Eagles' vets warn about Super Bowl nonsense

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Eagles' vets warn about Super Bowl nonsense

They've never experienced anything like it before, and they never will again.

The Super Bowl and the week leading up to it are like nothing else in sports. Or on Earth.

It's seven days of insanity, and the Eagles' numerous Super Bowl veterans have been counseling the rest of the team since the NFC Championship Game victory not only on what they're about to face but also how to deal with it.

"They might think it's going to be like a bowl game," Torrey Smith said. "But it's nothing like a bowl game."

The Eagles spent the last week practicing in the relative calm of the NovaCare Complex in South Philly. On Sunday, the team travels to Minneapolis for a week of hype leading up to Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium a week later.

"There's a lot going on," said Corey Graham, who won a Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2012. "A lot of parties. A lot of shows, events. Your family wants your time. They want to enjoy it with you. Everyone's always calling you for this and for that. 

"You have to try to avoid all that. If you're not a strong-minded person and don't know how to say no, you can get caught up in it. You have to realize why you're there. You're there for a football game. You're not there to enjoy it. 

"You're not there to be out there partying and going to all that nonsense. The better you are at understanding the main purpose, the better off you'll be."

Smith and Graham are among six Eagles on the 53-man roster who've played in a Super Bowl: Smith, Graham and Donnell Ellerbe with the Ravens, LeGarrette Blount and Chris Long with the Patriots, Malcolm Jenkins with the Saints and Will Beatty with the Giants. Chris Maragos, who's on injured reserve, won one with the Seahawks. 

Doug Pederson has used most of those guys in the past week to address the players, both as a group and individually, to share their wisdom and experience.

“You’ve got to be a professional," Blount said. "I told the young guys that you've just got to be a professional. It’s hard to control your emotions. 

"As rookies and stuff, even if they’ve played in a national championship, they still haven’t played in a game of this magnitude. It’s tough. It’s a long week, and you’ve just got to control your emotions.

“There’s going to be a lot of distractions as far as family and friends and media. You’ve got to put all that in the drawer, toss all that aside for however long it takes us to prepare for this game. 

"Don’t worry about anything that’s going to cause you any stress or any kind of emotional backup. Whatever it might be, you just put it away and focus 100 percent on this game."

Maragos said one positive that's come out of his season-ending knee injury is his ability to see the big picture in a way the guys on the active roster can't.

"Unfortunately, I'm not playing, but I'm grateful to have the opportunity to see things from a broader perspective," Maragos said. "All these guys are narrowed in on their job and what they're doing and maybe I can really give these guys a different viewpoint, having been through it.

"Just give these guys a foreshadowing of what's to come. 'Hey, listen, on this day, expect this, on this day, expect that.' Trying to give them the ability to kind of see things ahead of time, so they're a little bit more prepared when they get there."

Media Night is Monday night at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Tuesday through Thursday, there will be extensive media obligations at the Mall of America in Bloomington. Friday and Saturday everything shuts down. Sunday is game day.

It will take forever to get here.

"Don't get caught up in all the stuff that's going on outside," Graham said. "Don’t get caught up with your family and all the festivities and all the nonsense. Keep it exactly the same way it is when you're at home. 

"Normal work week. If you normally get your message on Tuesday and your chiropractor on Wednesday and all that stuff, keep it the same. Don't do anything different. 

"Obviously it's an important event and a great time for you and your family, but don't get caught up in the nonsense. You can enjoy it afterward. You’ve got to focus on the task at hand because with the Super Bowl, if you're not winning, it's a waste of time."

Greg Ward still learning wide receiver position after great college career at quarterback

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Greg Ward still learning wide receiver position after great college career at quarterback

Greg Ward threw more touchdown passes in college than Carson Wentz and had a higher career passer rating than Nick Foles. 

These days, his job is catching passes, not throwing them. 

It’s quite a transition from big-time NCAA Division 1 quarterback to NFL wide receiver, but at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, the former Houston Cougar knows where his future is.

