Eagles

Eagles Notes: Carson Wentz tuning out national praise

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Eagles Notes: Carson Wentz tuning out national praise

It just so happens the best stretch of Carson Wentz's young career has coincided with two nationally televised games. 

So as Wentz took down Carolina on Thursday Night Football and Washington on Monday Night Football, the entire country got to see him look like the best quarterback in football. 

It's in part why he has been vaulted into the forefront of the NFL MVP discussion and why his jersey is selling better than anyone else's in the league. Pundits and talk-show hosts around the country have created much ballyhoo around the Eagles' quarterback. 

For a guy who tries to limit his exposure to publicity, good or bad, this could be problematic. 

So, is it getting any harder to tune out the praise? 

"Not really," Wentz said this week. "Just the nature of the flow of the season and how quickly you have to turn and go on to the next. Plus, I've always just been wired that way. Just block out as much as I can to stay focused. Can't get too high, can't get too low and just keep on grinding." 

Wentz doesn't watch TV and he tries to avoid reading about himself, but it's obviously somewhat unavoidable and will become increasingly so. At least for now, Wentz has been able to shield himself as much as possible. 

He said he's focused on the 49ers and it's easy to believe him. 

"You turn on the tape and you wouldn't think that's an 0-7 football team," Wentz said (see 5 matchups to watch).

Playing with Hart
Before the Eagles signed him this week to offer them some depth at tackle, Taylor Hart had spent the last couple months in California waiting and hoping another opportunity would present itself. 

That happened when Jason Peters went down for the season Monday night. 

After Hart was released by the Eagles at final cuts, he found himself in a precarious situation. Had the Eagles kept one more lineman, he would have been the guy. But after making the conversion from defensive tackle to offensive tackle, no teams other than the Eagles were willing to give him a chance, especially because he didn't have any practice squad eligibility left. 

Still, Hart thinks he made the right decision switching to the offensive line last spring.

"Yeah, I think so," Hart said. "I'm fully invested in it. It was tough being at home for a while, but I'm going to stick with it and try to prove myself with it."

About twice a week for the past couple months, Hart had been working with seven-time Pro Bowler Jackie Slater, who played for the Rams for 20 years before retiring after 1995. 

Hart and Slater worked on technique drills and Hart tried to work on both the offensive tackle and guard positions. The only thing he was missing was NFL competition. That's no small thing. 

"That's the biggest adjustment that I have to do here," Hart said. "You just have to work on your technique when you're away and just keep staying in shape." 

First-game jitters
Coming into Monday, Eagles linebacker Nate Gerry wasn't even sure he was going to be active. After all, he had just been called up from the practice squad after Chris Maragos went down for the year. 

But as the day went on, and because of Mychal Kendricks' hamstring injury, Gerry's role kept increasing and increasing. He ended up playing 15 special teams snaps in the win over Washington. 

And he was on the field for the very first play. At least he thought he was. 

Sitting by himself well after the end of the game, Gerry's whole day had been a blur. So much so that he thought he was on the field for the first snap of the game. He was on the field for the first kick return. The Eagles deferred Monday night. 

"Oh you're right, you're right," he said laughing. "I thought it was."

Gerry said he had been working to stay ready while he was on the practice squad and going against the Eagles' O-line and Wentz every day helped. 

He might have more opportunities coming — "just one ankle sprain away," he said — but for now, he was pretty happy to just experience his first NFL game.  

"It was a pretty cool experience for myself and all my family and all the people back home," he said. "Not a lot of South Dakota kids get to suit up for an NFL game so I had a lot of pride in doing that."

Quote of the Week I
"It ain't like basketball where I can go out and score 40 every night." — Alshon Jeffery on his lack of big numbers 

Quote of the Week II
"That worked out well. He needs to bring more plays from North Dakota State." — Corey Clement on the TD play from Monday

Quote of the Week III
"I thought, shoot, DeMeco could probably go back to Alabama and be the AD. That's how much weight his name carried." — Fletcher Cox on former teammate DeMeco Ryans

Random media guide note
Vinny Curry's favorite Halloween costume is The Ultimate Warrior.

Eagles Mailbag: Lead back, Mack Hollins, the LB position

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USA Today Images

Eagles Mailbag: Lead back, Mack Hollins, the LB position

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend. The Eagles are probably enjoying it too — because Tuesday, they’re back to work. 

