Andrew Kulp

Malcolm Jenkins weighs in on NFL's controversial partnership with Jay-Z

Malcolm Jenkins weighs in on NFL's controversial partnership with Jay-Z

Nearly one week after a controversial partnership was struck between the NFL and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins sounded cautiously optimistic about its potential impact.

The twofold agreement somewhat benignly tasks Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation with improving the NFL’s live musical performances such as the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and perhaps more alarmingly tasks the rapper with “amplify(ing) the league’s social justice efforts.”

Critics of the deal — and there are many — view the latter function as anything from a cynical money grab on the part of Jay-Z to a perversion of the social justice ideals that free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled over.

Jenkins, who himself has been on the forefront of the fight for social justice reform, working with officials in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., implied there isn’t yet enough information to pass judgment on the new partnership, noting Jay-Z has a history of involvement in such matters.

We’re all kind of waiting to see kind of what the details are,” said Jenkins after Monday’s practice. “As a player who’s had to negotiate with the league and sit across from billionaires and talk about issues and why they should be important and why the NFL should be highlighting them, I think having somebody like Jay-Z who can add to that conversation — he does these things on a daily basis, has a history of doing those things — helps us as players to have an ally like that, so I’m looking forward to seeing what that turns into.

Of course, Jenkins and those in Kaepernick’s camp haven’t always seen eye to eye. Panthers safety Eric Reid once referred to the Eagles star as a “sellout” during an on-field confrontation, though the two have since mended fences.

It’s perhaps worth noting then that Kaepernick did not name Jenkins in a recent Tweet that some construed as a shot toward the Jay-Z deal.

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Eagles report card: Another week, another quarterback lost to injury

Eagles report card: Another week, another quarterback lost to injury

The common theme from the Eagles’ second preseason game was a better all-around showing than a week earlier.

After earning mostly “needs improvement” grades in the opener, the Eagles’ depth shined in a 24-10 preseason win over the Jaguars — including a surprise performance under center.

Quarterbacks

Clayton Thorson: 16/26, 175 YDS, TD, INT

What a difference a week makes. Thorson looked far more comfortable in his second game as a pro, connecting on easy throws, threading the needle on a few others and generally being more aggressive with the football. The rookie signal caller led touchdown drives of 90 and 87 yards, and don’t mind the interception, either, as it was the result of a dropped pass.

Grade: B+

Running backs

Miles Sanders: 5 ATT, 31 YDS

Sanders had gains of 12 and 16 yards, showing off his vision and burst, but the rookie’s most impressive play might’ve been his blitz pickup on Thorson’s touchdown pass. He made a case to be the Eagles’ primary ball carrier. Byron Scott and Donnell Pumphrey combined to rush 12 times for 72 yards with a score in garbage time.

Grade: A-

Wide receivers and tight ends

Greg Ward: 2 REC, 42 YDS, TD

Lot of involvement from a lot of receivers battling for roster spots. Ward’s adjustment to a desperation fourth-down pass was good, and the run after to finish a 38-yard score was even better. Charles Johnson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Carlton Agudosi all had at least two catches as well. At tight end, Will Tye made three grabs for 34 yards.

Grade: B

Offensive line

Decent performance marred by penalties and a missed assignment that resulted in a concussion for quarterback Cody Kessler. Stefen Wisniewski was responsible for a couple of low snaps, too. Overall though, Eagles backs averaged 4.4 yards per carry, while Jaguars defenders only managed to record four hits on the quarterback.

Grade: B-

Defensive line

Daeshon Hall: 2 TKL, TFL, 2.0 SK, FF

The Jaguars had no answer for Hall, who was in the backfield seemingly every play. When Josh Sweat moved over to the side Hall was having success, it mostly resulted in a lot of Mamulas. Shareef Miller also registered a sack and two tackles for loss, and starters Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry were getting pressure off the edges in limited work.

Grade: A-

Linebackers

Alex Singleton: 6 TKL, TFL

Zach Brown didn’t play much, but showed some great instinct to blow up a run in the background — he just needed to make the tackle. Undrafted rookie T.J. Edwards also looked smooth playing downhill, with two tackles including a tackle for loss. Not too much super noteworthy, but no real glaring mistakes, either.

