Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Fletcher Cox calls 49ers' Joe Staley to clear the air

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Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Fletcher Cox calls 49ers' Joe Staley to clear the air

Fletcher Cox made sure to call Joe Staley this week after his block on the 49ers' offensive tackle left Staley with a gash under his eye and a fractured orbital bone.

At the time, Staley thought it was a dirty hit, so Cox called him to clear the air. 

"We talked through it and he did tell me that he's been on the opposite side of that situation," Cox said. "And at that point right there during a football game, what can I do besides check on him? He's fine and we have no beef or nothing going on."

Cox said it was a mistake that his hand slipped through Staley's face mask. Cox said he was glad Staley was OK (relatively) and was thankful he didn't break his hand. 

The block came after Jalen Mills' second-quarter interception and helped Mills get into the end zone for his first career pick-six. 

"This game is so fast," Cox said. "Most people don't understand. I understand that he was probably frustrated at the time and thought it was a dirty play. But honestly, who goes out and pokes people in the eye on purpose? We got helmets on so why would you do that?"

Three's company
There was absolutely no doubt for Nate Sudfeld. 

He wanted to stay in Philadelphia. 

And that's exactly what happened. Sudfeld, the Eagles' third-string quarterback, was signed to the 53-man roster earlier this week as the Eagles prevented the Indianapolis Colts from poaching him off the practice squad. 

"Never for one minute that I've been here have I thought that they didn't believe in me and I've wanted to play my best for them," Sudfeld said. "I'm thrilled that they think of me that much and did everything they could to keep me around and see a future with me being a part of it."

Keeping Sudfeld might have surprised some fans, but it's pretty clear the Eagles must think a lot of him. They showed interest in him during the 2016 draft when Washington took him in the sixth round. But Sudfeld never forgot about his encounters with the Eagles. He even chatted with Eagles coaches before the two games against them last season. 

Sudfeld likes it so much in Philly he said he would have even considered staying on the practice squad instead of joining the Colts' 53-man roster. Good thing for him, the Eagles didn't know that. They signed him so they wouldn't lose him. He's felt the love from the Eagles for a long time. It's why he decided to come to Philly this September instead of staying in Washington. 

"Absolutely," Sudfeld said. "They showed interest during the draft process and then got to see them before games and things last year. They were saying hi. That little stuff has been great." 

Nick Foles is obviously the Eagles' backup quarterback for now, but it seems possible that Sudfeld could end up being the Eagles' backup quarterback at some point. There are always teams who need quarterbacks and Foles might not be a bad option for some of them. 

Did Sudfeld really think about leaving? 

Yeah, of course. But he talked it over with his family and his agent. "Ultimately, I'm happy I stayed here," he said.

More praise for Wentz
It's going to become an every week thing. The opponents who are about to play the Eagles are going to praise Carson Wentz. That's how well he has been playing this season. 

The top-notch Denver defense is no exception. 

Von Miller is impressed: 

“He just has that vibe about him. I hate comparisons in the National Football League. I don’t want to compare him to Ben Roethlisberger or Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck because he’s totally different than them. He does have the ability to stay up. He’s not trying to go down. He’s out there trying to play football. He’s not even playing quarterback. He’s out there playing football. It’s similar to Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, but like I said, I’m not making any comparisons. He’s totally different. He’s faster than those guys. He’s quicker than those guys. It’s going to be a tough challenge.”

Here's head coach Vance Joseph when asked how Wentz went from North Dakota State to the NFL's MVP race: 

“I’m not sure. His background, but he’s the second pick of the draft for a reason. He’s a talent. He uses his legs. He’s a big guy, he has a great arm and he has great legs. He has courage and poise and he’s smart. I’m not sure how he got to that school, but where he is now, he’s a special player. He’s up for the MVP, in my opinion, watching the guy play. He is a playmaker and he plays with a lot of courage. He has some Brett Favre in him. He doesn’t slide, he runs for first downs and he hangs in the pocket and holds the ball a long time on occasions to make big plays. He’s a special player. I’m not sure how he got there, but where he is now, he’s special.”

Here's what Broncos DC Joe Woods had to say about Wentz: 

“He’s a big guy. He can make all the throws. He has great touch on his deep ball. Guys just bounce off of him in the pocket. I know guys compare him to Ben Roethlisberger and I see why. He is a good young quarterback. It’s only going to get better. He’s doing a hell of a job right now.

Quote of the Week I: "I'm just glad now that there's two backs I don't want to see in December are both on my team. Good luck to everybody else." — Malcolm Jenkins on the trade for Jay Ajayi

Quote of the Week II: "I always say, man, it's an 80-20. Eighty percent chance I'm gonna catch it. Twenty percent chance it's going to be incomplete." — Alshon Jeffery on 50-50 balls 

Quote of the Week III: "I woke up today as a Philadelphia Eagle and I’m very excited about that." — Jay Ajayi 

Random media guide note: If Destiny Vaeao could play another sport, he would want to be a forward for the Manu Samoa rugby squad. 

Brandon Graham stays ready in boxing ring, takes 'important step' for Eagles' 2018 opener

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Brandon Graham stays ready in boxing ring, takes 'important step' for Eagles' 2018 opener

In February, Brandon Graham won a ring. In the six months since he’s gotten in one.

Graham said Monday he’s been doing some sparring as he rehabs from postseason ankle surgery.

Graham, who had a career-high 9½ sacks last year, returned to practice Monday after spending the last three weeks on the Eagles' physically unable to play reserve list (see story).

