Eagles

Chris Long supports Malcolm Jenkins during national anthem protest

Chris Long supports Malcolm Jenkins during national anthem protest

Updated: Friday, 1:41 a.m.

Chris Long supported his teammate, Malcolm Jenkins, Thursday night by wrapping his left arm around Jenkins, who continued to raise his right fist in protest of racial injustice during the national anthem prior to the Eagles' preseason game against the Bills at Lincoln Financial Field.

Long's intention Thursday night was not immediately known. While he's been outspoken on Charlottesville, Virginia, he did not specify how he would conduct himself during the anthem.

Following the Eagles' 20-16 win, he explained his action.

"I've heard a lot of people say, 'Why do athletes get involved in the national anthem protests?' I've said before that I'll never kneel for an anthem because the flag means something different for everybody in this country, but I support my peers," Long said (see story). "If you don't see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don't think you'll ever see it.

"Malcolm is a leader and I'm here to show support as a white athlete."

Long and Jenkins both publicly criticized President Donald Trump's response to the racial tensions that resulted in the tragic violence and the death of Heather Heyer last weekend in Charlottesville, Long's hometown.

Last Sunday, Long touched on his comments by speaking to reporters, reiterating his disappointment in President Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville, where white nationalists held a "Unite the Right" rally in protest of the removal of a statue honoring Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

"Some people are tired of hearing me tweet because they want me to stick to football but I like to use social media like I was a regular guy because I think I am," Long said Sunday. "I don't tell people to stick to their job when they want to talk politics. And this isn't political. That's the thing. Everybody is trying to turn this political. This isn't a political issue. This is right or wrong. I believe you're on one side or the other. For me, being from Charlottesville, no one wants to see you sit idly by and watch that stuff happen and not say anything. And I wish there was more categorical denial from some very important people in this country who have had the opportunity to strike it down but didn't."

Last season, Jenkins began raising his fist during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial injustice. Dating back to last season, Jenkins has openly supported quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who pioneered the protests by kneeling during the anthem before 49ers games.

Kaepernick, who has said he would stand during the anthem this season, remains a free agent, and Jenkins has been vocal on why he believes that's the case.

"This is just some other teams being, quite honestly, cowards, to say that they're afraid of backlash to sign someone to make their team better when fans' input has never been in the equation when it comes to signing people in the past," the Eagles' safety said earlier this month to DelawareOnline.com's Martin Frank.

"It's certain owners' way of making an example out of [Kaepernick] to discourage anybody else from doing what he did."

Prior to the Eagles' preseason opener against the Packers, Jenkins said he was uncertain if he would continue his anthem protests.

"It was a very effective demonstration in that regard, when it comes to starting conversation," Jenkins said. "It did exactly what it was supposed to do. But looking where we are compared to last year, I don't think we're any better. I think possibly worse. I think there's still a lot of work to be done. There's been a lot of work done by a lot of guys. It's one of those things that regardless of a demonstration or not, that work is going to continue."

10 non-rookies with something to prove at Eagles OTAs

10 non-rookies with something to prove at Eagles OTAs

These practices don’t have pads or hitting or even anything that really resembles real football.

It’s still a chance for players with plenty to prove.

The Eagles kick off OTAs this week and we already know the rookie class will want to prove they belong in the NFL, so we’re taking them out of our thought process for a moment. Because OTAs can also be a proving ground for guys who have already been in the league.

Here are 10 on the Eagles’ roster:

Nate Sudfeld
The Eagles brought in Cody Kessler to compete with Sudfeld, but Sudfeld is entering his third season with the Eagles, while this will be Kessler’s third team in three years. The Eagles already paid Sudfeld $3 million for this season, so they have a vested interest in his winning the backup job. And Sudfeld should have an advantage based on his familiarity with the offense. He should come out in these OTAs and be wayyyy ahead of Kessler, building a lead that can’t be overcome.

Tre Sullivan
The Eagles signed Andrew Sendejo and claimed Blake Countess, but Tre Sullivan still has a chance to win the Eagles’ pretty important third safety job. Undrafted out of Shepard in 2017, Sullivan played important snaps late in 2018 and might have more room to grow. Sendejo isn’t a lock for the team and Countess hasn’t played a ton on defense in the league.

Cre’Von LeBlanc
One of the big revelations of last season was LeBlanc, whom the Eagles claimed off waivers in November. He shored up the nickel cornerback spot and now "Strap" has a chance to win a job again this season, but there’s some competition. LeBlanc needs to prove last year wasn’t a fluke.

Mack Hollins
After a decent rookie season for a fourth-rounder, Hollins lost his 2017 season in mysterious fashion. A few days after he said he was healthy, the Eagles put him on IR and we haven’t seen him since. He’s presumably healthy now and he needs to prove it.

Braxton Miller
He came aboard during last season as a practice squad player but might still have upside. The former third-round pick is 26 but is relatively new to the receiver position. Doug Pederson has talked up Miller this offseason, so maybe he could find a role as a gadget player/return man on the roster.

