Rick Lovato

Eagles held 'fake walkthrough' pre-Super Bowl in case Patriots spied

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Eagles held 'fake walkthrough' pre-Super Bowl in case Patriots spied

While the Patriots claim their spying days are behind them, the Eagles weren’t taking any chances. Apparently, they ran a "fake" practice before the Super Bowl, just in case anybody was watching.

At least that’s what Eagles long snapper Rick Lovato told a Tampa radio station this week, via ProFootballTalk. When the team convened for its Saturday walkthrough at U.S. Bank Stadium, there were a few too many unfamiliar faces around the building for Pederson’s liking.

So the Eagles ran a dummy practice instead.

“I believe our whole walkthrough was just a complete fake walkthrough,” Lovato said. “We did it at the stadium. There were certain people walking around.

“I believe I overheard someone say a lot of the plays we were running weren’t even in the playbook for the Super Bowl.”

Interesting if true. First, a bit of history.

The Patriots notoriously got into hot water in 2007 for illegally videotaping their opponents’ defensive signals over a period of eight years as part of a scandal known as Spygate. However, there are also allegations New England filmed opponents’ practices and/or walkthroughs prior to at least two Super Bowls during that period. If true, that’s a much larger breach, as such videos would reveal huge aspects of a opponent's otherwise secret game plan beforehand. It's not implausible due to the teams working at neutral sites.

The NFL destroyed all evidence after its investigation, so we may never know. Regardless, between Spygate and the more recent Deflategate controversy, the Patriots have been branded as cheaters.

The Eagles practiced at the University of Minnesota for most of the week leading up to Super Bowl LII, naturally with the assurance of complete discretion. Yet, it’s not uncommon for teams to take the field at the sight of the big game at least once before kickoff. Given the Patriots also had access to the same stadium, taking every caution was probably wise.

Lovato’s choice of words should be noted here. As a specialist, he wasn’t necessarily alerted to the entire team’s practice details, and admits to overhearing the walkthrough was fake.

Then again, years after losing in Super Bowl XXXIX, the 2004-05 Eagles were one of those teams that claimed the Patriots may have known more than Spygate suggests.

Whether or not double agents were crawling all over the place in Minnesota last weekend, nobody would blame the Eagles for taking the extra step to ensure no such controversy would happen again.

Eagles-Jets preseason finale: 10 players to watch

Eagles-Jets preseason finale: 10 players to watch

Ahh, the fourth preseason game. I know you're excited. 

It's a game that means nothing to most but everything to a select few. Those few will have one last shot to battle it out for a roster spot Thursday night when the Eagles play the Jets in North Jersey. 

The starters won't play, which means Carson Wentz and his group will watch. 

If Nick Foles actually plays in this game, he's worth watching. He has practiced minimally throughout the summer and hasn't played in any of the preseason games. He finally returned to practice Monday but missed Tuesday because he was sick. Head coach Doug Pederson as of Tuesday hadn't made up his mind about whether or not Foles would play, but the team doesn't seem to be worried about forcing him into action. 

With that said, here are 10 other Eagles to watch on Thursday night: 

Dexter McDougle 
The Eagles traded for McDougle on Sunday and he'll face his former team Thursday night. Not a ton of time to prepare for the young cornerback. But as Jalen Mills said earlier this week, "Man is man, zone is zone," no matter what defense a corner is playing in. McDougle is a late-arriver but keep an eye on him in the slot. That might be a position that fits him in Philly. 

Beau Allen
Allen returned from the non-football injury list this week after completely healing from his torn pec. He's entering a contract season and is probably still the Eagles' top backup defensive tackle, although Destiny Vaeao was impressive in Allen's absence. Don't expect Allen to play a ton Thursday, but he should get a few snaps and we'll see where he is. 

Rick Lovato 
It's the fourth preseason game and I'm telling you to watch a long snapper. I apologize. But let's be honest, you were going to watch Jon Dorenbos' replacement anyway, weren't you? The Eagles were impressed enough with Lovato at the end of last year and this offseason to move on from their longest-tenured player. If Lovato has a bad snap Thursday … 

Billy Brown 
When asked recently about which position battles he's watching in these final days, Pederson surprisingly mentioned the tight ends. That's surprising because the top three guys — Zach Ertz, Trey Burton and Brent Celek — haven't changed. What has changed is Brown, a young receiver-turned-tight end from Shepherd. Brown has been impressive all summer and might have the Eagles thinking about keeping four tight ends.

Corey Clement 
Clement has done everything right this summer. The running back from Glassboro, New Jersey, has run the ball well, pass protected and even shown his growing ability as a pass-catcher. But will it be enough? It seems unlikely the Eagles would keep five running backs, so in the group of LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and Donnel Pumphrey, who would go? The easy answer might be Pumphrey, but he's a fourth-round pick and it would be very rare to give up on him this early. Clement has one more chance to prove his worth. 

Greg Ward
After a really strong start to training camp, Ward has kind of been forgotten in recent weeks. The former University of Houston quarterback made a pretty seamless transition to NFL receiver and turned heads early in camp. He still has a chance to make the roster. After the first four receivers — Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins — Marcus Johnson is probably the next guy up. If the Eagles keep six, Ward is battling with Shelton Gibson and Bryce Treggs for that last spot. 

