the first overall pick. The Eagles take Carson Wentz at No. 2. After the Rams draft Goff, Foles requests to be released.

July 27, 2016 — Foles gets his wish and is released by the Rams. 

Aug. 3, 2016 — After pondering retirement for a week, Foles signs with the Chiefs and Andy Reid, the coach who drafted him four years earlier. 

Aug. 30, 2016 — Teddy Bridgewater tears his ACL in a non-contact injury during practice in Minnesota. The Eagles will trade Bradford to Minnesota four days later. 

Sept. 12, 2016 — Keenum begins the season as the Rams' starting quarterback, ahead of their first overall pick Goff. 

Nov. 15, 2016 — Almost exactly one calendar year after Foles was benched for Keenum, Keenum is benched for Goff, who is named the starter for the upcoming game against the Dolphins. Keenum won't start again for Los Angeles. 

March 9, 2017 — The Chiefs decline the second-year option on Foles' contract, making him a free agent. 

March 13, 2017 — Foles signs a two-year deal to become Wentz's backup in Philadelphia. 

March 31, 2017 — Keenum signs a one-year deal to be Bradford's backup in Minnesota. 

Sept. 17, 2017 — Keenum gets his first start for the Vikings, who lost 26-9 to the Steelers. He will then end up going 11-2 over the rest of the regular season and keeps his starting job. 

Dec. 10, 2017 — Foles takes over after Wentz tears his ACL late in the Eagles' 43-35 win over the Rams in Los Angeles. The next day, head coach Doug Pederson announces Foles will be the starter for the rest of the season. 

Jan. 13, 2018 — Foles completes 76.7 percent of his passes for 246 yards in the Eagles' narrow 15-10 win over the Falcons in the divisional round. 

Jan. 14, 2018 — Keenum throws a prayer of a pass with seconds left against the Saints in his first playoff game. Stefon Diggs comes down with it, Saints safety Marcus Williams whiffs and the Vikings win in a "Minnesota Miracle," 29-24. 

Jan. 21, 2018 — Foles and Keenum, two former teammates and backup quarterbacks, will meet in the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. 

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Only 1 Eagle questionable for Sunday

Veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) is the only Eagles player listed as questionable for this week's game. Everyone else on the 53-man roster is expected to be available. 

Ellerbe, 32, missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday. 

The Eagles' starting MIKE linebacker was also listed as questionable last week and was able to play, so expect him to be good to go. After all, this is the NFC Championship Game. There's no resting for anything else. 

In Minnesota, wide receiver Adam Thielen (lower back) and safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) are both listed as questionable. 

Thielen, the Vikings' top receiver, missed Wednesday's practice and was limited on Thursday and Friday. Just like Ellerbe, there's no saving him for next week. 

Sendejo was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, was a full participant on Friday, but is still technically in the NFL's concussion protocol. He'll need to clear that before he's able to play, but Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he's optimistic Sendejo will be able to play. 

Meanwhile, third defensive tackle, Shamar Stephen (knee/ankle), missed practice all week and has been ruled out. While Stephen isn't a starter, he played just under 40 percent of the Vikings' snaps this season, so missing him is still a loss.

After practicing indoors on Wednesday and Thursday, the Eagles loaded up on buses and spent their Friday practice outside at Lincoln Financial Field. Head coach Doug Pederson likes to get his guys outside for at least one day per week. 

The Eagles will have a walkthrough on Saturday before they'll be back at the Linc for Sunday's 6:40 p.m. kickoff in the NFC Championship Game.

These 4 Eagles want another serving or two

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AP Images

These 4 Eagles want another serving or two

It took Nigel Bradham six years in the NFL before he got a chance to play in his first playoff game. 

He's not taking any of this for granted. 

"It's funny, man, because you think, 'Damn, I've been playing in the league six years and this is my first appearance,'" Bradham said this week as the Eagles prepare for Sunday's NFC Championship Game. "You kind of be like, 'Dang, man, why'd it take so long?' It's more than just you, obviously. It's a team sport. I've been fortunate enough to be on a great team and to have the opportunity. 

"Right now, I'm 1-0 and I'm looking forward to having more success in the playoffs. It's definitely an amazing feeling."

Bradham isn't the only Eagles player in a similar situation. Stefen Wisniewski, in his seventh season, and Rodney McLeod and Alshon Jeffery, both in their sixth seasons, all played in their first playoff game last Saturday against the Falcons. 

The group, which had a combined 369 regular-season games without a playoff appearance, finally got a taste of the postseason. They're not ready for this ride to end. 

Because no one ever really knows how long it might take to get back. 

"The feeling was great," McLeod said. "To go out there, first playoff game, at home and come out with the win. Couldn't ask for a better story. 

"But now knowing that game is history and moving on to the Vikings, who are a great team and they've been like that all year. We're going to have to elevate our game even more than last week if we want to get to that next step. The road to the Super Bowl doesn't get easier."

All four definitely made their impact felt against the Falcons last Saturday. Bradham played well all game and came up huge on the final fourth down. McLeod was called for a personal foul, but it was a weak call and either way, it saved a touchdown. Jeffery caught four passes for 61 yards, including some that came in huge situations. And Wisniewski played his best game since joining the Eagles two years ago. 

Jeffery called the atmosphere at the Linc against the Falcons "electric" and expects the same type of level from fans this Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. 

"I just try to stay in the moment, stay locked in," Jeffery said about his first playoff run. "I'm not trying to reflect on anything right now. I think I'll do that after the season, when the season is officially over with. Right now, I'm just trying to do a great job trying to stay locked in one day at a time." 

It's pretty clear it meant a lot to Jeffery to finally make it to the playoffs, but he's also very clearly not happy with just getting there. He's always a calm guy during the week, but it's obvious he's working to keep his emotions in check. 

"Of course, we all know we're one game away from the Super Bowl," Jeffery said, "but you just have to be relaxed and try to not go out there and think about that." 

Of course, these four players aren't the only first-timers the Eagles have in the playoffs. They have many more. It's just that these four had to wait the longest. 

In the week leading into the Falcons game, head coach Doug Pederson admitted he of course wondered how his first-timers would perform under the bright lights of the playoffs. Based on one win, he got a pretty quick answer. 

One thing is for sure: the four guys who had to all wait at least six seasons for their first taste of the playoffs will do almost anything to keep this going. 

"This is what we worked for," Bradham said. "When you go back to OTAs and all your training and doing everything in the offseason with the guys, 7-on-7 and things like that. This is what it's all for. You put all that work in, man, and you know what's on the line. We all are excited. We're just ready to go out here and play."