Eagles

With two injuries at WR, rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside ready for expanded role

With two injuries at WR, rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside ready for expanded role

Rookie receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside spent most of last week on scout team, helping the Eagles’ defense prepare for Julio Jones.

He didn’t expect to have a huge role in the offensive game plan.

That changed in a hurry.

With Alshon Jeffery (calf), DeSean Jackson (groin) and Dallas Goedert (calf) knocked out of the Falcons game early, the Eagles told Arcega-Whiteside pretty early, “you’re going to play the rest of the game.” He ended up playing 75 offensive snaps in the Eagles’ 24-20 loss after basically no practice reps during the week.

This week, with Jeffery and Jackson still nursing their injuries, the Eagles will spend their upcoming practices getting Arceaga-Whiteside prepared for an expanded role Sunday. Mike Groh said he expects the rookie to take more of a “primary role” in practice until they learn more about Jeffery’s status.

“I mean, I’m ready,” the second-round pick said. “That’s what I dream about. That’s why I’m here, to help this team win.”

With little practice time last week, Arcega-Whiteside’s expanded role didn’t go extremely well in Week 1. While he played 75 snaps, more than any receiver other than Nelson Agholor, his production lacked. He had just one catch on four targets and it went for four yards.

Remember, there was a point on Sunday — when Agholor was getting checked for a concussion — that Arcega-Whiteside was the top receiver on the depth chart.

So what happened on the passes his way that weren’t complete?

“Me and Carson haven’t ran those (plays), like, ever, together,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “So that kind of showed a little bit. … That’s just going out to practice and working it. We’re not even worried about it because we know once we get that timing down, it’s over.”

Groh called this play from late in the second quarter a “very good example” of how timing between a QB and receiver can be off without enough practice time together.

Groh said he wasn’t sure how many times Arcega-Whiteside had gotten practice reps in that play, but knows he wouldn’t have been their primary player for that route. This week, Wentz will get a chance to work with Arcega-Whiteside and they can tailor a game plan with the understanding that they’ll be shorthanded.

The production wasn’t great from Arcega-Whiteside, but he said he did feel the game slow down for him as it went on and he thinks those game reps will be valuable. And Jeffery was with him every step of the way. He said his veteran teammate, who he’ll likely replace Sunday, was the first one to greet him after drives and even coached him during the game when Arcega-Whiteside lined on the Eagles’ side of the field.

“Going into this weekend now, it depends on what the game plan is,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “They haven’t given us the game plan yet. Once we know what that is, we can start focusing more on that and individually how we’re going to handle it.”

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Eagles sign long snapper Rick Lovato to 4-year contract extension

Eagles sign long snapper Rick Lovato to 4-year contract extension

A few years ago, Rick Lovato was working in his family’s restaurant, Joyce’s Subs and Pizza, in Lincroft, New Jersey, just waiting for a chance.

He wasn’t the best at making pizza, but Lovato could make a mean breakfast sandwich. 

Maybe he still can, but Lovato won’t have to worry about picking up an apron again anytime soon. He’s in the middle of what might end up being a long and profitable NFL career. 

The Eagles on Tuesday signed the 27-year-old long snapper to a four-year extension that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2023 season. 

Lovato has been playing this season on a one-year deal he signed in February and was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season. It’s worth noting that kicker Jake Elliott and punter Cameron Johnston are also in the final years of their contracts, so perhaps another move or two will be coming. 

While this deal won’t break the bank the way Brandon Brooks’ extension did last week, the Eagles seem interested right now in re-signing some players they want to keep around. 

The Eagles initially signed Lovato in December of 2016 after Jon Dorenbos broke his wrist. Lovato performed well enough that the Eagles traded Dorenbos the following August and made Lovato their full-time long snapper. 

Lovato has played in 45 regular-season games and five playoff games with the Eagles, including Super Bowl LII. He has a giant Lombardi Trophy tattooed on his side. 

Being a long snapper is kind of like being an offensive lineman in some ways. The less you hear about the long snapper, the more likely he’s performing well and not making mistakes. So, for Lovato’s sake, hopefully this is the last time you hear his name for a few years.  

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Miles Sanders chasing records and more in 10 Roob Stats

Miles Sanders chasing records and more in 10 Roob Stats

We've got some overall defense, some Zach Ertz and some Miles Sanders in this week's edition of 10 Roob Stats.

Yes, we can always come up with positive stats even when the Eagles lose!

—> The Eagles have held three straight opponents to 17 or fewer points and fewer than 300 yards. This is only the second time that’s happened in the last 11 years. They also did it against the Steelers, Bears and Browns — the first three games of the Doug Pederson Era. Only the Patriots and 49ers have also had such streaks this year.

—> Carson Wentz’s current streak of 13 straight games with a touchdown pass is 3rd-longest in Eagles history, behind Wentz’s 22-game streak over the 2016 through 2018 seasons and Randall Cunningham’s 18-game streak in 1987 and 1988.

—> Wentz played his 50th career game Sunday. Among all QBs in NFL history in their first 50 games, he ranks 9th in most TD passes, 9th in passing yards, 12th in accuracy, second in completions and 3rd in interception percentage and has the 4th-highest passer rating.

—> Zach Ertz’s nine catches Sunday give him 55 this year. He’s the first player in Eagles history with six straight 50-catch seasons. Keith Byars [1988-92], Jeremy Maclin [2009-14], and Brian Westbrook [2004-08] had five.

—> Zach Ertz now has 17 career nine-catch games. Only Tony Gonzalez [25] and Jason Witten [20] have more in NFL history among tight ends. The last two games mark the fourth time in his career he’s had nine catches in consecutive games. The only other players in Eagles history to do that once are Pete Pihos in 1955 Terrell Owens in 2005.

—> One more Ertz: He’s increased his career total to 492 receptions, 20th-most in NFL history by a tight end. He only needs 14 to pass six more tight ends and move into 14th place. At his current rate, he’ll be in the all-time top-10 by Week 3 of next season.

—> The Eagles allowed 14 TD drives of 60 yards or more the first six games of the season. They’ve allowed 4 the last four games.

—> They’ve also held six straight home opponents under 100 rushing yards, the 6th-longest streak in franchise history and 3rd-longest since 1955.

—> The Eagles are on pace to allow fewer than 1,400 rushing yards ad fewer than 3.8 per carry in the same season for only the second time since 1991 and the sixth time since 1955.

—> He didn’t have a huge game Sunday, but Miles Sanders did add 47 scrimmage yards to his 2019 total and now ranks second among all rookie NFL running backs with 688 scrimmage yards, behind only Josh Jacobs of the Raiders, who has 1,067 (and 97 more touches).

—> Sanders’ 688 yards are most ever by an Eagles rookie running back after 10 games (35 more than Lee Bouggess in 1970) and second-most by any rookie, behind only DeSean Jackson (732). Sanders needs to average 52 yards from scrimmage the rest of the season for 1,000. The only Eagles rookie to reach 1,000 scrimmage yards was Jackson (1,008 in 2008). The most by a running back was LeSean McCoy’s 945 in 2009.

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