“Boxing is real good, especially with using my hands,” he said. “I always do that during the offseason. Always focus on my hands, because as a D-lineman that’s our goal, you’ve got to use your hands in everything.

“So while I’ve been hurt I’ve just been trying to work on my coordination and make sure everything stays tight.”

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Graham will be limited for a while here as he works off the rust.

"There are steps he's got to take along the way,” Schwartz said. “This is an important step getting back on to practice with his teammates. Probably be limited to just some individual stuff and we'll sort of work him along. But it is great to have him back.”

Graham won’t play against the Browns Thursday night and almost certainly won’t play against the Jets in the preseason finale a week later.

All he’s got on his mind is the Falcons on Sept. 6.

“All I can say is when I do start hitting people, I’m going to be so sore, but then you’ve got to work through that soreness like we always do and eventually that starts to become your armor and you build on that,” he said.

“I’m excited. Just excited to be back out there with the boys. It’s been hard standing back because you don’t want to feel behind. I don’t feel like I’m behind but they got a lot more reps than I got, so I’m just trying to catch up.

“Everybody knows when it’s time to go it’s going to be time to go. I’m just excited. We’re all excited because it’s the first step.”

Graham, who had the legendary strip-sack of Tom Brady in the closing minutes of the Super Bowl, said his ankle is fine, it’s just a matter of conditioning at this point.

Week 1?

“I’m not going to make any promises, but I’m working my butt off every day,” he said. “Putting money in the bank every day.”

Graham has missed only one game since opening day of 2012, and that was the meaningless season-ender last year against the Cowboys.

Only four defensive ends — Jerry Hughes, Cameron Jordan, Julius Peppers and Ndamukong Suh — have played more games (96, obviously) over the last five seasons.

“I’m really just focused on Week 1 right now and focus on today and how everything goes,” said Graham, now 30.

“I feel like I can get myself ready for Week 1, for sure, because I’m already doing two-a-days and sometimes two-a-days. It’s on me to make sure I continue to get my shape up and that’s just running and doing drills and pushing and pulling on people.

“I think as I continue to feel better, I’m going to continue to go harder. I’m just excited because now I can start counting down the days. I’ve got 17 days to get right.”

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Tackling new helmet rule a challenge for Jim Schwartz, Eagles

Tackling new helmet rule a challenge for Jim Schwartz, Eagles

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is concerned enough about the NFL's new rule banning tacklers from lowering their head to initiate contact that he held a defensive meeting Monday specifically so his guys could study film of exactly how the league is calling the new rule.

Through two preseason weekends, the Eagles have been cited a league-high five times for personal fouls for lowering the head.

“The instructions we’ve given guys is, try not to lower your head and try to take your head out of it, and I think our guys are trying to do that,” Schwartz said.

“I can confidently say we don’t have any guys that are trying to play outside the bounds. We don’t have any guys that are head hunting, that are being selfish. They’re trying to play within the rules.

“I think you can see Nigel [Bradham’s] play, he’s trying to get his head out. I think even Rodney [McLeod’s] play, he’s trying to get his head across and get it out. The problem is they’re dealing with world-class athletes who are moving targets. A little bit easier said than done. 

“And those fouls have hurt us in those first couple preseason games and we’ve got to get to a point where they don’t hurt us in the regular season.”

Cornerback Sidney Jones was called for a lowering-the-head penalty on Steelers receiver Damoun Patterson in the preseason opener, and tight end Richard Rodgers was also cited in the opener for an illegal hit on Justin Thomas on a punt return.

Last Thursday night, McLeod was called for a hit on running back James White, Bradham was cited for a hit on receiver Julian Edelman and safety Jeremy Reaves was penalized for a hit on running back Mike Gillislee.

“It’s going to be very important work over the next couple weeks, not just learning from our own mistakes but learning from other teams,” Schwartz said.

“There’s some other good feedback. We get clips from the league that show not just penalties that were called but penalties that should have been called. So there is a learning process.”

Eagles veteran defensive end Brandon Graham said it’s going to be tough to eliminate these penalties simply because the game moves so fast, and even if your intention is to use perfect form tackling, it doesn’t always end up that way.

“It’s tough because sometimes the runner’s ducking his head just as much as you’re ducking,” he said. “But they just don’t want to see the crown of your head hitting his crown or hitting his facemask.

“Just really try to keep your eyes up. You’re going to get ran over sometimes. Hey, you’re going to get ran over. But some people do like to use the crown of their head and it’s just to protect them because you don’t want to be paralyzed from hitting someone the wrong way. 

"So I try to keep my face up and hit with my facemask and this will force people to start doing stuff like that.”

One challenge Schwartz noted is getting his guys to play hard, fast and aggressive without thinking about how they’re tackling.

“You want to play fast,” he said. “You want to play confidently on the field. But any time there’s something new, there is going to be an adjustment. 

“It’s a difficult thing. We're trying our best to work through it, but it does add a layer of difficulty to what we're trying to do.”

According to penalty stats on NFLgsis, an official league statistical web site, there have been 48 lowering-the-head penalties called in 32 preseason games or 1½ per game.

Eight of the 32 teams haven’t been cited at all. The Eagles and Titans have been called a league-high five times each.

“It’s real sensitive right now, but as professionals, we’re going to adjust,” Graham said.

“They want to make it an emphasis in preseason, and I’m happy it didn’t cost us a real game. We’ve just got to continue to keep our head out of things and I think we’ll make that adjustment."

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