Eagles

Roob's 10 observations from Eagles-Jets preseason game

Roob's 10 observations from Eagles-Jets preseason game

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Which running backs make the roster? What happens with DeAndre Carter? What area am I most concerned with? What would I do with Chandon Sullivan? How impressive was Anthony Denham?

Here’s Thursday night’s Roob’s 10 instant observations off the Eagles’ 10-9 win over the Jets at the Linc in the preseason finale. 

We’ll see you next Thursday when we do it for real!

1. I went into the game thinking Josh Adams was going to solidify his hold on the fourth running back spot with a productive game. But it was really a pedestrian evening for Adams, the undrafted rookie from Warrington, Pennsylvania. He ran 13 times for 27 yards (2.1 per carry) with a long gain of six yards. Meanwhile, Donnel Pumphrey, who I gave no chance to stick, made his preseason debut a good one with three catches for 39 yards. What now? Adams? Pumphrey? Wendell Smallwood? The fourth running back isn’t going to get many carries, but the Eagles clearly like Pumphrey’s receiving ability coming out of the backfield on third down, and with a lot of question marks about the wide receiving corps early in the season, maybe Pumphrey makes the roster as a hybrid running back/slot receiver. Smallwood is the known quantity. Matt Jones piled up good numbers Thursday night against the Jets' scrubs. Tricky. My guess: The Eagles will be too concerned about losing Adams to release him. He’s 21. He’s got a world of upside. You don’t give up on a guy because he had a disappointing fourth preseason game running behind a terrible, makeshift offensive line. I’d keep Pumphrey on the practice squad, and if you ever need Smallwood, he’ll probably still be available.

2. We’ve seen a lot of unheralded receivers flash during the preseason only to get released, and we never hear from them again. I feel like Carter is different. And not just because it would be such a great story. Carter has been released six times by five teams and at 25 years old has never played in a regular-season game. He’s dedicated his career to his younger brother, Kaylan Carter, who was just 17 when he died in 2013. Here’s Dave Zangaro’s story on DeAndre.

But you don’t keep him on the roster because it’s a great story. You keep him on the roster because he’s consistently shown himself to be quite a playmaker. He’s got a catch of at least 19 yards in all four preseason games and with 2 for 37 Thursday night he finished the preseason 10 for 178 playing with a variety of quarterbacks. And that’s without OTAs. Carter didn’t even sign here until a few days into training camp, and that’s not easy to do. Here’s what I like best about Carter Thursday night: soon after making an 18-yard catch from Joe Callahan, he was first down the field on a punt and despite getting held by Parry Nickerson of the Jets, he fought through it and downed the ball on the 7-yard line. I like this kid. He’s on my 53.

3. Still, gotta say I’m a little concerned about the state of the wide receiver position beyond Nelson Agholor. Mike Wallace didn’t do anything this preseason, Shelton Gibson and Carter were very good but have never done it in the regular season. We’ve barely seen Mack Hollins, and Kamar Aiken and Markus Wheaton were invisible. The Eagles need one of those guys — Gibson, Carter or Hollins most likely — to contribute right off the bat because as good as Agholor is, he’ll need some help until Alshon Jeffery gets back.

4. I’ve seen the theory that because Nate Sudfeld didn’t play Nick Foles is starting the opener. The thinking being that if Carson Wentz was going to play against Atlanta, Sudfeld would be No. 3 and would have played Thursday night. But if Foles is going to start, Sudfeld would be No. 2 and wouldn’t play. Honestly, I wouldn’t look that deeply into it. The Eagles have seen a lot of Sudfeld — he threw 74 passes in the first three preseason games, most in the NFL coming into this weekend — and Thursday night they wanted to get a long look at Christian Hackenberg. I still think Wentz starts the opener. Maybe the doctors don’t like his MRI, but based on everything I’ve seen? He’s flat-out ready.

5. Sullivan has no chance of making the 53-man roster, but he’s yet another talented young corner the Eagles developed who’s been impressive. Sullivan is only 22, an undrafted rookie out of Georgia State, and had an impressive preseason that was interrupted for a bit by a concussion. But he made an athletic interception down by the goal line Thursday night and you can bet he’ll find his way onto the practice squad. It wasn’t that long ago the Eagles couldn’t find one promising young corner. Now they have half a dozen of them. It speaks volumes of the scouting department and the coaching chops of secondary coach Cory Undlin.

6. Was really cool to see Denham catch three passes for 46 yards, including a diving 22-yarder in the fourth quarter, just three days after spending the day lying on his couch at his home in Phoenix thinking for all the world that his NFL career was over. Denham, a veteran tight end, wasn’t in a training camp this summer, but with Richard Rodgers banged up and the Eagles looking for tight end depth, he signed on Tuesday, practiced once, and went out and played Thursday night, his first game action in a year.

Here’s my story on his overnight flight to Philly to join the Eagles.

So against the Jets, he looked awfully good. What next? We’ll see. He actually has a chance to make this team. But just getting out there and holding his own after spending all summer out of football is pretty impressive. You can’t help but root for a guy like that.

7. I didn’t put Steven Means on my final 53-man roster, but he really does bring a lot to the table as an energy guy and extra pass rusher. The Eagles are so stocked with pass rushers, they don’t really need Means, but I get the feeling Jim Schwartz really likes having him around, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Eagles find a spot for him.  

