Eagles

Eagles sign veteran receiver Markus Wheaton to 1-year deal

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Eagles sign veteran receiver Markus Wheaton to 1-year deal

The Eagles have added another veteran receiver to the team, signing 27-year-old Markus Wheaton to a one-year contract. 

After two disappointing seasons, Wheaton will try to re-find his form from his prime with the Steelers. 

Wheaton over the last two seasons caught just seven passes for 102 yards and one touchdowns in 14 games. His 2016 season, his last in Pittsburgh, ended on IR with a shoulder injury. And last year, he played in just 11 games for the Bears — he caught three passes for 51 yards — before getting cut in March. Wheaton’s short time in Chicago was hampered by injuries including a broken finger, groin tear and an appendectomy in the summer. 

The last two seasons have been a far cry from Wheaton’s 2015 season, when he set career highs in receiving yards and touchdowns. In 2015, his third year in the league, he had 44 catches for 749 yards and five touchdowns. In 2014, he had 53 catches for 644 yards and two touchdowns. In 2015, Wheaton averaged 17.0 yards per reception, also a career high. 

Wheaton was also a kick returner in Pittsburgh. 

Wheaton was originally drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft out of Oregon State. 

But that was a long time ago, so the Eagles are giving Wheaton a chance to make the team and then fight for playing time. 

Wheaton will join a receivers room with Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Mike Wallace, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Bryce Treggs and Greg Ward. Wheaton should have a decent shot to make the roster as long as he performs well this summer. 

Eagles 20, Colts 16: Defense holds up, Birds win in Carson Wentz's return

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Eagles 20, Colts 16: Defense holds up, Birds win in Carson Wentz's return

BOX SCORE

This is one of those games where you're not sure how the Eagles won it, but after you catch your breath, you're sure that somehow they did.

Which is the sign of a good team.

Here are my 10 observations from the Eagles' sloppy but ultimately impressive 20-16 win over the Colts on Sunday at the Linc. 

1. This is the kind of game a championship team wins. There were so many opportunities for the Eagles to lose this one. So many times where sloppy play, turnovers, penalties and mistakes gave the Colts opportunities. But when the clock read zero, somehow the Eagles had done enough to win. Despite two Carson Wentz turnovers deep in his own territory, despite 10 penalties for 110 yards, despite terrible field position all day, despite letting the Colts drive inside the 5-yard line in the final minutes, the Eagles escaped the Linc with a win and found their way to 2-1 despite not yet playing a complete game on both sides of the ball. This was an impressive win because of what the Eagles had to overcome. Nothing came easy Sunday. But one thing we learned about the Eagles last year is that if you fight and battle for 60 minutes, you’re going to give yourself a chance to win, and the Eagles did exactly that Sunday afternoon.

2. The strange thing about Carson Wentz’s performance in his first game in 9½ months is that he didn’t show any rust in the first half, but he looked out of sorts in the second half. You’d think it would be the other way for a guy coming off an ACL rehab who hadn’t played since December. Wentz, in the first half, looked comfortable and nimble, and even with a depleted corps of skill guys, he was 14 for 20 for 165 yards a touchdown and no INTs before halftime. It was after halftime that he made a couple very bad, very uncharacteristic plays, turning the ball over twice deep in his own territory in the third quarter on a terrible interception and a bad fumble. You would think it would be the other way. But the bottom line is Wentz wasn’t perfect, and maybe he was a little rusty, but he clearly trusts the knee, wasn’t thinking about the knee, moved around beautifully in the pocket and looked every bit like a healthy quarterback. Everything else can be fixed. 

3. The Eagles’ tackling was much better Sunday than last weekend, and that was huge. The Colts are a team that likes to dink-and-dunk and try to get the ball quickly into the hands of their receivers with high-percentage passes, then looks for mismatches and missed tackles. You have to tackle well to stop an offense like that, and the Eagles did.

4. Loved the production from the running backs. Here are the Eagles without Jay Ajayi and without Darren Sproles and they run the ball 35 times for 152 yards and added six catches for 54 more yards. Duce Staley really did a beautiful job mixing up Wendell Smallwood (52 rushing, 35 receiving), Corey Clement (55 rushing, 19 receiving) and Josh Adams (30 rushing). To get that kind of production out of a decimated position group on a day when your quarterback is playing for the first time in 9½ months is remarkable.

5. How about Dallas Goedert? This was the Goedert we’ve been waiting to see, and he was as advertised. The rookie caught seven passes for 73 yards and his first NFL touchdown and just looked really solid in every aspect of the game. This kid is the real deal.

