Eagles

Eagles' holding just 1 open training camp practice is an insult to devoted fans

Eagles' holding just 1 open training camp practice is an insult to devoted fans

I could go on and on about how much I loved training camp at West Chester and the unforgettable memories, like Herschel Walker standing at the top of the steps on the west end of the practice field signing autographs in the blazing heat (with his helmet on) for an hour, until every kid had gotten something signed.

I could go on and on about how much I loved training camp at Lehigh and how fans could stand literally six feet from the practice field and hear the thud of contact and interact with the players as they stood on the sideline.

But I’m not going to do that because those days are gone forever and no amount of me crying about it is going to bring it back.

And I understand why the Eagles — and more and more NFL teams every year — are holding practices in their own year-round facilities instead of remote college campuses. It makes sense to practice where your film library is stored, where your modern medical and training facilities are housed, where all your equipment and gear is, where your immaculately maintained practice fields are located.

I get it.

What I don’t get is just one open practice for the fans.

One. In a year.

That’s inexcusable.

The Eagles moved from Lehigh to the NovaCare Complex in 2013, when Chip Kelly replaced Andy Reid. The Eagles scheduled five open practices that first summer, then three in 2014 and two each from 2015 through 2018.

And now just one.

Yeah, the $10 ticket fee for the Eagles’ one open practice this summer goes to a great cause. Every penny goes to the Eagles Autism Challenge, a cause that’s close to Jeff Lurie’s heart. The Eagles Autism Challenge raised $3 1/2 million this year, and it’s a terrific event that I’ve participated in the last two years.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the Eagles have an opportunity to put on a show for their fans two or three times during training camp, and for reasons they haven't explained, they’ve chosen not to.

The Eagles had no comment on why they've reduced open practices to just one this summer, but I assume it’s because it’s a logistical nightmare loading up all that equipment and moving it across the street for a glorified walkthrough.

It’s a hassle — and presumably an expensive one — for Doug Pederson to lose a valuable practice day in the cozy environment of the NovaCare Complex so Jake Elliott can play catch with fans, Brandon Graham can sign autographs for every kid he can find and everybody can watch in person while Carson Wentz and DeSean Jackson light it up.

But this is a franchise worth close to $3 billion, according to Forbes, and these are fans that devote their lives to this football team, buying their jerseys, snagging every ticket the instant it’s available, traveling to their games.

They deserve more than one open practice.

They deserve more than one day to watch their football team with their own eyes.

We all know how hard it is for the average fan to get tickets. If you don’t know someone or already have season tickets of your own or have a whole big pile of money, you’re not going.

The open practices are the only remaining opportunity most fans have to see their heroes up close. To interact with them. To feel like they’re a part of everything.

It’s a long preseason. Training camp starts July 25 and really continues until Aug. 21, when joint practices with the Ravens wrap up.

I find it hard to believe the Eagles can’t find one more day to move their operations across Broad Street for all the people who've helped make this franchise worth close to $3 billion.

We’ve gone from five to three to two and now to one. You can see what direction this is trending. I’m afraid of what’s coming next.

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Eagles release linebacker Zach Brown

Eagles release linebacker Zach Brown

Three days after linebacker Zach Brown called Kirk Cousins “the weakest part” of the Vikings’ offense and one day after Cousins threw four touchdowns against the Eagles, the Eagles parted ways with Brown.

The Eagles signed the one-time Pro Bowler this past offseason to a one-year, $1.4 million contract, but he played only six games and made virtually no impact. He was credited with 29 tackles and two pass breakups.

The move came after head coach Doug Pederson met with the media earlier in the day and without comment. Pederson is not scheduled to meet with the media again until Wednesday.

The Brown signing was a big deal when the Eagles signed him in May. He was expected to help offset the departure of Jordan Hicks, who signed with the Cards.

Brown’s $1 million base salary and $400,000 signing bonus were guaranteed.

The move doesn't affect the Eagles' salary cap since Brown was playing on a one-year deal and his base and signing bonus were both guaranteed.

How much of the move was related to Brown’s ridiculous trash-talking last week, which backfired in embarrassing fashion, and how much was related to his nondescript level of play isn’t clear.

But the timing of the move is very unusual for a starting player and indicates there were important factors in play that led to the move beyond his performance on the field.

It's reminiscent of the Eagles releasing Jason Babin 11 games into the nightmarish 2012 season one year after he had 18 sacks.

Whoever winds up signing Brown will be his fifth team in the last five years.

Brown played 271 snaps in the Eagles’ first six games, second most of any linebacker behind Bradham’s 352.

The Eagles, who released cornerback Ryan Lewis earlier in the day, do have two open roster spots. One is expected to go to Jalen Mills, and the other would likely be a linebacker.

Former CFL star Alex Singleton, who had such a strong training camp, is on the practice squad and would be an obvious choice to replace Brown on the active roster.

With Nigel Bradham dealing with an ankle injury he suffered Sunday in Minnesota, the only healthy linebackers currently on the roster are Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, undrafted rookie T.J. Edwards and recent acquisition Duke Riley. Edwards has played only 12 defensive snaps this year — 10 of them in garbage time Sunday — and Riley hasn't played any.

Brown, who turns 30 next week, is in his eighth season. He was originally a second-round pick of the Titans in 2012 and spent four years with Tennessee, one Pro Bowl season with the Bills and two years with the Redskins before joining the Eagles.

The only news Brown made during his stay in Philadelphia was when he ripped Cousins, his former teammate with the Redskins.

After Cousins and the Vikings embarrassed the Eagles on Sunday, Brown declined to talk about it or apologize for his remarks.

The Vikings' Twitter account didn't hesitate to mock Brown after the game, although it did slightly misquote him.

Not the legacy anybody expected when the Eagles signed Brown.

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Eagles make move that seems to indicate a Jalen Mills return

Eagles make move that seems to indicate a Jalen Mills return

The Eagles on Monday afternoon made a move that seems to be a good sign Jalen Mills will return this week. 

A few hours after Doug Pederson said he expects Mills to practice this week, the Eagles waived cornerback Ryan Lewis, possibly to create a roster spot for Mills. 

Mills, 25, is still on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a foot injury that has kept him out nearly a year, but should practice this week and could be ready to assume a role on defense this Sunday night in Dallas. 

“We’re going to incorporate Jalen Mills a little bit this week in practice, we’ll see where he’s at at the end of the week and if he’s capable maybe there’s an opportunity there (for him to play),” Pederson said.

If Mills returns to practice this week, the Eagles will have three weeks to either add him to the active roster or place him on Injured Reserve. It looks like he’s clearly coming back to the Eagles’ roster and it seems like it will happen sooner rather than later. 

But even if Mills plays this Sunday, don’t expect him to have a huge role. He hasn’t played in a game since Oct. 28 last year in London. The Eagles will need to bring him back slowly. 

In addition to Mills, Ronald Darby (hamstring) is also expected to practice this week. While Mills and Darby aren’t saviors, they should at least help a secondary that was completely gashed by Kirk Cousins in Minnesota this past weekend. 

Lewis, 25, was signed to the Eagles’ practice squad on Oct. 1 and was called up on Oct. 4. He played 43 special teams snaps during his two weeks on the Eagles’ active roster. The Eagles’ practice squad is full at 10, but if Lewis clears waivers, he’s a candidate to return in that capacity.

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