Marcus Johnson

Role talk, Giants' mess, quotables and more

Role talk, Giants' mess, quotables and more

Marcus Johnson felt like he had carved out a nice little role with the Eagles this season. The second-year receiver wasn't playing a ton but had averaged nearly 12 snaps per game as the team's fifth wide receiver. 

Until three weeks ago. 

That's when Johnson was inactive against the Bears. That was just the start. Without much warning, Johnson has gone from being a contributor to being inactive in the last three games, replaced by rookie draft pick Shelton Gibson.

"I was [surprised]," Johnson said Friday. "It's part of it. It's part of how it goes. I felt like I was doing a pretty good job. Being undrafted, you have to stand out. You can't just fit in."

Johnson caught just two passes in nine games, but he seemed to find a role as the team's receiver when the Eagles use 13 personnel (three tight ends). Johnson thinks the switch was more about special teams instead of offense. Because while Gibson has barely played on offense since becoming an active player, he has averaged eight special teams snaps per game, while Johnson averaged just 6.5. Even that seems like a little bit of a stretch. 

The Eagles haven't really offered a definitive reason for the switch. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich, the week after the first time Gibson was active over Johnson, said it was about "spreading the love a little bit."  

"It's frustrating as a competitor," Johnson said. "You want to be out there. I want to be out there. I want to be productive. I want to help this team, whether that's special teams, offense or whatever it may be. And when you're not out there, you're watching and it's definitely frustrating." 

Johnson, 23, has taken this news in stride for the last month. He's been trying to continue to work hard in practice; he doesn't want coaches to see any type of dropoff because he knows he'd be in trouble then. 

"Tough situation, but I feel like I handled it well," he said. "I just have to be ready when I get back out there." 

A Giant mess
The last time the Eagles and Giants met was in Week 3 and the Eagles handed the Giants their third straight loss to start the season. But it was just a three-point loss, so plenty of folks in North Jersey probably thought things could only get better from there. 

Those people were wrong. 

The Giants ended up losing their first five games, have won just two all year and have seen their head coach and longtime general manager get the boot midseason. 

"It's been a rough one," interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo said on a conference call with Philly reporters earlier this week. "You just never know when these things are going to happen, not only in the NFL but in life. Sometimes it gets tough to get back on course. 

"You can make all the right decisions and I'm going to say this like I've been saying up here all week: I think Ben McAdoo is a terrific head coach. I thoroughly enjoyed working for him, I'm indebted to him for having kept me here two years ago.

"We're all tired of this. I'm tired of the failure as well. I don't forget that. Now, I've had to step in to do this job; I'll do it with honor. I respect this organization and love the New York Giants and we're going to just move on and hopefully unite, and try to find a way to win some games has been the motto." 

The late Bum Phillips once found a pretty succinct way to sum up the coaching professions: "There's two kinds of coaches, them that's fired and them that's gonna be fired." 

Yup. Pretty much. 

Pretty much every NFL coach either has been — or will be — fired. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is no different. He was a part of that 2012 coaching staff under Andy Reid that was fired. While the Eagles let that staff finish out the year, pretty much everyone saw the writing on the wall. Pederson joined Reid in Kansas City the next season. 

"It's not what you wish on anybody," Pederson said. "As a coach, you're looking for where am I going to be next spring? As players, it's very uneasy and unsettling a little bit. The one thing I know about Spags is he's going to continue to rally. He's going to continue to coach his tail off. He'll have those guys ready to play." 

Take a seat 
The Eagles didn't have Joe Walker (neck) for last week's game in Los Angeles, but it didn't really matter. The Rams used three-wideout sets all game, so the Eagles were in their nickel defense all game. That meant the MIKE linebacker in the base defense — normally Walker, but Najee Goode last week — didn't see the field. 

Expect that to continue this weekend. The Giants' offense normally revolves around 11 personnel, which means they have three wideouts on the field. That forces you to use either nickel or dime defenses to combat it. The Giants haven't used 11 personnel as much this year because of injuries at the receiver position, but they still prefer to use it. 

That should make for a lighter workload for Walker as he returns from injury this week. 

Quote of the Week I: "What happened is, I'm an idiot." — Jason Kelce on his temper tantrum after getting cleated during Thursday's practice (see story)

Quote of the Week II: "I've always been a gunslinger, just let it rip. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to play loose, count on the guys, lead this team." — Nick Foles 

Quote of the Week III: "All due respect to our trainers, they are not a challenge to cover, and he's only been working with those guys." — Jim Schwartz on Sidney Jones' return to practice (see story)

Random media guide note: Donnie Jones' first job was working at the Chicken Shack at Blue Bayou, a water park in Baton Rouge. 

Eagles Inactives: Corey Graham playing; just 6 players to sit out

USA Today Images

Eagles Inactives: Corey Graham playing; just 6 players to sit out

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Because they have just 52 players on their active roster, the Eagles needed to list just six players as inactive on Sunday morning.

Ronald Darby (ankle), Destiny Vaeao (wrist), Shelton Gibson, Chance Warmack, Marcus Johnson and Steven Means are inactive against the Chiefs this afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.

