Eagles

Eagles mailbag: Corey Clement’s role, picking an UDFA to make the team

Eagles mailbag: Corey Clement’s role, picking an UDFA to make the team

You know the deal. 

I asked for mailbag questions and you guys delivered enough to fill a few different posts. Thank you for helping me do my job; your checks are in the mail. 

Part 1 is here.

Here’s Part 2: 

Did you just sneak in a fantasy football question? I’ll allow it. 

I think people probably already know I’m really high on Sanders, but I’m going to go with Howard here. In his three NFL seasons, Howard has 24 touchdowns; just five NFL players have more in that span. I’m also going to guess that when the Eagles get around the goal line, they’re going to feel more comfortable handing the rock to the vet over the rookie. One of the few knocks against Sanders coming out of college was that he fumbled. He can shed that reputation in the NFL, but giving the ball to the more sure-handed veteran makes sense. 

A few names come to mind: LB T.J. Edwards or perhaps one of the undrafted guards (Ryan Bates, Nate Herbig or Sua Opeta) or maybe even return man DeAndre Thompkins from Penn State. It’s kind of early to guess this right now before seeing them on the field at OTAs, but I’ll go with Edwards and reserve the right to change that pick after actually seeing a few practices. 

If Chris Long doesn’t come back, I’m with you on this being a little concerning. Going into last season, the Eagles’ top two reserve DEs were Michael Bennett and Long. This year, their top backups are Vinny Curry and Josh Sweat.  

The one guy still available who makes sense to me is Derrick Morgan. He’s 30 now and wouldn’t be expensive after having just a half a sack last season. But he’d be a decent addition and has played end in a 4-3 before. For the record, the Eagles should try to get Long to return. He’s their best option if they can convince him. 

Sure. Doug Pederson was asked about this before Wiz came back and mentioned that Halapoulivaati Vaitai was going to get some cross-training inside at guard. He’s the one that makes sense. You don’t want to put too much on Mailata’s plate and let’s let Dillard acclimate to the NFL first. Vaitai would actually make a pretty decent guard. It might be a good way to prolong his career. I was talking to my coworker Barrett Brooks about Big V the other day and he agrees that a move to guard makes plenty of sense. 

Clement has a shot to be the Eagles’ third-down running back this season, which is crazy because he really wasn’t a pass-catcher in college. But since coming to the NFL, he’s definitely shown that ability. 

Jordan Howard is likely going to be a first- and second-down guy and while Miles Sanders will eventually become a three-down feature back, it’s tough to trust a rookie in pass protection situations. That’s where Clement comes in. 

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Eagles injury update: Jason Peters had knee scoped, but ready to return to practice

Eagles injury update: Jason Peters had knee scoped, but ready to return to practice

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson confirmed on Wednesday morning that left tackle Jason Peters had arthroscopic surgery — a knee scope — during his three-week absence, but Peters will return to practice today. 

Peters, 37, missed the last three starts before the bye week with a knee injury. During that time, rookie Andre Dillard has filled in. 

“He’ll practice today and we’ll see where he’s at at the end of the week,” Pederson said. “He had that done to take care of that.” 

Whenever Peters is ready to return to game action, which could be this weekend against the Patriots, he will take back his starting gig. In six starts this season, Peters has played the entire game just twice. 

Here were a few other injury notes from Pederson on Wednesday: 

• Alshon Jeffery (ankle) is “day to day,” according to Pederson. Before the bye week, Jeffery left the game against the Bears early. He was not practicing on Wednesday. 

“It (the bye week) helped him,” Pederson said. “He’s still sore. A lot of guys are still sore. But it helped him and we’ll see. He’s kind of day to day.”

• Wednesday was the first time we’ve talked to Pederson since DeSean Jackson had core muscle surgery and went on IR. Pederson said the initial decision to avoid surgery was Jackson’s, as was the decision to have it at this time.  

Since the first question on Wednesday was about Jackson, Pederson’s took his time with a complete statement: 

In DeSean’s case, listen, there has been a lot of discussion with DeSean from the moment he came out of the Falcons came to the decision to play in the Bears game to surgery. And we talk a lot with the player, we talk a lot with our medical staff. We even talk to external sources, third-party people who have expertise in this area. I’m not the doctor, nor did I look at MRIs or X-rays or any of that. And DeSean, listen, DeSean busted his tail electively to try to get it fixed himself, to get it rehabbed and come back. He busted his tail, he was cleared to play, he felt good. And for me, as the coach, I listen to the player, I listed to what his body is telling him.

Everything was a go. And then he felt something in the game, pulled him out as I said after the game for precautionary reasons, we had it checked again and then we went down the road of surgery. Which, again, communication with him, the player again, it’s elective by the player. We support this decision, we support DeSean. He wants to be out there with his teammates. It’s unfortunate that this happened, but it did. Injuries are a part of this game and reoccurrence of injuries are a part of this game. With that being said, that’s where we’re at.