6. I know a lot of people were looking at this game as kind of a referendum on how much Doug Pederson misses Frank Reich. Beyond the fact that it’s not really fair to base any sort of conclusion on one game, I think what the Eagles were able to do Sunday — control the clock for 40½ minutes, pile up 379 yards, scored 20 points and win the game without Ajayi, Sproles, Alshon Jeffery, Mack Hollins and Mike Wallace — speaks volumes about Pederson and his ability to tailor the gameplan to the weapons he has .

7. It was encouraging to see Jason Peters get through the game healthy and very productive in the run game especially. After he left that Bucs game early and coming off a season-ending injury last year, he needs to string together a series of healthy, productive games, and this was a real positive start for him. 

8. Seeing the Colts open the third quarter with a 29-yard pass to a wide-open T.Y. Hilton a week after the Bucs opened the game with a 75-yard touchdown makes me wonder about the Eagles’ mental prep at the start of halves. Those are both uncharacteristic type of plays and I just wonder if the Eagles are coming out of the locker room with the intensity they need. In both games, the defense played better as the game went along. But those initial plays are something to look at.

9. Nelson Agholor finished with just four catches for 24 yards, but I don’t care what his numbers are. He is such a competitor, and the play he made to dive over Malik Hooker and past the sticks for a six-yard gain on 3rd-and-5 on the game-winning drive was just huge. One of the biggest plays of the game. Agholor makes such an impact even when he’s not putting up huge numbers. He’s a winner.

10. Despite the win, these penalties are getting to be a problem. The Eagles were called 10 times Sunday for 110 yards and that’s 27 penalties for 266 yards after three games. That’s way too many. I know the league is calling a lot of things closer this year, but that number has to come down.

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4:12 p.m.: That’ll do it. The Eagles hold on for the win and improve to 2-1 on the season. 

Final: Eagles 20, Colts 16

3:45 p.m.: That was a looooong drive. The Eagles went 75 yards on 17 plays and it took 11:18. 

The biggest play of the drive came when Nelson Agholor caught a pass to his right and dove for a huge first down to give the Eagles a chance to get a field goal. They also had four penalties to help them move down the field. 

Eagles 20, Colts 16

3:20 p.m.: Another really bad turnover from Wentz (a fumble this time) sets the Colts up in the red zone. Wentz tried to step up in the pocket, but Margus Hunt stripped sacked it and then jumped on the ball. A couple plays later and the third quarter ended. 

Eagles 13, Colts 13

3:07 p.m.: After a long drive, the Eagles had to settle for a 24-yard field goal. The big play of the drive was a 28-yard pass to Ertz down the seam. On third down in the red zone, Wentz’s pass to Ertz was a little late and fell incomplete. The Eagles wanted a penalty, but they didn’t get one. Wentz's pass was a little late getting there. 

Eagles 13, Colts 13

3:05 p.m.: Rodney McLeod (knee) is questionable to return. He got hit in his right knee by Jalen Mills on the FG drive. 

2:50 p.m.: Bad decision, bad throw from Wentz. Just an awful interception to give the Colts the ball at the Eagles’ 17-yard line. He tried to get the ball to Ertz, but instead it went right into the arms of Anthony Walker. 

Just after that, Rodney McLeod got hurt. It looked like McLeod’s right knee got hit by Jalen Mills. The third-down play went incomplete and the Colts settled for a 31-yard field goal. 

Colts 13, Eagles 10

2:46 p.m.: After the Eagles’ first drive of the second half fizzled, the Colts went 48 yards on nine plays before a 35-yard field goal tied the game. 

Eagles 10, Colts 10

The big play of the drive came when Luck scrambled to buy some time and then hit T.Y. Hilton for a 29 yard gain down the left sideline. Ronald Darby was in coverage. 

2:21 p.m.: At halftime: Eagles 10, Colts 7

The Eagles got the ball at their own 33-yard line with 1:40 left in the first half and the half ended at their 35-yard line. Not great, but they’ll get the ball back after halftime. 

Wentz was 14 for 20 for 165 yards and a touchdown in the first half and has made some spectacular plays, but missed some too. The first drive of the game was scripted and he looked great, but after that, we’ve seen a little bit of rust. But we’ve also seen some great plays from him that only he can make.  

2:08 p.m.: The running backs started to cook in the second quarter. Josh Adams broke off runs of 16 and 10 and then Wendell Smallwood caught a 34-yard pass. It was a pretty ball from Wentz. 

