stefen wisniewski

Chatter bugs Jason Kelce, Stefen Wisniewski giving Eagles rare combo

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Chatter bugs Jason Kelce, Stefen Wisniewski giving Eagles rare combo

Brandon Brooks joked that it actually gets on his nerves sometimes. 

During the middle of games, Jason Kelce and Stefen Wisniewski go second-level in their conversations. It's almost like having two centers geeking out at times. 

"After every play and between every play," Brooks said, "they're looking at each other and talking about the different coverages going on, like, 'If the safety's two feet over, he might do this.'"

The Eagles are in a unique position having two players starting next to each other with significant starting experience at center. The center, often one of the smartest players on the field, is responsible for partially diagnosing coverages and making line calls. 

The Eagles have two. 

With Wisniewski at left guard next to Kelce, sometimes he'll see something Kelce misses, so he passes along the information. They're in constant communication throughout every game. 

Lane Johnson said Wisniewski and Kelce are among the smartest football players he's ever been around. That combined knowledge means a lot to the Eagles. 

"He's played center, he's played guard, he's played all over the place," Kelce said of Wisniewski. "He's a very, very smart guy who understands the calls because he's the next guy in at center, so he has to know the calls. He's just as involved in the game plan, in terms of that, as I am."

Wisniewski said Kelce obviously has final say on all the calls, but is always willing to listen to his input. As a center himself, Wisniewski said the more information coming in, the better. 

"It's a lot of fun. I enjoy playing with Kelce," Wisniewski said. "He's a really smart guy. I've learned a lot from him. Hopefully, he's learned some things from me, too." 

Wisniewski didn't become the Eagles' starter at left guard until Week 4. Before that, the Eagles began the season with Isaac Seumalo and then even gave Chance Warmack the first chance to start after Seumalo was benched. Wisniewski was the third option this season. And that comes after he was behind Allen Barbre and Seumalo last year. 

Since arriving in Philly in 2016, Wisniewski hasn't been shy about his desire to become a starter again. The former second-round pick started 77 NFL games in Oakland and Jacksonville before joining the Eagles. 

On Friday, he admitted it was "tough" waiting for his turn this season. Since being inserted as the starter, he's clearly won the job. The line has been much better with him in there. 

"I think I'm playing well this year and I know I'm a starting-quality player," Wisniewski said. "I think I'm playing at a high level and showing that I deserve to be a starter."

Wisniewski signed a three-year deal this offseason to remain in Philly, which was a little bit of a surprise because of his desire to become a starter again. When he signed the deal, the team still had Barbre and Seumalo and the day before had brought in Warmack. 

At the time, Wisniewski seemed like the fourth option to get in at guard. But now he's the starter and it doesn't look like he'll give up the job anytime soon. 

"He's played a lot of games in this league," head coach Doug Pederson said. "For him and Isaac earlier in the year and Chance a little bit, and now Stefen has kind of settled into that spot. He's playing well, and it just solidifies your offensive line."

Eagles notice big change in Lane Johnson

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Eagles notice big change in Lane Johnson

Fresh off a pretty dominating performance against Von Miller, it's pretty safe to say Lane Johnson is playing at an extremely high level, a Pro Bowl level even. 

The Eagles' right tackle has seemingly used his 10-game PED suspension from last year as motivation. He's on a mission to prove himself in the NFL and it's working. 

That's why when offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland was asked if this is the best football of Johnson's career, the veteran O-line coach gave a look of bewilderment. 

"Seriously?" Stoutland said, opening his eyes as wide as they go while dipping his head slightly forward. "He's off the chart right now.

"I think he just made his mind up that he wants to be a dominating player and whatever it takes from his standpoint, meetings, meeting room. From the time he walks in until the time he leaves here, it's all business for Lane. Lane's a worker, man."

After Jason Peters went down for the season, it might have made sense to flip Johnson from the right to left side and place Halapoulivaati Vaitai at right tackle. But the Eagles decided to leave Johnson at his post for a few reasons. One of them is that Johnson is playing extremely well at right tackle. Another is that they didn't want to disrupt two spots. 

