From key roles to spectators for 3 Eagles

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From key roles to spectators for 3 Eagles

As the Eagles beat the Giants last week at MetLife Stadium, Isaac Seumalo, Wendell Smallwood and Rasul Douglas mostly watched. 

There are a few things those three players have in common. One, they're all young draft picks over the last two years. Two, they've all had big roles with the Eagles at some point this season. Three, they don't have those roles anymore. 

Seumalo, a third-rounder last year, began the season as the Eagles' starter at left guard but lost his job after two games. He's a backup now and played just four offensive snaps against the Giants. 

Smallwood, a fifth-rounder last year, was set to have a big role with the Eagles this season. After Darren Sproles went down, he was supposed to take over on third downs. But he's struggled to stay healthy and has been inactive for the last five games since Jay Ajayi got to town. 

And Douglas, a third-rounder this year, started and played well for the Eagles when Ronald Darby was out. But since Darby's return, Douglas has been on the bench. He was inactive last Sunday for the first time since the season opener. 

As a head coach, Doug Pederson is aware these three are in a tricky situation. It's his job to make sure they're staying invested now that they're mostly spectators. 

"Yeah, just having the open dialogue with them," Pederson said. "Still communicating with those three guys. As you've said, they’ve all had a little bit of a significant role this season already. But just making sure that they stay plugged in.
"Who knows what happens tonight obviously or next week where these guys might get a little more time. It takes everybody. They get good service team reps. Just make sure they stay plugged in from my standpoint and also their position coach."

Pederson said he has to treat younger players differently in these types of situations. Veterans who have been around the league seem to understand when these things happen. 

This is new for first- and second-year players. 

"They've come from college where they've been the starter and been the guy and now they're on a team where everybody is really good," Pederson said. "You have to kind of manage or massage that just a little bit."

Right in the action
On Monday night, when Lane Johnson takes his spot at right tackle, he'll have Khalil Mack staring back at him. 

Just the latest reminder of how tough the right tackle position can be. 

While teams have historically put their better tackle on the left side of the line to block the blindside of right-handed quarterbacks, there's a reason the Eagles didn't move Johnson over when Jason Peters went down this season. Johnson is the only right tackle to make the Pro Bowl this season. 

"I think the right tackle position needs to be reevaluated because you look at the guys we have to block," Johnson said. "Right tackles have to block key guys in the NFL now. I think left tackle, right tackle, the dilemma is changing. There's really nowhere to hide." 

Making the Pro Bowl has long been a goal for Johnson, but not just for him. He wants to kill the stigma of playing on the right side of the line. He hopes getting voted into this year's Pro Bowl could help others. 

"It feels good," Johnson said. "I hope this puts right tackles in the spotlight because there's a lot of good right tackles out there who are deserving as well. Maybe that will change now."

Out of the backfield
Since Sproles' season ended in Week 3, the Eagles have been missing an element of their offense. They just don't have a running back that's a huge threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. 

While Ajayi isn't Sproles — "No one could be Darren," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said — he has at least shown a little bit of pass-catching ability in the screen game. 

In five games with the Eagles, Ajayi has eight catches for 70 yards. During that same five-game span, the Birds' other three running backs have nine for 104. Corey Clement has six for 71, but just won't be on the field as much as Ajayi in the playoffs. 

"Jay pretty quickly showed that he had a knack for that," Reich said. "We feel comfortable mixing all of our backs in on the screens. Jay certainly did a great job. In the last couple games, he's had two really nice ones where the timing and the feel and his location. We talk a lot about exact spots to get to, adjusting. He's done a really good job."

Quote of the Week I: "It was just in my feelings." -- Darby on his mini Twitter rant

Quote of the Week II: "I'm not planning on playing." -- Malcolm Jenkins on making the Pro Bowl 

Quote of the Week III: "Kelce got snubbed so bad I'm starting to wonder if the voters are all trash cans." -- tweet from Chris Long about Jason Kelce, who did this last week

Random media guide note: Kenjon Barner's favorite meal is eggs, bacon and syrup.

Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins rightfully added to Pro Bowl roster

Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins rightfully added to Pro Bowl roster

For the third time in his career, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins is a Pro Bowler. 

He definitely deserves it. 

Jenkins, who was initially a first-alternate, will replace Giants safety Landon Collins, who finished the 2018 season on IR with a shoulder injury. 

Jenkins, 31, has become one of the greatest free-agent acquisitions in Eagles history. He might be the greatest in franchise history. Since signing with the Eagles in 2014, he has turned himself into one of the best safeties in the league and has now been a Pro Bowler in three of his five years with the Birds, including the last two. 

This season, Jenkins had one interception, eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles and a sack. 

But the most impressive part of Jenkins’ season was just how much he meant to a secondary that was ravaged by injuries. He was the only member of the secondary to stay healthy this season; the other five starters weren’t around during the playoffs. Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby and Rodney McLeod ended up on IR and Sidney Jones dealt with a hamstring injury for much of the season. 

Not only did Jenkins start every game, he didn’t leave the field. Including the playoffs, he played all 1,180 defensive snaps this season and also chipped in a significant amount of special teams snaps (158). He’s really become the Eagles’ iron man. 

Aside from just playing every snap, Jenkins means a ton to the Eagles in terms of versatility and leadership. He was the guy who would often speak to the team and break down huddles. 

Jenkins joins the Eagles’ first three Pro Bowlers, who made the initial list: Fletcher Cox, Brandon Brooks and Zach Ertz. 

Brooks will definitely miss the exhibition game on Jan. 27 because he tore his Achilles on Sunday in New Orleans. It also seems very likely Cox will miss the game because of a turf toe injury he suffered on Sunday; he was in a walking boot at locker clean-out day. Ertz told reporters he was undecided about whether or not he’ll play in the game. 

While Jenkins can’t play forever, he’s still playing at an extremely high level at age 31. He takes care of his body and is under contract for two more seasons. 

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Brett Favre says Eagles should go with Nick Foles over Carson Wentz

Brett Favre says Eagles should go with Nick Foles over Carson Wentz

Brett Favre thinks the Eagles should hitch their wagon to Nick Foles, which is interesting on one level because Favre is a Hall of Famer who knows a little bit about quarterback play.

And it’s interesting on another level because Favre and Doug Pederson are former teammates, best friends and hunting buddies.

Pederson said Tuesday that Wentz is the Eagles’ quarterback moving forward (see story), which means Foles, the Super Bowl MVP, will almost certainly be moving on.

But if it were up to Favre?

No disrespect at all to Carson Wentz. I think he’s already proven that he’s a great quarterback. Totally different than Nick Foles. Nick Foles, to me, is more of a (Tom) Brady-esque type quarterback. Very limited in what he can do but very, very good in what he does. He’s a pure pocket passer and he’s great at dishing it out and he’s proven that he’s clutch. He did it this past week, he did it last year, he’s done it time and time again, and he’s proven that he can win the big games. That, I think, is what we have to look at, or the Eagles, or anyone in a similar situation — it’s about winning, it’s about being clutch, doing really what you expect your players to do. And he does it as well as anyone.

Favre spoke on his radio show on SiriusXM NFL Radio, co-hosted by Bruce Murray.

Pederson backed up Favre in Green Bay from 1995 through 1998 and again from 2001 through 2004.

Pederson’s first NFL coaching job came under Andy Reid, who was Favre’s position coach in Green Bay when the Packers won the Super Bowl.

You know the old saying, ‘Dance with the one who brung you?’ They’re both young and can you keep going with both of them? I don’t think so, so you’re going to have to make a decision but I think it is a difficult decision.

Again, I don’t want to come across as knocking Carson Wentz at all because I’m not. I think a lot of him. But I would go with Nick Foles, I really would. … They are both good. I just, I really like what I’ve seen from both guys but in particular Nick Foles, especially considering the circumstances in which he has come in.

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