Eagles

Comfortable in his skin, calm Nick Foles hopes to write another story

Comfortable in his skin, calm Nick Foles hopes to write another story

Nick Foles strolled up to the microphone in the Eagles’ auditorium Wednesday afternoon wearing camouflaged tan and green FiveFingers shoes that did anything but blend in. 

Despite his wife’s better judgment, he wore them to work Wednesday simply because they’re comfortable. A bunch of people on the internet laughed at them and at him for wearing them below his cuffed pant legs. Foles will not care. 

In a social media age where so many are worried about image and their highlight reel, as Foles called it the day after the Super Bowl, Foles is singular in this context. He’s a former Super Bowl MVP, who once thought about retiring, who was the quarterback for the “next 1,000 years,” who became a backup, a starter and then a backup again, who took over for his injured teammate last week and has unintentionally stirred up a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia this week because he might be in the midst of saving the Eagles season … again. But he doesn’t care about any of that.  

He’s comfortable in his skin. 

Comfortable enough to wear shoes with individual rubber cubbies for each of his toes. 

Part of the reason Foles might seem so comfortable and relaxed is that he’s been through this before, and he’s learned from his mistakes. When Carson Wentz went down last season, Foles admitted Wednesday, he tried to be perfect. He put too much pressure on himself. When he was able to take a step back and figure out what worked for him, he was able to play loose and react on his way to becoming the Super Bowl MVP. 

There are lessons he can take from last year’s experience, but there’s no sense of deja vu. 

“No, it’s different. It’s a different moment,” Foles said. “If you start thinking that way, you’re going to get lost in it all. It’s a totally different scenario. Last year, we were one of the top teams in the NFL. This year, we’re fighting, we’re fighting to get into the hunt. We’re in the moment, but we have to fight.” 

Foles is devoid of ego as much as his shoes are devoid of fashion sense. It’s one of his most endearing qualities. It’s why his teammates love him. And it’s why, when he said Wednesday that he was really hoping Wentz would stay healthy and continue to play, everyone believed him. 

He didn’t develop an ego after taking down Tom Brady and the Patriots, but it would be foolish to think everything remained the same. It’s been a unique situation all season, as Foles took a backseat to Wentz when the franchise quarterback was ready to return in Week 3. Foles said he put a lot of pressure on himself earlier this season after winning the Super Bowl, admitting there were nerves involved because of the newness of the circumstances.

Even though last year was a different situation, those experiences have informed the way Foles is dealing with the situation this year, taking over with three games to go. 

I’m definitely more comfortable now. The success, I wouldn’t say I lean on ‘oh man, I did this, this is why I can do it.’ Because I also say because I’ve done those things doesn’t mean anything when I step on the field the next time. Because we’ve seen plenty of players have amazing games and then they have one bad game and they keep going. It doesn’t matter. Every time you step on the field, it’s a new game. The most important thing was leaning on my past experiences. And throughout the week, honing in on those. And realizing this emotion, I’ve felt before and this is what I did to handle it, as opposed to being in the first time and not really knowing. I wasn’t in uncharted waters last week as opposed to before, when I was trying to figure it out.

We saw Wentz, fractured back and all, on the sideline Sunday, taking over a new role with Foles as the starter. The three quarterbacks, including Nate Sudfeld, sometimes come off as nauseously loving and close, but they’re not without their squabbles. Sudfeld said they have brother-like relationships; they’ll sometimes fight or bicker — it’s not all kumbaya — but it’s always done from a place of love. 

Which is why Sudfeld made sure to give this answer while Foles was in earshot Wednesday. Sudfeld was asked which NBA player he’d compare Foles to:  “Who’s, like, the worst player?” 

Eventually, little brother gave a real answer. He said Magic Johnson, an answer Foles seemed happy enough with. 

But Magic Johnson had flash. Magic Johnson was the distributor for the Showtime Lakers; he was the epitome of cool. Magic Johnson would never be caught dead wearing shoes with individual toes.   

Foles has, though. And that’s kind of what makes him so special.

