Highlights From Chip: On Cooper, Peters and Jet Lag

0V3J0127According to Football Outsiders, 91 receivers have been targeted at least nine times this season.

Of that group, Riley Cooper ranks 84th in catch rate, which is simply the percentage of receptions per targets.

Cooper’s been targeted 16 times and come up with six catches for 68 yards (catch rate of 38 percent). But Chip Kelly expressed on several occasions today that he is happy with the wide receiver’s production.

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Crash Course: Eagles Begin Prep For Manning

0V3J9378Cary Williams and Connor Barwin both know what it’s like to beat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

That puts them in somewhat select company. Williams’ Ravens handed the Broncos a loss in the divisional round of last year’s playoffs, and Barwin’s Texans squad won a 31-25 contest in September.

So surely, the two veterans can share their secrets with their teammates and Billy Davis this week, right?

“There’s no magic formula,” Barwin said. “We just played the defenses that Wade [Phillips] called. All the defenses are built to slow these quarterbacks down. It’s just about execution.”

Added Williams: “We tried to show him different things. We tried to give him different looks. We tried to not give him an easy read on a lot of things. He’s gonna come up there. He’s gonna do his show, and he’s gonna try to get you to show what you’re doing. The thing is you’ve gotta try to stay as calm as possible in those situations and don’t give him anything. He can look at a stance. He can look at your eyes and tell if you’re coming. He’s been around the game so long, it’s tough to figure this guy out. You never know what’s gonna happen.”

On paper, the mismatch is obvious. Through three weeks, Manning leads the NFL in yards (1,143), completion percentage (73.0), yards-per-attempt (9.37), touchdowns (12) and passer rating (134.7).

The Eagles, meanwhile, got lit up a couple weeks ago against Philip Rivers and couldn’t get off the field in key situations against Alex Smith and the Chiefs.

But this is the NFL. And so the defense has no plans of mailing this one in just because it’s going up against an all-time great.

“If you don’t want to play the best, you don’t belong here,” Williams said. “If you want to be the best, you’ve got to play the best as well. You’ve gotta beat ‘em.”

Asked what the Ravens’ mindset was going into their two meetings with Manning last year, Williams added: “If I could tell you some choice words, I would. It was just, we go out there, we play together, we play as a family. And here we’re developing that and trying to get that built here, especially on the defense.”

Manning’s Broncos beat the Ravens, 34-17, in the regular season. In the playoff meeting, he still completed 65 percent of his passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns, but Baltimore picked him off twice.

As for Barwin, his Texans team held Manning to a 50 percent completion percentage (26-for-52), his lowest mark since Dec. 2009.

“We didn’t shut him down,” Barwin said. “We shut him down for about three quarters. And then I remember he kind of lit us up a little bit at the end, but it was a little too late.

“Obviously you’re playing a great quarterback, but it’s about what you do. You need to execute. Some guys you play, you make some mistakes, quarterbacks don’t find it. This guy, if you make a mistake, he’ll find it. So it’s important that we do what we do really well.”

The Eagles will install their game-plan Wednesday and Thursday. By the time Sunday rolls around, they’ll have had nine days in between games. The Broncos, meanwhile, played Monday night and will be on five days rest, something Manning recently complained about.

“That’s what Peyton said?” Williams asked with a smile. “That’s a mind game. I appreciate it, Peyton.”

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Eagles Work Out Receiver, Linebacker

The Eagles worked out wide receiver David Gettis and linebacker Nathan Williams, a source confirmed.

Gettis (6-3, 217), a sixth-round pick by the Panthers in 2010, had 37 catches for 508 yards and three scores his rookie year. A torn ACL in August of 2011 derailed his sophomore campaign, and he was bothered by an injured hamstring in 2012. He was released with an injury settlement earlier this month after hurting his hamstring again this preseason.

Williams ( 6-3, 240) had 12 sacks and 24 tackles for a loss at Ohio State. He underwent microfracture surgery on his knee in 2011 but was able to play for the Buckeyes in 2012.

The outside linebacker signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent back in April and spent some time with the Dolphins this summer before being released.

The Eagles brought Gettis and Williams in to see where they are physically. No signings are imminent.

Adam Caplan was first with the report.

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Did Chiefs Players Fake Injuries To Slow Eagles Down?

The biggest boos from the crowd at Lincoln Financial Field Thursday night came when fans thought the Chiefs were trying to employ a familiar tactic to slow the Eagles’ offense down.