Grade: B

Defensive backs

Malcolm Jenkins: 2 TKL, TFL

Jenkins came out like a man possessed, flying around the line of scrimmage for two series and shutting down the Jaguars’ running game. Much better effort from the Eagles’ secondary depth, specifically cornerbacks Josh Hawkins and Jeremiah McKinnon. Jags quarterbacks completed just 55.3 percent of their passes for 5.6 yards per attempt, no touchdowns.

Grade: B+

Special teams

Jake Elliott: 1/1 FG, 3/3 XP

It’s not what Byron Scott did in the return game, which is not much – it’s what he didn’t do. Scott had an opportunity to fair catch a Jaguars punt around the 12-yard line, but decided to let the ball drop instead. Starting field position would’ve been bad regardless, but the bounce and subsequent roll wound up pinning the Eagles at their own 5, which is obviously worse.

Grade: B

Coaching

Not sure why a veteran defender like Jenkins needs multiple series in a preseason game where none of the offensive starters played at all. Nobody important got hurt though, which is all that matters here.

Grade: N/A

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Marken Michel's TD in preseason was figuratively and literally a dream come true

Marken Michel's TD in preseason was figuratively and literally a dream come true

Eagles wide receiver Marken Michel had a date with destiny on Thursday, if you believe in that sort of thing. His 75-yard touchdown catch against the Titans happened just the way he imagined it would, and exactly how Eagles quarterback Nate Sudfeld said it would.

“I literally dreamed about this play,” Michel said following the Eagles’ preseason opener. “Literally. I dreamed about running a post, catching it and scoring just like that, and it happened. I can’t ask for anything better.

“[Sudfeld] told me if I see a Cover 4 [coverage], he’s coming to me, and that’s exactly what we got, so it was pretty much a perfect situation. Perfect situation, perfect ball.”

Michel was enjoying a strong offseason, one many observers felt put him very much in the mix for a spot on the Eagles’ 53-man roster. But when the CFL product hauled in Sudfeld’s bomb over the outstretched fingertips of Titans cornerback Adoree Jackson, a two-year starter and former first-round pick, he became one step closer to finally breaking into the NFL.

“It’s been a long road,” Michel said. “Only the people closest to me know the things that I’ve been through to get to this point and to get that touchdown.

“For me, that touchdown wasn’t six points. It was way bigger than that.”

The 26-year-old declined to elaborate on his road, though it’s simple enough to map his football journey to this point. Michel played his college ball at Division I-FCS UMass, then spent training camp with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent.

When Michel failed to make the practice squad or get picked up by another NFL team, it was off to Canada the following year, where he recorded 72 receptions for 1,215 yards and eight touchdowns and won a Grey Cup Championship in two seasons with the Calgary Stampeders.

Even there, Michel was constantly fighting for respect.

“It was funny because a lot of people kind of deemed me a ‘gamer,’” Michel said. “In practice I wouldn’t make plays, but in the game, I would get it done, so I kind of take that mentality.

“Even though I go hard in practice, when the lights are on, it’s showtime.”

That hasn’t been the case since signing with the Eagles in January. Michel was one of the media darlings of spring OTAs, racking up impressive catches in the sessions that were open to reporters.

Michel hasn’t been targeted quite as frequently in training camp, but a 75-yard touchdown in an exhibition game figures to restore some of his momentum.

“I feel like I kind of started on a high note and then kind of slowed down a little bit,” said Michel, who entered camp with the unrealistic goal of making a big play in every practice. “But for me, I like to be my toughest critic, so I like to come to practice every day with the mindset of making a big play.

“When I don’t make a big play every day, it bothers me a little bit.”

While the Eagles have four receivers currently pegged as locks to make the team — Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor and JJ Arcega-Whiteside — a fifth spot is up for grabs. Mack Hollins is considered the front-runner, but he missed all last season with an injury and hasn’t been a picture of health this summer, either.

The Eagles could potentially carry Michel as a sixth receiver, too, provided he shows any semblance of value on special teams. Recently, he’s seen work as a punt returner.

Michel faces plenty of competition from other prospects such as Shelton Gibson, Charles Johnson, Greg Ward and Carlton Agudosi. However, he’s banking on his time in the CFL giving him a leg up in his battle.

“It wasn’t really that much different,” Michel said. “I was playing on a great team, great program, a lot of great coaches who helped me develop as a receiver and they prepared for what was to come today, so I’m forever grateful to them.”

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