Eagles

Good news for Eagles, bad news for Cowboys on injury front

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Good news for Eagles, bad news for Cowboys on injury front

Good news for the Eagles and bad news for the Cowboys on Wednesday's injury reports. 

Ronald Darby (ankle) and Zach Ertz (hamstring) were both full participants at the NovaCare Complex. 

Darby hasn't played since Week 1 when he dislocated his right ankle, but it appears he's on track to return this week. Ertz missed the Denver game before the bye but is also on target to return. He said he needed the bye week to heal. 

Down in North Texas, Tyron Smith (groin), Dez Bryant (knee) and Sean Lee (hamstring) all missed practice. 

Smith worked on the side, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told Philadelphia reporters on a conference call. Garrett was unsure if Smith will be able to play Sunday night. If he can't, Chaz Green or Byron Bell would fill in. Both took reps in his place on Wednesday. 

Lee is expected to miss Sunday night's game and at least a couple more weeks after that, which is a huge blow for the Cowboys.

Bryant has been playing through a knee injury.

Eagles report card: Birds get average grades but officials earn a big fat F

Eagles report card: Birds get average grades but officials earn a big fat F

No doubt, the Eagles would give the officials an F for completely changing the complexion of the game with a botched call on the opening kickoff of their 29-23 loss to the Cowboys. Were the play properly ruled a turnover, the Eagles likely open with a lead and some momentum, not another flat start.

Still, they were presented with opportunities as the game went on, and as the grades reflect, simply didn’t capitalize on enough.

Quarterback
Carson Wentz: 22/32, 228 YDS, 3 TD

For three-and-a-half quarters, Wentz was tentative and inaccurate, completing 15 of 24 passes for 118 yards while leading a lone two-yard touchdown drive. On the Eagles’ final two possessions, he completed seven of eight for 110 yards during marches of 47 and 65 yards. Clutch — but too little, too late.

Grade: C

Running backs
Darren Sproles: 3 REC, 34 YDS, 1 TD

Not much work on the ground but at least Sproles provided a spark in the passing game. Josh Adams accounted for seven of the unit’s 10 carries, going for 36 yards but stopped for a yard or less four times.

Grade: B-

Wide receivers and tight ends
Alshon Jeffery: 6 REC, 50 YDS, 1 TD

Thought Jeffery and Zach Ertz each should’ve come up with one that grazed off their fingertips. Either would’ve been tough grabs, for sure, but the type Pro Bowl players need to make. Dallas Goedert finished with four receptions, 44 yards and a touchdown, plus had a 75-yard score erased by a bogus penalty.

Grade: B-

Offensive line

Jason Peters got beat once, which led to a turnover, but the other sack was on the quarterback. All told, Wentz was only hit five times in 36 dropbacks. Tough sledding on the ground, though, with 12 called rushes averaging 2.7 yards per attempt.

Grade: B-

Defensive line
Michael Bennett: 7 TKL, 2 TFL, 1.5 SK, 5 QH

There are two names you can expect to see on the stat sheet every week: Bennett and Fletcher Cox. The duo combined for three tackles for loss, three sacks and nine quarterback hits. The rest of the D-line? Zero, zero and zero.

Grade: B

Linebackers
Nigel Bradham: 14 TKL

Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nathan Gerry combined for a whopping 28 tackles, including 13 solos. The unit cleaning up at the second level is a big reason All-Pro Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was “limited” to 113 yards and a 4.0 average.

Grade: B+

Secondary
Rasul Douglas: 9 TKL, 1 TFL, 1 INT

It’s a shame Douglas’ attempted pass breakup turned into the decisive Cowboys touchdown because he played well. Rough outing for Sidney Jones trying to battle through a hamstring injury. Jones eventually gave way to De’Vante Bausby, who was immediately torched for a 75-yard touchdown — Corey Graham watched. Dallas finished with 434 yards passing.

Grade: D

Special teams
Cameron Johnston: 46.0 AVG, 3 IN20

We can all count. Jake Elliott’s missed extra point would’ve helped.

Grade: C-

Coaching
Eagles’ record: 6-7

Some bizarre play calls. Dubious strategy using single coverage on Cowboys wideout Amari Cooper while he goes off for 217 yards and three touchdowns. But by now, everybody should realize Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz just don’t have the horses, especially when the officials are conspiring against them.

Grade: C

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Former NFL ref explains why Eagles were robbed on opening kickoff

Former NFL ref explains why Eagles were robbed on opening kickoff

The Eagles were rightly upset Sunday night about the opening kickoff in their 29-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. 

Kamu Grugier-Hill called it “ridiculous” and Malcolm Jenkins said the folks making the call at the command center should “stay off the bottle.”

NBC Sports Football Rule Analyst Terry McAulay was a guest on Philly Sports Talk tonight so I got to ask him a pretty important question about this play and the NFL’s decision to not give the Eagles possession. 

In his explanation Sunday night to a pool reporter, referee Clete Blakeman explained the reason the Eagles weren’t awarded the ball was that they couldn’t confirm a clear recovery by the Eagles on the angles they had. 

But it turns out they don’t actually need to see a clear recovery to give the Eagles the ball. 

I asked McAulay if the bosses in New York are allowed to take a leap and use some deductive reasoning. Even if they don’t see a clear recovery by an Eagle are they allowed to assume the Eagles recovered the football because only Eagles were in the pile around the football? Do they actually need to see a recovery? 

His answer is interesting: 

No they don’t. You’re actually right. They do not have to see video evidence of a recovery. The rule book specifically states that if there’s a pile and there’s only players of one team then that team gets the football. And that’s really … just like you guys, that’s exactly what I see here. There’s a Dallas player off to the side on his back that can’t possibly be anywhere near the football. So the definitive shot that I saw had three Eagles players on top and you actually see a little bit of the football at one point. It’s common sense that tells you, it jumps out at you that it’s a clear and obvious recovery by the kicking team, in this case Philadelphia.

Yeah, common sense. 

It’s sort of like in hockey when a goalie catches a puck but his entire glove is in the net. You don’t actually see the puck cross the line, but they’re allowed to assume it’s a goal because there’s no other logical outcome. 

That’s exactly what happened here and, for some reason, they blew the call. 

McAuley speculated that the NFL is working hard to find reasons to not overturn calls. He thinks that they opportunistically saw a Dallas player somewhere near the pile and used that as a reason to not overturn the call. 

And it’s important to remember it’s not on Blakeman at this point. The officials on the field blew it first by not getting the call right on the field, but after that, it’s the call of the head honchos in New York. Specifically, McAulay said it’s up to Al Riveron and Russell Yurk. The ref on the field can have a say, but the final call belongs to the guys in New York. 

And on this one, they just got it wrong. 

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