chris maragos

Jason Peters, Darren Sproles still engaged, contributing for Eagles

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Jason Peters, Darren Sproles still engaged, contributing for Eagles

Jason Peters and Darren Sproles may be out for the season, yet Eagles coaches say the injured vets are continuing to find ways to make an impact.

The Eagles have been unlucky to lose not only star players, but also tremendous leaders to injuries this season. At the same time, the Eagles are incredibly fortunate to have guys like Peters, Sproles, Jordan Hicks and Chris Maragos who aren’t content to simply fade into the background until next year.

Take Peters, for example. Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland revealed the nine-time Pro Bowl selection has been instrumental in preparing second-year player Halapoulivaati Vaitai to take over at left tackle.

“I lean on Jason Peters a little bit too with that,” Stoutland said Tuesday. “I’d send him some video and he would look at it, and we’d be on a Skype or whatever and he would say, ‘Hey, make sure you tell him this.’”

Even a fifth-year NFL veteran like Lane Johnson at right tackle can benefit from Peters’ pointers from afar.

“He’s got a great eye for that stuff,” Stoutland said. “It keeps him involved and he’s good at it. He’s a master at it for so many years, so I think he also has helped Lane and V with some of that stuff.”

Peters is home rehabbing from torn ACL and MCL tendons in his right knee but consults with Stoutland regularly. Not surprisingly, the future Hall of Famer identifies something on a “weekly” basis that will help his teammates.

“It’s good for those guys, too, to hear another voice other than mine,” Stoutland said.

Some of the Eagles’ wounded are taking a more hands-on approach. Hicks may be sidelined by a ruptured Achilles, but it sounds as though he’s preparing as if he were going to line up at middle linebacker in any given week.

“Jordan comes into our meeting room,” Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole said. “He’s there, and if you saw him, he takes notes like he’s going to play.

“He studies a lot of the tape when we’re in a meeting, and I think he sees things. Then I’m sure when he gets back in the locker room, he passes on little tips to people, says, ‘Hey, this is what I saw in this formation, and maybe we can cheat our alignment here.’”

Hicks is somebody the Eagles literally couldn’t keep out of the building if they tried.

“He wants to be a part of it,” Flajole said. “I kidded around with him a little bit. I said, ‘Are you driving your wife nuts now,’ and he says, ‘Yeah, kind of, coach. I need to get out of the house. She wants me here, and I want to be here.’”

Watch closely during any Eagles game, and you’ll see Maragos actively taking part in any way he can.

Maragos’ season was ended by a ton PCL. That hasn’t prevented the special teams captain and ace from walking out to the middle of the field for the coin toss before games or pumping up his teammates on the sideline.

“Chris Maragos is in half our meetings if he’s not rehabbing, and then he’ll be on the field on game day,” special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said. “He’s breaking the huddle half the time before kickoffs.”

Fipp works closely with both Maragos and Sproles, the latter of whom reaches out to replacement return specialist Kenjon Barner on a regular basis.

“Those guys love being around it, and they do a great job helping the younger guys out,” Fipp said. “That’s why Chris is a captain. Same with Darren Sproles. They have the respect of all their teammates, and part of getting that respect is probably because, along the way, they’ve helped all those guys out at some point.”

Nursing a torn ACL and a broken forearm, Sproles isn’t always in the building or around his teammates. Even in that situation, the 13-year veteran commands so much respect, he’s still able to lead by example.

“He was our leader, and every now and then if he’s here he’ll come and stick his head in,” Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley said. “A lot of those guys follow those footsteps, which is awesome. You couldn’t pick a better guy to lead your group than him.

“Some of those guys, they look at him, they look up to him, all the things he’s been through, how long he’s lasted. Ideally, a lot of those guys want to be him, so they talk to him, they study Sproles, they study his eating habits. Eating, sleeping, everything.

“When you have a leader like that in the room, and he’s able to rub off on some of the other guys, they take ownership and they try to lead the younger guys that way.”

Sproles is 34. Peters turns 36 in January. There is some question as to whether either player will return from their injuries to play in 2018.

If either man plans on or would consider walking away, they’re certainly not ready to call it quits quite. In fact, whatever success this Eagles team enjoys in 2017 — be that a trip to the Super Bowl, or anything else — Peters, Sproles, Hicks and Maragos all seem determined to play a role in that.

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

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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 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 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 place special teams ace Chris Maragos on injured reserve

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Eagles place special teams ace Chris Maragos on injured reserve

The Eagles will be without one of their best special teamers the rest of the way. 

The team officially placed special teams ace Chris Maragos (knee) on injured reserve on Thursday morning. 

Maragos went down on punt coverage in the fourth quarter last week against the Panthers. Maragos was in pain and was seen leaving the stadium with a huge brace on his right knee. 

To fill his roster spot, the Eagles have promoted linebacker and fifth-rounder Nate Gerry to the active roster. The Eagles also signed WR Rashard Davis to fill Gerry's spot on the practice squad. 

Gerry is converting from college safety to NFL linebacker but could play a role on special teams. 

Maragos, 30, needed to play on defense a few weeks ago because of injury but his main role with the team is as a special teams ace. He has played more special teams snaps (126) than any other player on the Eagles and is tied for the team lead with six special teams tackles.

He was also voted as one of the Eagles' five captains for the season. The Eagles have two offensive captains, two defensive captains and Maragos was their special teams captain. 

Last November, Maragos signed a three-year extension worth $6 million that goes through the 2019 season.