Taylor Hart

Eagles Notes: Carson Wentz tuning out national praise

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AP Images

Eagles Notes: Carson Wentz tuning out national praise

It just so happens the best stretch of Carson Wentz's young career has coincided with two nationally televised games. 

So as Wentz took down Carolina on Thursday Night Football and Washington on Monday Night Football, the entire country got to see him look like the best quarterback in football. 

It's in part why he has been vaulted into the forefront of the NFL MVP discussion and why his jersey is selling better than anyone else's in the league. Pundits and talk-show hosts around the country have created much ballyhoo around the Eagles' quarterback. 

For a guy who tries to limit his exposure to publicity, good or bad, this could be problematic. 

So, is it getting any harder to tune out the praise? 

"Not really," Wentz said this week. "Just the nature of the flow of the season and how quickly you have to turn and go on to the next. Plus, I've always just been wired that way. Just block out as much as I can to stay focused. Can't get too high, can't get too low and just keep on grinding." 

Wentz doesn't watch TV and he tries to avoid reading about himself, but it's obviously somewhat unavoidable and will become increasingly so. At least for now, Wentz has been able to shield himself as much as possible. 

He said he's focused on the 49ers and it's easy to believe him. 

"You turn on the tape and you wouldn't think that's an 0-7 football team," Wentz said (see 5 matchups to watch).

Playing with Hart
Before the Eagles signed him this week to offer them some depth at tackle, Taylor Hart had spent the last couple months in California waiting and hoping another opportunity would present itself. 

That happened when Jason Peters went down for the season Monday night. 

After Hart was released by the Eagles at final cuts, he found himself in a precarious situation. Had the Eagles kept one more lineman, he would have been the guy. But after making the conversion from defensive tackle to offensive tackle, no teams other than the Eagles were willing to give him a chance, especially because he didn't have any practice squad eligibility left. 

Still, Hart thinks he made the right decision switching to the offensive line last spring.

"Yeah, I think so," Hart said. "I'm fully invested in it. It was tough being at home for a while, but I'm going to stick with it and try to prove myself with it."

About twice a week for the past couple months, Hart had been working with seven-time Pro Bowler Jackie Slater, who played for the Rams for 20 years before retiring after 1995. 

Hart and Slater worked on technique drills and Hart tried to work on both the offensive tackle and guard positions. The only thing he was missing was NFL competition. That's no small thing. 

"That's the biggest adjustment that I have to do here," Hart said. "You just have to work on your technique when you're away and just keep staying in shape." 

First-game jitters
Coming into Monday, Eagles linebacker Nate Gerry wasn't even sure he was going to be active. After all, he had just been called up from the practice squad after Chris Maragos went down for the year. 

But as the day went on, and because of Mychal Kendricks' hamstring injury, Gerry's role kept increasing and increasing. He ended up playing 15 special teams snaps in the win over Washington. 

And he was on the field for the very first play. At least he thought he was. 

Sitting by himself well after the end of the game, Gerry's whole day had been a blur. So much so that he thought he was on the field for the first snap of the game. He was on the field for the first kick return. The Eagles deferred Monday night. 

"Oh you're right, you're right," he said laughing. "I thought it was."

Gerry said he had been working to stay ready while he was on the practice squad and going against the Eagles' O-line and Wentz every day helped. 

He might have more opportunities coming — "just one ankle sprain away," he said — but for now, he was pretty happy to just experience his first NFL game.  

"It was a pretty cool experience for myself and all my family and all the people back home," he said. "Not a lot of South Dakota kids get to suit up for an NFL game so I had a lot of pride in doing that."

Quote of the Week I
"It ain't like basketball where I can go out and score 40 every night." — Alshon Jeffery on his lack of big numbers 

Quote of the Week II
"That worked out well. He needs to bring more plays from North Dakota State." — Corey Clement on the TD play from Monday

Quote of the Week III
"I thought, shoot, DeMeco could probably go back to Alabama and be the AD. That's how much weight his name carried." — Fletcher Cox on former teammate DeMeco Ryans

Random media guide note
Vinny Curry's favorite Halloween costume is The Ultimate Warrior.

Eagles sign DT-turned-OT Taylor Hart for depth; put Jason Peters on IR

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USA Today Images

Eagles sign DT-turned-OT Taylor Hart for depth; put Jason Peters on IR

Updated: 4:58 p.m.

With offensive tackle depth now a question following the season-ending injury to Jason Peters, the Eagles have turned to a familiar face. 

After working him out earlier in the day, the Eagles have signed offensive tackle Taylor Hart to a two-year deal. To make room for him on the roster, the team officially put Jason Peters (knee) on Injured Reserve.

Bringing in Hart makes a lot of sense. He already knows the offense and his conversion from DT to OT went well this summer. He was actually the final offensive lineman to be cut as the team kept just eight heading into the season. 

With his years in the league as a defensive player, Hart was ineligible for the practice squad so he had been without a team since early September. The Eagles obviously wanted to check to see what kind of shape he's in before signing him. They must have liked what they saw. 

"All my grades on Taylor, when he was here, were very high," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said Wednesday afternoon. "This is a tough business, only so many spots. But I was very impressed with Taylor through OTAs and training camp and thought he showed a lot of good signs."

If Hart is signed, he'll be a depth piece at tackle, along with Isaac Seumalo. The Eagles could also call up Dillon Gordon, who has been on the practice squad all season. Meanwhile, Lane Johnson and Halapoulivaati Vaitai will start this week against the 49ers. 

Hart was originally a fifth-round pick of the Eagles in the 2014 NFL draft. He was a defensive tackle from Oregon at the time.

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.