Jason Peters says he'll 'be back better than ever'

Jason Peters says he'll 'be back better than ever'

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Jason Peters is finally at the Super Bowl. 

He wants to play in it next year. 

The 36-year-old left tackle is in Minnesota this week but, because of a knee injury, has been relegated to spectator and support system for his teammates. But he's already rehabbing and plans to play again next season. 

"I'm definitely not going out like that," Peters said on Monday night. "I'll be back better than ever." 

Wearing cool shades inside the Xcel Energy Center and sporting his trademark clean beard for the media night circus, Peters spoke publicly for the first time since he tore his ACL and MCL against Washington on Oct. 23. 

The Eagles lost Peters back in October the same day they also lost middle linebacker Jordan Hicks. Since then, the team also lost Carson Wentz but has continued to roll and is now playing in the Super Bowl in just a few days. He's enjoyed watching his teammates find success and celebrate it. 

As for himself, Peters said he's never had any doubts about returning to play again. 

"That ain't how I'm built," Peters explained. "That ain't how I'm built and I just take it and anytime I get injured, I take it like it was meant to happen to me and I take it and roll with it."

Even though Peters can't play in Sunday's Super Bowl, he said getting to this point is still a "dream come true." Peters has played in three career playoff games and has suffered three losses. He spoke openly last season about hoping the Eagles would be able to play for a championship before his career was over. 

On Monday night, Peters called himself "year to year" but said he'll definitely be back for the 2018 season; he expects to be ready for the start of the season. Even though Halapoulivaati Vaitai has played well in his absence, Peters was playing at a Pro Bowl level before the injury and will likely one day be enshrined in Canton. He's under contract for two more seasons. 

Really, a lot of Vaitai's success can probably be attributed to Peters, who has been coaching him from the moment his own season ended in October. Peters said Vaitai is a great player who just needs to keep his confidence high. 

"I embraced [my new role] it as soon as I went down," Peters said. "I knew I was going to have to help Big V and Lane (Johnson) and everybody to stick together and that's what I've been doing. So far, so good."

When asked if coaching is in his future, Peters said he wasn't sure. He'll have to see when he gets to that point. 

For now, though, he's focused on his rehab and playing again next season. The Eagles' talent and success this season have certainly rejuvenated the 36-year-old.  

"Of course," he said. "We're in the Super Bowl and hopefully we can make another run for it. First we gotta take care of this one and get a W."

What two years of injuries have taught Eagles Carson Wentz

What two years of injuries have taught Eagles Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz is used to always doing more than he has to. That’s how he’s always been.

If he’s supposed to take six reps, he’ll take nine. If he’s supposed to just lift today, he’ll lift tomorrow, too. If it’s a day of rest? He probably won’t.

It’s one of the reasons he’s been so successful. He's constantly pushing himself to do something extra. It’s also something he knows he has to reel in if he’s going to have a long, healthy career.

It’s not an easy lesson, learning how to balance hyper competitiveness with being sensible.

It’s something Wentz believes the last two injury-plagued seasons have helped him figure out.

As a competitor, you want to take every rep, you want to do this, you want to do that,” he said Tuesday. “But at the same time you just stay the course. I feel very confident where I’m at and I feel like I’ve learned a lot through these (injuries) to not be my worst enemy and listen to advice along the way.

It’s easy to think that if you’re not working hard every minute, you’re falling behind.

And when you’re not heavily recruited out of high school and you play football at an FCS school, it’s understandable that you feel the need to never back off, never take it easy, just to prove you belong.

But as Wentz is learning as he approaches his fourth NFL season, there’s tremendous value in rest. There’s tremendous value in recovery. There’s tremendous value in a day off.

It sounds like it hasn’t been an easy lesson for him. But it’s a crucial one.

It’s just kind of how I was wired and everything, being from North Dakota, smaller school and all those things,” he said. “You want to work, work, work and push, push, push, and there are just times where you just need to tone it down a little bit.

“But it’s been a good process the last few years — unfortunately — going through this, but I feel good with where I am today.

The Eagles had a quarterback not too long ago who was the polar opposite of Wentz.

Nick Foles was so chill. Sometimes it seemed like nothing affected him. He had the same expression whether he was tossing the ball around with a rookie receiver after practice or getting ready for the Super Bowl.

