Eagles

Can the Eagles beat Seattle with Matt Pryor and Big V starting?

Can the Eagles beat Seattle with Matt Pryor and Big V starting?

It sure looks like Matt Pryor will start at right guard for the Eagles in their wild-card game against the Seahawks Sunday.

Pretty significant considering Pryor has never started a playoff game.

Or a regular-season game.

Barring a miracle recovery by Lane Johnson, Pryor will become the first offensive lineman in franchise history to make his first career start in the postseason. He would be the first Eagle to make his first start in the playoffs at any position since safety Quintin Demps started in the 2008 wild-card game against the Vikings.

With Johnson still hobbled with a high ankle sprain and looking unlikely to play Sunday, Halapoulivaati Vaitai is the likely starter at right tackle, with Pryor — Vaitai’s college teammate at TCU — expected to start at right guard.

If Johnson is able to go — and he wasn’t at practice all week — Big V would start at right guard.

But the Eagles are planning for Pryor and Vaitai starting in the biggest game of the year in place of two Pro Bowlers, Brandon Brooks and Johnson.

Pryor’s had a lot of reps, V’s had a lot of reps at both spots,” Jason Kelce said. “We feel good and confident with either of those two guys. Both those guys have shown they can do the job, they’ve gotten all the reps during the week, and Stout (offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland) does a great job getting those guys ready.

Vaitai has started 23 games, and he’s held down right tackle the last three weeks, with Johnson out. He started at left tackle during the Super Bowl run two years ago.

The last time the Eagles played without either Brooks or Johnson was in Washington in 2016.

“V has played right tackle and he’s played well,” Pederson said. “Pryor has played right guard and he’s played well and he’s filled in for Brandon when need be.”

Vaitai isn’t the most consistent offensive lineman ever, but he’s played fairly well so far this year, and he was a Super Bowl starter.

Pryor has played only 79 NFL snaps on offense in his life, all in the last few weeks.

“He’s physical,” Kelce said. “He has all the physical attributes you’d want in a guard or a tackle. He’s tall, he’s long, he’s big, he’s powerful. The biggest thing you’re looking for with Matt since he’s been here is just consistency and that’s the biggest thing with young guys in general, especially guys that have all the physical attributes. You’re waiting for everything to click and that consistency to step up and Matt’s done that. In the games we’ve asked him to play in he’s been very consistent for us.”

Pryor, a 6th-round pick last year, never got off the bench as a rookie. He was inactive for 17 games and a DNP-CD in the other.

But he learned as much as he could, studied all the all-pros around him and waited his turn.

“I came in knowing what I was getting into,” he said. “I knew who was on the O-line and regardless of if I was going to play when I first got here or not I was just happy to be where I was because there was so much experience on the o-line and it was just going to help me perfect my craft.

“We had Chance (Warmack) here, we had Wiz (Stefen Wisniewski), we had about 13 people in the o-line room. But even then it was been the same mentality. Beginning of the season (Stoutland) comes in and says, ‘Your time’s going to come so be prepared,’ and that’s the same mentality I’ve been carrying since then.”

It’s definitely a dropoff from Brooks and Johnson to Pryor and Vaitai. How big that dropoff is will go a long way toward determining whether the Eagles are still playing football next week.

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Rodney McLeod explains biggest lessons learned from Malcolm Jenkins

Rodney McLeod explains biggest lessons learned from Malcolm Jenkins

Four years ago, when Rodney McLeod became a free agent for the first time in his NFL career, one of the reasons he wanted to join the Eagles was for the chance to play next to Malcolm Jenkins. 

And for the last four years, he did. The two formed a safety tandem that played 49 regular season games and four playoff games, including Super Bowl LII, together. 

But now Jenkins is back in New Orleans with the Saints and the Eagles are preparing to play without him for the first time since 2013. Meanwhile, McLeod signed a two-year deal to return to Philly. 

On a conference call with reporters on Thursday, McLeod said he learned a lot from Jenkins over the past four seasons. 

What were some of those lessons? 

Just as a competitor,” McLeod said. “And then the ability to get the most out of guys, whether it’s on the defensive side or from an entire team standpoint. I think as a leader, that’s your kind of job. How can you get guys to play at the highest level and get the most out of your players. I think he was one of the best at doing that and understanding everyone … I learned a lot from him. 

“Not just on the field but off the field, the way he handled himself and what he did in the community for the city. I’ll always admire him. It’s hard to match. But like I said, his legacy will live on. The Saints are getting a good guy. Now, us as Eagles, playing with a new group of guys and we’re ready to move forward.

There’s no question that the Eagles are going to miss Jenkins’ contributions on the field. They will use some combination of Jalen Mills and Will Parks to replace him at that position and that won’t be easy. 

But the Eagles will also miss the leadership Jenkins brought to the locker room. He wasn’t just the leader of the secondary or even just the defense; Jenkins was oftentimes the key leader for the entire team. That’s hard to replace too. 

It’s not that McLeod, 29, hasn’t been a leader during his first four years in Philly. But now that role might need to expand and will become more important with the absence of Jenkins. 

“I think it’s important for me to be myself and be who I’ve always been,” McLeod said. “And that’s a guy that leads by his actions and leads by example. I think if you ask a lot of guys on the team, that’s what they’ll tell you most. Actions sometimes speak louder than words. I think there will be times for me to speak up when needed. When my teammates need me most, I’ll be ready to do that.”

For the most part, McLeod has been the quieter of the two safeties and Jim Schwartz has previously called him the calming presence in the defensive backfield.

But McLeod can speak up too. 

It’s really just about finding a balance between his two sides and putting the lessons from Jenkins into practice in 2020. 

“Myself, being a leader on this team for some time, will of course be asked to step up as well as other guys from a defensive standpoint and on the team,” McLeod said. “I think we’re prepared for that. And guys will be willing to step up to the plate and accept the challenge. Myself first and foremost.”

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Carson Wentz’s 3rd annual AO1 softball game canceled

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AO1 Foundation

Carson Wentz’s 3rd annual AO1 softball game canceled

Carson Wentz’s AO1 Foundation has canceled its 2020 softball game that was scheduled for May 8 at Citizens Bank Park. 

The foundation says the game will return in 2021. 

The AO1 Foundation said the following in a statement: 

“We canceled the game because we are taking the COVID-19 situation very seriously. We were looking forward to an event that brings the Philadelphia community together to have fun and help others, but the health and safety of our supporters is of utmost importance to us.”

All purchased tickets will be refunded. Expect it to take 5-7 business days for that credit to appear in accounts. If there are questions about the refund process, the AO1 Foundation asks you contact the Phillies at tickets@phillies.com. 

In the first two years, this softball game has raised $1.35 million for the AO1 Foundation, which launched in 2017. Last May, there were 15,000 fans at Citizens Bank Park. 

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