8. Hackenberg was dreadful. Two interceptions, a fumble and 7 for 16 for 69 yards. For a passer rating of 16.9. But you know what? Why not keep him around on the practice squad? He was a second-round pick two years ago for a reason. There has to be something there somewhere. We saw his athleticism, with 5 for 66 rushing. Hack’s been here only a couple weeks. Who knows — with a full year of learning under Doug Pederson, maybe he becomes a viable NFL backup. Nothing to lose. As bad as he was, I’d do it.

9. It’s astonishing how far Jordan Mailata has come. It was just a few months ago he lined up for his very first football practice and a month and a half ago put on shoulder pads for the first time. It was Aug. 9 that he played in the first football game of his life. And he’s come so far it’s insane. Not only has he locked up a roster spot as a backup offensive tackle, he’s at the point now where if he had to play in a real game, I believe he’d acquit himself well.

10. I’ve been really surprised and impressed with Cameron Johnston. Tough to follow Donnie Jones, the best punter in Eagles history, but Johnston was really consistent this summer. He had net averages of 43.8, 46.6, 44.8 and 43.6 in the four preseason games with eight inside the 20 and just one touchback. Can’t ask for more than that.

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Donnel Pumphrey, Freddie Martino and more: Every former Eagles player on XFL rosters

Donnel Pumphrey, Freddie Martino and more: Every former Eagles player on XFL rosters

The XFL season kicks off on Saturday, Feb. 8 when the DC Defenders host the Seattle Dragons at 2 p.m. on ABC. 

You can watch that game and root on Donnel Pumphrey! 

But he’s just one of many former Eagles in the eight-team startup league. 

After scouring all eight rosters, I counted 25 former Eagles. That means the league is 6 percent former Eagles. 

Here’s a look at every former Eagles player on each team: 

Dallas Renegades 

WR Freddie Martino
CB Josh Hawkins
LB Asantay Brown
DE Winston Craig 

The most notable name on this list is Hawkins, who played late in the season for the Eagles in 2018. He was thrown into a really tough spot against the Saints in the divisional round playoff game and didn’t hold up very well. He came back for training camp in 2019 but was released at final cuts. Martino, Brown and Craig were camp bodies and never played for the Eagles. But Martino was a fan favorite in camp in 2015 and ended up playing for the Bucs for a few years. From 2016-18 in Tampa Bay, Martino had 13 catches for 238 yards and a touchdown. 

DC Defenders 

WR DeAndre Thompkins 
RB Donnel Pumphrey 
C Jon Toth 
OL Malcolm Bunche 
DT Elijah Qualls

The Defenders actually boast two former Eagles draft picks from the 2017. Pumphrey was a fourth-round pick and Qualls was a sixth-round pick. Neither ever played a game for the Eagles. Pumprhey was the most prolific running back in NCAA history but at 5-9, 176 pounds, the Eagles tried to change his entire game and he never worked out. As recently as last offseason, Pump was in camp with the Eagles. Thompkins, a receiver from Penn State, was in camp before last season. Bunche, who is from Newark, Delaware, went undrafted out of UCLA in 2015. He was cut by the Eagles but spent the entire 2015 season on the practice squad. 

Houston Roughnecks

S Trae Elston 
CB Ajene Harris 
RB De’Angelo Henderson
OL Toby Weathersby
DL Gabe Wright 

Henderson was with the Eagles on their practice squad for most of the 2019 season but the Birds brought in Elijah Holyfield at the end of the season instead of promoting him. After the season ended, Henderson didn’t sign a futures deal with the Eagles and instead is heading to the XFL. Harris, a corner from USC, was also with the Eagles on their practice squad for some of this past season. You probably don’t even remember him, but Elston played in one game for the Eagles in 2017; he got seven special teams snaps in the Week 3 win over the Giants. 

Los Angeles Wildcats

S Jerome Couplin III 
LB Quentin Gause 

In 2014-15, Couplin played in nine games with the Eagles and had a total of five combined tackles. The William & Mary product went undrafted in 2014 and was with the Lions and Bills before coming to Philly. Gause was with the Eagles in the summer of 2016 and ended up playing in three games that season for the Broncos. 

New York Guardians

QB Luis Perez
QB Matt McGloin
LB Ryan Mueller 

Perez came from the AAF and spent just a month with the Eagles. McGloin, the former Penn State quarterback, lasted the 2017 offseason with the Eagles. But he did play in 13 games (7 starts) for the Raiders from 2013-16. Mueller was a big-time defensive end at Kansas State but when he got to Philly in 2016, he was a fullback that offseason. That was the last time the Eagles toyed with the idea of a full-time fullback. 

St. Louis BattleHawks 

WR Carlton Agudosi 
DB Harold Jones-Quartey 
RB Matt Jones

Agudosi (6-6, 220) made some spectacular catches with the Eagles in the summer before the 2019 season but didn’t stick. And you’ll remember Matt Jones. He was with the Eagles briefly in 2018 but didn’t make the team. With the Redskins, the former third-round pick rushed for 950 yards in 2015-16. 

Seattle Dragons

S Godwin Igwebuike 

A year after Igwebuike played six games for the Niners and Bucs as an undrafted rookie out of Northwestern in 2018, he was with the Eagles in the summer of 2019. 

Tampa Bay Vipers 

QB Aaron Murray
WR Seantavius Jones 

Murray was with the Eagles in the 2016 season on the practice squad after he had been with the Chiefs under Doug Pederson in 2014-15. But the former fifth-round pick from Georgia went to the Rams in 2017. Jones was with the Eagles for a little over a month in the offseason of 2016 and never practiced in Philly. Still, he remains the best Seantavius in Eagles history. 

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

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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