Eagles

Southern California feeling just like home for Eagles

Southern California feeling just like home for Eagles

ANAHEIM, Calif. — For Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor and defensive end Chris Long, their game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday represents a sort of homecoming. For the rest of the team, Angel Stadium represents a pretty good facsimile of the trappings of home.

The Eagles held their first practice at the Big A on Wednesday (see story), preparing for the showdown against a fellow NFC division leader, and were surprised how similar it was to their NovaCare complex back in Philadelphia. 

“They did a great job of throwing this thing together. This is unorthodox, but it’s worked out pretty well,” Long said.

“We just made it into the NovaCare the best way we can,” linebacker Nigel Bradham said. “That’s what makes it even more interesting, just by bringing what we have and making it like a home.”

It did take some time to adjust to the grass of a baseball diamond. Safety Rodney McLeod said the field was a bit slippery at first, but everyone quickly settled in, especially to a locker room with more space and trappings than are typically associated with football. 

“Oh man, it’s nice,” McLeod said. “This is probably my first time inside a baseball locker room and pretty impressed. Those guys live a nice lifestyle so I appreciate them lending us their locker room.”       

Each locker had a bobblehead of Angels outfielder Mike Trout in it as a welcome gift, but Bradham gets to use the slugger’s space for the week (see story). Mychal Kendricks received the adjacent locker, where Trout usually stores extra items such as signed jerseys from visiting players and his clothes.

“I just grabbed a locker for the week,” Bradham said. “But that is nice though, to be able to have a guy of that caliber and share the same locker as him. Glad he's letting me rent it for the week.“

Bradham was even more pleased he got a hotel room all to himself. He had to put up with a roommate last season as solo stays are granted only to players with at least six years experience. There are no such issues this time around, but he does view the extended stay as a valuable chance to continue to refine team rapport for the stretch run. 

“You get used to being able to be on schedule, not be jet-lagged, I think that’s the advantage,” Bradham said. “Spend time with the boys and build that chemistry, to continue to build it, and study, that’s the main thing. That’s why we’re here. We’re here to get a win.”

Winning is something Agholor did plenty during his three seasons in college at USC, and he is looking forward to being back in the Coliseum as he continues a breakout campaign. Agholor has set career highs with 40 receptions for 599 yards and seven touchdowns, looking more like the star he was with the Trojans. 

Agholor had 12 receptions for 120 yards and one touchdown in his last game at the Coliseum, a 49-14 win over Notre Dame in 2014. His favorite moment there, however, was in his first game in the stadium that hosted the first Super Bowl.

Marqise Lee had a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown in the third quarter of a 49-10 win over Hawaii in 2012, with Agholor serving as the lead blocker coming out of the end zone.

“I got to chip a guy, then I chipped the kicker,” Agholor said. “You would have thought I returned the kickoff return, that’s how hyped I was. That was my earliest and one of the memories that lasts the most.”     

Long’s earliest memories of the Coliseum are a bit fuzzier, a young boy when his father Howie was wreaking havoc for the then-Los Angeles Raiders.

Still, Long is excited to have a chance to play in the Coliseum. The venue opened in 1923, which technically makes it the oldest stadium in the NFL while hosting the Rams until their new home in Inglewood, California, is completed in 2020. Chicago’s Soldier Field opened one year after the Coliseum in 1924.  

“Definitely even if my dad didn’t play there some, I would appreciate the history of it,” Long said. “I love playing in these old stadiums. There’s only a few left, so it’s going to be a great experience and I’m sure a couple memories will come back.” 

Eagle Eye podcast: A closer look at DE after addition of Vinny Curry

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Eagle Eye podcast: A closer look at DE after addition of Vinny Curry

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Barrett Brooks react to the addition of Vinny Curry and what it means for the entire defensive end position. 

What about guys like Shareef Miller, Genard Avery and Joe Ostman? 

Jatavis Brown abruptly retired this weekend, which leaves the Eagles really light at the linebacker positions. The guys take a closer look. Jason Kelce and Jason Peters are forming a really interesting duo on the Eagles’ line. 

And Nate Gerry and Lane Johnson are off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. 

  • (2:06) — What the return of Vinny Curry means for Shareef Miller.
  • (16:01) — Jatavis Brown abruptly retires.
  • (25:53) — Eagles lack talented players under 25-years-old.
  • (33:16) — Jason Kelce is learning from Jason Peters.

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Robey-Coleman on unique preseason: 'It's not like we forgot how to play football'

Robey-Coleman on unique preseason: 'It's not like we forgot how to play football'

They have a new safety, two new starting cornerbacks, a new slot corner and a rookie safety. And a new coach.

They all just met. Opening day is 33 days away.

Let’s go play football!

This truncated offseason isn’t ideal for anybody, but for the Eagles’ rebuilt secondary the absence of spring practices and preseason games combined with a curtailed training camp is a particularly daunting challenge just because this unit has undergone such a transformation.

Malcolm Jenkins is gone. Jalen Mills has moved from corner to safety. Avonte Maddox moves outside to CB2. Newcomer Nickell Robey-Coleman seems to be the front-runner for the slot. And Marquand Manuel has replaced Cory Undlin as secondary coach.

It’s an incredible amount of change in a position group where chemistry and cohesion are so important.

It’s a challenge, but it’s a process that’s got to be expedited,” Robey-Coleman said Monday. “But that’s why you have seasoned veterans who can come in and adjust to the climate of an organization or a situation that’s going on outside of football, just speaking on this pandemic. Me, Slay, Rod, Mills, guys like that that have been to the playoffs, that have been deep in the playoffs, that have won Super Bowls. We know how to adjust to things like this. We’re not lost in the sauce, like we forgot how to play football.

Can a secondary come together on Zoom calls?

Can a secondary develop chemistry when the players are social distancing in the locker room?

Can a secondary learn to play together without spring workouts?

Can a secondary learn what its new coach is looking for when they just met him a few weeks before opening day?

This is what this group is trying to accomplish.

“Just knowing that, ‘Hey, man we’re all in this thing together, we all gotta do this thing together,’” Robey-Coleman said. “We are stronger together, that’s been our motto the whole offseason, and coach (Doug) Pederson has been harping on that with us. So we just always have the mindset of doing everything together. No man is left behind. Iron sharpens iron. We’re all out here trying to get each other better. We’re all out here just trying to get a full understanding of each other, knowing that there’s new guys, new additions on the team and on the defense. So just being on the same page, talking to each other, communicating. ‘Hey, do you like to press? What do you like to do?’ Just knowing each others’ personalities and knowing how we could formulate the defense and make it easier for everyone to work better and work smarter.”

Robey-Coleman, who signed with the Eagles after four years with the Bills and three with the Rams, said finding ways to accelerate that growth process has been a constant point of emphasis since this shortened training camp began.

“Some guys might have done it like this in the past, but now we do it like this,” NRC said. “So it’s just little small nuances of the defenses that we just have to have down pat in order to be understood all the way across the board from every level of the defense, from the secondary to the linebackers to the d-line. So if we can get all of that to come together in a cool amount of time I feel like we’ll be OK for week one, and from there we’ll just make small adjustments from there going on throughout the season.”

This secondary has a lot of questions to answer and not a lot of time to answer them. 

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles