Eagles

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Doug Pederson talks Carson Wentz's end zone dive

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AP Images

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Doug Pederson talks Carson Wentz's end zone dive

Everyone in the city of Philadelphia held their breath in the second quarter Thursday when Carson Wentz scrambled near the goal line and tried diving into the end zone throwing shoulder first.

Hearts were in throats all across the Delaware Valley as Wentz took on Panthers safety Mike Adams, even though the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Wentz has the size advantage on the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Adams. That's a golden arm at stake.

He was stopped short and threw a touchdown pass on the next play to tie the game 10-10. More importantly, he wasn't injured.

"Well, at the time, I thought he was going to score, quite honestly," Pederson said. "You don't really want your starting quarterback to lead with your throwing shoulder, but I understand, too, the situation, and him trying to get in the end zone. There was a lane at the time, but in this league, everything closed fast. Could he have gone lower? Sure. But at the same time, I think he just saw the end zone and was trying to get in."

Pederson, when asked, said plays like that and when he stands in and delivers the ball with a blitz coming at him, resonate with teammates. They appreciate his toughness and will to win.

Lazy Sunday
As you watch football games from your living room this weekend, know the Eagles are probably doing the same thing.

After Thursday night's huge win over Carolina and with their next game not until next Monday night, the Eagles are in what's almost like a little bye week.

Doug Pederson gave his players and coaches the entire weekend off. While the injured players stuck around this weekend to get treatment, the others were free to go and do whatever they want.

Pederson said he wanted them to get away and "think about the first six weeks." Those are going to be some happy thoughts. The Eagles are 5-1 and look like the best team in the NFC.

The Eagles were going to start looking at film of Washington Friday night, but they weren't planning on taking a deep dive into the division opponent until after Sunday.

Players will start reporting back to the NovaCare Complex on Monday and the team will have a light 10/10/10 practice Tuesday. The real week of practice doesn't begin until Thursday, which will be like a normal Wednesday. With the Monday Night Football game, the Eagles just push everything back one day.

"We've got three really good, exciting games coming up before our official bye [week], all at home," Pederson said. "So it will be an exciting week. Looking forward to it."

Barnett gets his first sack
Sort of.

Derek Barnett was able to hold onto Cam Newton's leg for dear life in the fourth quarter before Justin Hamilton came and took Newton down. The seven-yard sack was split between the two players, neither of whom had an NFL sack coming into the game.

"Cam's a big dude," Barnett said. "He was trying to get out. And he almost did."

Barnett hasn't been producing the way fans probably hoped for his rookie season. The all-time sack leader at the University of Tennessee and the 14th overall pick has gotten close but didn't get one until Thursday.

Does he think this first half sack will open up the floodgates?

"I mean, I feel good rushing the last few weeks," Barnett said. "I just have to keep being critical of myself. My coaches and teammates have to be critical of me, too. It's just getting more reps and stuff and everything will slow down for me. But I feel confident rushing and stuff. I just have to become smarter and when I get at the top of my rushes, learn what to do and what not to do. I just have to keep grinding. The best thing about coming to work is that everybody is pushing each other. It's fun coming into work and getting better."

In the locker room after the win, plenty of his teammates were ribbing Barnett about his first sack. He couldn't help but smile when he heard some of it. Hopefully, for the Eagles, there will be plenty more sacks to come for him.

A numbers game
The Eagles are 5-1. That means they have a really good shot of making the playoffs, but nothing is a done deal.

Before this season, there have been 225 teams in NFL history to win five of their first six games. Of them, 173 have made the playoffs. That means there's a 76.9 percent success rate. Those are pretty good odds. But you'll remember, the 2014 Eagles started the season 5-1 and failed to make it into the playoffs.

Pederson now has to make sure his players don't think they've accomplished everything yet.

"It's tough. It's a fine line because the players are — they're going to read and they're going to listen to all the media outlets on TV and stuff and just hear how people are talking about them and saying how good and how great they are," he said. "But [we have] to keep it real, too. That comes from me. Yeah, we're winning these games, but there is a lot to fix, a lot to correct as well. It's never perfect. [The] bottom line [is] we do want to win the game, but at the same time, I've got to keep them focused and grounded on — even some of the situational stuff still.

