bryan braman

Pair of Eagles special teamers find redemption

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Pair of Eagles special teamers find redemption

Bryan Braman didn't hang his head and he didn't try to force anything. He was just hoping he'd get a chance for redemption.

He did.

After Braman dove and touched a live ball on the previous punt in the second quarter Saturday, allowing the Falcons to punch in their only touchdown of the divisional round playoff game, Braman was back on the field for another punt.

This time, he broke through the line and got his outstretched hand on the football, forcing a 22-yard punt.

"Considering I was looked at as the reason we turned it over down there low in the red zone, it was big for me," Braman said after the Eagles' 15-10 win. "I was able to keep my head in the game and turn it around after what happened earlier in the game.

"It led to three points before we went into the half. It was definitely important for us to take advantage of everything we can. Whether it was just a couple yards from the tip, it changed the flight of the ball and caused it to not travel as far as we could."

After Braman was initially called for running into the kicker, he began telling the officials he tipped the ball, which would negate the penalty. The video replay showed he was right.

The veteran special teamer made up for his earlier blunder and he did it without forcing it.

"I couldn't think too much about having to make up for it," he said. "I just had to let it go and continue to do my job. There are some things you can't control. That was a freak thing. There's nothing I could do about that. If I were to let it affect me, then I start reaching. That's when other bad things start to happen."

The Eagles got the ball at their 28-yard line and were able to drive 37 yards to set up a 53-yard field goal from Jake Elliott. He nailed it and the Eagles cut the lead to 10-9, taking some momentum into halftime.

"That was huge," head coach Doug Pederson said. "Just to be able to get down there with — we're out of timeouts, Nick [Foles] to Alshon [Jeffery] on the sideline was huge to get us into that field goal range. … It was great to get momentum with our defense coming back out to start the second half."

It wasn't just Braman who got some redemption. Elliott did, too. The rookie kicker missed an extra point early in the second quarter but drilled the 53-yarder, his first of three consecutive field goals.

His 53-yarder was the longest in Eagles playoff history and was the longest ever by a rookie in the playoffs.

"Obviously, I missed the previous one so I wanted to bounce back better," Elliott said, "and I'm glad we had that opportunity."

Why Bryan Braman? No Wentz means smaller margin of error

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Why Bryan Braman? No Wentz means smaller margin of error

With Carson Wentz out for the season, the Eagles don't have much margin of error. That probably explains why the club brought Bryan Braman back on Tuesday.

That and the Eagles' special teams hasn't been so special for a while. In fact, breakdowns have become an almost weekly occurrence.

Over the last five games alone, the Eagles have allowed a kick or punt return of 39 yards or more three times. We can safely assume a blocked punt returned for a touchdown against the Rams on Sunday was the final straw based on the addition of Braman, a long-time special teams ace.

Braman spent three seasons with the Eagles from 2014 to 2016, playing almost exclusively on special teams. Ordinarily an anonymous role, he gained a reputation for frequently being the first man down the field on the coverage units.

It's no secret what the Eagles were looking for when they reached out to Braman this week.

"They need help on special teams," Braman said Wednesday after his first practice back. "They know that I'm a pretty high energy guy, and they're looking forward to having some help on coverage and bringing a little bit of energy — things that I've been known for."

Braman recorded 16 special teams tackles with a fumble recovery and a blocked kick in three seasons with the Eagles. He became a free agent and signed with the New Orleans Saints in August, only to wind up on injured reserve with a hurt shoulder before the season began, then released.

Listed as a linebacker, Braman typically doesn't play on defense at all, and he's 30, so there's not much upside beyond his niche. However, the seventh-year veteran is familiar with Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp and should be ready to play immediately.

"That's one of the biggest reasons they brought me back is because I know the system," Braman said. "Been in it for three years, so it's not something that they would expect to have to bring me in and let me sit on inactive."

The Eagles needed somebody to help turn around a unit that has been uncharacteristically shaky.

Since Fipp was hired in 2013, the Eagles have consistently fielded one of the top special teams units in the NFL. That's not been the case in '17, largely because of injuries to return specialist Darren Sproles and captain Chris Maragos.

Obviously, the Eagles have suffered a drop-off in talent as a result. But there's also been a certain confidence or swagger missing, as the team has been forced to rely on more inexperienced players.

"I don't know if it's more so for the attitude, kind of give the young guys direction, let them know how things are supposed to be done," Braman said.

The Eagles could maybe get away with having less than stellar special teams when Wentz was leading the offense to 30 points every week. Now, the formula for winning changes — the Eagles will likely be more reliant on running the football, sound defense, and most importantly, eliminating momentum-altering plays.

In other words, the Eagles can't afford to let special teams beat them. And with Wentz landing on IR, a spot opened on the 53-man roster, so why not address arguably the biggest problem area?

Whatever the circumstances, Braman is glad to be back in the league.

"You kind of feel homeless when you don't have a team to play for," Braman said. "I'm just happy to finally have a place to call home."

Eagles bring back special teams maven Bryan Braman

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Eagles bring back special teams maven Bryan Braman

The Eagles have brought back a former special teams ace for the stretch run. 

Special teamer Bryan Braman on Tuesday signed with the Eagles to rejoin Dave Fipp's special teams group.

Braman, 30, had been with the Eagles from 2014-16, when he was a major contributor for Fipp's top-end special teams unit. He can help fill the void left by the season-ending injury to Chris Maragos earlier in the season. 

During his three seasons with the Eagles, Braman led all Eagles with 1,214 special teams snaps. He played more special teams snaps than any other Eagle in each of the last two seasons. He played in all 48 games over those three seasons, but was mainly a special teams player. 

After officially placing quarterback Carson Wentz (ACL) on Injured Reserve Tuesday, the Eagles had one available roster spot. It looks like it will be filled by Braman. 

Braman was not resigned by the Eagles this past offseason. He spent some time in New Orleans but was placed on their IR and was then released. He hasn't been with a team since early September.