But Wentz and the offense couldn’t punch in a touchdown. They had to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Jake Elliott. Wentz tried to force the ball into Zach Ertz at the goal line and he’s lucky it wasn’t picked off. This is the second time he tried to do too much on a play. 

Eagles 10, Colts 7

1:40 p.m.: After one quarter: Eagles 7, Colts 7

1:36 p.m.: After a missed field goal, the Colts had a short field and made the most of it. The big play of the touchdown drive came when Jalen Mills was called for a 33-yard defensive pass interference. Mills had good coverage and even looked back on the ball, but he grabbed T.Y. Hilton and the flag was thrown. 

But Mills wasn’t the only CB who had a forgettable drive. Sidney Jones didn’t make a good tackle on third down in the red zone. And Ronald Darby was beaten for a touchdown by a perfect throw by Andrew Luck.

Eagles 7, Colts 7 

1:29 p.m.: That ACL looks OK. Carson Wentz shows he can still use his feet and even take a hit. This drive resulted in no points after Jake Elliott missed a 55-yard FG, but good signs from Wentz. He even got sacked later in the drive and popped up fine. That should give fans and Wentz a better feeling of comfort. We always hear the first hit is important. Wentz has that out of the way now. 

1:14 p.m.: It’s nice to have this Wentz guy back. On the first drive of his 2018 season, Carson Wentz led the Eagles on a 12-play, 79-yard drive to score the game’s first touchdown. Wentz hit a wide-open Dallas Goedert for a 13-yard touchdown. The Eagles used a no-huddle offense on the first drive and it seemed to get Wentz in a rhythm. He was making calls at the line of scrimmage. 

On the drive, Wentz went 5-for-7 for 55 yards and the touchdown. He’s back. 

The touchdown was also the first of Dallas Goedert’s career. 

1:06 p.m.: Good start for the defense. They force a three-and-out. Punt and now Carson Wentz gets the ball. 

12:16 p.m.: Carson Wentz looks ready. He just led his teammates out of the tunnel. 

11:54 a.m.: Most people think this isn’t the best situation for Wentz to return because of the rain, but I had an interesting chat with NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst Barrett Brooks, who disagrees for two reasons. 

1. Offensive linemen love the ran because team generally run the ball. 

2. Defensive linemen are reacting, while the offense knows what it’s doing. Reaction time suffers in the rain, so defensive linemen can’t get off the ball as quickly. 

11:30 a.m.: No surprises with the Eagles' inactives. 

11:20 a.m.: Frank Reich meets near midfield with Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Nate Sudfeld and Eagles' offensive coordinator Mike Groh, who took Reich's job. 

Reich is now the Colts' head coach, so he might have a slight advantage because of all the familiarity he has with the Eagles, but that stuff is often overblown. Reich is off to a pretty good start in Indy and his team has seemingly bought in. His former coworkers sang his praises this week. Jim Schwartz said Reich is one of the best guys he's ever worked with and called him a "gem of a man." 

10:40 a.m.: Carson Wentz takes the field for early warmups. He's one of the first players on the field to go through his typical early workouts. 

The stands are empty now, but in a few hours, they'll be packed with screaming fans wearing No. 11 jerseys. 

10:15 a.m.: It's still raining in South Philly, but there's a football game to be played. The tarp is coming off the field. Pretty soon, Carson Wentz will take the field for his pregame warmup. 

10 a.m.: Despite the weather, Eagles fans aren't staying away. Maybe it was a slightly late-arriving crowd, but they are here. 

8:31 a.m.: I think Carson Wentz is ready. 

8 a.m.: Good morning, everyone! It’s game day!

It’s a special game day too. After 9 1/2 months of rehab and waiting, Carson Wentz will make his 2018 debut at Lincoln Financial Field. Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles led the Eagles to a 1-1 record over the first two weeks of the season, but now it’s time for Wentz to take over. 

It’s fair to wonder how good Wentz will be in his season debut, especially because he’ll be without some key weapons against the Colts. Darren Sproles (hamstring) and Corey Clement (quad) were ruled out on Friday. Jason Peters (quad), Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) and Corey Clement (quad) were listed as questionable. Inactives will be announced at 11:30. 

For now, take a look at our expert predictions (see story) and five matchups to watch in this game (see story)

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This Sunday, be sure to watch Eagles Pregame Live at 12 p.m. and Eagles Postgame Live immediately after the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia and live streaming on the NBC Sports app. The game kicks off at 1 p.m. on FOX. 

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