Eagles

Eagles' rookie class puts on a show in Monday Night Football win

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Eagles' rookie class puts on a show in Monday Night Football win

The Eagles' 2017 rookie class was out in force Monday night, and in a huge division showdown on national TV, Derek Barnett, Mack Hollins and Corey Clement helped the best team in football improve to 6-1.

Barnett recorded two sacks and Hollins and Clement both had dramatic touchdown catches in the Eagles' 34-24 win over the Redskins at the Linc (see observations).

Barnett, the first-round pick from Tennessee, became the first Eagle rookie with a two-sack game since Trent Cole in 2005. Hollins' 64-yard TD catch was the longest by an Eagles rookie in 11 years. And Clement's circus TD catch made him the first undrafted Eagles running back in 64 years with two TD catches in a season.

The Eagles have plenty of big-time veteran stars. But this rookie class is looking awfully good right now.

Factor in third-round corner Rasul Douglas, who has played well, and record-setting kicker Jake Elliott, and that's quite a rookie class.

"We just always have a big chip on our shoulder," said Clement, who went undrafted out of Wisconsin. "When we come out here, we are always overlooked by somebody just because we are rookies, but that doesn't mean we can't make a play.

"When we're out there, we try to think and play as veterans. When we walk out there with those guys, like (Brent) Celek and all those other veterans, we want to prove that we belong.

"I don't want anybody second-guessing why we're out there on the field."

Clement was on the receiving end of a miraculous Carson Wentz effort, where he seemed to be swallowed up by the Redskins’ pass rush before floating a TD pass to Clement on a scramble drill. Clement looked like a wide receiver, sticking both feet in the right side of the end zone (see breakdown).

The catch made Clement the first undrafted Eagles rookie running back with two TD catches in a season since Hal Giancanelli in 1953.

Clement had just two touchdown catches in college, but seven games into his NFL career, he's already matched that.

How did he get tagged with the reputation that he can't catch?

"I wish I could tell you," he said. "But everybody's going to say something about somebody. So it's whether you're going to back it up or complain about it, and I chose to back it up."

Hollins and Clement became the first pair of Eagles rookies with TD catches in the same game since Jason Avant and Hank Baskett against the Falcons in 2006. Hollins' 64-yard TD is the longest by an Eagles rookie since Baskett's 89-yarder in that same game.

Hollins, a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina, has been targeted six times this year and has six catches for 134 yards and five first downs.

And then there's Barnett, who had just half a sack in his first six games but broke through with two Monday against a Redskins team that had allowed only eight in its first six games.

Barnett became the first rookie with a two-sack game against the Redskins since Ziggy Ansah of the Lions in 2013.

"Everybody's been telling me just keep grinding and they're going to come," Barnett said. "They all just say keep working and eventually it's going to break. It was a fun night."

Barnett's 2½ sacks are the most by an Eagles rookie defensive end since Brandon Graham had three back in 2010.

"We have a lot of guys who've been playing in the league for a while, and they give me a lot of tips and stuff, and it helps me pick up my game," Barnett said. "I'm very lucky to have those guys in the room to help me."

Eagles' Bryce Treggs reportedly sidelined with hamstring strain

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Eagles' Bryce Treggs reportedly sidelined with hamstring strain

Just when it looked like he was starting to separate himself for a roster spot, Bryce Treggs pulled up lame during last night’s game against the Patriots.

And now that roster spot is very much in question.

That’s a really tough break for Treggs. Just last night, a few of us in the press box were commenting about how good the speedy young receiver had looked recently. After missing the beginning of training camp with a knee injury, Treggs returned and looked fresh and as fast as ever.

Even on Thursday night, he caught two balls for 23 yards and the one where he got hurt in the third quarter, he easily separated from a defensive back.

Tregg is still just 24 and was pushing to be the Eagles’ sixth wide receiver. The top five seem pretty much locked in: Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson. But Treggs seemed to have as good a shot as Kamar Aiken or Markus Wheaton or Greg Ward or Rashard Davis of making the team. The injury is a blow to that.

Treggs first came to the Eagles in 2016. He was claimed off waivers from the 49ers and replaced Paul Turner on the roster. He was with the Browns on their 53-man roster for part of last season but ended the year on the Eagles’ practice squad.

Early Friday afternoon, Treggs tweeted about the injury.


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Matt Jones doesn't help his case for Eagles' 53-man roster in preseason debut

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Matt Jones doesn't help his case for Eagles' 53-man roster in preseason debut

FOXBORO — This was not the game Matt Jones wanted, and it’s not the game he could afford to have if he’s going to make the Eagles’ 53-man roster.

Playing in his first game this preseason, Jones ran six times for 19 yards Thursday night against the Patriots and dropped three passes, one of which was picked off by Christian Sam off his hands.

Not an auspicious debut for the former Redskin and Colt.

“I don’t want to put anything like that on film,” he said at his locker after the Eagles lost to the Patriots, 37-20, at Gillette Stadium. “Just lack of focus because of fatigue and just not locking in and watching the ball through. 

“Don’t want to get down on myself because I know I can catch the ball. … I know I’m a better player than that and I’m going to prove it.”

Jones didn’t play in the opener, and with Donnel Pumphrey and Josh Adams both out Thursday night and Wendell Smallwood not doing anything to help himself, this was his chance to make a statement.

Jones was among the NFL’s leading rushers the first half of 2016. He even had a 135-yard game against the Eagles. So he should be able to dominate against some of the second- and third-stringers he faced Thursday night.

But he didn’t come close to dominating.

“Big learning experience for me about what I need to get done, what I need to do, what I need to work on,” Jones said.

“I got a lot of reps on special teams, a lot of reps on offense, need to watch the film and really study myself. There was a lot on my plate tonight, we have some backs down tonight, I just had to suck it up.

“I’m close to where I want to be. I’m real close. I need to clean up the little stuff, there’s some stuff I need to fix."

Smallwood finished with four carries of one yard rushing, so he didn’t help himself much either.

Right now, there are four running backs competing for one possible fourth spot behind Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles, and none of the four has claimed the spot. 

You would think Jones, with his resume, would have. But this wasn’t the start he needed.

"I think (Jones and Smallwood) would agree that there were plays left out on the field tonight,” Doug Pederson said. “And something we got to clean up and keep working. You know, it’s a great battle between those two and we have a couple weeks left before we make these tough decisions.”

Jones said he felt terrible about his drops Thursday night, especially the one that turned into an interception from Nate Sudfeld. He said he'll do more sprints after practice to get his wind up so he can get through a full game playing teams and offense.

“Playing offense and special teams, I’m not used to that, and it was something really challenging for me," he said. "But I’m going to bounce back next week and really hone in on it. It’s something I’ve never really done before, now I just have to step up to the challenge and be ready.”

Jones and Sudfeld were teammates with the Redskins in 2016, so they go back a few years.

“He’s a guy who really believes in me and I believe in him so every time I’m on the field I try to give him my all,” he said.

“So with the drops, I feel like I owe him a couple. I’ll make sure I make up for those next game.”

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