Returns of Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles a great sign for Eagles

Returns of Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles a great sign for Eagles

The Eagles kicked off their 2018 season Thursday night against the Falcons with a big 18-12 win and they did it without starting quarterback Carson Wentz. 

While they’re obviously missing Wentz, the Eagles did get back three big pieces of their team Thursday night. 

Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles all returned and had really good games. 

That’s a great sign for the 2018 Eagles. 

Jason Peters 

Peters played 71 of 72 snaps, leaving for one play at the very end of the game. He might be 36 but Peters certainly didn’t look like it against the Falcons. And it also didn’t look like he was coming off a season that ended with an ACL tear. 

He was really good Thursday night. If he keeps this up all season, he’ll be on his way back to the Pro Bowl for the 10th time in his Hall of Fame career. 

Yeah, that’s pretty good. 

No matter who is starting at quarterback, the guy protecting the blindside is a big deal. Even though Halapoulivaati Vaitai did a nice job filling in last year, the offense isn’t the same without Peters. That’s why I considered him the third-most important player on the team for the 2018 season. 

He’s off to a good start. Just check out what Doug Pederson said about him: 

“Really good. Really good. He obviously prepared himself for that day and for opening day and did some really nice things. It was hot and it was humid out there, and for him to battle like he did, he did some — he was quick off the ball. He was right on track there. Pass protection was good. Run game was good. You know, it was good to get him back out there and get him going with the offense again and get him in the mix.” 

Jordan Hicks 

That injury-prone label probably won’t go away even if Hicks stays healthy all season. He’s going to have to prove that he can stay healthy over the course of a few seasons. But when Hicks is on the field, he’s hugely important to the Eagles’ defense. 

One game into the 2018 season, Hicks is already proving it. He filled up the stat sheet Thursday night. 

He played all 70 snaps in his return. Hicks had seven tackles, 1½ sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QB hits and one pass defensed. Coming into the game, Hicks had just two career sacks, so he almost doubled his career number. 

While Hicks has dealt with several injuries during his short career, whenever he’s on the field, he’s been a dynamic playmaker. This is a contract year for him, so he stands to make a lot of money with a big season. 

Darren Sproles 

Is this guy really 35? It seems impossible. 

No, Sproles didn’t have huge offensive numbers against the Falcons — five carries for 10 yards and four catches for 22. But he had a couple nice punt returns and will eventually get cooking on offense. Pederson might have overused him on offense, but Sproles is going to have an important role even if Pederson dials him back. 

Sproles is ageless just like Peters. Their teammates always call them “freaks” in a good way. That’s fitting. Age and injuries don’t seem to be slowing down either of them. 

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Malcolm Jenkins weighs in on NFL's controversial partnership with Jay-Z

Malcolm Jenkins weighs in on NFL's controversial partnership with Jay-Z

Nearly one week after a controversial partnership was struck between the NFL and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins sounded cautiously optimistic about its potential impact.

The twofold agreement somewhat benignly tasks Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation with improving the NFL’s live musical performances such as the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and perhaps more alarmingly tasks the rapper with “amplify(ing) the league’s social justice efforts.”

Critics of the deal — and there are many — view the latter function as anything from a cynical money grab on the part of Jay-Z to a perversion of the social justice ideals that free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled over.

Jenkins, who himself has been on the forefront of the fight for social justice reform, working with officials in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., implied there isn’t yet enough information to pass judgment on the new partnership, noting Jay-Z has a history of involvement in such matters.

We’re all kind of waiting to see kind of what the details are,” said Jenkins after Monday’s practice. “As a player who’s had to negotiate with the league and sit across from billionaires and talk about issues and why they should be important and why the NFL should be highlighting them, I think having somebody like Jay-Z who can add to that conversation — he does these things on a daily basis, has a history of doing those things — helps us as players to have an ally like that, so I’m looking forward to seeing what that turns into.

Of course, Jenkins and those in Kaepernick’s camp haven’t always seen eye to eye. Panthers safety Eric Reid once referred to the Eagles star as a “sellout” during an on-field confrontation, though the two have since mended fences.

It’s perhaps worth noting then that Kaepernick did not name Jenkins in a recent Tweet that some construed as a shot toward the Jay-Z deal.

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Cody Kessler back at practice but is it too late?

Cody Kessler back at practice but is it too late?

Cody Kessler has gone from competing with Nate Sudfeld for the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback job to clinging to a roster spot.

Such is life in the NFL.

Kessler returned to practice Monday, just four days after suffering a concussion seven plays into the Eagles’ preseason game against the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

According to NFL concussion policy, if he experiences no additional symptoms 24 hours after practice — which is early tomorrow afternoon — he’ll formally be cleared out of concussion protocol.

It was a quick recovery, but it may be too late.

With Kessler’s struggles, the Eagles adding veteran Josh McCown and rookie Clayton Thorson putting together a strong preseason performance against the Jags, Kessler is on thin ice.

And he knows it.

I can’t think, ‘What’s the plan here, what’s going to happen,’ and start playing all these scenarios in my head, which is tough to do,” Kessler said after practice. “I’ve just got to come out and practice, keep going, getting ready to play Thursday and hopefully next week and then just go from there.

Doug Pederson was clear before training camp that there was open competition between Sudfeld and Kessler for the No. 2 job.

But since Sudfeld broke his wrist in the preseason opener, Kessler has only hurt his chances. 

He was a combined 4-for-10 for 23 yards in two preseason games before suffering the concussion in Jacksonville.

I was looking forward to that game, I was excited, had that first drive moving a little bit, had a little rhythm going, and then obviously things that were out of my control happened and you’ve kind of just got to go with it,” Kessler said. “The best thing is I’ve known Josh for a long time, he’s one of the closest people to me through football that I’ve met. I understood it with me being out.

Kessler and McCown were teammates with the Browns in 2016. Both began the season backing up Robert Griffin III, who ironically was at the NovaCare Complex as well on Monday as he starts his second season with the Ravens.

Now what? Sudfeld won’t be back for a while, McCown just came out of retirement and Thorson is a rookie fifth-round pick.

But Kessler hasn’t done anything to take ownership of a roster spot, and as of now, he’s on the outside looking in.

You can’t think about all those scenarios,” he said. “You can play out different things that could happen: ‘What if this, what if that, what are they going to do,’ trying to think about that, but at the end of the day it’s completely up to the front office, and my role is to come out here and compete and hopefully Thursday get a chance to compete again.

The Eagles finish the preseason Thursday at the Linc against the Ravens and a week from Thursday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford against the Jets.

With Carson Wentz not expected to play in either game and Sudfeld hurt, Kessler should get a chance to redeem himself. But with Thorson and McCown both likely to play extensively, it’s not a lock.

I’ve seen a lot of things happen,” Kessler said. “My rookie year in Cleveland with Josh, we had RG(3), who’s here also today, he got hurt, Josh got hurt, I come in, something else happened - we had like five or six quarterbacks by the end of the year. Stuff like that is crazy. … I felt like I put a really good camp together. Unfortunate really didn’t get to show that Thursday. It sucks, something you can’t control, but just trying to pick up where I left off and look forward to this week.

Kessler is with his third team in three years, and he’s running out of time to give the Eagles a reason to keep him.

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