"We've got to eliminate the big play on defense. We've got to get better in the red zone on offense, and just keep working in those areas. We weren't as good on third down last night, so we've got to keep working that area. So just keeping them focused and detailed on those specific areas."

Best quotes from after Thursday's game
"It was tough. Maybe Carolina had a little bit of help tonight, them being at home. But we were able to overcome it; that was the most important part." — Rodney McLeod

"He was like, 'Man, I don't know who you is, but you a beast. And I'm like, 'You don't know who I am? You must not know football. But you know me today.'" — Nigel Bradham on his interaction with a Panthers player

"S---, it felt good. It felt like he's back to his normal self. Dominating, doing what he do." — Tim Jernigan on getting Fletcher Cox back

Random media guide note: Halapoulivaati Vaitai says the strangest thing he likes to eat is octopus.

10 players to watch in Eagles’ Super Bowl LII preseason rematch with Patriots

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USA Today Images

10 players to watch in Eagles’ Super Bowl LII preseason rematch with Patriots

The Eagles are up in Foxboro tonight to take on the Patriots in the second game of their preseason. 

Somehow, there won’t be as much at stake as the last time these two teams met. 

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing at stake. This is a great opportunity for a lot of young players to prove themselves before the starters get extended time in the third preseason game. We did a list like this before Preseason Game 1, so we excluded some players to get new names in this one: 

Nick Foles
Let’s start with the QB. Foles missed the first preseason game with spasms in his trap/neck area. But the Super Bowl MVP is expected to play at least a little bit in a preseason rematch of Super Bowl LII. I don’t expect to see a ton of Foles in this game, but I’m curious to see if he looks rusty or if things click for him. Remember, when he took over for Carson Wentz last year, it took him a few games to find a rhythm. Preseason games might be more important for him than other QBs. 

Matt Jones 
Jones also missed the preseason opener with a hip injury, so this is our first chance to see him in game action. For a big back like Jones, game action just seems much more important than anything he could show during training camp practices. With that fourth RB spot up for grabs and with Corey Clement and Donnel Pumphrey on the shelf, there should be plenty of opportunity for Jones. 

Wendell Smallwood 
The same type of opportunity for Smallwood, who is quickly running out of chances with the Eagles. He looked OK in the preseason opener, but he’s entering his third season with the Eagles and every time it looks like he’s going to have a role, he either gets hurt or can’t capitalize. I still think Smallwood could carve out a decent career, but if he wants it to be in Philly, he needs to start showing up in these games. 

Mike Wallace
Another guy who missed the first preseason game. Wallace missed the game and a few practices with tendinitis, but the 32-year-old has been good this week in camp. He still has his signature speed, which will be fun to watch this season. 

Jordan Mailata 
OK, I’m officially intrigued. I didn’t expect much from Mailata in his first-ever football game last week, but he actually did really well. He’s kind of like a giant baby because he’s learning so much in such a short amount of time. Every time I see him, he looks like a different player. 

Kamar Aiken 
In the absence of Alshon Jeffery, Mack Hollins and Greg Ward, the veteran wideout has actually been working with the first team. That’s impressive to me because when he first arrived, Aiken struggled with dropping passes, but it now appears like that was just because he was getting adjusted to his new offense and surroundings. He’s been much better recently and is pushing for a roster spot. 

Christian Hackenberg 
I’m not sure if Hackenberg will even play against the Patriots, but if he does, that’s must-see for me. He’s been in the Eagles’ offense for just a few days, but the former second-round pick is a super interesting story. He’s never played in a real NFL game and has been a complete disaster as a pro. But a couple years after being a highly-touted prospect, I wonder if he’ll ever be able to resurrect his career. 

Bruce Hector 
Who? Good question. Hector is an undrafted free agent defensive tackle from South Florida who has been really impressive during training camp. In fact, he’s been getting second-team reps above former sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls. Before the first preseason game, I asked a bunch of vets who they were excited to see. Fletcher Cox didn’t hesitate before he said, Hector. 

