Steven Means

How Malcolm Jenkins became Eagles' go-to leader

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How Malcolm Jenkins became Eagles' go-to leader

When Eagles backup defensive end Steven Means doesn't suit up for a game, he tries to stay out of the way during the celebration in the locker room. 

It's become customary that after head coach Doug Pederson addresses the team in the locker room following wins — in videos we've seen after the Eagles release them — veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins breaks down the huddle with some more inspirational words of his own. 

So Means will sometimes be on the outskirts of the circle with some of his other teammates, who all lean inward and physically turn up their ears just to hear what Jenkins, one of the most influential leaders on the team, has to say. 

"He speaks with a lot of passion and intensity," Means said. "And there's meaning behind his words. You want to be right there and you want to feed off of that intensity. You've already got a lot of emotions and energy in yourself already, but when you've got a guy like that, you feed off of that too."

Jenkins, 30, says he's really kind of talking to himself in those moments. 

He knows that shortly after he breaks the team down, reporters and TV cameras will flood into the locker room, so he tries to anticipate what's coming. He tries to be aware of the questions that will be about how great they are or how a teammate messed up or about "doubting yourself" or about being "super confident." The former Super Bowl winner said those are all things that need tempering. 

In those moments, he's reminding himself as the rest of his teammates listen intently. 

"Most of it is just kind of off of my heart," Jenkins said. "I kind of try to analyze the situation of where we are as a team, do a little bit of reflection but make sure that it's not just an emotional response to keep everybody in perspective. Just because it's easy to get too high or too low after a win or loss. It's easy to start to listen to all of the things that people are getting ready to say."

No one seems super sure of how this became Jenkins' role for good. He said the team would call on different guys each week last season, but this year Pederson called on him early in the season and they started winning. 

Jenkins admitted football players are often superstitious, so if him speaking to the team after wins got them a 13-3 record and into the NFC Championship Game, he's certainly not going to stop now. 

"I just think he's embraced it," Pederson said. "I think now the guys embrace it. I don't necessarily say, 'Malcolm, break the team down or talk to the team.' I think it's just him being Malcolm and being a leader of this football team, and being one of the guys that they look to for that leadership. He's embraced it and guys look forward to it, obviously. He's been good. He's got a lot of profound messages as you've seen. He speaks from the heart and he speaks truth. So that's been a positive."

Jenkins' message seems to change after each win. His speeches are always topical. 

After the win over the Falcons in the divisional round, he said they believe in everyone in the circle. He told his teammates if they didn't believe it yet, they should go home. He then stressed the importance of focusing on their process and their grind in the upcoming week before they "shock the world" next week. Watch it here.

After the win over the Raiders on Christmas Day, Jenkins wished his teammates a Merry Christmas and then reminded them that no one ever said it would be easy or pretty. "Just get it done," he said. Watch that here.

After the win Dec. 17 over the Giants, he stressed the importance of staying in the moment, especially as the end of the season neared. "Winning in this league, it ain't easy," he said. "You realize it ain't going to be no easier going forward." Watch it here.

But his most impassioned speech of the season came on the night after the Eagles won the division in Los Angeles but also lost Carson Wentz. The impassioned speech on Dec. 10 was longer than normal and profanity-laced. It was one of the most important moments of the season; the Eagles won the NFC East but lost the MVP of the league. 

"Carson being out of this s---, bruh, that s--- sucks," Jenkins pleaded from inside the cramped locker room at the L.A. Coliseum. "But dig this: We f------ set this up for whoever the f--- is in this room! This is who we're riding with, man!"

He then told his teammates to be proud of themselves and celebrate the division title. 

At the end of every speech, Jenkins brings in his teammates and breaks them down with the same refrain: "Family on three!" 

The whole time Jenkins speaks, his teammates listen. They're all hoping they'll get one more speech at the Linc on Sunday. 

"It's definitely all ears," linebacker Nigel Bradham said. "Honestly, I think when anybody speaks on this team, it's kind of like that. It's respect. His is another level. What he's done in this league and what he's been able to accomplish off the field in the community, of course, we all listen."

Eagles Inactives: Isaac Seumalo a surprise scratch vs. Chargers

Eagles Inactives: Isaac Seumalo a surprise scratch vs. Chargers

CARSON, Calif. — Isaac Seumalo began the season as the Eagles' starter at left guard. Now he's not even active.

Seumalo was the surprise member of the Eagles' inactives list on Sunday. Stefen Wisniewski will likely start at left guard, while Chance Warmack might rotate in.

