Win or lose, Eagles fans will remember this team's personality

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Win or lose, Eagles fans will remember this team's personality

Something special has happened at the NovaCare Complex this season and it goes far beyond the Eagles' record. 

This has become one of those teams. You know the ones. 

The type of team that fans of this city fall in love with. The type of team it just seems like Philadelphians will always look back on fondly. And it's not hard to see why. They've been fun all year. Whether it's hanging out in North Dakota, celebrating on the field or dancing to a Meek Mill song in a team meeting, it's all been a blast. 

These guys really love each other; they've become a family. And as hokey as that sounds, it matters. 

"We understand that this season in the NFL is a grind," team leader Malcolm Jenkins said on Wednesday. "We put a lot of work in here, a lot of hours, so when we get the time to play or spend time with each other outside of this building, we're going to have fun, we're going to enjoy our time together. 

"Because the fact of the matter is, at the end of the season, this team will never be the same. No team in the NFL will be the same. There's always turnover, there's always new guys coming in and out. So in this finite moment that we have, we're going to enjoy."

Wise words from a vet. Jenkins is right. No matter what magic Howie Roseman brings this offseason, thanks to free agency and the draft, the 2018 team will be different. While many of the key players and starters will return next season, this exact group has just one more game together. 

So the question is, how did this group of guys become so close? 

Many teams get close. It's not really that uncommon. They spend hours and days and months and sometimes years together. But this group has seemed closer than most for a long time.  

So when did Doug Pederson first sense it? 

"You really don't know," Pederson said. "You sort of have a gut feeling. You have a feeling like, 'This could be a special team, this could be a special year.'" 

Then Pederson said a lot of things have to happen for a team to realize its full potential. One of them is to avoid injuries. Oops. That certainly hasn't happened with this group. In fact, the opposite has happened. They've lost so many key players that outsiders have been dismissing them for weeks. 

Maybe that's actually what sort of brought the group together.

"We've lost some talented guys, some starters, some role guys, specific guys," Pederson said. "But for me, it was probably through some of that adversity early in the year, middle of the season that we kind of kept things together and we were figuring out how to win a game or two or three and we got on a little bit of a roll. About that time, you kind of knew that, alright, this is a pretty special team. The sky is the limit with these guys."

Jenkins is one of a few guys on this current team who has been to the top of the mountain. He was a rookie on the Saints team that beat the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV to cap off the 2009 season. 

He said it's hard to compare the two teams, especially because he was just a rookie whose head was swimming back then. But it certainly sounds like this team has a special quality. 

"As far as the team being close-knit, I haven't been part of a closer group, to be honest," Jenkins said. "It's a special group. So many guys have come here, taken less money to come here. And guys who have gotten traded here or have gotten here on negative situations and everybody plays for each other. Nobody cares who makes the play. We just come to win and have fun doing it. We're looking forward to keeping that formula the same." 

Nick Foles vs. Tom Brady matchup headlines Eagles' 2nd preseason game

Nick Foles vs. Tom Brady matchup headlines Eagles' 2nd preseason game

Will it actually finally happen? Will Tom Brady actually shake Nick Foles’ hand?

That might be the biggest drama going into the Eagles’ second preseason game, Thursday night against the Patriots at Gilette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

Brady famously blew off Foles after the Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII Feb. 6 in Minneapolis.

Instead of meeting his counterpart at midfield for the customary postgame handshake, Brady slunk back to the Patriots’ locker room, never to be seen again.

Foles has downplayed the lack of a postgame handshake, but it was definitely perceived by many as a lack of class by the four-time Super Bowl MVP toward the 2017 Super Bowl MVP.

“It’ll happen when it happens,” Foles said after practice Tuesday. “We practiced with the Patriots (in 2014) and I got to stand there and talk to Tom quite a bit he’s a great guy. I have all the respect in the world for him.

“I think everyone’s making a big deal about this and it’s not a big deal at all. I’ve already talked to him before, he’s a guy I’ve always looked up to. You’ve got to admire someone who’s probably the greatest ever and still going strong at even at his age.

“He seems to get better and better. I already had a conversation with him before when we practiced. If we have one in the future, we have one and it’ll be cool.”

Foles didn’t play in the preseason opener against the Steelers because of neck spasms, but he’s practiced this week and will start Thursday night in Foxboro.

Head coach Doug Pederson wouldn’t say how long Foles will play or which of the other quarterbacks would play.

“I do expect him to get in the game,” Pederson said. “For how long I don't know, but I do expect him to get a few plays in this game.”

Obviously, Carson Wentz won’t play and presumably Christian Hackenberg isn’t ready, so Pederson will have Foles, Nate Sudfeld and Joe Callahan available.

And even though Foles won’t say it, there is a certain irony that he’s making his 2018 debut against the team he beat six months ago in one of the most exciting and dramatic Super Bowls in history.

“Pretty familiar with the opponent,” Foles deadpanned.

But as far as seeing deep meaning in a Super Bowl rematch? Foles isn’t having any of it.

“We’re in training camp right now, we’re grinding through it, we’re growing as a team, we have new players, guys rotating in and out, so you stay pretty busy throughout the day.

“Now that we’re getting closer to gametime, we’ll be honing in on who they are and what they do, what coverages they like, what they like to do on defense, but not any reminiscing.

“This is a new season, new people, new players. Obviously we wear the same logos as last year but we both have a new identity. This is the time of year we grow together as a team and that’s really all I’m focusing on.”

More on the Eagles

Roob Knows: Jason Kelce trivia with … Jason Kelce

Roob Knows: Jason Kelce trivia with … Jason Kelce

On the latest edition of Roob Knows, Reuben Frank explains why this is the deepest roster Doug Pederson has had in Philadelphia. The Eagles are loaded at wide receiver. Why there is absolutely no downside signing Christian Hackenberg. Also, Roob tests Jason Kelce with trivia questions about Jason Kelce.

1:00 - Deepest team Doug Pederson has had.
5:00 - Injury updates.
8:30 - Eagles stacked at WR.
12:00 - Looking forward to preseason game 2.
14:30 - Why did the Eagles sign Christian Hackenberg?
18:30 - Jason Kelce answers trivia questions about Jason Kelce.

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