Eagles

Eagles wide receiver Robert Davis has plenty to be thankful for

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USA Today Images/Brad Mills

Eagles wide receiver Robert Davis has plenty to be thankful for

Robert Davis has been in the NFL for three years and has one catch.

He’s not technically on an NFL roster right now, he doesn’t know where he’ll be next year, he doesn’t know if he’ll ever play again.

And he couldn’t be happier.

Davis has a lot to be thankful for as he celebrates his first Thanksgiving as a member of the Eagles’ practice squad.

Here’s a guy who caught seven passes in his entire high school career. Who didn’t get a scholarship offer until a college scout saw him playing basketball. Who worked his way into the Redskins’ rotation last summer before suffering a ghastly injury — a torn ACL and broken leg — at training camp. Who’s already been cut three times and won’t turn 25 until April.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Davis, but he’s one of the most upbeat, positive guys you’ll ever see.

It’s already carried him a long way. And who knows where it'll take him next.

'That was my only offer'

Davis played football at Northside High School in Warner Robins, Georgia, also the hometown of one-time Eagles first-round pick Ben Smith.

As legend has it, he caught only 11 passes in his entire career playing for the Northside Eagles.

Not true.

“Every year it seems like one catch gets added onto it,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve heard 11, but it was actually only seven.”

Seven catches. 

We ran the triple-option, so we didn’t really throw the ball but maybe three or four times a game. My job was really to block a lot, but we won a lot of games. When you’re in high school, especially my mindset, I just wanted to win games. Eventually, when I started thinking about college and stuff like that, I did want to get a couple more catches so college scouts would see me, but it worked out for itself. I was able to show athleticism in the little stuff I did.

But it wasn’t until the 6-foot-3 Davis was playing basketball that a college scout actually spotted him.

Turns out then-Georgia State head coach Trent Miles — who was with the Eagles in 2017 and 2018 as an offensive assistant — was visiting Northside to recruit a linebacker, Trey Payne, and Northside coach Kevin Kinsler gave Miles a heads up about Davis.

He was like, ‘Yeah, we have a guy who can really play, we just don’t get him the ball in our offense, but he has a basketball game today if you want to go check him out.’ So it happened to be a game where I went for 25 points, a couple slam dunks, some blocked shots, and they offered me off that. That was my only offer. That’s one thing to be thankful for. I’m thankful to Trent Miles for giving me a look and a chance to play football.

'I could barely walk'

Georgia State is located in Atlanta, about an hour and a half north of Warner Robins, and Davis had a fantastic college career for the Panthers, breaking just about every school record, including most career catches (222) and yards (3,391) — second-most in Sun Belt Conference history, behind T.Y. Hilton.

The Redskins drafted him in the sixth round in 2017, and although he was briefly on the 53, he played in only one game and didn’t get a snap on offense.

Back for his second season, Davis was enjoying a very good training camp last summer and competing for a starting job when he crumpled to the ground at practice with torn ligaments and a fractured tibia in his right leg.

It was tough because I worked my whole rookie year, came back my second year, was playing my best football, played against the Patriots, started that game and had one of my best games, so to get hurt the next day in practice was pretty frustrating. But that’s the game. You move on.

After spending a week in a wheelchair and a few months on crutches, Davis was back for the start of camp this past summer and opened the preseason with a bang — a 46-yard TD from Case Keenum against the Browns and a 55-yarder from Dwayne Haskins against the Bengals. 

But he wound up back on the practice squad again and after a brief stint on the 53, when he caught his first — and only — career pass, he was released again.

This time he signed with the Eagles, joining the practice squad last month.

You’re always thankful for opportunities. Last year at this time I could barely walk. So just to be on my own two feet is a great feeling, no matter where I am. But to be part of a winning organization like this? That’s really a plus. It’s been a journey, but it’s one that I’m thankful for.

'He's a freak of nature'

Eagles quarterback Nate Sudfeld was with Davis in Washington during 2017 training camp and was thrilled when he heard the Eagles signed him.

