Dave Zangaro

Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long excused from Eagles practice to attend league meetings

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Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long excused from Eagles practice to attend league meetings

For over a year, Malcolm Jenkins has raised his fist during the playing of the national anthem before Eagles games. 

On Tuesday, he was in New York City for a joint meeting between players, owners and the NFLPA in an attempt to find common ground on the same social issues that have led to those pre-game demonstrations. 

Jenkins and teammate Chris Long were both excused from the Eagles' light practice on Tuesday to be in New York for the meeting. They were two of 12 current players representing eight NFL teams. Former NFL player Anquan Boldin was also in attendance. 

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie was one of 11 owners in attendance. 

The NFL was represented by commissioner Roger Goodell and executive vice president of football operations (and former Eagle) Troy Vincent, while the NFLPA was represented by executive director DeMaurice Smith, president Eric Winston and senior director of player affairs Don Davis. 

The NFL and NFLPA released the following joint statement: 

"Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities. NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together. 

"As we said last week, everyone who is part of our NFL community has a tremendous respect for our country, our flag, our anthem and our military. In the best American tradition, we are coming together to find common ground and commit to the hard work required for positive change."

While there didn't seem to be a message of finality about anthem protests in that statement, it appears both sides took a big step in the right direction as far as social justice issues go. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said the NFL's policy on the national anthem "did not come up."  

"This was the first time we have gotten the chance to sit down in front of ownership," Jenkins said to ESPN. "We felt they were receptive. We felt there was a real dialogue. We felt it was positive."

This season, Jenkins has continued to raise his fist during the anthem and Long, his teammate, has put his arm around him as a showing of solidarity. Safety Rodney McLeod has also begun to raise his fist. 

But too much attention has now shifted to the protests during the anthem instead of the actual issues at hand. Jenkins, in particular, cares about social and racial injustice; the fist in the air was just a way to start a conversation about those issues. 

The demonstrations became even more widespread after President Donald Trump encouraged NFL owners to release players who protested during the anthem. A couple days after those comments, the Eagles linked arms during the anthem in a showing of solidarity. 

While Torrey Smith wasn't in attendance during Tuesday's meeting in New York, he's one of the more socially active Eagles. He said there have been a lot of phone calls and coordinating between players over the last few weeks about these issues and handling them with the league. 

"A win for me coming out of those meetings is that everyone's on the same page and trying to help the people in this country and use our game, which unites people from all different races, all different areas, all different levels of income, for one moment, for these games," Smith said. "And there's no better platform than for us to work together and try to benefit our country.

"Our owners have the power to impact a lot of lives in terms of whether it's financially or their guidance. I feel like it's our duty. Obviously, we're playing ball but the fans that are cheering us on, the fans that are working in these stadiums, the fans that are working in these neighborhoods are affected by some of the things that we're fighting for. If anyone thinks it's not an issue for us to be involved in as athletes or the owners of the NFL, then you're looking at it dead wrong."

After missing Tuesday's practice, neither Jenkins nor Long were available for comment in the Eagles' locker room. The Eagles will be back at practice Thursday as they prepare to host Washington on Monday night. 

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story. 

Eagles QB Carson Wentz favorite to win NFL MVP

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USA Today Images

Eagles QB Carson Wentz favorite to win NFL MVP

Carson Wentz is in his second NFL season, but he could already be on his way to his first MVP award. 

At least, he's now the favorite. 

The Eagles' starting quarterback is now the favorite to win this year's NFL MVP award, according to Bovada. Wentz is just ahead of Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. 

Here's the top five: 

1. Carson Wentz: +175
2. Alex Smith: +200
3. Tom Brady: +400
4. DeShaun Watson: +1,000
5. Russell Wilson: +1,200

Basically, this means that a $100 futures bet would win $175. Since Wentz pays out the least, he's the favorite. 

It's no surprise Wentz and Smith are atop this list. They have both led their teams to 5-1 records (tops in the NFL) through six games. 

Wentz has completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,584 yards, 13 touchdowns, three interceptions and a passer rating of 99.6. He's well on his way to becoming the first Eagles quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. 

