Eagles

Despite terrific training camp, Eagles release Greg Ward

Despite terrific training camp, Eagles release Greg Ward

Greg Ward’s exceptional training camp and preseason performance meant nothing.

The Eagles released the impressive wide receiver Saturday as part of their final cutdown to 53, ending his third bid to make the Eagles.

The Eagles kept Mack Hollins instead of Ward as the fifth receiver, and soon after cuts were officially announced executive vice president and GM Howie Roseman explained why.

In great detail.

It’s interesting because you go through the whole offseason and your whole goal is to collect as much talent as you possibly can,” he said. “You want to build a team, you want to find the right guys, and then this week you really start trying to figure out roles and responsibilities and trying to build a team and trying to find the right fits. … Greg’s done a tremendous job and really I don’t have an answer what he could have done more other than we’re trying to balance everyone we have at every position and what we’re looking for offensively, defensively and on special teams, and sometimes it just comes down to looking for a specific role for a specific spot, and when we look at the wide receiver room and what we were looking for and what Greg had done on special teams and maybe what we were looking for from that fifth receiver spot on special teams, it was just not something that he had done. But Greg had a tremendous summer.

Ward, a star quarterback at Houston, converted to wide receiver after he graduated from college and spent training camp in 2017 and 2018 with the Eagles as a wide receiver. He received a Super Bowl ring as part of the Eagles’ practice squad, but this is the first time he’s been on the 53-man roster.

Once camp started, three receivers — Hollins, Ward and Marken Michel — quickly separated themselves from the pack as legit contenders for a roster spot behind the four locks: DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

As training camp closed, it really appeared to be a two-man race for the fifth spot between Hollins, a fourth-round pick in 2017, and Ward.

Hollins has battled injuries since the end of the Super Bowl season. He didn’t play at all last year and missed some time in camp this summer with a hip injury. But he did have 16 catches for 226 yards and a touchdown as a rookie in 2017 and is considered an excellent special teamer.

The Eagles really seemed to like Ward’s versatility. He has that quarterback background and has a big arm, and he has the speed of a receiver and can take off on an end-around. You could see Doug Pederson having fun at practice this summer coming up with different ways to use him.

Ward had a 38-yard touchdown catch against the Jaguars, four catches for 45 yards against the Ravens and a 15-yard run on his only touch Thursday night against the Jets. The Eagles also used him on an option pass in the Jacksonville game.

Hollins was 5-for-26 receiving in the preseason. 

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Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce was the best center in the NFL over the last decade and no fraud all-decade team is going to change that.

The NFL on Monday announced its team of the decade, and it was good to see LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Fletcher Cox and Jason Peters named. All are deserving.

But the absence of Kelce is egregious. 

Not surprisingly, the same people who haven’t figured out that Eric Allen was one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play the game — the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters — are the same people who have decided that Kelce wasn’t one of the two best centers in the NFL from 2010 through 2019.

Alex Mack and Maurkice Pouncey were the centers named to the team of the decade, and guess what.

Kelce has made first-team all-pro more than both of them combined.

Kelce three times, Pouncey twice, Mack zip.

Pouncey deserves one of the two slots. He’s made eight Pro Bowls with the Steelers and played on six playoff teams and a Super Bowl loser. Hell of a career.

Mack? Ask any defensive tackle in the NFL if he’d rather face Kelce or Alex Mack. 

Mack’s been a really good player, and he does have more Pro Bowls than Kelce. But he was a 1st-round pick, and those guys tend to make Pro Bowls much earlier than 6th-round picks like Kelce. 

Kelce didn’t make his first Pro Bowl until his fourth season, and he was absurdly snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting in 2017 and 2018, when he was the best center in football, made first-team all-pro both times and didn’t get picked to the Pro Bowl team.

Kelce is the only active player in the NFL that’s had two all-pro seasons in which he didn’t make the Pro Bowl and one of only six in history.

It’s tough making up ground when you’re a 6th-round pick. You come into the league with no hype, and unless you see the guy play every Sunday you can’t imagine he’s really that good.

The rest of the country finally realized in 2017 what we already knew. Kelce guy is a beast. It took way too long. And judging by this NFL all-decade team people still haven’t figured out how good he is.

Kelce has added a dimension of athleticism to the center position that may be unprecedented. What he lacks in size and strength he makes up for in determination, intelligence and leverage. 

Kelce is one of six centers in NFL history to make first-team all-pro three straight years, the only one to do it in the last 20 years. All the others are Hall of Famers.

He’s also one of only seven centers in NFL history to be named all-pro three times AND to win a Super Bowl or NFL Championship. He’s the only one to do it in the last 35 years.

Kelce did make the Pro Football Writers Association all-decade team, so at least somebody got it right.

The thing that’s really disturbing is that Kelce is building a Hall of Fame resume, and the people that snubbed him for this honor could very well do the same when he’s in the Hall of Fame conversation. All-decade teams are one of the leading criteria Hall of Fame voters cite when justifying their picks.

All I know is Kelce is one of the smartest, toughest guys I’ve ever seen. He’s played through injuries that would have ended most guys’ seasons and some guys’ careers.

And he’s done it at a consistently high level since beating out Jamaal Jackson for the starting job in the summer of 2011.

Kelce probably doesn’t give a darn about all this. He’s never been one to take individual honors seriously. That’s not why he plays the game. 

He plays the game for moments like Feb. 4, 2018, and that’s something that none of the so-called experts can ever take away.

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NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

After a one-year flirtation with pass interference challenges didn't really solve anything, the NFL is expected to end the experiment.

Pass interference replay "almost certainly will not be extended", according to a report Monday from NFL.com's Judy Battista:

This isn't terribly surprising. The rule was put in place largely because Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints complained very loudly after an enormous missed call in the 2018-19 postseason.

That crucial uncalled pass interference, you might recall, was committed by new Eagles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman:

The 2019 regular season allowed coaches to challenge pass interference calls, either called or uncalled, but the results were a mixture of underwhelming and frustrating.

Eagles fans probably remember this very obvious Avonte Maddox pass interference that wasn't called, was challenged by Packers coach Matt LaFleur, and then still wasn't called:

That was insane.

"The cumulative effect of the misses, plus the replay spotlight on these misses, has really taken its toll," former NFL ref and current NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay told the New York Times last November.

The line for what constitutes pass interference was shown - as football watchers already knew - to be an indistinct and ever-moving line, and the ability to challenge the calls just created one more layer of aggrivation.

If the league does indeed remove the rule, it will be a victory. Fans, players, and coaches will still yell about missed pass interference calls - but at least they won't have to do it twice.

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