Eagles

Eagles' Derek Barnett takes a huge step in his recovery

Eagles' Derek Barnett takes a huge step in his recovery

Derek Barnett was happy but not content on Saturday after he took a huge step in his lengthy shoulder recovery. 

For the first time all summer, Barnett participated in full-squad 11-on-11 drills. 

“It felt good,” Barnett said to NBC Sports Philadelphia after practice concluded. “Not where I want to be, not where I need to be, but positive we’ll get it done.”

To be fair, Barnett is something of a perfectionist and said he’ll never be content. So he wasn’t just talking about his progress specifically in terms of his recovery from rotator cuff surgery last season. In general, he thinks there are some little technical things — footwork, hands, eye discipline — on which he needs to work. But getting him back on the practice field is a great sign, especially with four weeks to go before the regular-season opener. 

Entering a pretty huge Year 3, the 23-year-old defensive end should be good to go against Washington on Sept. 8. 

“My goal is to be ready,” Barnett said. “Every day, still going to progress that way. It felt good to be back on the ball field, running around.”

In addition to taking part in 11-on-11 drills, Barnett also participated in offensive line vs. defensive line drills for the first time this summer. His signature bend was on display against Jordan Mailata in those drills. 

Before Saturday, Barnett had participated in individual drills, but wasn’t really able to do anything resembling real football. He was a spectator for the periods of practice that count most. 

What was the hardest part about the last few weeks? 

“Not playing football,” Barnett said flatly. “I like playing football, so that s--- was hard.” 

Fair enough. 

It looked like the 2017 first-round pick was poised to have a breakout season in 2018 but his shoulder injury ruined that. Before his injury, Barnett had 2½ sacks in four games in his first year as a starter, but he suffered through just two more subpar games before deciding it was best to have season-ending surgery. It wasn’t a decision he took lightly, but he realized it was the best move. 

Coming into this season, Barnett is slated to start at the defensive end spot opposite Brandon Graham with Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson sandwiched between them. 

This is a defensive line with a ton of talent. 

“We’ll be as good as we want to be,” Barnett said. “If we practice well, we’ll be in good shape, and do the small things right. But everybody is good in the NFL. Talent don’t mean nothing. It’s all about the work you put in and how it translates into game situations. We have a lot of talent but we still gotta go out there and compete.”

Barnett took a big step toward that this weekend. 

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Eagle Eye podcast: Just how bad is this loss?

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Eagle Eye podcast: Just how bad is this loss?

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro break down the Eagles’ 27-24 loss to the Lions at home. 

The mistakes were just horrible: Drops, fumbles, penalties. The Eagles couldn’t score on late drives and now they’re 1-2 with a tough game in Green Bay looming. 

The guys go over their biggest concerns with the Eagles with Thursday Night Football coming in a few days. 

• Mistakes just killed them 
• Why are the Eagles 1-2? 
• What happened on those late drives? 
• The guys pick their biggest concerns
• The Packers will be a tough test 

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No excuses from Eagles' Miles Sanders after fumbles: 'I have to play better'

No excuses from Eagles' Miles Sanders after fumbles: 'I have to play better'

Someone tried to ask Miles Sanders after the game if he had trouble hanging onto the football because it was so hot and he was sweating and the football was slippery.

He just shook his head and was like … come on, man.

No excuses.

He knows he has to be better. He knows he has to solve his ongoing fumbling problem.

Sanders, the Eagles’ rookie second-round pick from Penn State, finally did some good things on offense in the Eagles’ loss to the Lions Sunday, but they were more than offset by two fumbles, one of which he lost that led to a Detroit field goal (see observations).

Whether you’re a 10-year vet or a rookie, you’re in the NFL for a reason,” Sanders said. “I have a job to do. … All I can say is got to put it behind me and keep moving forward and continue to grow and get ready for next week.

Sanders fumbled midway through the second quarter, but guard Isaac Seumalo recovered and the drive continued.

Just four plays later, it happened again. This time Lions defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson fell on the football near midfield, and five plays later the Lions took a 17-10 lead with a field goal.

Sanders is the first Eagles running back to fumble twice in the same game since Bryce Brown against the Cowboys in 2012.

It’s a long season, a long game,” Sanders said. “I got back in and tried to make the most of my opportunities. Put it behind me. I’m not perfect, but I’m definitely going to work my ass off this week to get better.

Brown, also a rookie, rushed for 169 yards in that 2012 game against the Cowboys. Sanders didn’t pile up quite that many yards, but after another slow start he did put up 126 yards from scrimmage — the most by an Eagles rookie running back since that same game.

Sanders was on the receiving end of Carson Wentz’s two longest passes — a 40-yarder in the first quarter and a 33-yarder in the fourth — and ran 13 times for 53 yards, a respectable 4.1 after he averaged just 2.5 yards in his first two games.

His 73 receiving yards are the most by an Eagles rookie running back in a regular season game since Robert Drummond had 74 against the Chargers in 1989, although Corey Clement had 100 in the Super Bowl.

There’s always positives in every game,” he said. “But got to come out with a win. I’ve got to play better. I put us in some tough situations.

Sanders fumbled 10 times in 308 touches at Penn State, which is once every 31 touches.

And that’s way too many.

He now has two fumbles in 40 touches as an Eagle.

Wayyyyy too many.

Continue to keep working,” he said. “I’m not perfect. Try to be perfect. On to the next game.

The first couple games, Sanders held onto the ball but didn’t produce.

This time there were some positives signs … but he fumbled twice.

The challenge for the Eagles and for Sanders is getting the production without the fumbles.

Because as talented as Sanders is, if he can’t hang onto the football, he's not going to play.

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