The last (and only) Eagles player to win an MVP came during the 1960 championship season, when quarterback Norm Van Brocklin took the award. 

The last player to win the MVP award in his second NFL season was Kurt Warner in 1999. But Warner had a long road to get to the NFL and was 28 years old in 1999. Wentz is just 24. 

Vegas isn't alone with the Wentz hype. According to Dick's Sporting Goods, the Eagles' quarterback has the best-selling jersey of all NFL players. In another few months, those people might have the jersey of an MVP winner. 

Eagles Film Review: Shaq Thompson is no match for Nelson Agholor

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NFL

Eagles Film Review: Shaq Thompson is no match for Nelson Agholor

Coming into Thursday night's game, the Eagles thought they would have the chance to exploit a mismatch against the Panthers' defense. 

They were right.

At times, the Panthers like to stay in their base defense, which means lining up linebacker Shaq Thompson on Nelson Agholor. While Thompson is a pretty athletic guy for 6-0, 230, he's not nearly quick enough to match up with Agholor, who is having a great season. 

Through six games this season, Agholor already has 20 catches for 321 yards and four touchdowns. After a terribly disappointing start to his career, it appears Agholor has finally figured it out as the Eagles' slot receiver. 

On Thursday, he had four catches for 55 yards and a touchdown. Most of that came against Thompson. When lined up against Thompson, he had two catches for 48 yards, including the fourth-quarter touchdown. 

"They've done that in their past. Shaq's a tremendous athlete and very gifted," head coach Doug Pederson said. "[He] can run, [he is a] physical linebacker, [and] plays a lot like a nickel DB. It just so happened that he thought Nelson was going to — great move, great move at the top of the route. He juked him to the outside and he bit on the play and then Nelson broke inside. Carson (Wentz) made a very accurate throw for the touchdown. But that's something they've shown even leading up to the game."

We'll take a look at the touchdown, but first a look at an early reception: 

Agholor (circled) has plenty of space on 3rd-and-5. It looks like he's not covered, but he is. Linebacker Shaq Thompson (also circled) is about drop in coverage. 

At the top of Agholor's route, Thompson actually has pretty good coverage. After all, he's a really good athlete for a linebacker, but it's not going to be enough. Carson Wentz has plenty of time in the pocket; his offensive line is doing its job. 

Agholor wasn't his first read on this play. But Wentz doesn't like what he sees on the left side of the field where Torrey Smith is working. 

Now, Wentz has locked in on Agholor, who has gotten behind Thompson in coverage and he's about to slip to his right and get open. The deep safety sees it too. He's going to start driving toward the play, so it's going to take a perfect pass from Wentz. 

Perfect pass from Wentz. He was actually pretty shaky early in Thursday's game but this was a beautiful throw. After Agholor catches the ball he's able to get past the safety and pick up an even bigger gain of 24 yards. 

This next play is the first of the fourth quarter. The Eagles were already in the lead but this touchdown pass is about to put them up by 12 points. 

At the time of the snap, Thompson has Agholor in man coverage with absolutely no help. This isn't going to end well. 

Wentz notices the mismatch immediately and never looks anywhere else. He stares down Agholor until the receiver makes a break at the top of his route. He already has Thompson beat. Thompson is a good athlete but he can't cut the way Agholor can. 

By the time Agholor catches the ball, it's pretty clear he's already going to have the first down. But there's a lot of space in front of him. And the deep safety's momentum is taking him away from the play. 

Agholor takes a straight line right into the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown catch. 

On both of those plays, Agholor doesn't just get open in the slot. He uses his quickness to do it and then uses his speed to make something happen after the catch. For as well as Jordan Matthews played in the slot over the last few years, Agholor is just a more explosive player. 

"That's beneficial for a slot receiver to have that kind of breakaway speed," Pederson said, "and two great plays by him. Just got to keep him coming."

Through six games this year, Agholor is on pace to have the best year — by far — of his career. He's on pace for 53 catches for 856 yards and 10 touchdowns. That would be a big-time jump.