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Donovan McNabb meets Carson Wentz, gives playoff prediction

Donovan McNabb meets Carson Wentz, gives playoff prediction

Think the Eagles are a playoff team?

Donovan McNabb does. 

"Absolutely," McNabb said while visiting the Eagles' locker room after their 34-7 razing of Arizona (see breakdown). "It's the funny thing about the NFC East. You really can't tell until about Week 12 or Week 13 because they pound each other so much. I think they have everything they need to make it to the playoffs, and it's going to be a great year."

Sixty-nine percent of teams winning four of their first five games have made the playoffs (234 out of 339). However, the Eagles are one of the 105 teams that failed to make the playoffs after a 4-1 start (2014 when they finished 10-6).

But that year, they didn't have Carson Wentz, who picked apart the Cardinals and became the first Eagles QB to throw four touchdowns in a game in Philadelphia since ...

McNabb, who did it in 2008 in another rout of the Cardinals, 48-20, on Thanksgiving. McNabb always could throw a great deep ball, and if there's been one area of concern with Wentz, that's it.

Not Sunday (see story).

Wentz threw a pretty ball over the middle to Torrey Smith for a 59-yard score. Then he hit Nelson Agholor, who used a couple jukes to finish a 72-yarder and capped with a tribute to one of McNabb's former deep ball targets, DeSean Jackson.

The last Eagles QB to throw two touchdowns of at least 50 yards in a game? McNabb, who did it in 2006 against Washington.

"It's been impressive the way he's been playing this year," McNabb told NBC Sports Philadelphia's Derrick Gunn. "I know people think I've been down on him a little bit, but the thing I wanted to see was after Week 4. After Week 4 of last year, things kind of changed. And you can see they're continuing to rise. I like what I'm seeing from the passing attack."

For McNabb, one of the most memorable moments of the day came when he sent his son over to Wentz with a ball to be autographed.

"I might sell it in 20 years, make me some big money," McNabb said. 

"It's an experience for my kids. My kids were all born here while I was playing for the Eagles. My son, same locker, came in, and I had both of them just sitting there with me. I think it was after a loss. I was sitting in the chair in the same locker. They were sitting behind me. It's an experience they can continue to grow with. To follow a guy like Carson — he's got a promising career."

The feeling was mutual.

"I’ve met Donovan before. He’s a great dude," Wentz said. "Now to meet his kids, that was really cool. That was really cool and it’s cool to see him come back too, come back to a game and still show his support for the team and for the city.”

As quarterbacks, McNabb and Wentz share one trait: mobility. When Wentz eluded several defenders before hitting Agholor for a 58-yard touchdown in the season opener against Washington, it brought back memories of McNabb's 14.2-second scramble and heave to Freddie Mitchell at Dallas in 2004.

While both can escape pressure, McNabb sees one key difference in their means of doing so.

"I had a little bit more pizzaz. I had more swagger," he said jokingly. "But again, it doesn't matter how you get it done. He's getting it done. No one really expected it, but the whole thing about it is, he's a ballplayer. There's a reason he went No. 2."

Just like McNabb.

Mask-wearing pioneer Rip Hamilton has advice for Joel Embiid

Mask-wearing pioneer Rip Hamilton has advice for Joel Embiid

Detroit Pistons star Richard Hamilton wasn't the first player to wear a mask in the NBA but sometimes it feels like he was.

Newsweek caught up with Rip this week to talk about his mask-wearing days and to see if he had any words of wisdom for Joel Embiid. Hamilton first wore a mask for breaking his nose, but he continued to wear it for the remainder of his career.

Embiid made his first playoff appearance of his career last night in Miami while rocking a new mask complete with a custom visor to protect his eyes. It was clearly bothering him but he didn't let it dictate his play.

“It was difficult,” Embiid said of the mask. “But to me it wasn’t really about getting used to it because at the end of the day, no matter how much it bothers me, I’ve still got to be a basketball player."