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After his younger brother’s success, Marken Michel ready to make a name for himself

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After his younger brother’s success, Marken Michel ready to make a name for himself

As Marken Michel has been clawing to create a football career of his own, he watched as his younger brother went to a college powerhouse, got drafted in the first round of the NFL draft and then became a Super Bowl champion as a rookie. 

That would make a lot of guys jealous. 

Not him. 

“There’s never been a bone of jealousy in that relationship at all,” said Allen Pinder, a close family friend whom Marken and Sony Michel consider an older brother. 

While Sony has found fast success in the NFL, his older brother (by about year and a half) has taken a more circuitous route. 

Marken Michel, 25, went undrafted out of UMass in 2016, spent that summer with the Vikings and then went to the Canadian Football League for the past couple seasons before joining the Eagles in January. 

After an impressive offseason, Sony’s older brother might finally have his own chance to stick in the NFL. 

At the end of the day, I said this my first year when I came out of college,” Marken said last week, “one of us is going to put that last name on an NFL jersey. Whether it’s me or him or both of us. He knows I’m super proud of him. I’m always there with him every step of the way. I’m always going to root for him.

Always competitive

While Marken is a receiver now, he was a quarterback until his junior year of high school. Sony, of course, was the running back, who played varsity football as an eighth-grader. Pinder, 37, doesn’t think that would have happened without older bro watching out for him. 

In fact, Pinder thinks a lot of Sony’s football success can be directly attributed to Marken. 

“Marken pushed Sony and Sony wanted to be like Marken,” Pinder said in a phone call last week to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Marken started off with more success than Sony did and it has kind of driven Sony to be like, ‘I need to get where Marken’s at.’ Marken always fueled Sony. ‘I need to work harder, I need to be better.’”

As you might imagine between two athletic brothers who are a year and a half apart, there was a constant competition between them as they grew up in Florida. They competed in everything. Football, baseball, basketball. 

Marken said they used to have 3-point shootouts at their childhood park. He was asked who is ahead in the all-time tally and he didn’t hesitate. 

“Me,” he said. “Of course.” 

Would Sony corroborate that? 

“He better, or he’ll be lying.” 

The two are wildly competitive but are also best friends. When they talk, it’s rarely about football. But, of course, when Sony played in Super Bowl LIII in February, Marken was there rooting for him. Marken said that Sony knows when he’s watching him play, he better not mess up. 

Sony’s Patriots won Super Bowl LIII, 13-3, over the Rams. Sony had 18 carries for 94 yards and scored the game’s only touchdown. 

“He knew it,” Marken said. “He knew if he didn’t, I would be on him.” 

North of the border

After things didn’t work out for Michel in Minnesota, where Pinder thinks he wasn’t really given a great opportunity, he ended up with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. He was the CFL West Division Rookie of the Year in 2017 and was a part of the Grey Cup-winning team in 2018, although he missed the end of the season with a broken scapula. 

He was bummed to miss the Grey Cup in November but was thrilled his team won. Since he was in OTAs in May, he and linebacker Alex Singleton (who is also on the Eagles’ roster) missed the ring ceremony. Singleton was heading north for the Stampeders first game of the season this past weekend and Michel gave him the job of bringing his ring back to him. 

In two years in the CFL, Michel made a name for himself, catching 72 passes for 1,215 yards and eight touchdowns. He had so much success, it wasn’t easy to leave. 

“I kind of felt like I had a good situation up there in Canada,” Michel said. 

Back to the NFL 

Michel didn’t tell anyone when he signed with the Eagles. His family — Sony and Pinder, included — found out when the Eagles announced it on Twitter. 

Pinder said he knew Michel had a couple workouts, but he didn’t know how they went. When confronted by his brother via text, Michel simply texted back a smiling emoji. 

“I’m real low key,” Michel said. “I don’t like the spotlight.”

But he found it this spring. Michel has emerged as a real contender to steal one of the final roster spots at receiver for the Eagles. In the absence of a few starters at OTAs and minicamp, Michel even got some first-team reps and worked well with Carson Wentz.  