And another is that many premier pass-rushers line up on the right tackle. Demarcus Lawrence and Khalil Mack are still yet to come. As far as Miller, Stoutland said Johnson was "excellent" against the NFL's leader in sacks since 2011. He saw that one-handed toss Johnson pulled on Miller and recognized it as a technique they teach; Johnson executed it "perfectly." 

"He's always had that in him but I think it's at a different level right now," Stoutland said. "He's always had that in him."

Right guard
During his session with reporters Tuesday, Stoutland was answering a question when he got a little annoyed. He pointed out that no one had asked him about Brandon Brooks yet. Because while Johnson is playing at a Pro Bowl level, the guy lining up to his left is, too. 

Stoutland praised Brooks' consistency and his physicality. At 330 pounds, Brooks is the heaviest player on the roster. 

But he's pretty athletic for his size. 

"Extremely athletic. Sneaky athletic," Stoutland said. "You watch him when we screw around a little bit with the football. We'll throw the football around. He's just a very athletic guy for a big man."

A few times Sunday against Denver, it was Brooks who was downfield blocking in the second level. 

What's that like to see?  

"Pretty awesome," Stoutland said. "And then he can stand at the line of scrimmage in a phone booth and knock your face off, too." 

Left tackle 
The flip side of Johnson's staying at right tackle was that Vaitai simply replaced Peters at left tackle. That's no easy task. 

Big V has a pretty unassuming personality. He's so soft-spoken it's actually hard to imagine him having enough fire to be able to take on defensive linemen Sundays. But Stoutland knows how to get that out of him. 

"I know the secret. I know the button," he said. "Trust me. Ask him that. I push him."

When asked where Vaitai has improved the most, Stoutland answered by saying "the use of his hands." He said Vaitai has been able to use his hands violently without losing his balance. 

"He makes progress on a daily basis," Stoutland said. "Very happy with his progression. I like him as a left tackle. He's been a natural left tackle."

Center
For all the criticism Jason Kelce has gotten from fans over the last few years, the veteran center is playing at a really high level in 2017. 

Stoutland was willing to take some of the blame for Kelce's dip in play last season. 

"To be fair to Kelce, I asked him last year to do a whole bunch," Stoutland said. "I think I asked him to do a little bit too much and I think that kind of diluted a little bit of his ability and his production level, to be honest with you. That's on me. This year, we kind of tightened it up a little bit and put him in better positions to be productive and successful. But I have always had a tremendous regard for Jason Kelce and his ability to play center in this league."

Stoutland also praised Kelce's discipline. He said Kelce has always been a technician but is even more consistent with that this season. 

Left guard
Stefen Wisniewski was the third guy to get a crack at the left guard spot this season, but it doesn't look like he's going to give it up anytime soon. When Isaac Seumalo was struggling, the Eagles used a combination of Chance Warmack and Wiz until it was clear Wisniewski was just playing better. 

That's why he earned the job. 

"Just proved it every day. Production. Bottom line," Stoutland said. "The production level of the player. Everybody had their opportunity. And I told them all that. I told them nobody here is my cousin or anything. It's the production of the player and at the end of the day, that's the guy that was most productive."

Stoutland said he kept the rotation at left guard going until he was "100 percent sure" Wisniewski was the guy. That meant benching his longtime pupil dating back to Alabama. 

"Chance did nothing wrong," Stoutland said. "Chance was actually playing very good. At the end of the day, I just didn't feel like we could keep going on the way we were going."

Eagles snap counts: The left guard rotation might be dead

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Eagles snap counts: The left guard rotation might be dead

Stefen Wisniewski started again at left guard on Thursday night, but this time he didn't get taken out. 

It looks like the left guard rotation might be dead. 

After three weeks of rotating with Chance Warmack, Wisniewski played all 62 of the Eagles' offensive snaps on Thursday against the Panthers. Warmack didn't get on the field once with the offense. 

