Eagles

Eagles' Alex Singleton waited years for chance to play in NFL

Eagles' Alex Singleton waited years for chance to play in NFL

Alex Singleton faced a huge decision after the Eagles released him on Aug. 30 following a strong preseason.

Go back to the CFL, where he was a two-time all-star and a job was waiting, or stick around in Philly and toil in anonymity on the Eagles’ practice squad.

Singleton said he would have been more than happy to head back to the Calgary Stampeders if it didn’t work out here.

But as much as he loved his time in Canada, his dream has always been to play in the NFL. So he swallowed his pride and toiled in anonymity on the practice squad the last six weeks, hoping for a shot at the 53-man roster.

The conversations I had with management upstairs and the coaches and everything, I knew the opportunity would come,” Singleton said. “Just keep working, keep developing my craft, and the time would come, and there’s no better time for it to come.

Surprisingly, you can earn more money on an NFL practice squad, where the minumum salary is $8,000 a week, than in the CFL, where the average salary is about $4,500 a week.

But it wasn’t really about the money for Singleton, who got a raise to $29,264 per week with his promotion to the 53-man roster.

I wanted to be here,” he said. “That was why I didn’t just leave after the preseason. If there was a legit chance I'll be playing football for the Philadelphia Eagles. I was going to stay, and now when it comes full circle, I'm happy I got that opportunity.

Singleton, 25, is actually the Eagles’ oldest healthy linebacker right now.

He takes the roster spot that opened up when the Eagles released starter Zach Brown on Tuesday.

It looks like undrafted rookie T.J. Edwards will get a lot of Brown’s reps, and Singleton will move into Edwards’ role as a special teamer and backup linebacker.

One hundred percent ready,” Singleton said. “I've been ready since that last preseason game and I've been ready to play for this team probably since OTAs. And I'm just excited to just go out there and continue to do what I've done you know in practice and in the preseason. … It's what I've been planning for for the last you know, six months and the last five years.

Singleton graduated from Montana State in 2015, went undrafted and then had brief stints in camp with the Seahawks, Patriots and Vikings, but he was released each time. He just wasn’t ready. 

He said the Alex Singleton of 2015 and the Alex Singleton of 2019 are completely different people and completely different football players. 

Oh, night and day,” he said. “If I could go back to myself then coming out of Montana State? I didn't know much. I didn't know how to study. Not that I wouldn't have said I was ready to be a pro, but myself now? I'm so much more prepared now. I know how to prepare now.

It’s certainly an unusual route to the NFL that Singleton is taking. The Ventury County, Calif., native gave the NFL a shot, it didn’t work out, had three excellent years in Canada, and is ready to give the NFL another shot.

This is the ultimate longshot story. Could an undrafted linebacker from the CFL really make an impact for the Eagles? It became a little less improbable this week.

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5 matchups to watch as Eagles host Giants in NFL Week 14

5 matchups to watch as Eagles host Giants in NFL Week 14

The Eagles (5-7) are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Dolphins and will host the Giants (2-10) on Monday Night Football at the Linc. 

The Giants haven’t won a game since Sept. 29, but the Eagles have lost three in a row. 

Here are five matchups to watch on Monday: 

Eli Manning vs. Jim Schwartz 

Rookie Daniel Jones has a high ankle sprain, so it sounds like the 38-year-old veteran will be starting on Monday night. The Giants’ offense will look different with Manning. Schwartz explained that the Giants have been using some zone read with Jones and they certainly won’t with Manning. We know the ball is going to come out of his hands quickly. 

“It's going to be important to cover quick and get to the quarterback quick and knock their timing off of their passing game when Eli is back there, because he's such a timing quarterback,” Schwartz said. 

Last season, Manning’s average time to throw was 2.65 seconds. This year, Jones’ average time to throw is 2.88 seconds. That’s a pretty big difference. 

Evan Engram vs. Malcolm Jenkins 

The Giants’ talented tight end hasn’t played since Nov. 4 because of a foot sprain, but will likely return against the Eagles this weekend. In eight games this season, Engram has 44 catches for 467 yards and 3 touchdowns. 

In two career games against the Eagles, Engram has 13 catches for 132 yards. 

The good news is that the Eagles have performed fairly well against tight ends this season. They’ve given up 50 passes, 533 yards and four touchdowns against opposing tight ends. Just eight teams have given up fewer yards to opposing tight ends. 

Saquon Barkley vs. Eagles’ linebackers 

It probably has something to do with the ankle injury he suffered earlier in the season, but Barkley hasn’t followed up his Pro Bowl rookie season with another big year. This year, in nine games, he has just 544 rushing yards and 291 receiving yards and just three total touchdowns after he had 15 last year. 

His rushing yards per attempt have dropped from 5.0 in 2018 to 4.0 this season. What’s even more noteworthy is that his average yards after contact per attempt have dropped from 2.8 to 1.9 this season. He hasn’t been the same. 

