Eagles

Rasul Douglas's move to safety may be accelerated by Eagles

Rasul Douglas's move to safety may be accelerated by Eagles

Safety help could be coming from someone who’s not a safety.

Veteran safety Corey Graham, who’ll move into the Eagles’ starting lineup in place of injured Rodney McLeod, identified second-year cornerback Rasul Douglas as a candidate for the third safety spot or sixth D-back spot that’s now open.

Douglas, a third-round pick last year, has played only six snaps on defense this year, although on one of them he made a crucial interception in the red zone in the opening-day win over the Falcons.

But he definitely has a hybrid skill set. He’s tough, physical, a sure tackler, stands 6-foot-2. With the depth the Eagles have at corner, at some point, he’ll be likely a safety.

Whether that’s as early as Sunday in Nashville remains to be seen. But the Eagles’ options are limited when it comes to their third safety or their safety in Big Dime, which is three corners and three safeties.

The Eagles acquired safety Deiondre’ Hall earlier this month, but he was suspended the first week of the regular season and hasn’t played a snap on defense the last two games.

Tre Sullivan played in the season opener, was released the next day, then re-signed to the practice squad the following week. He’s likely to get a promotion to the 53 when McLeod officially goes on IR. 

McLeod, a solid starter here since 2016, is out for the year after tearing his MCL in the win over the Colts Sunday.

Graham rejoined the Eagles on Aug. 5 after serving as the third safety last year. He’s in his 12th NFL season and at 33, he’s the fourth-oldest safety in the NFL. He’s played in 174 games, second-most on the roster behind Jason Peters (179).

“Everybody’s ready to roll,” Graham said. “Next guy up, pretty much doesn’t matter who it is. Everybody knows their job and knows what they’re supposed to do. So it’s not really a big drop-off because of that. When you have guys that are ready to roll, you’ll be all right.

“We’re confident in all our guys. So no matter who it is — me, Rasul, Deiondre’ — it doesn’t make a difference. Everybody knows what they’re doing.”

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz loves cornerbacks with safety skills and safeties with cornerback skills, and this is why. He wants interchangeable parts who can cover and tackle, and that’s really what the third safety is.

Depending on what sub-package the Eagles are in, Graham said rookie Avonte Maddox could also be in the mix.

“These are smart guys, to be honest with you,” Graham said. “They’re smart. They’re picking it up. The way we do it in our defensive backs room, we learn all the positions from the beginning anyway, so either one of those guys can get in and play it.

“You never know. It could be Hall, could be anyone. Tre could get moved up. I don’t know. But when we find out we’ll adjust and we’ll be ready to roll."

As for Graham, he averaged 26 snaps per game last year during the regular season, a figure that rose to 41 in the playoffs.

Ultimately, every defensive back who’s active Sunday for the Eagles’ game against the Titans will probably have a role in some package. 

“It won’t be one guy,” Graham said after practice Thursday. “It won’t be one guy who does it. I don’t know exactly how we’re going to account for it if Rod is not here, but we’ll figure it out.

“I’m pretty sure my job isn’t going to change dramatically. In some packages, I’ll still be doing the same thing. It’s just that someone else is going to have to come in and help out.”

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Unapologetic Donovan McNabb addresses his Carson Wentz comments, Lane Johnson, relationship with fans

Unapologetic Donovan McNabb addresses his Carson Wentz comments, Lane Johnson, relationship with fans

Donovan McNabb is not backing down. 

After garnering headlines over the last few days for his comments about Carson Wentz , which didn’t sit well with Lane Johnson, McNabb was on 94WIP Tuesday afternoon with Jon Marks and Ike Reese. 

McNabb didn’t back down from his comments at all during the interview that was at times combative and yet still full of McNabb’s trademark laughter. 

“Do I need to apologize for anything?” McNabb said. “Absolutely not. Should I say anything toward it? There’s no need to say anything about the situation, really, to be honest. 

“And then I know you probably want to go into active players that are playing and their comments. I don’t play Twitter war games with kids. I said what I said. They understood what I said. Move on and do your job.” 

Here are a few more notes of interest that came out of the interview: 

Soften up on Wentz? 
It was proposed to McNabb that he could perhaps be more positive in his analysis of Wentz, given that McNabb himself is a former franchise quarterback. McNabb defended himself and said he was simply giving his opinion. McNabb understands most people don’t have a problem with the message, that it’s the messenger — it’s just that 5 doesn’t seem to care. 

Hey Jealously
At least McNabb seems to understand part of the perception of him in this town. 

“See, what they always want to attribute me to when I say anything about the Eagles is about envy and jealously. I’m not jealous about anything. I’ve played the game, I’ve moved on. I got another life.”