It’s one of the reasons he was able to function at such a high level under the most extreme pressure.

Foles is gone now, but Wentz spent two years with him and believes some of Foles’ personality rubbed off on him.

“He’s so laid back, he’s so relaxed,” Wentz said. “I’m kind of wired a little differently. I’m kind of Type A, go-go-go, and he’s so relaxed and I think it was a good balance for me to see him and his attitude.”

The knee brace is gone. The back has healed. Opening day is 3 ½ months away, and for the first time since October of 2017 Wentz is completely healthy.

No wonder he’s having so much fun at minicamp.

I try to just keep it business as usual, honestly, but finally on the field going against the defense and what that brings? Team drills and everything? There’s always more excitement. So there’s that element. Obviously maybe a little more for me because it’s been a while. But at the same time I try to just keep it business as usual and go complete some passes.

This has been such a long ordeal for Wentz. Rehabbing the knee. Rehabbing the back. While still rehabbing the knee.

He's finally in a good place physically and it's led him to a good place mentally as well.

It's only May, but seeing him and hearing him so upbeat and positive is really encouraging.

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Eagles' Jordan Howard unfazed and unworried by Miles Sanders pick

Eagles' Jordan Howard unfazed and unworried by Miles Sanders pick

After getting traded to the Eagles in March, Jordan Howard was already entering a contract year and then the Birds drafted a running back in the second round. 

Not exactly ideal. 

So it would be understandable if Howard was upset on draft day in April, when the Eagles took Miles Sanders, his possible replacement, with the 53rd pick. The Sanders pick didn’t shut the door on his long-term prospects of staying in Philly after this year, but it certainly seemed to put them in question. The Eagles didn’t draft Sanders to sit on the bench. 

If Howard is upset, he’s hiding it pretty well. 

“Nah, it doesn’t worry me at all,” Howard said on Tuesday after his first practice as an Eagle. “I just have to focus on the year ahead. I can’t worry about being a free agent or anything like that. I just have to worry about the season ahead.” 

Howard, 24, thinks he and Sanders will complement each other. Howard said Sanders is “shifty [and], at the same time, powerful.” These two, and a combination of Corey Clement and perhaps one other, will make up the Eagles’ backfield group this year. 

While Sanders — who didn’t practice for an unspecified reason on Tuesday — will assuredly take snaps from Howard this season, there’s no expediting experience. Howard has three full seasons as a pro and is the NFL’s third-leading rusher since he entered the league in 2016. 

Fitting in here

For now, Howard is crashing with his college teammate Nate Sudfeld as he gets used to his new and perhaps temporary city. Howard said Sudfeld gave him the OK to stay all season, but he’s trying to move out within the next few weeks so he doesn’t overstay his welcome. 

As far as things at the NovaCare Complex, Howard is starting to feel at home. He’s settled into a cozy locker stall next to a support pillar that used to house Jay Ajayi. That will be his home away from home. 

And he’s also been picking up the playbook. There are plenty of similarities between Doug Pederson’s offense and Matt Nagy’s in Chicago but there are plenty of differences too. 

He seems happy here. 

Getting to know Duce 

Howard also seems to legitimately like playing for Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley. Staley is known for his tough coaching style. 

“Even though I’ve been in the league going on four years, I still don’t know everything,” Howard said. “I like a coach that’s going to push me to keep getting better.”

In general, Howard has simply enjoyed being in the company of Staley, whom Howard said had the biggest personality in the running back room. The two are getting along great, according to Howard.   

Work as a receiver 

One of the parts of Howard’s game he needs to keep working on is his ability to be a receiver out of the backfield. He’s already come a long way, catching 72 passes in his first three NFL seasons after catching just 24 passes in three years in college. 

As he’s felt more comfortable as a receiver, he’s enjoyed it more and more. 

While the Eagles have options for their third-down back — atop the list should probably be Clement — Howard could earn third-down reps too. Generally, the Eagles’ third-down back has some pass-catch ability. Howard will try to show he can get the job done. 

“I’m looking very forward to it because I worked hard on that part of my game and putting that time in,” he said. “I’m just glad I have a chance to show that off.”

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