Eagles rookie Dallas Goedert ready for biggest game of his life

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Eagles rookie Dallas Goedert ready for biggest game of his life

When Dallas Goedert steps on the field for his first regular season NFL game on Thursday night, there will be 70,000 people making for a raucous crowd at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Not to mention millions watching at home. 

It just so happens that the Eagles’ second-round pick, who played his college career at FCS South Dakota State, will start his NFL career on the biggest stage imaginable. Thursday Night Football to start the 2018 season; the only game on TV. 

“We played some big games in college, but nothing to the extent of this,” Goedert said this week. “Obviously, this will be the biggest game of my life. I’m really excited for it.”

The 23-year-old rookie tight end admitted there might be a little extra nerves on his end, but he expects them to disappear once the game starts. It might help that his parents are coming to town to cheer him on. He said it’s a “dream come true” to start his NFL career on this big of a stage. 

Goedert was asked to name his most memorable opening day. He mentioned the very first game of his college career back on Aug. 30, 2014. His Jackrabbits were on the road to take on No. 24 Missouri at Faurot Field in front of just over 60,000 in an FBS game. 

The Jackrabbits lost that one 38-18, but kept the game pretty close. Goedert picked up his first college reception in that game. It went for nine yards. Pretty soon, that memory might be second for him. 

The Eagles’ second-round pick acquitted himself quite well this preseason. He caught nine passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. We saw some great flashes from him over the last month, but the preseason doesn’t really matter. The Eagles need him to do it during the regular season. 

“It’s different,” Goedert said. “You just have to know that intensity is going to pick up, you’re going to be playing against better players who are great all-around athletes, they know what they are doing a little bit better. I just have to prepare a little bit harder and be ready for tougher football games.”

Goedert is already listed as the No. 2 tight end on the Eagles’ roster, but he’ll probably need to take an even bigger role for the first few weeks of the season. Third tight end Richard Rodgers has a knee injury and won’t be playing in this game. The rookie said it’s a shame to see his teammate hurt, but is ready to take on a big role for the season. 

While he said he has sometimes set goals for himself in the past, Goedert can’t do that yet because he isn’t sure of what his role will be exactly. He does know he’ll have a role, though. Based on what we saw from him at training camp, a lot of it will probably come in the red zone. 

“I feel like I’ve come a long way,” he said. “Obviously, when you first get here, the game’s a lot faster. The plays are new and everything. After being here for a while, the game’s slowed down quite a bit. The playbook is a lot more familiar. We’ve started game-planning so there are new plays, but I feel like I’ve come a long way and I’m in a good spot.”

The Eagles are expecting a lot from their first pick of the 2018 draft. They come into this season without Trey Burton and Brent Celek, so the Eagles are going to rely on Zach Ertz and Goedert even more. There’s not much time for rookie struggles. The Eagles need Goedert to perform and that starts on Thursday night in front of the football world. 

Everyone is going to be watching. 

How high is Goedert’s excitement level? 

“It’s really high,” he answered. “Obviously, playing in the preseason was great, but going into the regular season is a completely different thing. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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Eagles to charge for 1 open training camp practice, proceeds going to autism research

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Eagles to charge for 1 open training camp practice, proceeds going to autism research

Eagles players will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 24, and the first practice will take place on July 25 at the NovaCare Complex. 

All but one practice will be held at the NovaCare Complex. The Eagles will hold just one open practice for fans at Lincoln Financial Field, but this year will charge admission. 

The open practice will be on Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.; it will also be Military Appreciation Night. 

Tickets will be $10 and all proceeds will go to the Eagles Autism Challenge. Tickets can be purchased on TicketMaster.com and go on sale at 10:30 this morning. 

For years, most of the Eagles’ training camp practices were open to fans at Lehigh University and even since the team moved camp to the NovaCare Complex, select practices have been open to fans for free at the Linc. This is the first year the Eagles will charge admission to a training camp practice. Parking for the open practice this year will still be free. 