• Nigel Bradham (ankle) is improving but isn’t quite ready to practice, according to Pederson. He’ll likely be running on a side field. 

“He is feeling better,” Pederson said. “Optimistic that there’s a chance for this game. 

It is worth noting, though, that recently when Pederson expresses optimism but the player doesn’t practice, that player doesn’t play. We’ll have to see if Bradham practices at all this week. If he doesn’t, it’s more likely he’ll be back after this week. 

• Cre’Von LeBlanc (foot) is still on Injured Reserve and isn’t ready to practice yet. Pederson said LeBlanc is “still working.” 

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10 reasons to be optimistic about the Eagles

10 reasons to be optimistic about the Eagles

There’s a lot of negativity surrounding the Eagles right now, and some of it is understandable considering how disappointing the wide receivers have been, how badly the Eagles were blown out by the Vikings and Cowboys and how high expectations were coming into the season.

Still, despite it all, the Eagles are 5-4, tied for first in the NFC East, winners of four of their last six games, and they have a 62 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.

Sometimes we all have to be reminded that maybe things aren’t quite as bad as they seem.

There’s two ways to do that: 1) Stay off Twitter for a while, and 2) Read this list of 10 reasons for Eagles fans to be optimistic going into the final seven games of the season.

1. DOUG: He has his quirks, but the bottom line is Doug Pederson is 38-24 as an NFL head coach, and that .613 winning percentage is 4th-highest among the 32 active NFL head coaches. The Eagles have the 8th-best record in the NFL since Pederson took over as head coach in 2016. Bottom line is the Eagles are in good hands. Pederson knows how to get the most out of his players, and he knows how to win.

2. CARSON: It’s mindblowing that there are still fans out there blabbering about Nick Foles. Dude’s a folk hero around here but it’s time to move on. It’s impossible to argue with the job Wentz has done this year with minimal contributions from his wide receivers. How do you have 15 TDs and 4 INTs without any wide receivers consistently contributing? Over the last three years, Wentz has started 33 games and had two bad ones – Saints last year, Falcons this year. In his 31 other games, he’s got 68 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He’s 21-12 since opening day 2017, the 7th-best winning percentage among NFL. As long as he’s the Eagles’ quarterback, they have a chance to win every game.

3. THE LINC: The Eagles have the second-best home record in the NFL since 2016 at 23-7 for a .767 winning percentage. Of those 30 games, there’s only been one the Eagles lost by more than a touchdown – that was a 14-point loss to the Packers in 2016, and even that was a four-point game in the fourth quarter. The Eagles are in every game at the Linc, where they play four of their next six games.

4. FLETCHER: One of the most encouraging developments of the past couple weeks has been Fletcher Cox really returning to form. Cox is finally healthy after that foot injury he suffered in the playoff loss to the Saints, and having their one-man wrecking crew back at full strength is going to be huge down the stretch.

5. THE CORNERBACKS: Not that long ago the Eagles were running Craig James, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas and Orlando Scandrick out there. Now Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby and Avonte Maddox are all back, and Cre’Von LeBlanc will be back soon.  That’s a monumental upgrade.

6. JORDAN MATTHEWS: He became their best wide receiver when he walked through the front door of the NovaCare Complex. Hey, I don’t know how much Matthews will help, but he’s a solid pro, he’s got great chemistry with Wentz, and he knows the offense. He instantly makes this a better wide receiving crew.

7. THE RUNNING GAME: Over the past seven weeks, the Eagles are averaging 140 rushing yards per game, 6th-best in the league. The Miles Sanders-Jordan Howard tandem behind this massive o-line has proven to be formidable. It’s not the offense the Eagles planned on, but their running game has developed into one of the league’s best.

8. PASS PRESSURE: After recording an NFL-low three sacks the first four games of the season, the Eagles have 22 in their last five games, second-most in the NFL. Brandon Graham has come to life, Derek Barnett is showing flashes and Cox has been his old dominating self. The Eagles are 20-7 under Pederson when they get three or more sacks. They’re 18-17 when they don’t.

9. THE COWBOYS: The Eagles’ only competition in the division is a team that lost to the Jets. That’s not only embarrassing, it’s huge for tiebreaker purposes. The Eagles have wins over the Packers and Jets, and the Cowboys lost to both. If the Eagles and Cowboys split the season series and both finish with 4-2 division records, the team with a better record in common opponents wins the division. If the Eagles take care of business, that will be them.

10. THE SCHEDULE: Which leads us to the schedule. Even if the Eagles lose to the Patriots and Seahawks, as long as they beat the Cowboys at home they’ll reach 10-6 by beating the 2-8 Giants twice and the 1-8 Redskins and 2-7 Dolphins. In that case, the only way the Eagles lose the division is if the Cowboys go 6-1 in all their other games. That is not going to happen.

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