Hamilton has famously said that he embraced the mask to the point of it becoming his "Batman cape" which allowed him to be more aggresive.

"Over a period of time I started to get used to it. As basketball players, a lot of times you go to the basket and it’s a lot of elbows being thrown, guys are getting poked in the eye," he told Newsweek this week. "You tend to clench up because you don’t want to get hit in the face. Once I started wearing that mask I wasn’t clenching up no more. I was willing to take contact more. I was able to get to the free throw line more because now I’m not scared of getting hit in the face. It kind of made me into a more aggressive and better basketball player."

Hamilton's message to Embiid prior to the series?

"Embrace it. Make it cool. Make it fun. Make it like a prop. Don’t get caught up in saying like, 'I got a piece of plastic on my face. I’m worrying about how I look, I’m worrying about my perception when I shoot.' When you’re out there in, like, shooting drills, don’t be so caught up in putting the mask on and trying to worry about how you shoot with it on. Put it on in the game and just wear it because our game is a non-thinking sport. React. You gotta read and react as quick as possible. The less thinking you do, the better you’ll be."

Rip also took notice of Embiid's frustration with the mask following the game. He encouraged Jo that it only gets easier.

I’ve thrown my mask off numerous times lil bro @joelembiid ...It will get more comfortable game by game ..Trust The Process. #MaskOnMaskOff#YouGotTheJuiceNow #Holdat #Yessir#Mask #TnT #nba #nbaplayoffs #sixers#sixersvsheat #LoveThisGame

Eagles players with the most to gain at OTAs — S Tre Sullivan

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AP Images

Eagles players with the most to gain at OTAs — S Tre Sullivan

The Eagles don’t hit the practice field as a team for another five weeks, yet each year coaches point to players who distinguish themselves during the months of April and May. These are the players with the most to gain in phases one and two of OTAs.

There isn’t an unheralded prospect in better position to climb the Eagles’ depth chart this spring than Tre Sullivan.

Never mind the fact that vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas just got done lauding Sullivan’s performance in a pre-draft interview on Thursday. The 24-year-old also happens to be one of only four safeties on the Eagles roster for the time being, creating a huge opportunity for an undrafted free agent from Shepherd College.

Competition will come soon enough, as safety is an obvious target for the Eagles in the upcoming draft. Even then, Sullivan could find himself in the mix for a big role with a good spring.

Last season, Corey Graham was the Eagles’ third safety behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. Graham, a free agent departure, wound up playing nearly 40 percent of the team’s snaps.

This isn’t merely a backup job. There’s serious playing time at stake – and Sullivan can get a jump on the competition.

Sullivan made a name for himself in last year’s preseason opener against the Packers with a vicious hit on wide receiver Malachi Dupre. It was a scary moment, as Dupre was knocked out by the collision, but also a clean play and an example of the defensive back’s physicality.

Sullivan forced a fumble on the hit and finished with four tackles. He would go on to acquit himself well in three other preseason games, eventually landing on the Eagles’ practice squad.

Listed at 6-foot-0, 200 pounds, Sullivan is a relatively average size for a safety, but plays downhill and hits like a truck.

The Eagles liked the instincts and aggressiveness they saw on the field. Now, Sullivan has a chance to work out and learn from coaches in an environment where there really aren’t any other young players right now and he can be the focus of a lot of attention. Phases one and two of OTAs and the two weeks before the draft in particular could be a pivotal period.

If Sullivan impresses during these early stages, it could go a long way toward solidifying his place with the team.

Even if Sullivan is bested for the third safety spot, he could still wind up on the 53-man roster. The Eagles may opt to carry five since Chris Maragos primarily plays on special teams.

Sullivan will likely enter training camp as a player who’s considered to be on the bubble, and what he does when the pads go on will be most important. However, if he showed up and really nailed these workouts, that could go a long way toward how the team views him heading into this summer.