Treyvon Hester
The Eagles added Hassan Ridgeway in a trade but Hester can still fight for playing time, which will be somewhat limited behind Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan. Hester should have an advantage because he’s been in the defense for a while and already gave the Eagles solid snaps last season.

Josh Sweat
It was a disappointing rookie season for Sweat, who played just 68 snaps with four tackles before ending the year on IR with an ankle injury in December. But he certainly looks the part and important spring and summer camps await him as he battles for a roster spot. 

Greg Ward
After a brief stint in the short-lived AAF, Ward has another shot at an NFL roster. The former college QB is another one like Miller who could become a gadgety/return man in the NFL, but his chances are running out.

Nathan Gerry
A fifth-round pick in 2017, Gerry hasn’t gotten many opportunities on defense, but he did play 134 snaps last season. He’ll be fighting for a roster spot with Paul Worrilow, T.J. Edwards and B.J. Bello. The thing to remember about Gerry is that he’s making a position switch from college safety and is more athletic than those guys. I still like his chances.

Blake Countess
The Eagles claimed Countess and then extended him for a year but that extension also included a pay cut for 2019. So how much do they really like him? We’ll start to see that pretty soon. First, Countess will need to show he’s learned a thing or two in his years away from the Eagles. Like Tre Sullivan, he will be fighting for playing time this year if he makes the team.

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Eagles mailbag: Derek Barnett's potential breakout, Carson Wentz's durability and contract concerns

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Eagles mailbag: Derek Barnett's potential breakout, Carson Wentz's durability and contract concerns

Part 1 touched on Sidney Jones, Josh Adams and my pick for Eagles Rookie of the Year.

Part 2 answered questions about Corey Clement, UDFAs and Big V’s future as a guard.

Here’s Part 3:

I guess this answer depends on your definition of “break out year.” Barnett’s 2018 season ended prematurely with a shoulder injury that hampered him before the Eagles shut him down. But early in the year, I thought he was the best defensive end on the team (by that point Michael Bennett hadn’t played well and Brandon Graham was getting over his ankle injury). In six games, Barnett had 2 1/2 sacks. But before the shoulder injury, he had 2 1/2 in four games before he missed Week 5 with the shoulder injury that eventually ended his season. So Barnett was on pace for 10 sacks before the injury. With plenty of opportunity this season, I think Barnett can be a double-digit sack guy. Sure. That’s a good bar to set. Before Fletcher Cox did it in 2018, the last Eagle to top 10 sacks was Connor Barwin in 2014.

One thing is for sure: this is a big year for Barnett. The Eagles traded away Bennett, Chris Long just announced his retirement (see story) and the Eagles passed on taking an edge rusher early in what was supposed to be a historically deep class. Barnett needs to not just be a starter, but be extremely productive in Year 3.

This is an interesting question and there really aren’t many contracts from this offseason that even qualify. So many of these contracts done by Howie Roseman are one-year deals. The long-term ones were: DeSean Jackson, Malik Jackson, Brandon Graham, Isaac Seumalo. Seumalo’s deal is cheap enough that I won’t count him.

If I had to pick the most likely, it would be DeSean Jackson’s deal. He’s 32 and his game is predicated on speed. So even though we haven’t seen it, there’s a chance that speed disappears and the Eagles are left with a speed receiver sans speed. That’s possible. For the record, I’d be willing to take that risk, as the Eagles did, because Jackson’s speed was exactly the element the Eagles needed. I was tempted to say Graham because the Eagles did kind of overpay him, but even if he can’t get after the QB, he can at least stuff the run. If Jackson loses his speed, what good is he?

Yeah, eventually they’ll return as an alternate in my lifetime, which would make me thrilled because I could finally stop reporting on a jersey color. (Just kidding, love you guys.) The hold-up here is that the NFL has this antiquated rule that won’t allow teams to have more than one helmet for each player. It’s an old safety rule. Jeff Lurie says he wants kelly green jerseys, but they don’t want them without matching helmets. Before you bring up the Rams, they use the same helmets with different decals. The Eagles say decals aren’t an option for them. It’s alternate helmets or bust. A couple of years ago, competition committee chairman Rich McKay told me he was optimistic this rule would eventually be changed. For now, we wait.

I’ll say 14 or 15. I really don’t know. I think he’ll be healthy at the start of the season but maybe he gets hurt during the year and misses a game or two. I can’t see the future.

It’s fair to say the Eagles are in win-now mode, but none of their contracts really tie their hands long-term. That’s the interesting thing about what the Eagles have done. They have some real flexibility with their roster. They are clearly playing to win a Super Bowl this year, but they’ll have the ability to keep signing free agents and should have plenty of draft picks coming up. That’s important because they’ll need cheap talent to surround Wentz when he’s making $30+ million per year soon enough.

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