Last year, the Eagles had two open practices at the Linc. Tickets were required, but they were free of charge. 

According to ESPN, there was internal debate about whether or not to charge admission to practice this year, but, "Ultimately, the desire to further the team's charitable efforts won out."

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How critical is mystery man Tom Donahoe to the Eagles?

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How critical is mystery man Tom Donahoe to the Eagles?

He doesn’t even have a bio.

Tom Donahoe has spent nearly 30 years running NFL scouting departments, and he’s been with the Eagles for over seven years now. He’s a legend in the scouting community.

Yet when you try to click his name on the Eagles’ on-line front office directory, you can’t.

When you click every other notable front office staffer’s name on the team's web site, it leads to their bio.

Tom’s doesn’t click. Nothing happens. There’s no link. There's no bio.

This speaks volumes about Donahoe. 

He doesn’t want attention. He doesn’t want credit. He doesn’t want accolades. He just wants to quietly do his job and stay safely hidden, deep in the shadows.

And he’s been doing that for the Eagles since 2012.

A little background: Donahoe spent 1991 through 1999 as the Steelers’ general manager, a span where they won four straight AFC Central titles, went to the playoffs six straight times and reached three AFC title games and a Super Bowl.

After a power struggle with Bill Cowher left him briefly unemployed, he landed with the Bills, where he served as general manager until 2005.

Donahoe joined the Eagles’ front office as a “senior advisor” before the 2012 season and survived Andy Reid’s firing and the Chip Kelly Era, earning a promotion to senior director of player personnel on Dec. 29, 2015 — the same day Kelly was fired and Howie Roseman’s power was restored.

In the years since, he has been a crucial yet hidden voice in the Eagles' front office.

Donahoe is rarely seen. He’s been made available by the team for one interview — in the NovaCare Complex cafeteria in April of 2015, along with all the team’s scouts — and he was entertaining and insightful, regaling the media with stories of his career, including the role he played in converting Jason Peters from an undrafted tight end into a Hall of Fame offensive lineman while both were in Buffalo.

That was four years ago. For the most part, you don’t hear about Donahoe. You don’t read about him. But make no mistake about it. He is a huge part of this franchise. 

Donaohoe is a valued sounding board for Roseman, and a trusted adviser for owner Jeff Lurie.  

Donahoe grew up in the South Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh and played football at South Hills Catholic, where one of his teammates was George Weidl. 

George Weidl's sons? They would be Andy and Casey, who are both now key members of the Eagles’ scouting department. Andy last week was promoted to vice president of player personnel, with Joe Douglas becoming Jets GM, and Casey was just promoted to director of scouting operations.

Donahoe evaluated film for Roseman and Douglas when they were building a Super Bowl roster. He was on Lurie's search committee that recommended Pederson. He’s single-handedly responsible for two of the team’s highly regarded young scouting administrators.

Donahoe’s fingerprints are all over this franchise.

Donahoe is so uninterested in promoting himself or taking credit for the success the Eagles have had under his watch that he won’t even let his picture be taken for his bio. 

Go to Google Images and search for a picture of Donahoe. You can’t find one. At least nothing recent.

But I feel likes that’s exactly what you need at the heart of your scouting department, at the heart of your front office.

Donahoe is not in this business to get promoted or to gain notoriety. He’s doing this for the right reason. He likes to win. 

Donaohoe won his first Super Bowl with the Eagles 16 months ago, and I’m just guessing here but I’ll bet he doesn’t wear his ring.

He’s not about drawing attention to himself. He’s about doing whatever he can do to support Lurie, Roseman and now Andy Weidl, his high school teammate’s kid.

Douglas was the same way. Howie’s the same way. Weidl is the same way. 

That’s how you build a winning culture. A championship culture.

When you have a group of people working together that way – disinterested in who gets the credit, working solely with team goals in mind, operating without ego – you have a chance to do some pretty special things.

The best part of all this? If I made a mistake in this piece, nobody would ever know.

Because how do you look something up in a guy’s bio if he doesn’t have one?

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