That’s when the team’s second round of OTAs begin. The Eagles will have a few more weeks of the voluntary offseason program before the mandatory minicamp June 12-14. 

Let’s take a dip into the mailbag: 

Yeah, I’d consider Jay Ajayi the lead back for this coming season. I really think the Eagles are going to ride him a little more than they did last year now that he’s had plenty of time in the offense. But I still don’t see Doug Pederson or Duce Staley abandoning the running back-by-committee approach. So while I think Ajayi will get the bulk of the carries, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles will still play plenty. 

Ajayi will be the feature back, but Pederson will want to keep him fresh for the playoffs too. Sure, the Eagles want to use him up on the final year of his deal, but they shouldn’t do it before they really need him. 

The Eagles really like Mack Hollins and it’s not hard to figure out why. He’s a nice, humble kid who works extremely hard. As a rookie, Hollins played in all 16 games and had just 16 receptions for 226 yards and one touchdown. He was even less productive in the postseason, when he caught one pass for nine yards. 

To answer your question, yes, I think Hollins will be more involved. It also can’t hurt that the Eagles brought in his college position coach, Gunter Brewer. The problem is that as long as everyone’s healthy, he’s still behind Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace and Nelson Agholor. He’ll get snaps, but they’ll be limited. He’ll have to make the most of them. 

Quick Hollins story: Late in the season, I asked him about his lack of offensive production and he looked me dead in the eyes and said his job isn’t to catch passes. I probably looked confused. “My job is to help us win,” he said. “And I’ve been doing that.” 

Got a few questions about bringing in a linebacker and I understand why. On the first day of OTAs, the Eagles cut Mychal Kendricks and lost Paul Worrilow for the season. Earlier this week, I looked at the depth the Eagles have. I still wouldn’t worry about the position. 

I think it’s very possible the Eagles bring in another veteran linebacker, but I’m not sure there’s a huge rush. What might have been lost this week is that to cut Kendricks, the Eagles must feel really good about Jordan Hicks’ recovery. And remember, the Eagles are in two-linebacker sets most of the time. Corey Nelson will have a chance to be the weakside guy with Kendricks gone. And there's still decent depth. 

Maybe the Eagles add a player this summer, but it’s also possible they wait a bit to see what they have. For what it’s worth, I’d at least take a look at Bowman to see if there’s anything left.  

Corey Graham is still available and Pederson seemed more than open to bringing him back, so that’s very possible. Graham was a really important addition last offseason because, like you said, it allowed Jenkins to move closer to the line.

A lot of Jenkins playing that hybrid LB position was out of necessity with Hicks gone. According to ProFootballFocus, he played 42 percent of his snaps at LB, so it’s hard to imagine him doing it more in 2018. Still, Jenkins' versatility and his importance to the team can’t be overstated. 

Lane Johnson not pleased with ranking on NFL's top 100

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AP Images

Lane Johnson not pleased with ranking on NFL's top 100

Lane Johnson had a breakout season in 2017, holding down the right tackle spot for the Eagles on his way to his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. 

And he even made the NFL Network’s Top 100 players list, which is voted on by players. 

All the way down at No. 95. 

“Obviously, I think it’s a joke to be honest with you,” Johnson said on the Mike Missanelli Show Friday afternoon. 

That’s when fill-in co-host Eytan Shander interjected: “Good it is a joke. You were robbed.”

Johnson, 28, is considered by most to be the best right tackle in the NFL and there will likely be plenty of the guys he shut down during last season on the list ahead of him. 

“Yeah, but that’s alright,” Johnson answered. “Better luck next year. That’s what they tell me. I think it’s just … there’s so many great players, it’s hard to put them in order. I guess just being on there is cool. Hoping next year, I’ll be a little bit lower on the list.”

Johnson isn’t the only Eagles player who might have a beef with where they’re slotted on the list. So far, the bottom 50 have been revealed and the Eagles have four players so far: 

68. Zach Ertz 
69. Fletcher Cox
95. Lane Johnson 
96. Malcolm Jenkins  

Johnson also talked about a few other topics on Friday shows, which was co-hosted by Shander and Geoff Mosher. He mentioned that he’s obviously hated in Boston and loved in Philly for his comments about the Patriots. 

He also talked about his relationship with Jason Peters, becoming a more vocal leader, and, of course, this …