Reuben Frank

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Lane Johnson returning after concussion

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AP Images

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Lane Johnson returning after concussion

It turns out it wouldn't have mattered if the Eagles played the Panthers on Sunday instead of Thursday. Lane Johnson would still have missed the game. 

The veteran right tackle didn't clear the NFL's concussion protocol until last Monday. But he'll be back in action on Monday night against Washington. 

For Johnson, the Panthers game was the 11th game he's missed since the start of the 2016 season after he missed 10 last year because of his PED suspension. Watching the game last week was an all-too-familiar feeling. 

"I didn't like it," Johnson said. "I didn't like it at all, to be honest with you. As much time as I've been away from this building the last two seasons. I feel fresh, feel rejuvenated and ready to get back out there."

Johnson watched Thursday night's game at his house with his wife, but he didn't watch the whole thing. He watched some, took a break, and then watched the end. He said he knew the Eagles were going to win. 

Halapoulivaati Vaitai started the game in Johnson's place and did OK. After a horrendous start, Big V settled in and played fairly well. Johnson was impressed and thinks Vaitai is "becoming the player he's meant to be." Johnson remembered things didn't click for him until around his ninth NFL game. Thursday's was Big V's seventh career start. 

Vaitai played OK, but the Eagles are clearly much better with Johnson in the lineup and they'll need him this week as he'll see plenty of veteran pass-rusher Ryan Kerrigan. 

The concussion Johnson suffered in the first half against Arizona was the first of his career. The Eagles pointed out a couple of plays where it could have happened but Johnson didn't remember when it happened. He just knew he didn't feel right when he went into the locker room at halftime. Unless the concussion happened on the last play of the half — it didn't look like it — Johnson played concussed for at least some of that game. 

It took about a week for Johnson to feel normal again. 

"I'm fresh," he said. "I think I'll be a different animal. That's all I'll say." 

The great escape
Malcolm Jenkins is a busy man. Between all the work he does to fight against social injustice, running his foundation and owning a clothing store, he has a pretty hectic life. 

But when he gets to the NovaCare Complex all Jenkins has to worry about it football. 

"When I step into this building, this is my escape from everything else," he said this week. "Life is kind of hectic outside of these walls but here, this comes easy. It's one of those things that I put a lot of time in this building, watch a lot of film, work hard out there on the field and the weight room. This has become easy for me. This has become the peaceful part of my week." 

Jenkins is 29 now, but his play hasn't dropped off even a little bit. He's still one of the most important pieces of the Eagles' defense. 

In typical fashion, Jenkins has played all 384 defensive snaps this season. He's the only player on the Eagles' defense to be in for every play.  

"I feel like I'm having a solid season," he said. "Obviously, statistics aren't very alarming but I'm not missing any plays. I'm getting guys lined up. It's just one of those things where I think everybody is concerned about their role in the team. As long as we're winning, I'm happy." 

Let's get physical
During his conference call with Philly reporters this week, Washington head coach Jay Gruden made a somewhat surprising confession. He thinks the Eagles were more physical than his team in Week 1. He also said that's the only time it's happened to his team this season. 

"I think it's just always a physical hardcore matchup that's fun to watch," Gruden said. 

That's a pretty big compliment to the Eagles and their front office. Howie Roseman always talks about the importance of building a team in the trenches and that's been the hallmark of the team this year. They've been good on the line on both sides of the ball. 

Quote of the Week 1: “We’re made different this year. We have a different character makeup in that locker room, and nobody’s going to ever settle for anything less than greatness." — Carson Wentz (see story)

Quote of the Week 2: "I think a lot of people get caught up in these numbers. I think there's too many fantasy football players in the world." — Gruden on Alshon Jeffery's impact with the Eagles  

Quote of the Week 3: "I was there. Joe Jurevicius on a jerk route. Took it 80." — Gruden on the last game at the Vet. He was there. 

Random media guide note: Steven Means' favorite meal is cereal. He enjoys Frosted Flakes and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  

Weekly meetings helping Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz get on same page

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USA Today Images

Weekly meetings helping Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz get on same page

It doesn't seem like such a big deal at first. The head coach and quarterback get together and talk? 

So what?
 
Doug Pederson said Saturday it is a big deal and said his wide-ranging weekly 1-on-1 shoot-the-bull sessions with Carson Wentz have become an important part of Wentz's success as a quarterback, Pederson's success as a coach and the Eagles' success as a team.
 
Pederson said before practice Saturday morning that every Thursday night — or Friday night the week of a Monday night game — once most people have left the NovaCare Complex, he and Wentz sit down and just talk.
 
"We kind of talk about a lot of things," he said. "A little bit about football and a little bit about life."
 
The Eagles are 5-1 going into their huge Monday night showdown with the Redskins at the Linc, and Wentz and Pederson, both in their second year, are both enjoying considerable acclaim. 

