Eagles

Rodney McLeod was just ready to hit somebody, but will he be ready for the opener?

Rodney McLeod was just ready to hit somebody, but will he be ready for the opener?

For nearly a year, all Eagles safety Rodney McLeod wanted to do was tackle somebody. He wasn’t waiting a single snap longer.

McLeod made the wrap-up on the Eagles’ first defensive play of the game against the Ravens on Thursday night, a seven-yard completion. Two series later, he chased scrambling quarterback Trace McSorley down for a one-yard loss on 2nd-and-10 in the red zone, a series that ultimately ended in a field goal.

In all, McLeod finished with three tackles in one quarter of action, but it was enough for the eighth-year veteran to declare himself ready for the Eagles’ regular season opener against Washington.

“I don’t think that ever was a question,” McLeod said postgame. “When we set out for training camp, this was the focus in mind and the goal, to get some action Game 3, and I think everybody said they liked what they saw.

“I’ll continue to build, continue to work and get ready for the Redskins.”

McLeod hadn’t appeared in an NFL game since tearing the MCL in his right knee Week 3 of last season, almost 11 months to the day of his preseason return.

All that time, he’s been thinking about hitting people.

“It’s been a build-up,” McLeod said. “It’s been a challenge, honestly. Been growing each week. Got a little early hit unexpected early on in camp. Then this week I actually had a lot more contact than I thought I would have, and then today obviously tackling all the way to the ground.

“This is the first time I’ve done that since last year, so it feels a little weird, but once you make that first tackle, it’s like, all right, now we’re right back at home.”

Signed as a free agent in 2016, McLeod has 130 tackles, two sacks, 18 pass breakups, six interceptions and two forced fumbles in 46 starts with the Eagles. He was a key cog in the club’s Super Bowl run.

The injury marked McLeod’s first long-term absence as a pro. After the game, the 29-year-old stuck around the locker room for almost the entire media period, opening up to reporters about not only his recovery or first game back, but his feelings missing that time with his teammates.

“It was hard,” said McLeod. “In this game, you want to be there every step of the way. You want to be in the meeting rooms, you want to be out on the field making plays. Those are moments you can’t get back and moments you look back on and you cherish, and for me not being out there it was difficult. Me being a leader on this team, it was hard. You almost feel like you let guys down.

“You miss it so much and it’s hard being away watching the game from the couch. I’m a vocal guy, so I just wanted to be around the team.”

McLeod was wearing a brace on the surgically repaired knee, which he’s not planning on doing all season — though he’ll do whatever it takes to be on the football field on Sundays.

“Whatever’s gonna make me comfortable, whatever’s gonna make me be able to play fast as possible, do my job and make plays, that’s what I’m gonna do,” said McLeod.

The brace didn’t appear to hinder McLeod on Thursday.

“I thought he moved around well,” Doug Pederson said. “Of course, I'll evaluate the film, look at it in the morning and watch him some more closely, but overall felt like he really settled in, did a nice job.”

Pederson said it was good for McLeod to “feel the energy, feel the nervousness” of getting back into a game and making that first tackle, a sentiment the safety shared.

“100 percent,” said McLeod. “It felt like a rookie all over again in a sense just being out for so long and going through an injury like I did.

“You always just question yourself on how it’s going to be and you try to envision a little bit, and I think I envisioned it how it played out today — me making tackles and me flying around like I never left.”

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Eagles might play a road game in Mexico City in 2020 NFL season

Eagles might play a road game in Mexico City in 2020 NFL season

The Arizona Cardinals announced Friday that one of their home games in 2020 will take place at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, which means the Eagles might play in Mexico City in 2020.

Fun! (Probably.)

Just two years after playing the Jaguars in London, the Eagles are one of six possible opponents for the Cardinals' game in Mexico. ESPN's Josh Weinfuss is reporting Friday that the Lions and Dolphins will not be the opponent:

This will mark the fifth straight season that the NFL has a game scheduled for Estadio Azteca, and the 13th time a game has been scheduled at Estadio Azteca all-time.

The Eagles actually have a super interesting, and kind of wacky, history with Mexico City games. 

They were scheduled to face the Detroit Lions in an exhibition on Aug. 11, 1968, which would've marked the first football game ever played in Mexico City, but the game was cancelled - without much explanation, according to the Associated Press. Half the stadium's tickets were going for about 40 cents at the time, according to the AP.

Ten years later, the Eagles actually ended up participating in the first NFL game held in Mexico City after all, a 14-7 exhibition loss to the Saints. According to Ron Jaworski, the locker rooms were tiny and the goal posts were crooked, which sounds fun.

All-time, the Eagles are 2-3 in international games, a record that probably doesn't mean much because they've played outside of the country once since 1993 - and that was a win.

Vamos Eagles.

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How Combine might have changed Eagles' WR plans

How Combine might have changed Eagles' WR plans

The 2020 wide receiver draft picture got a lot more interesting Thursday night.

Alabama’s Henry Ruggs did his thing and ran 4.28 when the receivers ran their 40's at the Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. He didn't break John Ross's record of 4.22, but he certainly did nothing to hurt his draft status. 

Neither did his college teammate, Jerry Jeudy, or Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb. They remain the consensus top three receivers in the draft, and the Eagles, who have the 21st pick in the first round, would likely have to trade up to draft any of them.

But a few receivers helped themselves with their performances in Indy and a few may have hurt their stock as well, and it all could definitely affect the receiver-starved Eagles’ strategy in April.

HELPED THEMSELVES

JUSTIN JEFFERSON, LSU: Joe Burrow’s favorite target ran much faster than expected with a 4.43. We already know he’s productive - he caught a ridiculous 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns - and he backed that up with a faster 40 time than Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy. How much that helps him remains to be seen, but he definitely helped himself.

CHASE CLAYPOOL, NOTRE DAME: There’s been talk about the 6-4, 240-pound Claypool moving to tight end, but then he went out and ran 4.42, which according to the Next Gen Stats twitter feed makes him the first receiver over 230 pounds to run sub-4.45 since Calvin Johnson in 2007. He also caught the ball well and performed well in the other drills. 

DENZEL MIMS, BAYLOR: Mims opened a lot of eyes with a 4.38 Thursday night to cap an overall excellent performance. Only Ruggs and Southern Mississippi’s Quez Watkins ran faster. Mims was generally considered a second-round talent before the Combine but running 4.38 at 6-3, 210 pounds could push him into the first round. 

HURT THEMSELVES

JALEN REAGOR, TEXAS CHRISTIAN: Reagor, whose father Montae played for the Eagles in 2007, said he planned to run faster than Ruggs: “That’s my plan. He runs after me. I’m going to set the bar for him.”  He also said he expected to run “high 4.2, low 4.3.”  Then he ran 4.47, a full fifth of a second slower than Ruggs. He followed that with a 4.50. How much that hurts him remains to be seen, but it wasn’t what anybody was expecting. 

TEE HIGGINS, CLEMSON: Higgins told reporters at the Combine that he was planning to prove a lot of people wrong with his 40:  “My goal is to hit a 4.4. A lot of guys think I’m gonna run a 4.5 or 4.6, but I’m excited to change people’s minds.” Then without explanation he didn’t run or participate in any drills Thursday night. Not good. 

LAVISKA SHENAULT JR., COLORADO: After a slower-than-expected 4.58 on his first try, Shenault skipped his second 40 and didn’t participate in the other drills, presumably because of the core muscle injury that cost him a couple games during the season. Shenault was considered a late first-round or early second-rounder. He’ll have a chance to bounce back at his pro day, but he didn’t help himself Thursday.

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