Taylor Hart 
It's crazy to think, but it wouldn't be that big of a surprise if Hart makes the Eagles' roster as an offensive tackle. He switched positions in the spring, flipping from defensive to offensive tackle and hasn't looked completely out of place. Now, he very likely wouldn't be ready to take snaps this year, but the Eagles might think they have something in him. 

Alex McCalister
Expect McCalister and Steven Means to play a ton in this last game. We listed McCalister instead of Means because, based on performance and the latter's extension Wednesday (see story), McCalister is the one playing catch-up. Now, he was a late-round draft pick a year ago, so maybe that gives him one advantage. But in terms of on-field play to go with a new deal, it will be tough to keep Means off the roster. A big game from McCalister can't hurt, though.

Justin Hamilton 
Allen's return from the NFI list was bad news for Hamilton, who has been having a very quiet but good summer. With Allen back, there's one less roster spot up for grabs. That means Hamilton is fighting with draft pick Elijah Qualls for a spot. Qualls has come on strong lately and has a lot of untapped potential. 

Aaron Grymes
The former CFL cornerback might have made the 2016 team but he injured his shoulder in this game a year ago. With Ron Brooks gone, it appears that either Patrick Robinson or McDougle will take the slot role, but don't sleep on Grymes just yet. He got some run with the first-team defense in the nickel corner spot and is a natural fit there. 

Several of his ex-teammates remember favorite Jon Dorenbos stories

Several of his ex-teammates remember favorite Jon Dorenbos stories

Jon Dorenbos wasn't just a fan favorite. He was a favorite teammate inside the Eagles' locker room too. 

Often, specialists are pretty segregated throughout the day, but Dorenbos was much more to his teammates than a long snapper. He was a showman, a friend and a positive influence in the room. 

That's why so many of his teammates took it hard when Dorenbos was traded to the Saints for a seventh-round pick on Monday night (see story). They know the NFL is a business; Rick Lovato is taking over but they're going to miss the Magic Man. 

With that in mind, CSNPhilly asked several of his former teammates in the locker room on Tuesday for their favorite stories about Dorenbos. Here's what we heard: 

Malcolm Jenkins  
"He has emceed my foundation fundraiser the last two years. And this past year, his grand trick involved him pulling his pants down and literally pulling a card out of his ... tail. But it was cool, man. He obviously had a huge box of 200 decks of cards that's here all the time, he's practicing his tricks. I just think his positive attitude is something that's hard to find in a football locker room that's all year round. A guy that's constantly in a good mood, that's constantly joking around. He's just a good friend and obviously a guy that's going to be missed." 

Jordan Hicks
"I remember I came in right after I got drafted. You know how you come in that next morning? And nobody was here. I remember sitting in [former Eagles players secretary Karen Gerstle's] office and he was the first person I met that was on the team. He told me his story, told me his process of getting here. Asked where I was from. He was just like 'Oh, man, you're going to love it, bunch of great guys!' Really just ... you could see his energy from Day 1. Just sitting there in Karen's office, I was like if all the guys are like this, I'm going to have a freakin' blast. He was just talking about how awesome it was to be in Philly and how awesome it was to play in this league, play in the NFL and how much he enjoyed it. To me, that's probably the best memory I have with him, probably the fondest memory. He was the first person on the team that I met. And just the ability to see that energy, see that positivity, really gave me coming into it, a nervous rookie, somebody who doesn't know what to expect, really gave me a positive perspective, a positive approach when I came back that next week." 

Rick Lovato 
"The one moment that does stick out to me the most is when we had our family day practice over at the stadium at the beginning of training camp. The way he responds to the fans and bringing a kid onto the field with him to throw around. And just seeing that and seeing how much those kids and the fans appreciate all that he did and all that he was for Philadelphia, it really made me see there's so much more to this game than football. It's really awesome to be able to see that and how many people he's been able to touch in this area." 

Brandon Graham 
"Just the shows he used to do. Every year was something different with Dorenbos. He was hosting a lot of stuff; I've been to a lot of events. I loved when he had his little shows and he'd go up to different lockers and kind of have fun with them, whatever the topic was that day. I think those were the most fun because it was more personal with the athletes being in the locker room." 

Chris Maragos 
"I would just say, there's a million of them, but his way with connecting with the guys. He would always break down our huddle the Saturday before the game with a funny random fact and it would somehow correlate to our team and our game or the team we were playing and the date we were playing on. Something like that. He always had something funny. And he was always so smooth, almost like he was rehearsing it for two weeks. And he probably just thought of it five minutes before he went out there. It's just things like that, his randomness, him popping off, doing a trick or stealing a guy's wallet or whatever it might be. Definitely one of those type of things for sure." 

Steven Means
"Coach (Dave) Fipp told me he wanted me to pin [Dorenbos'] hip and lean toward him a little bit. I remember kind of like hitting him and almost picking him up and throwing him. Normally that guy would be kind of mad about it or whatever. He came over and patted me, 'Thanks, man, thanks for the look.' The next play, I went down on the guard and he tried to give me a little extra push. We looked at each other and smiled. And it's just that kind of competitive spirit and nature. He's always been a good dude. He even told me he'd help me snap if that was what I was trying to do, joked around with him before. He's that type of guy."