Coming into the game, Pederson had said a couple times that Wiz was going to get more of the work than before but as Thursday night unfolded, he didn't just get more. He got all of it. 

With Wiz as the left guard, the entire offensive line — including Halapoulivaati Vaitai at right tackle for a concussed Lane Johnson — played all 62 snaps. So did Carson Wentz. 

With Wendell Smallwood (knee) still on the shelf, LeGarrette Blount got 30 snaps, Kenjon Barner got 22 and Corey Clement got 10. 

Alshon Jeffery again led the way for the Eagles' receivers in snaps with 56, followed by Nelson Agholor (48) and Torrey Smith (35). Mack Hollins got just nine snaps but caught two passes (both went for first downs) for 38 yards. 

The Eagles actually didn't win the time of possession battle against the Panthers, which kept the Eagles' defense on the field more than they've been used to. The Eagles' defense played 82 snaps on Thursday. The previous season high was 69 against the Giants. The Eagles' defense got into the 80s just once last season. 

Malcolm Jenkins was the only defensive player to be on the field for all 82 plays. He very rarely leaves the field. Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod missed just one snap each and Patrick Robinson missed just two. 

Fletcher Cox returned to action with a beastly performance against the Panthers (see story). If there were any concerns about his calf, he answered them. And Cox certainly wasn't on a pitch count. He played 65 snaps, more than any other defensive lineman. 

Mychal Kendricks played 55 snaps (67 percent) but led the team with 15 tackles. Nigel Bradham, who had the best game of his Eagles' career, had 78 snaps (see story)

Jordan Hicks played 34 snaps (41 percent) before leaving the game with an ankle injury. 

Derek Barnett played a new career-high of 39 snaps and picked up the first half-sack of his career (see story)

Here are full snap counts from Thursday night: 

Offense
Brandon Brooks - 62 snaps (100 percent)
Halapoulivaati Vaitai - 62 (100)
Stefen Wisniewski - 62 (100)
Jason Kelce - 62 (100)
Jason Peters - 62 (100)
Carson Wentz - 62 (100)
Alshon Jeffery - 56 (90)
Zach Ertz - 49 (79)
Nelson Agholor - 48 (77)
Torrey Smith - 35 (56)
LeGarrette Blount - 30 (48)
Brent Celek - 24 (39)
Kenjon Barner -22 (35)
Trey Burton - 13 (21) 
Corey Clement - 10 (16)
Mack Hollins - 9 (15)
Isaac Seumalo - 8 (13)
Marcus Johnson - 6 (10)

Defense
Malcolm Jenkins - 82 snaps (100 percent) 
Jalen Mills - 81 (99)
Rodney McLeod - 81 (99)
Patrick Robinson - 80 (98)
Nigel Bradham - 78 (95)
Fletcher Cox - 65 (79)
Brandon Graham - 62 (76)
Rasul Douglas - 56 (68)
Mychal Kendricks - 55 (67) 
Beau Allen - 41 (50)
Chris Long - 41 (50)
Vinny Curry - 40 (49)
Derek Barnet - 39 (48)
Jordan Hicks - 34 (41)
Tim Jernigan - 25 (30)
Justin Hamilton - 15 (18)
Joe Walker - 13 (16)
Corey Graham - 7 (9)
Najee Goode - 5 (6) 
Steven Means - 1 (1)

Eric Rowe tracker
We are keeping an eye on Rowe in New England all season. If he plays more than 50 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps this season, that 2018 fourth-round pick the Eagles got in exchange for him will turn into a third-rounder. 

The Patriots don't play until Sunday, but here's what we have so far this season: 

Week 1: 37 of 69 snaps
Week 2: 34 of 65 snaps
Week 3: 0 of 71 snaps
Week 4: 19 of 63 snaps 
Week 5: 0 of 72 snaps

2017: 90 of 358 (25.1 percent)