Still, Barkley was great against the Eagles last year: 

Week 6: 13 carries, 130 yards, 1 TD, 9 receptions, 99 yards

Week 12: 13 carries, 101 yards, 1 TD, 7 receptions, 41 yards, 1 TD 

That’s 371 yards from scrimmage for Barkley against the Eagles last year. Just five players have ever had more yards from scrimmage against the Eagles in a single season: Tiki Barber, Emmitt Smith, Jim Brown (x2), Herschel Walker, Ezekiel Elliott. 

The Eagles need to be sure to slow down Barkley on Monday. 

Golden Tate vs. Avonte Maddox, Cre’Von LeBlanc

The former Eagles receiver is expected to return from a concussion to play in this game. Tate played the second half of the 2018 season with the Eagles last year and wasn’t very productive. Look at his numbers in 10 games with the Eagles (including playoffs) and his numbers in seven games with the Giants this year: 

2018 with Eagles: 10 games, 37 catches, 342 yards, 2 touchdowns 

2019 with Giants: 7 games, 36 catches, 450 yards, 4 touchdowns 

With an entire offseason, the Giants have been far more successful plugging Tate into their offense. Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby really struggled against the Dolphins, so it covered up the fact that Maddox didn’t play very well either. We’ll see what the split at the nickel is this week, but Maddox or LeBlanc will need to cover Tate, who still gets most of his snaps in the slot. 

Carson Wentz vs. Giants’ pass defense 

I know they lost and I know the offense struggled to score in the second half in Miami, but Wentz had a pretty good game. He threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns. He had his only interception on the Hail Mary that he was forced to throw because the defense couldn’t stop the Dolphins at all. Before that Hail Mary, Wentz’s passer rating was over 100. 

The Giants are the eighth-worst passing defense in the league, giving up 258.6 passing yards per game. And you have to remember that they’ve lost six games by at least two touchdowns, so teams aren’t even trying to pass on them for whole games. Janoris Jenkins has recently voiced his frustration about not traveling. First-round pick DeAndre Baker hasn’t had a great rookie season and he’s been rotating in and out. 

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What Zach Ertz is taking 'very personally' as 'angry' Eagles move forward

What Zach Ertz is taking 'very personally' as 'angry' Eagles move forward

It wasn’t one of Zach Ertz’s best games. May have been one of his worst.

“I was pretty hot for 24 hours,” Ertz said. “Just really disappointed in myself, the way I played.”

There were two drops, including one inside the Dolphins’ 5-yard line on the third-quarter drive that ended with Jake Elliott missing a field goal. And another play in the end zone that probably wasn’t technically a drop but that Ertz would tell you he should have caught.

After catching 30 passes for 288 yards the previous three games, Ertz was just 3 for 24 in Miami, his second-fewest yards this year.

Blowing a 14-point second-half lead, losing to a two-win team, a crucial drop when a catch could have been a game-breaker … it all led to one pissed-off Zach Ertz.

Monday morning, come in, train hard, just bust my butt in the weight room, try to get everything out of me, try to take out all my anger in the weight room,” Ertz said. “Come in Tuesday on the off day and get a bunch catches in, and then just kind of move on. I’ve played over 100 games in this league now, had a lot of success, can’t let one game define me. Obviously, I didn’t put a lot of good stuff on film that I was proud of, but I’m not going to lose confidence in myself, I know the coaches aren’t going to lose confidence in me, and I’ve got to be the player that this team needs me to be these last four games.

Ertz isn’t putting up the numbers he did last year, but he still leads all NFL tight ends with 70 catches and leads all NFC tight ends with 736 yards.

He’s up to 14th in NFL history in career catches among tight ends with 507.

But after Sunday’s disaster, he was hardly in the mood to celebrate a few catches.

I took it very personally, a lot of the leaders took it very personally, and the leaders of the team got to step up right now,” Ertz said. “We need our best players to be playing our best football right now and there’s no other way to put it. We put it upon ourselves to execute at a high level, kind of the core group of guys that we have, and we feel like if we’re able to do that, everybody else follows. That’s the makeup of this team. If our best guys are playing their best come December we have a chance to win football games, and that’s where we’re at right now.

Ertz didn’t practice the week leading up to the Miami game because of a hamstring injury he suffered pregame against the Seahawks a week earlier.

He said the three days off Monday through Wednesday, thanks to the Monday night game against the Giants this coming week, gave him a chance to heal, and he feels better now than he has in a long time.

Now he just has to make some plays and help this team win a game they have to win.

Guys are angry right now,” Ertz said. “Guys are frustrated. As a team we’ve just got to be able to bottle this up and control it on Monday night and go out there and play to the best of our abilities, allow the leaders to lead this football team and find a way to win a game.

Everybody knows the story.

They’re 5-7. Four wins gets them to the playoffs. Then again they’ve won only four games since Sept. 10.

At this point, just being angry and frustrated might not be enough.

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