He’s a freak of nature,” Sudfeld said. “He’s got muscles on top of muscles. Definitely looks the part of a big, freak wide receiver, and he plays big. He’s got speed, really good at running routes, he’s smart. He’s got a bright future, definitely. Coming off a serious injury, the way he’s come back and looked as good as he has? So impressive. I think it’s really good for him to get in the system where he can learn, but I think he can really be a good player in this league for a long time. Really glad he’s here.

Players on a practices squad are technically free agents, free to sign with any team whenever they want. So Davis could be gone tomorrow.

But considering that major changes are likely here at the wide receiver position, there’s certainly a chance the Eagles will want to keep Davis beyond this season if he’s still available and see what he can do with a full offseason and training camp.

It’s human nature to think about [the future]. Everybody wants to have success in this sport. I have dreams of being a Philadelphia Eagle, being a contributor, being a starter one day, that’s what I work for. So I work hard every day, try to be my best at practice, treat practice like game day. Just to have this opportunity to elevate to the next level is a blessing in itself.

'I have a lot to be thankful for'

Practice squad players earn $8,000 per week, which is good money but only a fraction of what even the lowest-paid guys on the 53-man roster earn.

So Davis is biding his time, working as hard as he can and hoping for the same opportunity that guys like Boston Scott, Alex Singleton, Craig James, Greg Ward, Bruce Hector, Ryan Lewis and Alex Ellis have all gotten. Just this year, they’ve all signed from the practice squad onto the Eagles' 53.

I have a ton of respect for guys who go on the practice squad and earn their way,” Sudfeld said. “I’m proud I was on the practice squad and had to fight and earn my way onto a roster and it did a lot of good. As Stout (Jeff Stoutland) always says, ‘A hungry dog runs faster.’ When you feel like you don’t have it quite in your grasp you definitely don’t take it for granted and you want to keep pushing and improving and working on your craft. And Rob’s really done that. He’s really determined coming off that injury, really focused every day. I’m very proud of Rob and excited for his future.

Davis will spend a quiet Thanksgiving with his girlfriend at his apartment in Philadelphia and be back on the practice field Friday.

He said he doesn’t really worry about the future. 

I’m a firm believer in God, and I believe God has put me in a situation to set myself up for the future, so I’m thankful for that. As far as everything else, it'll happen when it's meant to happen. But just being here and being able to play the game I love? I have a lot to be thankful for.

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Similarity Travis Kelce sees between Eagles' Super Bowl LII team and Chiefs' Super Bowl LIV team

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Similarity Travis Kelce sees between Eagles' Super Bowl LII team and Chiefs' Super Bowl LIV team

Travis Kelce is about to play in his first Super Bowl but it’s not the first time he’s been around the biggest game in the sport. 

The Chiefs' tight end, and brother of Jason, was around the Eagles’ run to Super Bowl at the tail end of the 2017 season so he has an idea about what the week is like and what it takes to win it all. 

And Kelce, speaking to reporters in Miami, said he sees one big similarity between the Eagles in Super Bowl LII and his Chiefs that will play in Super Bowl LIV: 

I was out there in Minnesota. It was a very unique situation because I got to see it almost second hand and really kind of in the background of the Eagles, asking my brother everything that was going on that week. 

“It was unique how tight of a team they were, how their chemistry ... they just felt like a brotherhood, even from the outside. You could just tell how tight-knit that group was. With that being said, I think this team has the exact same feeling going into it. How much we appreciate each other and have fun on the field with each other and make sure we’re doing the right things so we’re accountable for each other.

There was definitely something special about that Eagles team that played in Super Bowl LII. It’s probably a bit much to call it a team of destiny, but that team had a special feel to it. And a big part of it is because of how close they were. 

In some sense, it shouldn’t be too surprising to see an Andy Reid-led team have a similar feel. The atmosphere around the 2017 Eagles was created in part by Doug Pederson and his coaching staff. Pederson wanted his guys to have fun, he wanted them to be themselves. And, of course, Pederson is a protégé of Reid. Both men are known as players coaches. 

As of early this week, Travis Kelce said he hadn’t yet asked his older brother about tips for Super Bowl week or playing in the big game. Jason was at the Pro Bowl with his family and baby daughter, so Travis wanted to give him a chance to enjoy himself. 

