Eagles

With playoff experience, Jake Elliott going home to start this run

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With playoff experience, Jake Elliott going home to start this run

Jake Elliott made two 40-plus yard field goals in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl just 11 months ago, so a wild-card game in front of a couple dozens of family members probably isn’t going to get the best of him. 

In a game that might be very close, the second-year kicker could be the Eagles’ difference-maker. 

Elliott, who is a native of Western Springs, Illinois, (about 20 minutes from the city) will return home this weekend to face the Chicago Bears in a wild-card game. It won’t be his first trip to Soldier Field, but it will be his first time playing there. 

“It’s exciting,” Elliott said. “It’s exciting to go back home. Obviously, I’ll have a lot of family there at the game. I haven’t played a game back there since high school, so it will be cool to go back. Other than that, it’s just another game.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the count was at 21 tickets going to family and friends for Sunday’s game. It’s not exactly easy to know how to cut it off. There will probably be even more folks in the crowd rooting specifically for Elliott, who claims his entire family has converted from Bears fans to Eagles fans once he showed up in Philadelphia. 

Elliott on Thursday admitted kicking in the playoffs last season was a little different than the regular season but stopped short of saying he was nervous. 

But having made all seven of his field goal attempts in last year’s playoffs, including his three field goals in the Super Bowl, has to give him some confidence. Including going 2 for 3 on extra points, Elliott accounted for 11 points in Super Bowl LII. The Eagles won by eight. 

“I think it helps being in those situations before,” Elliott said. “I’m just going to approach it like any other game, regular season game, preseason game. I’m gonna go out there and make my kicks.” 

Everyone says they’re just going to treat the playoffs as any other game, but Elliott really means it. If you were to hook him up to a heart-rate monitor during games, I doubt you’d see much of a jump. He has this even-keel demeanor that has served him well as a kicker. 

Never too high, never too low. It can be boring, but it’s exactly what he wants. 

Punter and holder Cameron Johnston chuckled when asked if he’s ever seen Elliott break his normal even-keel demeanor. 

“No, he’s the exact same every game,” Johnston said. “I think he did that the whole time he was at Memphis. He’s got his whole routine, he’s pretty set.”

This season, after a rough start, Elliott ended up making 26 of 31 field goal attempts. There should be no surprise about that, because Mr. Even Keel also went 26 for 31 last season as a rookie.

This could end up being a close game. If it is, the Eagles seem to have a pretty clear advantage at the kicker spot with Elliott. The Bears’ kicker is former Eagle Cody Parker, who has struggled this season. 

Thanks to a weird period where all he could seemingly do was hit the uprights, Parkey — who is still the most accurate kicker in Eagles history — made just 23 of 30 field goal attempts (76.7 percent) this season. 

One guy has made two clutch kicks in the fourth quarter in the Super Bowl. The other hasn’t ever been in the playoffs. 

“Yeah, [that experience is] always going to help,” Johnston said. “It’s not going to hurt. He’s a great kicker and he prepares the same every week for every game.”

It just so happens that this game is a playoff contest in his own backyard. Don’t expect Elliott to flinch.

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Eagles get open roster spot for training camp after Tyreek Durwell's surprise retirement

Eagles get open roster spot for training camp after Tyreek Durwell's surprise retirement

Less than two weeks before the start of training camp, the Eagles suddenly find themselves with an open 90-man roster spot. 

On Monday, offensive tackle Tyreek Burwell announced his retirement from the NFL, via his official Instagram account. 

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Man it’s hard for me to sit here and put this into words but after careful consideration I’ve made the decision to retire from the NFL. This journey has been unbelievable! I’ve been blessed to have been able to play this game since I was 7 years old. Playing in the NFL has been a dream come true and this game has taught and given me so much. I want to thank GOD especially for without you none of this would be possible. I want to thank my fiancé and my family for being my number 1 supporters and my motivation. I also want to thank my friends, teammates, my agency (@mbk_sports ) and everyone that I’ve crossed paths with that has helped me along this journey. Thank you to the Chargers, Colts and Eagles for giving me the opportunity to continue to play the game that I love. I’m excited to see what the rest of this journey brings! ✌🏾 #retired #NFL #thankyouGOD

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For some of you, this begs the question: Who is Tyreek Burwell? 

