Eagles

Jalen Mills knows Julio Jones, but is that enough?

Jalen Mills knows Julio Jones, but is that enough?

Jalen Mills doesn't lack confidence. That's for sure. 

The green-haired, finger-wagging cornerback is as confident against the worst third-string receiver in the league as he is against a guy like Julio Jones, whom he'll see this weekend. That confidence never wavers. 

But there is one thing that changes when he's on Jones. 

"You've gotta think the ball is coming to him each and every play," Mills said on Monday. "Every time you get in front of him, you've gotta think, 'This guy is getting the ball,' whether they're having a run or a pass play. You've just got to think the ball is coming to him." 

Last year as a rookie, Mills got a chance to line up against the 6-foot-4, 220-pound All-Pro receiver. In that game last November, Jones caught 10 passes for 135 yards, but the Eagles still beat the Falcons, 24-15. 

When Jones was lined up against Mills, he caught four passes on six targets, for 48 yards, according to ProFootballFocus. Jones got some yards, but Mills was able to prevent big plays. And that game against Jones and the Falcons seemed like a big moment in the young cornerback's career. 

"Our confidence in Jalen started in OTAs and rookie camp and training camp, just seeing how competitive he was and knowing that there weren't situations that were too big," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "And when you had a marquee receiver and marquee team come here to Philly last year, he was ready for that challenge."

When asked what he learned about Jones from that first meeting against him, Mills said he learned just how dangerous Jones is with the ball in his hands. While everyone seems to respect his playmaking ability down the field, Mills said Jones is just as dangerous when the Falcons get the ball in his hands quickly. It'll be up to Mills and the other corners — the Eagles' corners are generally good tacklers — to take him down. He also mentioned that Jones can run good routes, especially for his size. He's not a one-trick pony. 

As of Monday, Mills wasn't sure how Schwartz would game plan for the Falcons this time around. They could use Ronald Darby and move him around to stay on Jones, but that seems unlikely. They'll probably keep Mills on his side and Darby on his, and let them face Jones no matter where he lines up. 

It's not just Jones, though. The Falcons also have a former MVP at quarterback, a solid No. 2 receiver and two dynamic running backs. The Eagles have to worry about Jones, but he's just a big piece of the tricky puzzle. 

"I think here's the point: The point is to try to win the game," Schwartz said. "I think that we have to keep our eye on that. If Julio Jones has 350 yards receiving and we win the game, that's what it took to win the game. If he has 10 yards receiving for the game-winning touchdown, then that wasn't enough."

Mills is looking forward to facing the challenge of Jones and the entire Falcons offense, which gained the eighth-most yards from scrimmage in the NFL this season.

Saturday will be the first playoff game of Mills' young career. And because of the first-round bye, he's been waiting a long time for it to get here. 

"It's like an itch right now that you can't scratch," Mills said. "Of course, it's a long week and you want the game to be here right now but at the same time, you have to go through your progressions, go through the film and the playbook. I think once the [game] comes, everybody's going to be ready." 

Eagles to host New Jersey high school football game suspended after shooting

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Eagles to host New Jersey high school football game suspended after shooting

The Eagles on Wednesday at Lincoln Financial Field will host the rest of a New Jersey high school playoff football game that was suspended because of a shooting. 

The game between Pleasantville High School and Camden High School was stopped on Friday night after a shooting in the crowd in Pleasantville that left three wounded, including a 10-year-old boy and a 15-year-old student

According to NBC 10, a suspect has been charged with three counts of attempted murder and two weapons counts, while three other men have been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. 

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) announced on Monday afternoon that the Eagles offered up their stadium to finish the approximately 17 remaining minutes of the playoff game. The NJSIAA had been looking for a neutral site. 

Larry White, the executive director of the NJSIAA, said the following in a statement released Monday: 

“It’s extremely unfortunate that a senselessly violent act has impacted this game, and there will certainly be a wide range of emotions along both sidelines. However, thanks to the Eagles’ generosity and community spirit, Pleasantville and Camden student-athletes and their families will have an opportunity to write their own ending to this game. They’ll compete on a world-class stage, sending a clear message that violence will not win.”

The Eagles are expected to release a statement and more information about the game on Tuesday. 

The NJSIAA took up the Eagles on their offer but thanked other schools for their assistance. The Black Horse Pike School District also offered to host the game. 

The game will resume at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. While the Linc will be closed to the public, each school will be given free passes for players’ parents and family members. The game will also be streamed live on NJ.com. 

The shooting on Friday night occurred in the third quarter with Camden leading 6-0. The winner of this game will face Cedar Creek on Saturday, Nov. 30 for the Central Group 2 Sectional Championship. 

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The interesting wrinkle in Jay Ajayi's contract

The interesting wrinkle in Jay Ajayi's contract

The Eagles on Friday signed running back Jay Ajayi for the rest of the 2019 season, but based on what’s written into the contract, the Eagles will basically have the option to bring him back in 2020. 

Here’s the report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport: 

So basically, Ajayi will kind of be a restricted free agent at the lowest (right of first refusal) level. That means the Eagles have the option to match a contract and keep the player, but won’t get compensation back if he goes elsewhere like a higher-level tendered player. The Eagles will still be eligible for a compensatory pick if Ajayi signs elsewhere and they don't match the offer. 

This is an interesting wrinkle to Ajayi’s contract, especially in the entire scope of the Eagles’ running back situation. 

Because, remember, Jordan Howard is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. As long as he’s able to return from this stinger soon, he would be a realistic candidate to get an extension before the end of the season. But, to me, this part of Ajayi’s contract is sort of like an insurance policy if the Eagles aren’t able to re-sign Howard during free agency. Or if they choose to move on from Howard. 

The Eagles seem to like having a running back rotation and the only running back guaranteed to return in 2020 is Miles Sanders. Either Howard or a healthy Ajayi (we’ll see) would seemingly be a good complement. 

I say we’ll see because Ajayi hasn’t played football in over a year. He signed on Friday, but Doug Pederson opted to not play him two days later. During his career, Ajayi has been a very productive runner, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. 

But Ajayi, 26, tore his ACL last season and already had long-standing knee issues, so there’s some serious doubt about his football future. Ajayi will have a chance to answer some of those questions in the final six games of the 2019 season. 

“We will incorporate him,” Pederson said on Monday. “Again, if Jordan (Howard) … if he doesn't practice or whatever during the week then we definitely will get Jay ready to go.”

The Eagles at least took out an insurance policy of sorts. If Ajayi does have something left, they’ll have the option of bringing him back in 2020 no matter what other team is interested in him.

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