If things don’t pan out with the Eagles, Michel could probably go back to Canada and resume what was already a promising career, but he’s trying not to think about that or anything aside from giving this chance everything he has. 

But he is well aware the Eagles play the Patriots this season. If he makes the team, little brother will be waiting.

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Predicting Eagles' 53-man roster after spring practices

Predicting Eagles' 53-man roster after spring practices

The last time I predicted the Eagles’ 53-man roster was before OTAs and minicamp, so we have more to go on now. 

The Eagles had a total of 13 practices and reporters were allowed to watch seven of them. Based on what I’ve seen over the last several weeks, I’ve updated my prediction: 

Here is is: 

QB (3): Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, Clayton Thorson 

This didn’t change. Thorson didn’t have a very good spring, but I still think they’re going to use a roster spot on him. Over the last couple weeks, he’s looked overwhelmed and has made some poor decisions and equally poor throws, but he’s a fifth-round rookie. Unless he’s awful in training camp, I think this is his spot. 

TE (3): Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Richard Rodgers 

No changes here either. These guys are pretty much cemented. Goedert had a tremendous spring. 

WR (6): Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins, Marken Michel  

I think these top four guys are still making it. I know Hollins still isn’t a full-go, but his ability on special teams keeps him around. Last time, I had them keeping five receivers, but I think there’s a chance they keep six. And I think there’s a better chance of them keeping an extra offensive player than a defensive player. Then, I gave this last spot to Michel, but there are plenty of candidates: Shelton Gibson, Greg Ward, Charles Johnson. I think that’s a pretty talented group, talented enough that one of them will do enough to force the Eagles to keep six wideouts. 

OL (10): Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, Stefen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Jordan Mailata, Matt Pryor 

The only change from the last time is Wiz is back on here after being re-signed. That kicked Ryan Bates off the list, but he has a chance to stick as a practice squad player. I do wonder about Pryor’s job security. He was a sixth-rounder last year and they kept him on the roster all year, but with Big V’s emergence as a guard, there might be less of a use for Pryor, who they might be able to keep around on the practice squad. 

RB (4): Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, Corey Clement, Boston Scott 

The big change here is Scott over Wendell Smallwood. No, I don’t think it’s really fair to compare Scott to Darren Sproles and I’m not on the hype train yet, but Scott had a good spring and might be a more complementary player than Smallwood or Josh Adams. And his ability as a punt returner is what might most help him make the team. 

DE (5): Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Shareef Miller

No changes here, although I do think Daeshon Hall might push for a job. I’ll need to see more from him when the pads go on. 

DT (5): Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Tim Jernigan, Hassan Ridgeway, Treyvon Hester 

Last time, I had just four DTs, but keeping five makes sense and I was able to steal a spot from the cornerback group (more on that soon). Hester and Ridgeway might be competing for the same spot, but there’s a decent chance both are on the roster. 

LB (5): Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, L.J. Fort, Zach Brown, Nate Gerry

I kept six last time because I wasn’t sure which player to remove. Sorry, Paul Worrilow. It’s not that he had a bad spring, but that knee injury did flare up and it’s starting to feel like all five of these guys are definitely going to be on the roster. 

CB (5): Ronald Darby, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones, Cre’Von LeBlanc 

You’ll notice the omission of Jalen Mills, who is still coming back from a lengthy foot injury. While other recovering players have been working out on side fields, Mills has been noticeably absent and I’m beginning to wonder just how close he is. I heard a few weeks ago that he was expecting to be ready for training camp, but we’ll see. Until I see him doing something, I’m not ready to keep a roster spot for him. I don’t think the PUP is out of the question. 

S (4): Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Andrew Sendejo, Tre Sullivan

Folks want to cut Sendejo to save a compensatory pick, but I don’t see it happening. Sendejo has been working as as starter as McLeod recovers, so I think he’s their third safety for now. Sendejo had a good offseason, so he would need to play poorly this summer to get cut. 

ST (3): Jake Elliott, Cameron Johnston, Rick Lovato 

Unless Kamu really applies himself to becoming a kicker, these three are set.

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