This is the first time since the seventh game of his rookie season in 2016 that Seumalo is inactive. He was inactive for the first seven games of his NFL career but has been up every game since then.

Fletcher Cox (calf), Ronald Darby (ankle), Jaylen Watkins (hamstring), Corey Graham (hamstring) and Destiny Vaeao (wrist) were all ruled out on Friday and join Seumalo on the inactive list.

The other healthy inactive is rookie wideout Shelton Gibson.

Two defensive linemen -- Steven Means and Justin Hamilton -- are active for the first time this year.

With Cox and Vaeao ruled out, the Eagles signed Hamilton off their practice squad on Saturday. This will be the first career game for Hamilton and the first game of the season for Means.

Means was praised by the coaching staff throughout training camp and was even given a contract extension. But he has been inactive through the first three games of the season.

Even with Hamilton on the roster and active, it's very possible the Eagles will use defensive ends Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham inside at times on Sunday.

Chargers inactives: QB Cardale Jones, S Dexter McCoil, LB Nick Dzubnar, T Tyler Marz, TE Sean Culkin, WR Mike Williams, DE Jerry Attaochu.

Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Beau Allen to start against Chargers

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Eagles notes, quotes and tidbits: Beau Allen to start against Chargers

The Eagles will be without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox on Sunday in Los Angeles, which means Beau Allen will get the start. 

Allen came in for Cox during Sunday's game and ended up playing 50 snaps after entering the game with just 40 in the first two games. 

"It's a good opportunity," Allen said this week. "I've started a handful of games here so it's not anything new, but it's always special when you start a football game. So it will be fun."

This will be the sixth start of Allen's career. The former seventh-round pick started three games in 2016 and two games in 2015.  

How will Cox's absence change the Eagles' rotation along the defensive line? 

"You think I'm going to give you all my secrets?" Allen said half-joking. "You're gonna have to wait and see. I'll be playing a lot. We'll see how everything kind of shakes out. I don't want to give away too much but we have a deep defensive line. I don't think people really realize that. We have guys that can kind of play all over. You'll see guys line up in different spots."

Without Cox and fellow DT Destiny Vaeao (wrist), the Eagles are down to four defensive tackles (the team promoted DT Justin Hamilton from the practice squad Saturday). While Allen and even head coach Doug Pederson were hesitant to divulge the plan, it's pretty clear the Eagles will use some of their defensive ends inside this week. 

Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham and even Steven Means, who has been inactive through the first three games, all have the ability as defensive ends to line up inside. 

"Hopefully that's the idea," Means said about the possibility of playing this week. "I've been preparing the same way. I'm ready to go. Coaches know I'm ready to go. If my number gets called, I'm definitely going to be ready." 

Ready for some futbol?
It'll be a little weird for the Eagles this week, playing at StubHub Center, a soccer stadium that has a maximum capacity of 27,000.  

To put that in perspective, the paid attendance at Lincoln Financial Field last week was 69,596. 

The Chiefs went into StubHub last week and came away with a 24-10 win over the Chargers. So this week, Pederson has reached out to some of his former colleagues in Kansas City to ask them about playing in a 27,000 seat venue. 

"It's different," Pederson said. "It's obviously the smaller crowd, smaller venue. It's not what the actual norm is for a typical game day. You're looking at 27,000, 28,000 people. It's a smaller venue [StubHub Center], so it feels a little more of that intimate feeling when you're there. They really enjoyed the atmosphere. It is pretty exciting, though. But I think the biggest thing they mentioned was just the crowd size and the noise, just wasn't the same as playing in a 60- or 70,000-seat stadium."

The Eagles are trying something a little different this year for this West Coast trip. They are flying out Saturday morning and trying to stay completely on an East Coast schedule, which includes having an earlier curfew. The Eagles made the decision based on data they collected starting back during OTAs. 

Anthem dilemma 
As of Friday morning, Pederson wasn't sure what his team will do when the national anthem is played Sunday afternoon in L.A. Last week, the team locked arms on the sideline. 

Malcolm Jenkins, who has been at the forefront of these protests from early last season, is clearly worried that what teams physically do during the anthem has distracted from the focus. Jenkins began his demonstration last year to not just show solidarity with Colin Kaepernick but to highlight racial injustice and systemic racism in America. Raising his fist was just a vehicle. 

So what does he think is going to happen around the league this week? 

"Not my concern," Jenkins said. "My biggest thing is drawing light to the actual issues and the work guys are doing in the league. What happens on Sunday is none of my concern."