Caleb Sturgis

Eagles hint at keeping Jake Elliott over Caleb Sturgis

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Eagles hint at keeping Jake Elliott over Caleb Sturgis

With Caleb Sturgis eligible to come off of injured reserve next week, the Eagles have given no indication that Jake Elliott’s job might be in jeopardy.

Elliott has been far from perfect of late, missing at least one field goal or extra point in each of the Eagles’ last three games. And while those kicks haven’t come back to haunt the team yet, it’s fair to wonder whether turning back to Sturgis might be an option.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Monday the club is “comfortable” with Elliott, but “nothing has been decided” with regard to Sturgis. “We'll just have to cross that bridge when we get there.”

We’re just about at the bridge. Time to decide.

As of Tuesday, the Eagles seemed prepared to work through the issues with Elliott.

“I tend to be more of an optimist,” said Eagles special team coach Dave Fipp, adding it’s easy to be critical. “If you’re willing as a coach or a person to accept some responsibility, and try to invest and work on finding a solution, you have a whole better chance.

“I believe the best in a guy, and that’s just the way I choose to look at it, but I believe the guy is going to overcome. He’s going to have success and be a great player."

In his second NFL game, Elliott delivered an Eagles victory over the Giants with a walk-off 61-yard field goal — the longest in franchise history. Up until that moment, however, the rookie kicker had been unreliable, missing one field goal in each of his first two contests.

Although, some initial jitters were probably to be expected. Signed off the Bengals' practice squad in September, Elliott joined the Eagles on a Tuesday and was kicking in a game on Sunday.

“It’s a tough transition to come in on a week’s notice and have a new snapper, a new holder and a kicker, and then do it on game day,” Fipp said. “And you can only practice so much during the week. Usually, these guys kick twice a week, so you have two days to get it in.”

Elliott settled in after the Giants game and was flawless on field goals and extra points over the next three. Even with the recent miscues, he’s made 17 of 20 field goals and 24 of 27 extra points for the season, and he set another Eagles record with four field goals of 50-plus yards in a season.

As far as Elliott’s recent struggles are concerned, those might not be as much of a factor in the Eagles’ decision as one would think. To begin with, another aspect of the battery could be at fault —maybe the hold, or the snap, based on an unconfirmed report the Eagles worked out long snappers this week.

Whatever the case, Fipp preached patience with the 22-year-old.

“The worst thing you can do with any kicker is overreact,” Fipp said. “If you’re always looking to replace that position, then you’re going to always be replacing that position.

“I think there are some coaches out there who are quick to get rid of the guy that they have, and I would say that you just have to make a smart decision. Take a step back, and make sure you’re making the best decision.

“Usually when you bring the guy in, you brought him in because he was the best player. Then if you get rid of him, now you’re saying you’re going to go with the second-best player? That never made a whole lot of sense to me.”

Of course, Fipp’s salient logic on kickers could easily apply to Sturgis as well.

Sturgis came to the Eagles in 2015 in much the same way as Elliott, as a midseason replacement. And like Elliott, Sturgis got off to a shaky start with the Eagles, but finished strong and won the competition for the job in training camp the following summer.

Last season, Sturgis made 35 of 41 field goals and 30 of 31 extra points. He was 3 for 3 on field goals and 1 for 2 with extra points in the 2017 opener, as well.

If Elliott wasn’t cutting it, the Eagles would be more than justified in giving Sturgis another shot.

“There’s certain standards that they have to perform up to, then you have to move on,” Fipp said. “But they all know that.”

Based on statistics alone, the comparison seems close. In reality, Elliott has a lot more working in his favor.

Elliott is six years younger than Sturgis, who as a five-year veteran, also commands a much larger salary. And while Sturgis was once a fifth-round draft pick, the same as Elliott, his NFL career as a whole has not been a model of consistency.

All signs point to the Eagles' sticking with Elliott, and it should be a slam dunk. But with Sturgis likely to wind up a free agent in a matter of days — it shouldn’t be long before he finds a new job — you can bet every and any Elliott slip-up will only draw more attention moving forward.

Eagles Injury Update: Ronald Darby nearing return

Eagles Injury Update: Ronald Darby nearing return

The Eagles have won their last seven games. And they've done it without Ronald Darby. 

It seems like they're about to get him back. 

The Eagles' top cornerback has been practicing as a limited participant for the last three weeks, but head coach Doug Pederson said Darby got more reps and was nearly a full participant this last week before the Broncos game. 

"He's another one that will be around to work on his treatment and his rehab and we'll see where we're at when they get back next week, we'll evaluate it some more," Pederson said. "He's in a really good spot to possibly come back and help us in the next week or so."

Darby hasn't played since the opener, when he dislocated his right ankle in Washington. The Eagles might have been overly optimistic when they set a 4-6 week time frame on Darby's recovery. But the bye week will allow him an extra week to prepare for Dallas on Nov. 19. 

Darby tweeted this on Sunday night after the Eagles' 51-23 win. 

Tim Jernigan played just 20 snaps on Sunday afternoon because of an ankle injury, but should be fine. The extra week will help him. Pederson said Jernigan could have come back in the game against the Broncos had the Eagles needed him. 

"We have this time now so he'll be fine next week," Pederson said. 

Here's a name you haven't heard in a while: Caleb Sturgis. But the Eagles' former kicker might be nearing a return from his hip injury. But with the success of his replacement, Jake Elliott, it seems unlikely the Eagles will bring him back from the IR. 

Elliott has made five 50-plus yarders in eight games. 

"Obviously comfortable with what Jake's doing and we'll just have to cross that bridge when we get there," Pederson said. "But nothing has been decided at this point with Caleb."

If nothing else, Sturgis offers the Eagles an insurance policy. 

Jake Elliott is first K to win Rookie of Week since ... Caleb Sturgis

Jake Elliott is first K to win Rookie of Week since ... Caleb Sturgis

Eagles kicker Jake Elliott has won two more awards for his big performance against the Giants last week. 

After already being named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week earlier this week, Elliott has been named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week and the Castrol Edge Clutch Performer of the Week. 

Yeah, it's been a crazy few days for the 22-year-old. 

Amazingly, Elliott is the first kicker to win the Rookie of the Week award since Caleb Sturgis won it in Week 1 of the 2013 season.

To win Rookie of the Week, Elliott beat out Kareem Hunt, Dalvin Cook, Deshaun Watson and Christian McCaffrey. 

To win Clutch Performer of the Week, Elliott beat out DeMarco Murray, Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks and Jordan Howard. 

All this for a kicker who didn't even join the Eagles until Sturgis was placed on Injured Reserve with a hip injury. The Eagles plucked Elliott off the Bengals' practice squad. 

In addition to his record-setting 61-yard field goal to beat the Giants as time expired on Sunday, Elliott also drilled a clutch 46-yarder to tie the game just 51 seconds earlier. 

Carson Wentz won the Rookie of the Week award three times during his rookie campaign last season. Before that, the last Eagle to win the award was Zach Ertz in 2013.