Joe Walker

Eagles' latest roster move may open spot for Sidney Jones

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Eagles' latest roster move may open spot for Sidney Jones

The Eagles placed linebacker Joe Walker on injured reserve Friday afternoon, and although there was no formal word yet, the move presumably opens up a roster spot for rookie cornerback Sidney Jones.

Jones, who suffered a torn Achilles during his pro day at the University of Washington in March, has been on the reserve/non-football injury list all year. He began practicing earlier this month, opening a three-week window that ends on Tuesday. That's when the Eagles must decide whether to add him to the 53-man roster or place him on injured reserve.

Head coach Doug Pederson hinted broadly earlier Friday that Jones would be activated for the Eagles' meaningless game Sunday afternoon against the Cowboys at the Linc.

Walker, a seventh-round pick last year out of Oregon, played significant snaps during the six-game stretch from the Panthers game through the Bears game before hurting his neck. Of his 99 defensive snaps this year, 96 were during that stretch of six wins, and he started against the 49ers, Broncos and Bears. He had 16 tackles and one pass defensed. And he played 127 snaps on special teams.

But the Eagles went out and acquired Dannell Ellerbe, who provides a much more physical presence and more experience at the MIKE linebacker spot, where the Eagles lost Jordan Hicks back in October. With Walker inactive Monday night against the Raiders, Ellerbe had 27 snaps on defense.

Eagles learn about Kobe Bryant's 'Mamba mentality'

Eagles learn about Kobe Bryant's 'Mamba mentality'

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Rodney McLeod broke into a huge grin as he passed along the explanation from Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, an Eagles fan who grew up in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, spoke to the entire Eagles team Friday morning at their hotel in Costa Mesa, California.

How did Kobe explain his "Mamba mentality?" 

"A killer mentality," McLeod said. "He said literally every time he stepped on that court, he wanted to be the best. He wanted to go out there and kill the guy lining up across from them and make him feel like he didn't deserve to be on the court. Like literally, those were his words. 

"He wanted to make them feel like they shouldn't be a basketball player, they should be an accountant. That's what he said. And you see it when you watch him play. When you have that mindset, it's hard to beat a guy like that."

It takes someone truly great to leave a group of 63 professional athletes and their coaches in awe. Bryant is one of them. McLeod also said Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Derek Jeter would make the list. 

McLeod brought in a pen and pad of paper to take notes, but he ended up recording Bryant's talk and Q&A session in his brain. He didn't get an autograph, but he did get a photo with Bryant, which was good enough for him. 

"It's a dream come true, really," McLeod said. "Electric feeling for me. You just feel the energy and his presence as soon as he came in and talked to us." 

In the Eagles' media guide, McLeod lists Bryant as his favorite childhood athlete. Even though McLeod grew up in Maryland, Bryant's play and mentality won him over at a young age. McLeod considers Bryant to be the greatest basketball player of all time. 

A few thousand miles away from McLeod's childhood home, Kenjon Barner and Joe Walker grew up near Los Angeles, where Bryant was one of the best and most famous players in the NBA with the Lakers.

"It was really cool to see him walk in," said Walker, who, like Barner and McLeod, has Bryant listed as his favorite childhood athlete in the Eagles' media guide. "Growing up a little kid in L.A., I mean, he pretty much built this city."

Friday was the first time Walker had ever been around his childhood hero. But it wasn't the first time for Barner, who had actually met Bryant a few times before. 

Because Barner's cousin is former NBA player Andre Miller, he has been around NBA players for a long time. He doesn't really get starstruck, but the first time he met Bryant, it was something special: "It just makes you say, 'damn!'"

Upon overhearing Barner talk about all the times he had met Bryant before, fellow running back Wendell Smallwood gave him some grief in the overflow locker room at Angel Stadium. 

"He's so cool, Kobe isn't cool to him," Smallwood said. 

Barner stepped in. 

"It's still cool, man," he said. "It doesn't change."

Head coach Doug Pederson said there wasn't really an interesting story about how the Eagles got Bryant to their team hotel. The Eagles simply checked in with him to see if he was available. Bryant was, so he showed up. 

Pederson said a lot of Bryant's message was about focusing and paying attention to details.

That was the part of Bryant's talk that really seemed to stand out to Nelson Agholor, who is recognized as one of the hardest-working members on the team. 

"He's also a guy that has that dog in him when it's time to step on somebody's throat, he'll do that," Agholor said. "I think that was something I'll never forget." 

Eagles Injury Update: Zach Ertz progressing through concussion protocol

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Eagles Injury Update: Zach Ertz progressing through concussion protocol

Updated: 10:34 p.m.

COSTA MESA, Calif. — As the Eagles begin their practice week at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, they'll be without one of their top playmakers. 

Zach Ertz is still going through the NFL's concussion protocol. 

According to head coach Doug Pederson, Ertz has been in meetings, which means he's at least reached the second phase of the NFL's five-phase protocol. 

"The sense is that he's doing well," Pederson said. "But again, I don't want to get into too many details about it, but he's still in the protocol and we just have to monitor him day by day."

It's possible Ertz could be cleared later in the week, after the Eagles have gone through most, if not all, of their practices. But Pederson thinks Ertz would still be able to play in that scenario.  

"In his case, he's had a lot of reps with Carson (Wentz), he's had a lot of reps with the plays that we have in the game plan," Pederson said. "I'm not as concerned with something like that. Maybe if it's an offensive or defensive lineman, linebacker, who's got to see and recognize a lot of things. We do play with a lot of multiple tight end sets. (Tight ends coach) Justin Peele does a great job preparing those guys during the week. Probably not as concerned."

Linebacker Joe Walker (neck) was a full participant in Wednesday's practice. Walker suffered a stinger in the first half against the Bears and missed the Seahawks game. Najee Goode played most of the snaps in his place. 

Destiny Vaeao (shoulder) missed practice. He and Ertz were the only two players to not practice.