On separate occasions in the second half, cornerbacks Sean Smith and Brandon Flowers went down with injuries while the Eagles were driving. But in a league that’s as violent and physically taxing as the NFL, it’s pretty much impossible to separate real from fake.

“Once you stop the momentum we’re having, and when we are coming back and moving the ball, I think the [Chiefs' defense] was getting tired,” LeSean McCoy said. “[Injuries] give them time to get their breath back. Who is to say if they were faking it or not? People get hurt during the game.”

Added Michael Vick: “I think Flowers at the end was hurt. He had been nursing an injury and he wasn’t able to return. We can’t feed into that. If that’s the case, then so be it. We just have to keep pushing and keep fighting.”

The truth is, while Eagles players might have been suspicious, there’s really no point in wasting their time being concerned over an issue that right now is impossible to police.

“I had a feeling the fans were feeling that I was faking it out there, but I got an IV because I was cramping up,” Smith said. “The offense of the Eagles is so fast-paced and we had to prepare for it, but it tired my body a little. But I definitely was not faking it.”

Added outside linebacker Justin Houston: “A lot of the time the crowd is going to think that players are faking injuries, but we were not doing that. We were well-prepared for this game and ready for this game physically, so when our defensive players went down, they were really injured.”

And finally, former Eagles head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder chimed in:

 

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Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

Vinny CurryThe following Eagles are inactive for tonight’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs: QB Matt Barkley, CB Roc Carmichael, CB Jordan Poyer, OT Matt Tobin, OT Dennis Kelly, DL Damion Square and tight end Emil Igwenagu.

Most noteworthy is the player whose name is not listed above: Vinny Curry.

The 2012 second-round pick didn’t dress in either of the Eagles’ first two games, but he’ll give it a go tonight. Chip Kelly and company had maintained that Curry’s standing had more to do with the opponent than anything else. Perhaps expecting a pass-happy attack from the Chiefs, they decided to activate Curry.

The other factor is that Square played poorly last week against the Chargers.

Curry will presumably rotate in with Clifton Geathers and Bennie Logan on the second-team defensive line.

Meanwhile, in the secondary, Poyer, a seventh-round pick, is inactive for the first time. Taking his place is Prater, whom the team added after the preseason. He’ll be the Eagles’ fourth corner behind Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher and Brandon Boykin. Safety Patrick Chung has also played some slot corner in three-safety looks.

For the third straight game, the Eagles go with two QBs in Michael Vick and Nick Foles. They have two backups active on the offensive line: Allen Barbre at guard/tackle and Julian Vandervelde at center.

Jeff Maehl is once again the team’s fifth wide receiver.And on the other sideline, starting cornerback Brandon Flowers is active. He had been listed as questionable with a knee injury.

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Source: Eagles Sign Cornerback Roc Carmichael

The Eagles have signed cornerback Roc Carmichael off the Houston Texans’ practice squad, according to a league source.

Originally a fourth-round pick by the Texans in 2011, Carmichael (5-10, 190) appeared in six games for Houston last season, recording nine tackles and one pass defensed.  The 25-year-old spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. He was a contributor on special teams for the Texans.

To make room on the roster, Brandon Hughes has been placed on short-term injured reserve, meaning he can return to game action in eight weeks and the practice field in six weeks.

Carmichael, a Virginia Tech product, ran a 4.4 at the Combine. This was CBS Sports’ pre-draft analysis :

Explosive, rangy athlete with nice acceleration and top-end speed. Lanky and slender, but isn’t afraid to go for the big hit. Fearless tackler willing to engage bigger backs and receivers head-on. Gets his head around in coverage and adjusts his body nicely to the ball in the air. Has a second gear that allows him to close gaps between himself and receivers who have gained separation…

Struggles to get his hands on opposing receivers and create disruptive contact at the line of scrimmage when playing press. Doesn’t crowd receivers enough in man coverage, often leaving an unnecessary cushion of space both off the line and downfield, thus allowing the receiver room to maintain balance and keep route accuracy.

The Eagles were in talks with Carmichael’s representation a couple weeks back but a deal never got done and the defensive back ended up joining Houston’s practice squad.

The Eagles have some depth issues at corner. Bradley Fletcher missed Sunday’s game against the Chargers with a concussion. Brandon Boykin got the start on the outside but moved into the slot in nickel packages. Hughes played outside in those situations but injured his hamstring during the game, forcing  Billy Davis to plug safety Patrick Chung into the slot at times. Fletcher is expected to play Thursday against the Chiefs.

The other corners currently on the roster  are Shaun Prater and rookie Jordan Poyer, who struggled in the opener against Washington.

Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post was first with the report.

