Asante Blasts Reid, Taunts Eagles After Falcons Win

Asante Samuel, as you might imagine, was in his glory following Sunday’s game.

The Eagles’ secondary struggled, the defense was picked apart and his Falcons delivered a damaging blow to Andy Reid.

“Man, it felt great — in front of all my fans that love me!” Samuel barked. “The best team after the bye week is us. It just felt good. That was a good ol’ fashioned ass-whoopin’ right there.”

Samuel set his sights on Reid, who reportedly parted with the cornerback this offseason because he felt his play was in steep decline. Samuel said Reid refused to talk to him on Sunday.

“Can you believe that? He didn’t speak to me. Like it’s my fault. What did I do to you?” Samuel asked. “I think it was the way we were dancing out there. It got to him a little bit.

“I gave a what up to him: ‘What’s up coach?’ I don’t know why [he didn't speak to me]. He deferred [after the coin toss]. What the hell?”

The main shot at Reid came when a reporter asked what the biggest difference is between the Falcons and Eagles.

“The difference between these teams I think is the coaching,” he said. “We got really good coaching. We run the ball. Time of possession is real good.”

As for Reid’s decision to part with Juan Castillo?

“Juan, didn’t he have the No. 12 defense in the league? Juan was doing pretty good,” said Samuel. “If they would have had me over there, they could have counted on at least one turnover. But I’m happy to be over here with the Falcons.”

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Cheat Sheet: Eagles’ Offense Vs. Falcons’ Defense

Here are 10 things to know about how the Eagles’ offense matches up with the Falcons’ defense. If you missed the first cheat sheet, click here.

1. In many ways, these two units have shared a similar theme through six games: Turnovers have been the story. The Eagles are tied for the second-most giveaways in the league with 17, and they are averaging just 17.2 points per game (30th). Football Outsiders ranks them 27th in overall offense – 27th in passing and 31st in rushing. The Falcons, meanwhile, are 11th in overall defense – fifth against the pass and 27th against the run. Atlanta is second in the league, averaging 2.8 takeaways per game. The Falcons are also winning the field-position game on a weekly basis. Opponents are starting drives, on average, at their own 23.14-yard-line; that’s the top mark in the league. The Eagles, meanwhile, are losing the field-position battle each week, starting drives at their own 23.47-yard-line, second-worst in the league.

2. When they’re not creating turnovers, the Falcons’ defense has been middle-of-the-pack. Against the run, they’re giving up 143.8 yards per game, 28th in the league. And opponents are averaging 5.2 yards per carry against Atlanta, the second-highest mark in the NFL. We should be able to gauge the level of concern with the Eagles’ running game after this week. Against the Steelers and Lions, LeSean McCoy had trouble finding room and managed just 100 yards on 29 carries (3.4 YPC). You’d think he’d be able to have more success in this one. Meanwhile, the Falcons are 18th in opponents’ completion percentage (62.6) and 24th in yards per attempt (7.6). In other words, if the Eagles take care of the football (yes, this is a giant IF every week), they should be able to put drives together.

3. The Falcons will likely play six defensive linemen: Ends Ray Edwards, John Abraham and Kroy Biermann, along with tackles Jonathan Babineaux, Peria Jerry and Vance Walker. Abraham is the best pass-rusher of the group. He had a team-high 9.5 sacks and 35 hurries last year, per Football Outsiders. In 2012, he’s got six sacks, tied for ninth in the league. Abraham will line up at both defensive end spots. King Dunlap is back at left tackle and should provide an upgrade to Demetress Bell in pass protection. Dunlap actually faced Abraham and the Falcons back in 2010 and held his own. Todd Herremans will see plenty of Abraham too. Abraham dropped back into coverage more often than any other defensive lineman in the league last year, per Football Outsiders. But this year, he’s done so just eight times in six games, per Pro Football Focus. It’s not just sacks either with Abraham. He’s forced three fumbles, including one against Carson Palmer a couple weeks ago. As a team, the Falcons have forced nine fumbles in six games. Edwards got a nice contract after notching 16.5 sacks in 2009 and 2010 with the Vikings. But he has just 3.5 sacks in 22 games with Atlanta.

4. At tackle, Babineaux was a one-man wrecking crew against Oakland. He forced a fumble in the first and later made a huge stop, dropping Darren McFadden for a 3-yard loss on 3rd-and-goal from the Falcons’ 1. