Eagles

Eagles seem ready to roll with Miles Sanders, running backs they have 

Eagles seem ready to roll with Miles Sanders, running backs they have 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve heard plenty about the Eagles’ reported interest in several veteran running backs like Carlos Hyde, Devonta Freeman and LeSean McCoy. 

They haven’t signed one yet. 

There’s a reason for that. 

To be clear, I’m not ruling out the possibility that the Eagles eventually add another running back to the roster; it is possible. The Eagles are always looking to acquire talent. But I wouldn’t anticipate that type of move coming soon for one main reason: The Eagles really like what they have. 

And it doesn’t just start and end with Miles Sanders. 

The Eagles like the entire group of running backs they have right now. Sanders is obviously the top guy and has the potential to become a true star in the NFL. But I still wouldn’t expect Doug Pederson to completely abandon the running back by committee approach. Sure, it’ll be less of a committee in 2020. Sanders is a feature back and deserves the bulk of the team’s touches. But there’s more too. Namely, Boston Scott. 

Here’s a reminder of the Eagles’ running backs: 

Miles Sanders
Boston Scott
Corey Clement
Elijah Holyfield
Michael Warren II
Adrian Killins 

• The Eagles really like Scott, who proved to everyone that he can play in the final quarter of the 2019 season. In the last four games of the regular season, as the Eagles went 4-0 to lock up the NFC East, Scott averaged 87.5 scrimmage yards. He carried the Eagles to victory in Week 17 against the Giants when he had three rushing touchdowns and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week. The Eagles don’t think that’s a fluke. 

Really, the Birds are lucky they didn’t lose Scott. Looking back, they were probably too slow to call him up from the practice squad in October. And remember, the Eagles liked Scott enough in 2018 to poach him off the Saints’ practice squad in December and keep him on the roster throughout the playoffs even though he barely played on offense. When he finally got a chance to play in 2019, the former Saints’ 6th-round pick made the most of it. 

• The Eagles still really like Clement too. Now, they didn’t like him enough to tender him as a restricted free agent but that ended up being a smart move because they got him back at a cheaper price, on a veteran minimum deal. Clement has had significant injuries in each of the last two years, so they can’t really rely on them. But coming off the 2017 season, the Eagles thought they had something in Clement. A couple years later, that’s more in question, but the Eagles want to see if that talent is still inside him. 

• Remember when the Eagles poached Scott from the Saints’ practice squad? Well, the Eagles did something similar with Holyfield last year. After Holyfield spent the entire 2019 season on the Panthers’ practice squad, the Eagles brought him in on their active roster for the brief playoff run. It was a way for them to get a guy they saw as a draftable player in 2019 at the end of the year. Going into 2020, he has a shot to be the between-the-tackles complement to Sanders and Scott. 

• And then there’s Warren and Killins, two undrafted rookies from the 2020 class. Of the two, Warren probably has the best shot to stick early on. He graded out as a draftable player for the Eagles, who then guaranteed him $57,500. 

Sure, after Sanders and maybe Scott, the Eagles don’t have a ton of depth without question marks, but they feel like they have some young talent. And one of the lessons they learned from guys like Scott and Greg Ward last year is the importance of letting young and hungry players play. 

Of the three veterans who had been linked to the Eagles, Hyde is the only one who has been signed so far. He went to the Seahawks on a 1-year deal worth $2.75 million. That was clearly out of the Eagles’ price range. So unless they can get Freeman or Shady for around a league minimum contract, expect the Eagles to roll with what they have at running back. 

If the Eagles are right about what they have, that won’t be a bad thing. 

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Chad Johnson geeked up about these DeSean Jackson clips from training camp

Chad Johnson geeked up about these DeSean Jackson clips from training camp

DeSean Jackson is 33 years old now and he’s coming off a sports hernia surgery that basically wrecked his 2019 season. 

But he still has it. 

On Friday afternoon, former NFL receiver Chad Johnson shared some 1-on-1 practice video that Jackson sent his way from the Eagles’ ongoing training camp practices. Johnson was pretty excited to get these clips and posted a couple on his Twitter account. 