Kelly: ‘There Aren’t Any Safeties On the Street’

Earl WolffChip Kelly recognizes that the Eagles have a safety issue. The problem? It looks like there might not be a solution.

“Right now?” Kelly asked after Sunday’s loss to the Chargers. “There aren’t any safeties on the street, I can tell you that.  So we’re going to play with the ones we’ve got.”

Raise your hand if you take that as a ringing endorsement of the players on the roster.

Patrick Chung played 82 of 83 snaps at one safety spot. Nate Allen (63 snaps) and rookie Earl Wolff (49 snaps) rotated at the other spot. And the Eagles even had all three on the field at times because they were thin at cornerback

The results were ugly. The safeties weren’t the only problem, but Philip Rivers carved the defense up, completing 36 of 47 attempts for 419 yards and three touchdowns. The safeties couldn’t match up with tight end Antonio Gates, and they were slow to react on in-breaking routes in front of them when playing deep.

“We’ve got to coach them better and put them in positions to make plays,” Kelly said. “We’ve got to make sure we put a game plan together so they understand it. It’s a simple deal.”

Of course, in a league where savvy quarterbacks and offensive coordinators are adept at identifying mismatches and exploiting them, it’s really not that simple. Sunday’s loss was a perfect example of that.

For now, the Eagles could replace Allen with Wolff, but Kelly said they’re not going that route yet.

“I think Earl’s growing,” Kelly said. “We’ll continue to grow him, but he’s still making some mistakes out there and I think they’re bringing him along and are excited about what his future is, but we still don’t think he’s ready to play the whole game.”

Asked how Wolff graded out, Kelly said: “He was OK. Wasn’t 100 percent, but wasn’t in the failure category, so he’s still a work in progress.”

The other options on the roster are veterans Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson.

The Eagles could also try to sign someone off the street. There have been a lot of comments here about Kerry Rhodes, but from what I understand, they are not going to go that route. Rhodes is 31 and hasn’t caught on anywhere yet.

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Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

The following Eagles are inactive for Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers: QB Matt Barkley, CB Bradley Fletcher, CB Shaun Prater, OT Matt Tobin, OT Dennis Kelly, DE Vinny Curry and TE Emil Igwenagu.

The inactives are the same as last week, with the addition of Fletcher, who is out with a concussion.

The Eagles re-signed veteran cornerback Brandon Hughes during the week, and he’ll be active. They have four corners active: Cary WilliamsBrandon Boykin, Jordan Poyer and Hughes.

Williams and Boykin are expected to start on the outside. It’ll be interesting to see what they do in nickel. Here are the options:

1. Keep Boykin on the outside and play either Poyer or safety Patrick Chung in the slot. In this scenario, Earl Wolff would likely join Nate Allen at safety.

2. Move Boykin inside, and play Hughes on the outside. My guess is this is the more likely scenario.

Elsewhere, Curry is inactive for the second straight week. The Eagles’ coaching staff and front office indicated during the week that Curry sat in Week 1 because the Redskins were more of a running team. But it seems more that they don’t see him fitting in their new scheme. The Eagles have six defensive linemen active: Fletcher Cox, Isaac Sopoaga, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan, Damion Square and Clifton Geathers.

Once again, the Eagles go with two QBs in Michael Vick and Nick Foles. They have two backups active on the offensive line: Allen Barbre at Julian Vandervelde. Barbre filled in for a few snaps at left tackle last week for Jason Peters. If anyone but Jason Kelce goes down, Barbre figures to fill in. Vandervelde would fill in at Kelce.

The Eagles once again have all five wide receivers active: DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson and Jeff Maehl. Three tight ends will dress: Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and James Casey. And three running backs: LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk.

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Bradley Fletcher Ruled Out For Sunday’s Game

Bradley FletcherEagles starting cornerback Bradley Fletcher has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Chargers.

The 27-year-old sustained a concussion late in the game against Washington. He had yet to pass the ImPACT test as of Thursday afternoon.

The Eagles’ depth in the secondary will be tested. Brandon Boykin is expected to start on the outside in Fletcher’s absence, though he could  very well move into the slot in certain packages as well. Brandon Hughes, who is recovering from a fractured hand, is a logical candidate to play on the outside when Boykin does move inside.

Jordan Poyer could also factor into the equation, though the rookie appeared to struggle a bit in limited action against Washington. Safety Patrick Chung saw some time in the slot this preseason, likely in preparation for an emergency scenario.

Fletcher was targeted six times on Monday night and yielded three catches for 33 yards, per Pro Football Focus. He finished with four tackles.

