Eagles

Contemplating retirement best thing to happen to Nick Foles

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Contemplating retirement best thing to happen to Nick Foles

It was less than two years ago when Nick Foles thought about retiring from football. He seriously contemplated, at 26, walking away from a game he's played his whole life, a game he loves.

On Sunday, he'll play for the chance to play on football's greatest stage. 

After a disappointing 2015 season with the Rams, Foles was eventually granted his release from the organization on July 27, 2016. Before he signed with the Chiefs on Aug. 3, Foles did some serious soul-searching. 

During that week, he spent time talking to his wife Tori and then he leaned on his Christian faith to come up with his answer. 

"I literally said a prayer," Foles said, "and my heart said go back." 

Foles reunited with Andy Reid, the guy who drafted him in 2012 out of Arizona, and he said that decision made him a better person. After the Chiefs didn't pick up his option last offseason, Foles came back to Philadelphia where his career started and once hit its highest peak. He came back in a different role, obviously, as Carson Wentz's backup. But things happen and ACLs sometimes tear. The Eagles are now relying on Foles as their starting quarterback. 

Now, thanks to his choice to re-find happiness in football, Foles is one win away from playing in the Super Bowl. 

"It wasn't an easy decision," Foles said on Wednesday. "It's not like it was 100 percent, but my faith and my guidance and the way I felt like going into that experience allowed me to grow to make me a better player now because you experience those emotions, you go through that. I mean, it's an emotional thing. It's something I've done my entire life, and to go through that and make that decision, that wasn't easy.

"But I leaned on my wife, I leaned on my family and I leaned on my faith in those moments, and I'm very grateful I made the decision I did and we made it together."

The fact that Foles will start in the NFC Championship Game against his former teammate Case Keenum isn't lost on him. Both have been benched, turned into backups, thrown into the trash heap and now resurrected. 

He said the biggest message to take from it is to never give up on yourself. While Foles almost gave up on football, he never gave up on himself. 

Foles calls the week he spent contemplating his football future the best thing that ever happened to him. He knows he's not the only NFL player who felt that way or questioned whether or not they should walk away. 

"We're professional athletes and we have moments where we step back and we have to think and assess everything in life," Foles said. "Like I have a family, I have a wife, I have a daughter, I have a dog. I have to step back and focus on that because that's so important to me. 

"I'm so fortunate that I have my wife there to talk these things through and in these moments where we're playing for this Championship Game, like you do reflect. A few days ago, you just sit there, and I sat there with my wife and we just talked about how blessed we are to be in this moment.

"But I know where my heart is and my heart was all being in Philly, being with these guys, going out there on the field, like stepping in the huddle and knowing that each guy is playing for each other, that's a special thing and that's been the testament of this season. And you know it's an honor and blessing to be here and play in this game."

Doug Pederson hoping to mix new face Jay Ajayi into Eagles' running attack

Doug Pederson hoping to mix new face Jay Ajayi into Eagles' running attack

Doug Pederson said he hopes to get recently re-acquired running back Jay Ajayi more involved in the offense as the Eagles head into the stretch run.

Ajayi has eight carries for 25 yards and a 3.1 average in two games since returning to the Eagles following a year layoff. 

A Pro Bowler in 2016 with the Dolphins and a stud down the stretch during the Super Bowl season, Ajayi suffered a torn ACL in Week 5 last year and didn’t play from Oct. 7, 2018, until Nov. 24, 2019, when he made his 2019 debut against the Seahawks.

Ajayi didn't have OTAs or a training camp and didn't even practice until the Wednesday before the Seattle game. 

It's a process with him, but we understand who he is and the injury that he's coming off of, so we're careful with that,” Pederson said. “But at the same time, he's a bigger, powerful guy that we can use in spots.

With Jordan Howard missing the last three games with nerve damage in his shoulder, rookie Miles Sanders has essentially been the entire running attack. But the Eagles are so hesitant to increase his workload significantly that it’s created a situation in which the Eagles just haven’t run the ball very much during their three-game losing streak because they haven’t had a viable second option.

During these last three games, Sanders has 40 carries, Ajayi eight and Boston Scott seven.

This is the first time the Eagles have leaned this heavily on one back in a three-game stretch since 2012. 

During a late-season three-game stretch in which LeSean McCoy was hurt, Bryce Brown got 52 carries and Dion Lewis had four.

The Eagles ran 45 percent of the time in the nine games Howard played and 31 percent since he got hurt. They’re 0-3 without him.

Miles has done a great job,” Pederson said Saturday. “I’d love to get Jay a few more touches and get Boston in the mix so we're not obviously wearing Miles down here this last month of the season.

The current stretch is the first in franchise history that the Eagles have thrown at least 40 times and run the ball 23 or fewer times in three straight games.

Howard hasn’t played since before the bye week and is out for the Eagles’ game Monday night against the Giants. 

Pederson said earlier in the week he doesn’t expect this to be a season-ending injury, but will Howard be able to pick up where he left off after such a long layoff even if he does return?

The Eagles began the season with Howard, Sanders, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles in what looked to be a deep running back rotation. 

Sanders is the only one of that group left. Can Ajayi make a difference after such a long layoff? Sounds like Pederson wants to find out.

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Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Updated: 3:39 p.m.

Derek Barnett and Nelson Agholor will likely be game-time decisions for Monday Night Football, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said on Saturday morning. 

Barnett (ankle) and Agholor (knee) both missed all three days of practice this week and are listed as questionable.

Meanwhile, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He was just placed in protocol on Thursday and won't play Monday night. 

And Jordan Howard (shoulder) has still not been cleared for contact; he can’t play until he is and that’s not happening before Monday. He's officially questionable. 

Lane Johnson also missed practice on Friday and Saturday for a non-injury reason but is expected to play on Monday. 

If Agholor is unable to play, the Eagles would be left with just three healthy receivers on the roster: Alshon Jeffery, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward. 

“We’re very comfortable, obviously, with the guys we have,” Pederson said. “So if it’s three, it’s three. We brought up [Josh Perkins] a week ago to help us there, so it’s an addition there. We go and we go play. We’ll discuss those over the next couple of days leading up to the game. If we have to make a decision we will. We feel good with the guys we have in that receiver role.” 

If the Eagles do decide to make a roster move, they have three wide receivers on their practice squad: Robert Davis, Marcus Green and Marken Michel. 

While Agholor had his knee injury before last week’s game, Barnett got hurt during the loss in Miami, but was still able to play through the injury and play 50 snaps. Barnett has played the third-most defensive snaps on the team this year, so losing him for this game wouldn’t be insignificant. 

If Barnett can’t play, expect Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry to get more reps. After that, Genard Avery, Daeshon Hall and even Shareef Miller could see a few snaps. 

For the Giants: 

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