The story behind Eagles’ dog masks

The story behind Eagles’ dog masks

It's not every day a defensive end wears a dog mask while he does interviews in the locker room after a playoff game.

But Saturday wasn't just any other day.

Chris Long and Lane Johnson both brought pretty authentically looking Halloween dog masks to the Eagles-Falcons playoff game Saturday night to riff on the underdog theme they heard for the last two weeks.

Johnson wore his walking off the field after the Eagles' tense 15-10 win at the Linc (see Roob's observations). Long wore his doing interviews after the game in the home locker room.

Asked what prompted the mask, Long said: "I don’t know if you heard, there was a little narrative this week that the media was pushing that evidently we were like not favored?

"So I (got) this mask. Somebody was like, 'What’s up with the wolf mask?' First of all, it’s a German shepherd. And it’s the underdog mask and I wasn’t going to field any questions but I decided I would field them in the dog mask."

And that's how the 32-year-old Long found himself standing in the locker room doing interviews wearing a German shepherd mask.

Asked what the reaction to the mask has been, Long looked at a writer while the mask covering his face and said: "People are terrified. You guys are scared right now. You’re shaking all over.

"It’s big time to win the game, but we really wanted to put the masks on, so that was an added bonus."

The idea was for Long and Johnson to walk off the field together, both wearing the masks.

"We were looking for each other," Long said. "But I couldn’t find his scent."

Johnson said it's all part of being loose and having fun playing the game they love.

“Just having some fun," he said. "We were called underdogs all week so I figured we needed a good dog mask. I had it hidden in (Jason Peters') coat. If we hadn’t won the game that mask would have never been seen."

Eagles add veteran safety Andrew Sendejo on 1-year deal

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Eagles add veteran safety Andrew Sendejo on 1-year deal

The Eagles have found their next veteran safety, agreeing to a one-year deal with veteran safety Andrew Sendejo. 

Sendejo, 31, has played nine NFL seasons with 95 games played and 58 starts. 

With the expected retirement of Corey Graham (who is a free agent), Sendejo can fill that pretty important third safety role with the Eagles. Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod will start (if McLeod is ready for the season opener) and Sendejo can be the next safety off the bench. In 2018, Graham split that role with Tre Sullivan, who is still on the roster. 

The Eagles use three safeties quite a bit to utilize Jenkins’ versatility. Often, Jenkins will move up into a linebacker role and the third safety gets on the field. Sendejo will be in that mix and can help on special teams. This signing makes plenty of sense. 

After coming into the league as an undrafted free agent out of Rice, Sendejo spent one season with the Cowboys before joining the Vikings and working his way up from a special teams player to a starter on defense. 

In 2018, Sendejo actually hurt his groin in the Eagles game and played just five games last season. He has played all 16 games just twice in his career. But from 2015-2017, he started 40 games in a three-year span. 

The Vikings declined his option for the 2019 season, making him a free agent.

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With few options at RB, Eagles might have to get creative

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With few options at RB, Eagles might have to get creative

Maybe hold off on declaring the Eagles “winners” after the NFL’s initial free agent rush, unless you’re comfortable with the idea of Wendell Smallwood as the team’s lead ball carrier.

Running back was arguably the Eagles’ biggest need entering the offseason, yet so far the front office has come up empty-handed here. Worse still, there appear to be few great options remaining on the market, which means executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman may need to get creative.

You can understand why the Eagles might avoid a volatile, high-priced Le’Veon Bell type or somebody with Kareem Hunt’s baggage. More unclear is why the club wasn’t in on an established back like Mark Ingram or high-upside prospect Tevin Coleman, both at affordable prices.

Regardless, the top free-agent runners are spoken for, and the Eagles likely must look elsewhere to obtain a true feature back.

Is a trade on the horizon?

I wouldn’t be too quick to criticize the front office quite yet. The appearance the Eagles weren’t serious players for any of the big names on the market may be a sign Roseman has something — or somebody — else in mind.

For example, the Eagles have been linked to Bears running back Jordan Howard since before last season’s trade deadline. I’m not sure why another team is itching to get rid of a 24-year-old averaging 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns rushing in his first three seasons, but Howard would certainly fill the void here.

There are no official reports confirming the Eagles’ interest in Howard. However, if he is available, one can surmise Roseman has been on the phone.

Arizona’s David Johnson and Jacksonville’s Leonard Fournette were also mentioned as potential Eagles targets in the past six months, though both backs are currently believed to be staying put.

Perhaps there is a deal out there that’s not yet been rumored or even imagined in the sports media landscape. Nothing seems impossible with Roseman at the helm.

Looking to the draft?

The Eagles are almost certainly going to take a running back at some point in April’s draft, and with three picks in the first two rounds, it could happen early. But while nobody would balk at the idea, that doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.

It’s always a leap to assume a rookie will immediately fill a feature role in an NFL offense, which is what the Eagles need. Furthermore, the cupboard is bare in the backfield, with only Smallwood, Corey Clement — who ended last season on injured reserve — Jamal Adams and Boston Scott under contract. One new body may not be enough.

So while this draft could contain the Eagles’ running back of the future, it shouldn’t be treated as a given, either.

Another year of running back by committee?

If Roseman doesn’t have a trade up his sleeve, it’s looking like the Eagles will be back to relying on a committee in 2019.

There are some borderline lead backs on the market, granted in short supply. Were the Eagles to pair the likes of Isaiah Crowell, C.J. Anderson or Spencer Ware with a promising rookie, such a tandem might not electrify the fan base, but it would create some semblance of stability at the position.

The Eagles could even re-sign Jay Ajayi, provided he’ll be healthy. Were it not for a torn ACL, Ajayi probably would’ve been one of the top runners on the market, even with a chronic knee issue.

Free agent T.J. Yeldon and Browns running back Duke Johnson have also been mentioned as possibilities, but more as potential replacements for Darren Sproles.

Any of these additions is a strong indication the Eagles will once again go without a feature back, an all-too-familiar situation for the offense since LeSean McCoy’s departure in 2015. If that turns out to be the case, it makes you wonder what Roseman was thinking when the top free agents all chose to sign elsewhere.

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