Well, the Eagles signed him to a futures deal in January and he was with the team this spring, when he wore No. 66. Burwell, 27, previously spent time with the Chargers and Colts and played in 15 NFL games dating back to 2015 when he went undrafted out of Cincinnati. 

Even with that experience, there was very little chance Burwell was going to make the Eagles’ 53-man roster in 2019. 

But Burwell’s decision before training camp will give someone else a chance to prove himself and possibly make the Eagles’ roster this spring. While most roster spots are spoken for, there’s alway a chance for players buried on the depth chart. Just think back to last year when receiver DeAndre Carter joined camp late and still made the Eagles’ 53-man roster. Even player No. 90 has a chance if they play the right position and show up during practices and in the meeting room. 

The Eagles won’t have very long to get a new player signed. The team is scheduled to report in a little over a week on July 24 and the first full practice will be on July 25. 

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Possible trouble brewing in Cowboys land with reports about RB Ezekiel Elliott possibly holding out

Possible trouble brewing in Cowboys land with reports about RB Ezekiel Elliott possibly holding out

Off the field issues aside, Ezekiel Elliott is clearly one of the top running backs in the NFL. The problem for the Cowboys is that he wants to get paid like it.

According to PFT’s Mike Florio, Elliott has “privately said that he will hold out of training camp unless he gets a new contract.”

Since the Cowboys report to training camp on July 25, this could be a problem very soon.

Meanwhile, Yahoo! reporter Charles Robinson says Elliott hasn’t made a decision about a holdout yet.

But it’s clearly on Zeke’s mind. And he clearly wants a contract extension.

For a team that still has to pay Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper — both more pressing since they’ll be free agents after the 2019 season — this could be tricky. It’s hard to imagine the Cowboys giving Zeke a big contract before figuring out Dak’s new deal.

Elliott, 23, might have a problem staying out of trouble off the field, but he creates a whole lot of trouble for opposing teams on it. There’s really no denying his talent. In his first three NFL seasons, he has rushed for over 4,000 yards and has over 5,000 in all-purpose yards. Just 11 players in NFL history have more all-purpose yards in their first three seasons.

And because of that success and because he knows the Cowboys will rely heavily on him this season and next, Elliott is trying to maximize his value. He’s trying to get some coin in his pocket now before that value potentially plummets because usage or injury. That part makes sense.

The problem for Elliott is that the Cowboys probably don’t feel highly motivated to pay him just yet. With his fourth contract year in 2019 and his fifth-year option year in 2020, the Cowboys hold his rights for the next two seasons at cap numbers of $7.9 million and $9 million over the next two seasons. Based on his rookie contract AVY, Elliott is the 10th highest-paid running back in football. That’s a steal and based on recent history, no team should be rushing to pay top-tier money for a running back.

Elliott won’t become a free agent until after the 2020 season, so I definitely get why he’s trying to secure his financial future before the Boys run him into the ground over the next two seasons. He doesn’t seem to have a ton of leverage because of how far he is from free agency — he’s not going to sit for two years — but we saw how his suspension sort of wrecked the Cowboys’ entire 2017 season. Now, the Cowboys are coming off a division title and have serious championship hopes this year; if they’re going to be a great team, they’re going to need Zeke to do it.

The Eagles don’t play the Cowboys until Oct. 20 and it would be pretty shocking if Elliott isn’t playing by then. The Birds obviously don’t have a running back as good as Elliott, but they have cost controlled options and they already figured out how to pay their franchise quarterback.

The messier this gets for Zeke and the Cowboys, the better it is for the Eagles and the rest of the NFC East.

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