Wentz, with 13 touchdown passes and three interceptions, is having an MVP type of season so far, and Pederson is an early favorite for Coach of the Year.
 
They're clearly on the proverbial same page, and Pederson said something as simple as a weekly brainstorming session with nobody else around is a key part of that success.
 
“I think it’s important for myself as a play-caller and (Carson as) a quarterback that we kind of get on the same page," Pederson said.
 
"I want to hear his thoughts from the week of practice and he wants to hear my thoughts. We spend maybe 10 or 15 minutes talking football and the rest of it is we’re talking deer hunting stories. He loves to deer hunt and all that and I do too. I talk about my days in Green Bay with Brett (Favre).
 
"It’s just that time where he and I can just sort of take a deep breath and exhale and really kind of get on the same page going into the game basically. I think it’s important we continue to do that."
 
Pederson said he and Wentz met individually occasionally last year and earlier this year, but in recent weeks the Thursday night sessions have become a regular and important part of his and Wentz's regular routine.
 
Obviously, the head coach and quarterback meet all the time, but Pederson said these sessions are a unique opportunity because it's late in the week, it's just the two of them and the conversations aren't just limited to football.
 
“Andy (Reid) would do it during the week, not necessarily 1-on-1 at night or anything like that, but he would pull Alex (Smith) aside during the day," Pederson said.
 
"I know back when Donovan (McNabb) was here, even then he would have conversations with him. Marty Mornhinweg would do it with Michael Vick.
 
"I’ve been around coordinators or play-callers who have done that with the quarterback. I just think it’s important that that line of communication is open, the dialogue is there and I want to make sure he and I are seeing the same things going into those games."

5 minutes with Roob: Corey Graham still playing great football at 32

5 minutes with Roob: Corey Graham still playing great football at 32

In today's "Five Minutes with Roob," Reuben Frank chats with Eagles safety Corey Graham:

Roob: We’re here with Eagles safety Corey Graham. Welcome to Philadelphia.
 
Graham: Glad to be here.
 
Roob: I didn’t realize when you missed a game earlier this month you had a streak of 159 straight games played plus six playoff games so 165 consecutive games. A little hammy, how tough was it to see that streak end?
 
Graham: It was tough. You don’t want to think about stuff like that too much but obviously, things happen. You are thinking like, 'It's just a little hamstring, I can play through a hamstring,' and you don’t want to miss a game or anything like that when you haven’t missed one. I tried to play through it the game before and that is when I messed it up a little more and tore it. It wasn’t smart for the long haul.
 
Roob: You've been around the league and you played on some different teams, what is the feeling you get in this locker room? You have been on a Super Bowl team. What do you think so far? The team is doing well.
 
Graham: Very impressed. Offense, defense, special teams. Guys are flying around and are very upbeat. We are a great team. We need to stay on pace and we need to continue to work our butt off. Don’t get too high because things can always start out great and things can get bad. We just have to take it one game at a time and not believe all of the hype and the noise going on outside of this locker room.
 
Roob: I've got to ask you about probably the best game you ever played. Correct me if I am wrong. Playoff game against Denver in the AFC Conference semifinals in 2012, you had two interceptions off Peyton Manning, a Hall of Famer, one was a pick-six and the other was in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal. You went on to the semifinals and then won the Super Bowl (with the Ravens). Was that the greatest game you ever played?
 
Graham: An NFL game, yes. I had a better game in high school. It was my greatest NFL game because it was on the big stage and everything was on the line. We knew we had to win the game and I was just glad I was in position to make some of those plays. That’s how it goes sometimes. It was a great experience and I was glad we were able to go on and win the whole thing. It was a great ride, I loved being a part of that team and I loved everything I could do to help.
 
Roob: It was a little surprising Buffalo let you go since you played well last year. You were on the street a lot longer than a lot of people expected. How difficult of a process was it in the offseason leaving there and not really knowing where you were going to end up and then you came here and fit in real quick?
 
Graham: It was difficult being released because no one wants to get released. But when it was all said and done, I could have signed with someone right after, but I wanted to wait and spend some time with my family. That is why I prolonged it a lot until the end of July. Being released by the Bills in my hometown and wanting so much to go to the playoffs and end that streak. That was one of my biggest goals and to not accomplish that, it sucked.

Roob: You are in Year 11 now and you have played your best football in your 30s. You've made a Pro Bowl as a special teamer. As far as playing safety and defensive back, what still drives you in Year 11?
 
Graham: I love the game. That is the reason why I signed here. I wanted to be part of a good team and a good organization. I love being around the guys. We're having a lot of fun right now and we're enjoying the game of football. I just want to go out and make a difference and that’s what pushes me. I want to be great, enjoy the game and play it the right way. When all is said and done we want to win. The last few years in Buffalo, we didn’t make the playoffs those three years. Leaving Baltimore after winning the Super Bowl and going home and not winning sucks. And no one wants to be a part of that. No one wants to lose. I want to win.