Relationship with the team
Reese, McNabb’s former teammate, asked McNabb about his relationship with the organization. 

“I have no problem with the Philadelphia Eagles. My relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles is the same as was when I played. I was excited about being drafted there in 1999. I enjoyed my tenure there as the starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, everything we accomplished as a team. I was very excited about it and one that I would never regret or try to change by any means because it made us, as individuals, who we are as people. I have no ill-will toward the Philadelphia Eagles. I was excited for them when they won the Super Bowl. I was excited when I put a tweet out, meeting Nick Foles and happy for Nick Foles. I mean, I took a photo with Carson Wentz. My son took a photo with Carson Wentz. I have no problem with any of them. For them to try to make it like I have a bad relationship with the Philadelphia Eagles or Carson Wentz, it’s just a cover up to aid in the dislike in who I am or whatever I say.”

Relationship with Wentz 
Reese asked McNabb if he has any type of mentor-type relationship with Wentz: 

“I reached out to Carson and talked to Carson on many occasions, when he got hurt, when he came back, this whole little deal with the locker room saying he’s arrogant or selfish or he’s not a team guy. I’ve been a part of that. I talked to him. This is the thing people don’t realize about what I do. I know what Carson is going through. I reached out to him, but I don’t make that public. I don’t think that’s something that needs to be put out there. That’s between me and him.” 

Back and forth with Lane
Marks attempted to play comments from Johnson’s appearance on WIP earlier in the week and McNabb cut him off and said there was no need. 

“There’s no need for me to respond to any of that. I told you. I don’t play Twitter war games with kids. I’m not going back and forth. One thing that people don’t realize is being a former player, there’s a relationship and a bond there. These young guys, some guys don’t get it. It’s not like I’m going personal at Carson. I have no issues. Now he wants to make his comments and I’m not going to go personal with him. There is no battle back and forth of who is going to get the last word. I don’t play that game.” 

Relationship with fans
McNabb said he has no problem with Eagles fans and he appreciates those who supported him during his time in Philly. He understands not everyone has the same opinion and he’s OK with that. 

The whole interview is about 15 minutes. Check it out here: 

 

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Eagles’ Chris Long even more unsure of football future

usa_chris_long_eagles.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagles’ Chris Long even more unsure of football future

As the 2019 NFL draft nears, one of the Eagles most veteran players still hasn’t made a decision about his football future. 

We’ve known that 34-year-old Chris Long has been pondering retirement for a while now, but here’s what he said to the USA Today’s Jarrett Bell after a Players Coalition town hall meeting at George Mason University Arlington: 

“In March, I really wanted to play. Now, I don’t know.” 

Bell theorizes that Long is contemplating taking a pay cut, which he insinuates could be the reason for Long’s indecision. This seems unlikely to me. In March, the Eagles reportedly pushed back Long’s $2 million roster bonus until after the draft because, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Long felt uncomfortable taking it with an uncertain future. 

And Long is the guy who once gave away his entire year’s salary, so to think money is the reason he might not return just doesn’t quite add up. 

Long confirmed his decision has nothing to do with money: 

It seems far more likely Long is — as he’s said plenty of times before — making a football decision. He has said he doesn’t want to be a “locker room guy” and wants to be a contributing player. Based on his 2018 season, he still has plenty productivity left in him. 

This offseason, even though the Eagles traded Michael Bennett, they re-signed Brandon Graham and brought back Vinny Curry. Perhaps even more importantly, they signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson, who could take away third-down snaps from Long. In the last couple years, the Eagles have slid Graham or Curry inside on passing downs, but Jackson has the ability to be a three-down player next to Fletcher Cox. 

It made sense that the roster bonus was pushed back until after the draft because if the Eagles use a first- or second-round pick on a defensive end, they’re probably going to want to get that player snaps in Year 1, which would then minimize Long’s role. 

"I’m pretty undecided, but from the looks of things they’re going to make it hard for me in my favorite city,” Long said to USA Today. “We’ll see.”

Bell took that to mean something about his contract, but if I had to venture a guess, I think it probably means more about the roster. If he returns, Long is set to have a cap hit of $5.6 million in 2019, which seems like a relatively fair price. The Eagles have $24.975 million in cap space, according to the most recent public report from the NFLPA, so it’s not like they desperately need to create space. 

The Eagles begin OTAs in May, but Long said he definitely doesn’t feel like going to OTAs. They’re voluntary anyway and the Eagles have brought back players like Darren Sproles and Corey Graham well after the spring workouts. They’d likely be fine doing the same for Long if he decides he wants to come back. 

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