Pair of Eagles special teamers find redemption

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Pair of Eagles special teamers find redemption

Bryan Braman didn't hang his head and he didn't try to force anything. He was just hoping he'd get a chance for redemption.

He did.

After Braman dove and touched a live ball on the previous punt in the second quarter Saturday, allowing the Falcons to punch in their only touchdown of the divisional round playoff game, Braman was back on the field for another punt.

This time, he broke through the line and got his outstretched hand on the football, forcing a 22-yard punt.

"Considering I was looked at as the reason we turned it over down there low in the red zone, it was big for me," Braman said after the Eagles' 15-10 win. "I was able to keep my head in the game and turn it around after what happened earlier in the game.

"It led to three points before we went into the half. It was definitely important for us to take advantage of everything we can. Whether it was just a couple yards from the tip, it changed the flight of the ball and caused it to not travel as far as we could."

After Braman was initially called for running into the kicker, he began telling the officials he tipped the ball, which would negate the penalty. The video replay showed he was right.

The veteran special teamer made up for his earlier blunder and he did it without forcing it.

"I couldn't think too much about having to make up for it," he said. "I just had to let it go and continue to do my job. There are some things you can't control. That was a freak thing. There's nothing I could do about that. If I were to let it affect me, then I start reaching. That's when other bad things start to happen."

The Eagles got the ball at their 28-yard line and were able to drive 37 yards to set up a 53-yard field goal from Jake Elliott. He nailed it and the Eagles cut the lead to 10-9, taking some momentum into halftime.

"That was huge," head coach Doug Pederson said. "Just to be able to get down there with — we're out of timeouts, Nick [Foles] to Alshon [Jeffery] on the sideline was huge to get us into that field goal range. … It was great to get momentum with our defense coming back out to start the second half."

It wasn't just Braman who got some redemption. Elliott did, too. The rookie kicker missed an extra point early in the second quarter but drilled the 53-yarder, his first of three consecutive field goals.

His 53-yarder was the longest in Eagles playoff history and was the longest ever by a rookie in the playoffs.

"Obviously, I missed the previous one so I wanted to bounce back better," Elliott said, "and I'm glad we had that opportunity."

Greg Ward still learning wide receiver position after great college career at quarterback

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Greg Ward still learning wide receiver position after great college career at quarterback

Greg Ward threw more touchdown passes in college than Carson Wentz and had a higher career passer rating than Nick Foles. 

These days, his job is catching passes, not throwing them. 

It’s quite a transition from big-time NCAA Division 1 quarterback to NFL wide receiver, but at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, the former Houston Cougar knows where his future is.

Ward spent all of last year on the Eagles’ practice squad, learning the nuances of a new position and figuring out how to think like a receiver instead of a quarterback. 

He looked surprisingly polished at wide out in training camp, caught nine passes for 63 yards in the preseason and then spent the season focusing on getting better.

“I still haven’t 100 percent gotten the position,” Ward said after a recent rookie camp practice. “I always feel like I can get better, always feel like I can learn something new, feel like there’ll always be something to improve on. 

“Last year was a big year for me. Just learning a new position, learning football period, learning from Alshon (Jeffery), Torrey (Smith) and Nelson (Agholor), it was a very important year for me.

“Just gathering every bit of information I could watching those guys practice and watching them in games and then learning how to apply what you’ve learned to your game.”

Ward never did get a chance to play, but he said he felt himself getting better as the year went along.

“Everybody wants to play,” said Ward, who led Houston to a Peach Bowl win over No. 9 Florida State in Atlanta at the end of his junior year. 

“You’re a competitor, that’s why we all do this. But I was humbled and thankful just to be on a Super Bowl team. Just to be in the NFL period. Some guys aren’t able to play football at all. I’m just grateful to be on a football team. 

“But this is not the end of my story. I am going to get out there and I am going to play.”

Ward was with the Eagles during their postseason run and he was there in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl.

He used every moment, every day, as an opportunity to improve. Even if nobody could see it happening.

“The biggest thing I learned was just being patient, just being humble,” he said. “Our team last year, there was nobody that was selfish. Nobody who thought they were bigger than anybody else. I learned patience and the importance of doing extra. Getting extra work, studying more, watching more film. That’s what it takes to win a championship.”

The Eagles have quite a crowd at wide receiver, with Jeffery, Agholor and Mack Hollins back, Wallace and Markus Wheaton in the fold and guys like Bryce Treggs, Shelton Gibson and Rashard Davis all also in the mix.

But Ward doesn’t concern himself with the numbers.

“The next step for me is to separate myself,” he said. "As a competitor, especially coming from being undrafted, you have to separate yourself. You have to be different. 

“You have to catch whoever’s eye it is, head coach, position coach, catch everybody’s eyes. They have to see value in you. That’s where I am right now. Trying to separate myself.”

How long will it take?

“I’m leaving that up to God,” he said. “I know I’m putting in the hard work and I know one day it will pay off. I know that day will come.”

Jay Ajayi's publicist denies Eagles' RB trashed an L.A. mansion

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Jay Ajayi's publicist denies Eagles' RB trashed an L.A. mansion

Eagles running back Jay Ajayi is strongly denying accusations made in a lawsuit that he trashed a Los Angeles house after the Super Bowl (see story)

The lawsuit, as reported by TMZ earlier this week, accuses Ajayi of throwing three parties at the L.A. mansion he was renting even after the owner told him not to. Ajayi is being charged $25,000 by the owner. 

Shortly after the story broke on Monday, a representative for Ajayi claimed the lawsuit was bogus. 

Now, we have an even stronger detail from Ajayi’s camp. 

Ajayi’s publicist Melanie Wadden told the Miami Herald that Ajayi didn’t throw any parties and caused no damage to the property. 

Additionally, Wadden denied the home owner’s claim that Ajayi pushed him in a menacing manner after confronting him.

“Jay was not involved in any physical altercations,” she said. 

Ajayi’s publicist also told the Herald that Ajayi was a guest and not the renter and the owner wanted the group to pay cash instead of through Airbnb. 

"The entire group voluntarily left the property several days early — no security or police were ever involved or on-site," Wadden said. "They filed a complaint against the owner through Airbnb back in February that included screenshots of the owner asking for cash and trying to communicate outside of their platform [against Airbnb policy]."

Ajayi, who came to the Eagles in the middle of last season in a trade, has one year left on his current contract.