But Travis said he does plan on chatting with Jason soon. He wants to ask for tips about some things he might not know about playing in the big game, anything that will give him an advantage on Sunday evening. 

For now, how tight-knit the Chiefs are certainly won’t hurt. 

“Everyone is just enjoying their time, being themselves,” Kelce said. “I love this team more than any other team I’ve ever been on, man, because it’s that much more fun.”

Sound familiar? 

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Super Bowl LIV vs. XXXIX: Comparing Andy Reid’s 2 title game teams 15 years apart

Super Bowl LIV vs. XXXIX: Comparing Andy Reid’s 2 title game teams 15 years apart

Andy Reid is heading back to the Super Bowl after 15 years, but does he have a better shot to win this time? 

We all remember Super Bowl XXXIX and the way the Eagles lost to the Patriots. 

That Eagles team was 13-3 (they were 13-1 before they decided to rest starters and cruise into the playoffs) and finished in first place in the NFC East. This year’s Chiefs team, led by Reid, was 12-4 and finished in first place in the AFC West. 

Like these Chiefs, those Eagles took down their first two playoff opponents with relative ease. In 2005, the Eagles’ won their two playoff games before the Super Bowl by an average of 15 points per game; these Chiefs won their first two by an average of 15.5. 

This is just a fun exercise, but let’s go position-by-position to figure out which of Big Red’s Super Bowl teams is better. 

Quarterback

Eagles: Donovan McNabb

Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes 

No, McNabb clearly didn’t have his best performance in Super Bowl XXXIX but he was no slouch coming into that game. Remember, that 2004 season was the fifth straight Pro Bowl season for him and 2004 was his best season. He set an Eagles record with 3,875 yards and had 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He finally got a big-time receiver — sure, we know that didn’t end well — and had the best season of his career. 

But Mahomes is just better. He didn’t have the numbers this year that he did last year but he’s arguably the best player in the league. In the last two seasons, he’s thrown 76 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. In these playoffs, he has eight touchdowns and zero picks. 

Edge: Chiefs 

Offensive line

Eagles: Tra Thomas, Artis Hicks, Hank Fraley, Jermane Mayberry, Jon Runyan 

Chiefs: Eric Fisher, Stefen Wisniewski, Austin Reiter, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz 

Schwartz is one of the best right tackles in the league and overall the Chiefs have a really good unit, even with Wiz filling in at left tackle. They deserve a ton of credit for their success. But the Eagles back then had their bookends in Thomas and Runyan, and Mayberry at right guard who won a Pro Bowl a couple years earlier. If Shawn Andrews was able to stay healthy that year, this would be a runaway. Still … 

Edge: Eagles 

Wide receiver

Eagles: Terrell Owens, Todd Pinkston, Greg Lewis, Freddie Mitchell 

Chiefs: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson 

In that Super Bowl, the Eagles got one of the greatest receivers in the history of the NFL back in action and he was tremendous. After missing a month and a half with a broken leg, T.O. went for nine catches and 122 yards in that Super Bowl. And that season in 14 games, he caught 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns. Owens was great … but the rest of that group was average, even though Pinkston was better than you remember. 

And if you take a look at the speed the Chiefs have on offense, most of it is at receiver. These guys seem to make big play after big play. So the Eagles had the best individual receiver but they don’t have a better group. The Chiefs are four deep. 

Edge: Chiefs 

Running back 

Eagles: Brian Westbrook, Dorsey Levens, Josh Parry 

Chiefs: Damien Williams, LeSean McCoy, Darwin Thompson 

Williams is a pretty good player and he’s had two solid games in the playoffs. But Shady has played one snap in the playoffs and simply hasn’t been himself in a while. And remember, Westbrook in 2004 had his breakout season. He had over 1,500 yards from scrimmage. And in the two playoff games before the Super Bowl, Westbrook had 252 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. 

Edge: Eagles 

Tight end

Chiefs: Travis Kelce, Blake Bell 

Eagles: L.J. Smith

I always think about what a shame it was that Chad Lewis got hurt in the NFC Championship Game and couldn’t play in the Super Bowl that year. That left the Eagles with L.J. Smith, who had 377 receiving yards in 2004. Meanwhile, Kelce happens to be one of the best tight ends in the league and has been to five consecutive Pro Bowls while going over 1,000 yards in each of the last four years. This one is easy. 

