Eagles

Zach Ertz loves facing 'Skins and not just because of his crazy numbers

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Zach Ertz loves facing 'Skins and not just because of his crazy numbers

Zach Ertz loves playing the Redskins. And not just because he's put up crazy numbers against them the last five years.

He just loves the rivalry.

"That's probably the one team it's the most fun to play against, in my opinion, because there's been so many great battles," Ertz said.

"Even though we've lost some of them, they're all very close games, and the fans are so close to one another that they really hate us and we really don't like them."

Ertz has 54 catches for 531 yards in nine career games against the Redskins. 

Only two tight ends in history — Jason Witten (125 in 28 games) and Jackie Smith (62 in 27 games) — have more career receptions against the 'Skins. And only two active players have more catches vs. the Redskins than Ertz: Witten and Dez Bryant (58 in 12 games).
 
"I just like going against the Redskins I guess," he said. "The opportunities have been there the last couple games. It's a fun environment.
  
"It's really just having my number called and making the most of my opportunities."

Ertz has been here for five years now. He's been on some good teams and he's been on some bad teams.
 
Six weeks into this season, there's one thing that sets this team apart.
 
"I think it's a loose group, honestly," he said. "We're all pretty young, and none of us have been in this situation before so we're all kind of taking it day by day and just enjoying it.
 
"That's the thing that's stuck out to me this year. In years past we've maybe been a little tight, but I feel like this group is real loose and confident in our abilities.
 
"I think we've got a lot of guys that love the process. I know it's cliche in this city, but a lot of guys truly do love it here."
 
The Eagles, 5-1 with a four-game winning streak, are the hottest team in the NFL going into their NFC East showdown with the 3-2 Redskins at the Linc Monday night.
 
Head coach Doug Pederson made some significant changes this year in the way the Eagles practice. In past years, the first-team offense rarely practiced against the starting defense. This year, they have, and it's helped.
 
"We have a lot of competitive periods during the season that we didn't have in past seasons, where it's the 1's against the 1's on third down emphasis or 1's vs. the 1's in red zone," Ertz said. "So I think we're doing a lot of good stuff. People are attacking each and every day."
 
With the Eagles' Super Bowl odds improving and their status on everybody's NFL rankings skyrocketing, a major theme in the locker room this week is ignoring the outside noise and focusing on a Redskins team that's won three of four games since losing the opener at home to the Eagles.
 
"We were 3-1 last year so obviously that didn't play out too well for us, and that's in the back of everyone's mind," Ertz said. "We started off fast and didn't make the playoffs.
 
"Luckily, it's Year 5 for me in this city and I've kind of been around and I know how it is. If you win, you're the best thing ever and if you lose, you're not very good quickly. So we're just focused on this game. 6-1 is a lot better than 5-2."

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.”

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Roob Knows: Jason Kelce trivia with … Jason Kelce

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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.
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