That one is Jackson going against Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, in his first training camp with the Eagles. This will be a fun battle all camp long. Last year in training camp, DeSean dominated but he didn’t have a top tier cornerback to go against. 

It was fun to watch Jackson do this to the DBs in camp last year, but now he’s going against a three-time Pro Bowler and one of the best corners in the game. And Slay still stood no chance. 

That little hesitation step from Jackson and the explosion out of it is pretty wild. In a regular foot race no one is going to beat Jackson; if he gets the DB flat-footed, forget about it. And Jackson is going to beat corners as long as he’s healthy. That’s why so many defensive coordinators slide any help they can that way. 

And then there’s this hitch route that Johnson posted with some NSFW language.

On that one, you can see that Slay has to respect the deep ball and Jackson has that change of direction ability. One of the misconceptions about Jackson is that he’s just a go route deep threat; but that’s not the case. He can run short and intermediate routes well and it’s all set up from his ability to burn corners deep. 

The Eagles won’t be in pads until Monday, which is also when reporters are allowed to watch practice. I can’t wait to see this battle in person and report back. 

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Jon Gruden's curious comparison of Nelson Agholor and Randall Cunningham

Jon Gruden's curious comparison of Nelson Agholor and Randall Cunningham

Twenty-five years ago, Randall Cunningham retired after a dismal final season with the Eagles. 

Two years later he came out of retirement, signed with the Vikings and a year later had one of the greatest quarterback seasons ever, earned MVP honors and would have taken the Vikings to the Super Bowl if not for some terrible coaching by Dennis Green.

Cunningham’s offensive coordinator his last year in Philly? Jon Gruden.

Gruden today is head coach of the Raiders, and one of his pet projects is Nelson Agholor.

“A change of scenery worked for Randall Cunningham, maybe it will work for him,” Gruden told the Athletic.

Interestingly, Cunningham, who settled in Las Vegas after playing college football at UNLV, is now the Raiders’ team chaplain.

As for Agholor, he’s trying to rebuild a career that despite some great moments in 2017 and a brilliant Super Bowl never lived up to expectations.

"I trust him and I think he was picked high in the draft for a reason,” Gruden said of Agholor. "He’s a good player. You can pick up the Philadelphia Inquirer and they will probably say something different, but this guy has caught over 200 passes, he’s a young guy, he has played split end, flanker and in the slot. He caught eight or nine passes in a Super Bowl (9-for-84) and won a Super Bowl. So he's a world champion. He's a great person.”

Agholor caught 224 passes for 2,515 yards and 18 touchdowns in five seasons with the Eagles, who made him the 20th pick in Chip Kelly’s 2015 draft.

He never caught more than 768 yards in a season and he surpassed 64 yards in only nine of his 76 games here.

Agholor said he and Gruden actually have a family connection that goes back to when he was in high school at Berkeley Prep in Tampa and Gruden had just finished coaching the Buccaneers.

“He actually used to hang around after his days coaching in Tampa, he still lived in Tampa, and he would always go to a racetrack near his home, and my brother worked at that racetrack so him and my brother spent a lot of time talking every morning when Jon was getting his coffee about football and about my college career and things like that,” Agholor said in a Zoom call with Raiders writers. 

“So it’s a blessing to be in this opportunity having a previous relationship. But at the end of the day I chose this relationship because he knows the game and all I want to do is learn and be a better player.”

The Eagles, who paid Agholor nearly $19 million over the last five years, made no attempt to re-sign the 27-year-old after last season ended.

He signed a one-year minimum salary benefit deal with the Raiders worth barely above minimum wage - $1.0475 million.

In Vegas, he’ll likely compete for slot reps with Hunter Renfrow, who had 49-for-605 with 4 TDs as a rookie 5th-round pick last year.

“Honestly, this is a beautiful opportunity for me to get a chance to play with a guy like Jon Gruden, who has a background in coaching receivers,” Agholor said. “I chose this opportunity to make myself a better player. There’s no better opportunity to play for a head coach that knows receiver play and can articulate ways you can get better.

“My No. 1 goal is to progress as a player.  Lot of things that happened in the past, some really good things and some things I wanted to grow from. I told myself this opportunity is to be 2 percent better than the player I was in my previous five years.”
 

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