Dennis Kelly (back) has also been ruled out for the Chargers game. He was a limited participant in practice this week and appears to be recovering well from back surgery. He is set to meet with his doctor on Sunday and expects to be cleared for all football activity at that time. The tackle said that he is targeting the Denver game for his return.

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‘Disappointed’ Casey: They Know I Want To Play

0V3J8777When the Eagles signed James Casey during the offseason, Chip Kelly described the versatile tight end as a new “toy” that could be featured in a variety of places in the Eagles’ offense.

But when the Birds finally played their first regular season game, Casey was on the sideline for every offensive snap until it was kneel-down time late in the fourth quarter.

“We won the game,” Casey said. “That’s the only thing that really matters. I got some snaps on special teams, but a lot of that stuff’s out of my control. I can only control what I do on the practice field and how I’m performing when I get opportunities. I can’t make myself get on the field. That’s the coach’s decision. I’ve thought I’ve done a really good job throughout the preseason. I’ve thought I’ve done a really good job at practice. That’s all I can really do. It’s not like I went out there and played really bad and then [didn't get] opportunities.

“I’ve just been working hard. I’m never gonna be a guy that kind of causes problems in the locker room, anything like that. They know I want to play. Everybody wants to play in the locker room. Everybody wants to start. Everybody wants to be on the field. I’m obviously disappointed not being on the field. But that’s part of the game. I’m just gonna keep working. I’ll be ready when my number’s called, when I get opportunities to be on the field. Hopefully that time will come, but I’ll just keep working and just be ready when my time comes.”

When the Eagles signed Casey, the only player ahead of him on the depth chart was Brent Celek. But in April’s draft, the team selected Zach Ertz in the second round.

Tight end snaps could vary from week to week, but there seems to be a clear pecking order for now. Celek played 82 percent of the snaps Monday night. Ertz played 30 percent. Casey was only on the field for two plays. And Emil Igwenagu was inactive.

Casey signed a three-year, $12 million deal with $8 million guaranteed. He dealt with a hamstring injury in the summer and a knee issue in the spring. For now, his role is unclear.

“I signed here expecting to play and expecting to get opportunities to be on the field playing offensively. But then they drafted Ertz at the top of the second round. He’s of course gonna get some opportunities. He’s a great player. Brent’s a great player. I feel like I’m a really good player. I still have a tremendous amount of confidence in my ability. I played for four years. I started for two years. I’m definitely not lacking confidence. I know I can play. I know if I go out there, if I get opportunities, I’m gonna make plays and gonna be successful. But just the situation I’m in right now, I’m not getting a lot of opportunities.

“It’s not something I’m gonna pout about or whine about or complain or try to cause problems in the locker room or anything like that. It is what it is right now. I’m getting opportunities on special teams. That’s what my role is right now so I’m trying to be the best I can at that, trying to go out there on the punt team or whatever I’m doing and make plays there and be ready for when my number’s called offensively. Hopefully I’ll get chances, but just be prepared whenever.”

Kelly has stressed all season that he loves the versatility tight ends bring to an offense. But the Eagles went with two or more tight ends on just 10 of their 80 plays Monday night, or 12.5 percent of the time.

“We were in a ton of 11 [1 RB, 1 TE] personnel last night,” Kelly said. “He’s not in the game. A lot of times that dictates what they do. If we’re 11, they have more DBs in the game. That was our thought process. That was it. It has nothing to do with James’ ability, what we’re happy with him, not happy with him. Sometimes we’re going to feature three tight ends prominently, and other times we’re going to be a little bit more spread. Last night we were a little bit more spread.”

Added Casey: “I didn’t really know necessarily how much I was gonna play going into the game,” Casey said. “I was prepared to play of course. You’re always prepared to be out there and play every snap, but I didn’t play a lot, or at all offensively. I played at the very end when there was just the kneel plays. Of course I’m disappointed. I’m not content at just sitting on the sidelines for sure. I’m not happy with sitting on the sidelines. No one in here is. You want to be out on the field.”

Asked if Kelly or anyone on the coaching staff has talked to him today and reassured him that his number will be called, Casey said: “No, not at all. They haven’t had any communication at all about that kind of staff, which I don’t need that. I don’t need them coming in babysitting me or telling me, ‘Hey, it’s OK. It’s fine.’ I’m a grown man. I understand the situation. I’m not gonna get mad about it or try to cause problems. It’s part of what’s going on right now. The main thing is we won the game. We’re 1-0 so everything’s good when you’re winning. I’ll be ready when they need me.”

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