Corey Graham, who came into the weekend listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, is active. That will allow Malcolm Jenkins to play at times as the Eagles' nickel cornerback because Graham can take over at safety.

Johnson is inactive after playing in the opener.

Donnel Pumphrey (hamstring) was added to the Injured Reserve on Friday, so he obviously isn't playing and doesn't need to be on the inactive list.

This will be the first NFL game for second-round CB Rasul Douglas, sixth-round pick DT Elijah Qualls and recently-acquired kicker Jake Elliott, who replaced Caleb Sturgis (hip). Sturgis is on IR.

After keeping just three listed cornerbacks active last week when Darby went down, the Eagles have four active on Sunday: Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson, Douglas and McDougle.

After having just two draft picks active in the season opener, the Eagles will have four active -- Derek Barnett, Douglas, Mack Hollins and Qualls -- on Sunday.

Here are the Chiefs' inactives: QB Tyler Bray, CB D.J. White, LB Reggie Ragland, OL Jordan Devey, OL Parker Ehinger, WR Jehu Chesson, DL Jarvis Jenkins.

Howie Roseman finalizes Eagles' roster for now and the future

Howie Roseman finalizes Eagles' roster for now and the future

Howie Roseman said he built the Eagles' roster with an eye not just on today, but also on tomorrow. The 53 best players not just for the short term, but for the long term.

And that means keeping guys like Marcus Johnson, Donnel Pumphrey and Elijah Qualls, who might not play this year but could one day be impact players.

“We’re not trying to sacrifice the roster as it goes into Washington (for opening day)," Roseman said Saturday. "We’re trying to compete and win as many games as we possibly can.

"But we also don’t want to be short-sighted about losing guys that we think down the (line) could become starters. Guys who look like they have traits to become a starter and have a high ceiling, we’re going to try to invest in those guys and be more patient with them."

This is a departure for the Eagles and Roseman, who in past years has simply kept the players he feels are most ready to play now.

That has meant cutting ties with promising young players like Eric Rowe, Jordan Poyer, Alejandro Villanueva and even Jaylen Watkins, who's back now but was released before his second season.

“I think that when I was (general manager) in ’13 and ’14 and we’re winning 10 games, you’re sitting there and you’re going, 'Hey, let’s try to win a playoff game, let’s try to get over the hump," Roseman said.

"And now we’ve got a 24-year-old quarterback, and that doesn’t mean we don’t want to win right now, because we do. But we also want to build this the right way. Some of that means doing some things (to trust) in our development system."

For example?

Johnson, a second-year pro who earned his way onto the 53-man roster but as the sixth receiver, probably won't even be active this year unless there are injuries.

But considering that Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith could both be gone next year, keeping Johnson under contract is significant.

"I think Marcus Johnson is a huge plus for us," Roseman said. "You look at a guy like that — who came back after a year and took a big step and looks like (he has) traits to be a starter — and what our coaches and conditioning staff and trainers did with a guy like that and you say, ‘Hey, you worked with these guys, what’s their ceiling? What can it be?’

"And we’re trying to be more developmental, certainly on the guys who aren’t on the 46 than we have been maybe in the past."

Roseman emphasized that the 46 guys who will dress on game day need to be the 46 best players the Eagles can get their hands on.

But there are 17 other spots available that the Eagles control — the seven guys who don't dress out on game day and 10 players on the practice squad.

That's the part of the roster Roseman kept in mind when the Eagles made final cuts Saturday.

"I think it's important for us when we make these decisions, we're talking about the 46, the 53 and then the 63," he said. "We want to make sure our coaches have the best 46 guys that they need to go into Washington. And then from there, there are also guys that we want to develop, that we want to sit there a year from now and hope that they have taken another step."

Pumphrey, who made the team despite struggling throughout the preseason, also fits into that category, as does wide receiver Shelton Gibson, who made the team despite having trouble catching the ball during most of camp.

"We knew that if Shelton went back to school and didn't come out early, he's probably drafted higher and that we were going to have to spend time to develop him and his skill set," Roseman said.

"And he does have a (unique) trait. He had more 50-yard receptions than anyone in college football last year. He can take the top off.

"Consistency for a rookie is, obviously, something that sometimes takes some time. But he works really hard. He has the traits we're looking for to develop into a player."

Nothing worse than seeing a guy who started out with the Eagles but never really got a chance enjoying success with another team.

The site of Rowe celebrating a Super Bowl championship with the Patriots a few months after the Eagles gave up on him — and continued to struggle at cornerback — certainly resonated with a lot of Eagles fans.

"We don't want to lose a guy that, a year from now or two years from now we think has starter traits," Roseman said. "We feel good about having a plan to develop these guys.

"When we make the decision to pick them, we have conversations like, ‘Hey, this guy may not be ready Day 1, this guy may need some time, here are the things he may need to work on.’

"We try to balance that. But we are also going to make a concerted effort to try to develop them and spend the time not just reading off cards on scout team, but really spending time with them and developing the person and the player and try to help them on some of the deficiencies that maybe they have."