LeGarrette Blount has found a new home

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LeGarrette Blount has found a new home

A big piece of the Eagles’ 2017 Super Bowl season is moving on. 

Running Back LeGarrette Blount has signed with the Detroit Lions. Blount's deal will be for one-year, $4.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport

Blount, 31, was scheduled to visit the Lions on Friday and he didn’t leave without a new deal. He’ll reunite with Lions head coach Matt Patricia, who was the defensive coordinator in New England when Blount was there; the familiarity probably helped. 

Last offseason, Blount took his time deciding where he’d land. He didn’t sign with the Eagles until May and his contract was worth around $1 million. He apparently showed enough during 2017 to get a bigger deal this time around. 

After beginning the season as the Eagles’ primary runner, he eventually saw his role diminish after the Birds added Jay Ajayi through a trade. Still, Blount played in all 16 games and rushed for 766 yards during the regular season. More importantly, he had 14 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl LII. Blount had a rushing touchdown in all three playoff games after having just two during the regular season. 

Perhaps more important than his contributions on the field, it was Blount’s unselfish nature that seemed to rub off on his teammates. When he and Alshon Jeffery were on board with that unselfish mindset, it seemed like the rest of the team followed. 

As recently as late February, Blount indicated he wanted to return to Philadelphia, where he really seemed to fit in the locker room and under running backs coach Duce Staley, whom Blount clearly respects. 

"Obviously I like it a lot there,” Blount said in February on NFL Network. “They like me a lot there. It's a mutual respect and a mutual agreement thing about how we feel about each other. Obviously, you guys know how I feel about the team, the guys; I love those guys.”

While Blount said he wanted to return to Philly, it was unlikely the Eagles could have (or would have) offered him the type of contract he’s getting from the Lions. 

Meanwhile, the Eagles still have Ajayi and Corey Clement under contract from last season. Kenjon Barner is a free agent. The running back position still seems up in the air, but the Eagles have a few months and a draft to figure it out. 

Greg Ward waits patiently for his chance to play

Greg Ward waits patiently for his chance to play

If the Eagles are planning to activate Greg Ward from the practice squad, nobody’s told him.

Not that it matters.

Ward’s job doesn’t change whether he’s on the 53 or the practice squad.

Honestly, I stay ready every week because you never know. I’m just staying ready. Whenever my name is called, it’s called. If it’s not this week, if it’s not next week, I’m still going to prepare like I’m playing  every single week. It doesn’t really matter to me.

With DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery banged up, the Eagles have only three healthy receivers on the roster — veteran Nelson Agholor, rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and rarely used Mack Hollins.

Even though Doug Pederson left the door open for Jeffery and Jackson to possibly play Sunday against the Lions, it’s hard to imagine the Eagles would go into the game with only three healthy receivers.

And since they haven’t gone out and signed anybody, the logical assumption is that Greg Ward, who had a terrific training camp, will be promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

Why hasn’t that happened yet? 

Probably because Howie Roseman doesn’t want to tip his hand. Whoever the Eagles release to make room for Ward is someone the Eagles don’t want to lose. And the later in the week the Eagles release someone, the less likely it is that another team will claim that player.

None of this matters to Ward. 

You attack practice like you do any other day,” Ward said. “If they need you to take reps and you already know you’re not active that week, you still take every single practice like you’re going to play. Stay ready, stay positive. Just prepare mentally and physically.

Ward, a quarterback at Houston, first joined the Eagles in 2017 and spent the season on the practice squad. He was in camp again in 2018, then spent this past winter with the San Antonio Commanders of the Alliance of American Football, catching 22 passes for 214 yards in eight games. When the AAF folded, he rejoined the Eagles.

During training camp and the preseason, Ward showed excellence in running routes, getting open and catching the football. He caught six passes for 87 yards and a 38-yard touchdown from Clayton Thorson in the preseason.

It’s very exciting,” he said of the possibility. “It’s something me and my family have talked about ever since I got into the league. Whenever God is ready for me to play, that’s when I’ll play. Right now I’m doing whatever I can to help the team and just stay ready.

Ward, 24, has never played in an NFL game and hasn’t yet been on a 53-man roster.

It’s going to happen. Just a matter of when.

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How long will the leash be for Isaac Seumalo this time around?

How long will the leash be for Isaac Seumalo this time around?

As if the Eagles didn’t have enough problems with injuries, a reasonably healthy offensive line sprung a leak in Atlanta on Sunday night.

Yet, despite Isaac Seumalo’s disappointing performance against the Falcons — disastrous, by some measures — Eagles players and coaches expressed confidence in the starting left guard.

“I have the utmost trust in him,” Doug Pederson said. “He'll make the corrections from the other night and he'll move on.

“He's a pro about it. He's a professional at practice and he'll correct it. I have no issues with him.”

Pederson seldom acknowledges an individual player’s struggles directly, but there was no dancing around this. According to Pro Football Focus, Seumalo was responsible for eight total pressures in pass protection — six hurries and two sacks — and of the 191 offensive lineman who appeared in an NFL game in Week 2, none graded out worse.

In particular, Seumalo had issues dealing with Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, one of the more disruptive interior pass rushers in the league.

 “Sometimes a player will get the better of you,” Lane Johnson said. “They get paid too.

“Jarrett is a good player. In the past, whenever I’ve gone against great players and I’ve made mistakes in a game, you just try to learn from them as much as you can. That’s what good players do, that’s what Isaac is and I have all the confidence in him in the world.”

Except, in the past, Seumalo hasn’t always been granted that opportunity. In 2017, he was benched for Stefen Wisniewski after a brutal Week 2 in Kansas City and didn’t reclaim the left guard job until Week 5 of last season, over a year later.

Will the Eagles show more patience with Seumalo this time around?

Halapoulivaati Vaitai is waiting in the wings after spending the offseason working at guard. Then again, the club did sign Seumalo to a three-year contract extension in March — hardly a deal so large it would cement his position, though certainly a vote of confidence for the 25-year-old.

“Isaac has played well here in the past and we expect that he'll continue to do that,” Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “He probably didn't play his best game on Sunday night and I think he'd probably say the same.”

It’s easy to forget Seumalo is still relatively inexperienced. While this is the former third-round draft pick’s fourth season, he’s started just 19 games as a pro including playoffs.

Naturally, he’s going to take some lumps. It’s part of the process.

“As an offensive lineman, you’re going to have your ups and downs,” Brandon Brooks said. “The biggest thing that I’ve always been most proud of Isaac about is no matter what happens, he comes the next day with a hard hat and ready to work.

“You either have good games or learning experiences. It was a learning experience for him. He’ll bounce back.”

Playing alongside four Pro Bowlers with 15 trips between them, Seumalo was already viewed as the unit’s weak link by default. Perhaps that statement in itself serves as a form of commentary about the expectations he faces with the Eagles.

Seumalo did not excel in Atlanta, and nobody inside the building or out is trying to claim otherwise. He also seemed to be on an upward trajectory until that point, with a string of solid outings dating back to last season.

To listen to the Eagles, the latter is the real Seumalo. The question is how long will the leash be this time around if his issues continue?

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