After being blanked by Falcons, Eagles' Mike Wallace promises better days ahead

After being blanked by Falcons, Eagles' Mike Wallace promises better days ahead

Targets: 3.

Catches: 0.

That was the sum total of Mike Wallace’s Eagles debut, and needless to say it wasn’t the debut he was looking for.

The Eagles signed Wallace to a one-year, $1.915 million contract to make plays down the field, and it sure wasn’t all his fault, but he didn’t make any plays down the field, up the field or across the field in the Eagles’ opener on Thursday night against the Falcons.

Nick Foles targeted Wallace three times, twice on deep routes that would have been huge if they connected.

They didn’t.

Late in the second quarter, with the Eagles at their own 18-yard-line, Foles went deep to Wallace for what would have been a 45-yard gain, but the ball fell incomplete as Falcons safety Keanu Neal appeared to be holding Wallace’s right arm.

Foles threw out of bounds on the next play looking for Wallace at the Eagles’ 40. 

Wallace’s next target didn’t come until 4:48 remaining in the game with the Eagles just inside midfield, when Wallace got a step on corner Robert Alford down the middle of the field but Foles underthrew him at the 5. 

“We’ll be fine,” Wallace said. “Those will come.

“I’ve been playing for a long time, I’m not panicking over one game. Those big plays will come from everybody. No one had the big plays they wanted. Not myself, not Nelly (Nelson Agholor), not (Zach) Ertz, nobody. It was one game, but we won so that’s all that matters.”

It was only the sixth time in 148 career games Wallace has been held without a reception.

Wallace averaged 60 catches for 900 yards and 6 ½ touchdowns per season from 2009 through 2017.

So he can play.

We just haven’t seen it yet.

“It’s been a lot of guys in and out throughout training camp, a lot of guys down, a lot of guys up, so it’s just a timing thing,” Wallace said. “We’ve been all over the place as far as players consistently working with Nick. 

“I’ve been out of practice, Nelly’s been out of practice, Nick’s been out of practice, everybody. We’ve been all over.

“We’ll jell. I think we had a pretty good day today (Monday). We hit some of those deep shots that we wanted, obviously it was practice and not the game but it was a start and you have to start somewhere. “

The defense carried the Eagles Thursday night, limiting the Falcons to one touchdown on five red-zone possessions and just 12 points in all. 

This is an elite defense, but Wallace knows at some point the offense will have to hold up its end of the bargain.

“Lean on our defense, we need them, they’re one of the best in the league,” he said. “They proved that Thursday and hopefully we can help them out Sunday and they won’t have to make as many big plays.

“We still want those big plays but we wouldn’t be counting on them so much as we were Thursday.

“We don’t want to be, ‘We need you to do this.’ If we do our job on offense and make some big plays and score some touchdowns, it’s going to score a lot of pressure off those guys and make life a lot easier.”

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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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Cody Kessler back at practice but is it too late?

Cody Kessler back at practice but is it too late?

Cody Kessler has gone from competing with Nate Sudfeld for the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback job to clinging to a roster spot.

Such is life in the NFL.

Kessler returned to practice Monday, just four days after suffering a concussion seven plays into the Eagles’ preseason game against the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

According to NFL concussion policy, if he experiences no additional symptoms 24 hours after practice — which is early tomorrow afternoon — he’ll formally be cleared out of concussion protocol.

It was a quick recovery, but it may be too late.

With Kessler’s struggles, the Eagles adding veteran Josh McCown and rookie Clayton Thorson putting together a strong preseason performance against the Jags, Kessler is on thin ice.

And he knows it.

I can’t think, ‘What’s the plan here, what’s going to happen,’ and start playing all these scenarios in my head, which is tough to do,” Kessler said after practice. “I’ve just got to come out and practice, keep going, getting ready to play Thursday and hopefully next week and then just go from there.

Doug Pederson was clear before training camp that there was open competition between Sudfeld and Kessler for the No. 2 job.

But since Sudfeld broke his wrist in the preseason opener, Kessler has only hurt his chances. 

He was a combined 4-for-10 for 23 yards in two preseason games before suffering the concussion in Jacksonville.

I was looking forward to that game, I was excited, had that first drive moving a little bit, had a little rhythm going, and then obviously things that were out of my control happened and you’ve kind of just got to go with it,” Kessler said. “The best thing is I’ve known Josh for a long time, he’s one of the closest people to me through football that I’ve met. I understood it with me being out.

Kessler and McCown were teammates with the Browns in 2016. Both began the season backing up Robert Griffin III, who ironically was at the NovaCare Complex as well on Monday as he starts his second season with the Ravens.

Now what? Sudfeld won’t be back for a while, McCown just came out of retirement and Thorson is a rookie fifth-round pick.

But Kessler hasn’t done anything to take ownership of a roster spot, and as of now, he’s on the outside looking in.

You can’t think about all those scenarios,” he said. “You can play out different things that could happen: ‘What if this, what if that, what are they going to do,’ trying to think about that, but at the end of the day it’s completely up to the front office, and my role is to come out here and compete and hopefully Thursday get a chance to compete again.

The Eagles finish the preseason Thursday at the Linc against the Ravens and a week from Thursday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford against the Jets.

With Carson Wentz not expected to play in either game and Sudfeld hurt, Kessler should get a chance to redeem himself. But with Thorson and McCown both likely to play extensively, it’s not a lock.

I’ve seen a lot of things happen,” Kessler said. “My rookie year in Cleveland with Josh, we had RG(3), who’s here also today, he got hurt, Josh got hurt, I come in, something else happened - we had like five or six quarterbacks by the end of the year. Stuff like that is crazy. … I felt like I put a really good camp together. Unfortunate really didn’t get to show that Thursday. It sucks, something you can’t control, but just trying to pick up where I left off and look forward to this week.

Kessler is with his third team in three years, and he’s running out of time to give the Eagles a reason to keep him.

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