Cameron Johnston 
I know I’m a jerk for telling you to watch a punter in the preseason, but here we are. Punter is a real question mark because as talented as Johnston appears to be, he’s equally inconsistent. He did, however, punt a ball 81 yards (it didn’t count) in the first game. I had never seen that before. 

Avonte Maddox 
The fourth-round pick out of Pittsburgh has been getting first-team reps as the nickel cornerback this week, so I’d imagine that’s where he’ll be against the Patriots. Maddox never played inside in college, so he’s been learning a new position and has really excelled, jumping De’Vante Bausby on the depth chart. Eventually, Maddox could figure into the rotation of the future. 

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Meet Foles the goat, who lives among Patriots fans in Boston

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Dave Zangaro

Meet Foles the goat, who lives among Patriots fans in Boston

BOSTON — Shortly after he was born, a few zoo visitors jokingly wiped the name of the newborn goat off the dry-erase board at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston. 

In the nearly four months since then, the name “Foles” has been written in wet-erase marker. It’s not going anywhere. 

It didn’t take long for Foles — named after Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles thanks to a bet between Zoo New England and the Philadelphia Zoo — to quickly win over everyone who visits him or steps inside the large barn-like pen to give him a rub. 

“He’s sooo cute!” an elementary-aged boy exclaimed to his friends after Foles gave him a little nuzzle. “I wish I could have one.” 

The little boy and his friends started giggling. They couldn’t stop giggling. All the giggling. 

Really, the reactions from children when they meet Foles the goat aren’t that different than the reactions from Eagles fans when they meet Foles the G.O.A.T. 

That’s not all Foles has in common with Foles. The day after he was born, Foles (the goat) was taken for his postnatal exam. It can be a traumatic experience for a newborn goat kid, getting prodded and poked. 

“I don’t think he even cried,” said Hannah Keklak, one of the goat keepers. 

So Foles went into a high-stress situation, kept his composure and remained calm. 

Sound familiar?  

In Boston, most of the grumbling about Foles’ name has died down. It didn’t take long for Keklak or fellow keeper Laura Allaire to be won over by the adorable little goat. Keklak called him “baby” for a while, but eventually, the two admitted Patriots fans gave in. 

“We’ve accepted his name,” Allaire said with a smile and a head nod. 

About two months after Foles’ birth, a group of about 35-40 Eagles fans, wearing jerseys and carrying banners, came to visit the young goat. We’ve always known Eagles fans travel well, but this is a new one. 

Patriots fans are welcome to visit the Philadelphia Zoo, but they won’t find a goat named Brady. 

Foles the goat is sociable, perhaps even more than his family members at Franklin Farm. He seems to love people and eagerly greets them when they enter his space. On Wednesday afternoon, he rested in the shade but became enamored with one male visitor. He licked the salty sweat from his legs, playfully butted his head into his side and acted pretty much like a dog wanting attention. 

This is admittedly the first time I have ever petted one of my subjects. Foles was happy to oblige, nuzzling and eventually standing on his hind legs and resting his front ones on my thigh to get a closer look at me.

 

While the zoo announced Foles’ name on May 10, he was born on April 23. Foles is nearing his four-month birthday, but likely won’t stop growing until he’s about a year old. 

Nigerian Dwarf Goats are originally from Western Africa, but there are many of them in the United States. Foles is one of 10 at the 72-acre Franklin Park Zoo. The goats have a median age of 15 and are herbivores. 

The average size of a newborn is about 1 or 2 pounds, but by the time the zoo introduced him a few weeks after his birth, Foles was already 5 pounds. An overachiever, just like his namesake. 

Like Nick Foles, Foles the goat has a pretty good life, even in the midst of a bunch of Patriots fans. He’s surrounded by his family at the zoo: his dad Lucky, his mom Leia, sister Chewbacca and half-brother Vader. 

So, was Foles going to be named Luke had it not been for the bet? 

Well, actually, when Leia had an ultrasound, it showed a huge baby growing inside her. That’s when the veterinarian began to call the unborn goat Jabba, as in Jabba the Hut. 

Thank God the Eagles won the Super Bowl.

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