Edge: Chiefs 

Defensive line

Eagles: Derrick Burgess, Corey Simon, Darwin Walker, Jevon Kearse, Hollis Thomas, Hugh Douglas, Sam Rayburn, Jerome McDougle 

Chiefs: Frank Clark, Chris Jones, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Terrell Suggs, Derrick Nnadi, Mike Pennel, Xavier Williams, Khalen Saunders 

This one was really tough to figure out and the numbers tell me the Eagles have it. They had the NFL’s 16th-best rushing defense, while the Chiefs had the NFL’s 26th-best rushing defense. And The Eagles had 47 sacks in 2004, while the Chiefs had 45 in 2019. But Kearse and Douglas weren’t the same guys they once were. Burgess hadn’t yet gone to Oakland to have his breakout seasons. Simon was solid and the Eagles had a good rotation. 

But the Chiefs have a couple of elite players in Clark and Jones. So, to me, they have the best edge player and the best interior lineman of this group. And Kpassagnon puts the group over the top after his two-sack performance in the AFC Championship Game. This one was admittedly really close and I went back and forth a few times. 

Edge: Chiefs 

Linebacker

Eagles: Jeremiah Trotter, Mark Simoneau, Keith Adams, Mark Simoneau, Dhani Jones, Ike Reese 

Chiefs: Damien Wilson, Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland 

This one was really hard to judge because these are basically different positions that we’re comparing 15 years apart. The Chiefs’ linebackers wouldn’t have been very good in 2004 and the Eagles’ linebackers wouldn’t have been very good in 2019. Responsibilities of linebackers have changed so much. 

Above we looked at the Eagles’ run defense and a huge reason for their success was Trotter, who was an elite player back in 2004 once he took his starting job back. He’s the best player of the bunch and even with Adams and company with him, I’m leaning that way. 

Edge: Eagles 

Cornerback

Eagles: Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, Rod Hood 

Chiefs: Charvarius Ward, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller 

Nothing wrong with Ward or Breeland, who’ve both been playing pretty well. But Lito and Sheldon were just better. Remember, Sheppard had an All-Pro season in 2004 with five interceptions and two returned for a touchdown. And Brown also had a very good season; he had 2 INTs, 16 PBUs and 3 sacks. 

Edge: Eagles 

Safety

Eagles: Brian Dawkins, Michael Lewis 

Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu, Daniel Sorensen 

If Juan Thornhill was healthy this would be a little closer but the promising rookie has missed the playoffs with a torn ACL. And Mathieu is an undeniably great player. But Dawk is a Hall of Famer and he was right in the middle of his prime for the Super Bowl run. And Lewis that season made his only Pro Bowl. This one was pretty easy. 

Edge: Eagles 

Special teams 

Eagles: David Akers, Dirk Johnson, Rod Hood, J.R. Reed, Brian Westbrook 

Chiefs: Harrison Butker, Dustin Colquitt, Mecole Hardman 

In 2004, Akers was a Pro Bowler, making 27 of 32 field goals. But Butker has been very good in 2019, making 34 of 38 and was 3 for 6 on field goals of 50-plus. Ultimately, having Hardman’s ability to break one is a bit of an X-factor. His 58-yard return against the Texans really helped turn that game around. 

Edge: Chiefs 

Takeaways: This was really close. With the way the way I broke the categories down, it came out 5-5. But that’s not to say I couldn’t have had the secondary as one position and the DL as two. But the point of all this is that these are two different but very good teams. I think many people have forgotten just how good that 2004 Eagles team was. They were 13-1 before they rested starters in the last two games of the regular season. 

Ultimately, I’m giving the slight edge to the 2019 Chiefs for two reasons. First, I’ll ride with Mahomes. Not taking away anything from McNabb back in ’04 because he was really good that season, but Mahomes is just special. And I’ll always give a nod to the team with the better quarterback. And the other reason is Reid himself. I think he’s simply a better coach than he was 15 years ago with the Eagles. He’s learned a lot and maybe he’s still not the best game-day manager but he has been very innovative with his offense in KC and there’s a good chance he finally gets it done this year. 

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