Ward spent all of last year on the Eagles’ practice squad, learning the nuances of a new position and figuring out how to think like a receiver instead of a quarterback. 

He looked surprisingly polished at wide out in training camp, caught nine passes for 63 yards in the preseason and then spent the season focusing on getting better.

“I still haven’t 100 percent gotten the position,” Ward said after a recent rookie camp practice. “I always feel like I can get better, always feel like I can learn something new, feel like there’ll always be something to improve on. 

“Last year was a big year for me. Just learning a new position, learning football period, learning from Alshon (Jeffery), Torrey (Smith) and Nelson (Agholor), it was a very important year for me.

“Just gathering every bit of information I could watching those guys practice and watching them in games and then learning how to apply what you’ve learned to your game.”

Ward never did get a chance to play, but he said he felt himself getting better as the year went along.

“Everybody wants to play,” said Ward, who led Houston to a Peach Bowl win over No. 9 Florida State in Atlanta at the end of his junior year. 

“You’re a competitor, that’s why we all do this. But I was humbled and thankful just to be on a Super Bowl team. Just to be in the NFL period. Some guys aren’t able to play football at all. I’m just grateful to be on a football team. 

“But this is not the end of my story. I am going to get out there and I am going to play.”

Ward was with the Eagles during their postseason run and he was there in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl.

He used every moment, every day, as an opportunity to improve. Even if nobody could see it happening.

“The biggest thing I learned was just being patient, just being humble,” he said. “Our team last year, there was nobody that was selfish. Nobody who thought they were bigger than anybody else. I learned patience and the importance of doing extra. Getting extra work, studying more, watching more film. That’s what it takes to win a championship.”

The Eagles have quite a crowd at wide receiver, with Jeffery, Agholor and Mack Hollins back, Wallace and Markus Wheaton in the fold and guys like Bryce Treggs, Shelton Gibson and Rashard Davis all also in the mix.

But Ward doesn’t concern himself with the numbers.

“The next step for me is to separate myself,” he said. "As a competitor, especially coming from being undrafted, you have to separate yourself. You have to be different. 

“You have to catch whoever’s eye it is, head coach, position coach, catch everybody’s eyes. They have to see value in you. That’s where I am right now. Trying to separate myself.”

How long will it take?

“I’m leaving that up to God,” he said. “I know I’m putting in the hard work and I know one day it will pay off. I know that day will come.”

Jay Ajayi's publicist denies Eagles' RB trashed an L.A. mansion

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Jay Ajayi's publicist denies Eagles' RB trashed an L.A. mansion

Eagles running back Jay Ajayi is strongly denying accusations made in a lawsuit that he trashed a Los Angeles house after the Super Bowl (see story)

The lawsuit, as reported by TMZ earlier this week, accuses Ajayi of throwing three parties at the L.A. mansion he was renting even after the owner told him not to. Ajayi is being charged $25,000 by the owner. 

Shortly after the story broke on Monday, a representative for Ajayi claimed the lawsuit was bogus. 

Now, we have an even stronger detail from Ajayi’s camp. 

Ajayi’s publicist Melanie Wadden told the Miami Herald that Ajayi didn’t throw any parties and caused no damage to the property. 

Additionally, Wadden denied the home owner’s claim that Ajayi pushed him in a menacing manner after confronting him.

“Jay was not involved in any physical altercations,” she said. 

Ajayi’s publicist also told the Herald that Ajayi was a guest and not the renter and the owner wanted the group to pay cash instead of through Airbnb. 

"The entire group voluntarily left the property several days early — no security or police were ever involved or on-site," Wadden said. "They filed a complaint against the owner through Airbnb back in February that included screenshots of the owner asking for cash and trying to communicate outside of their platform [against Airbnb policy]."

Ajayi, who came to the Eagles in the middle of last season in a trade, has one year left on his current contract.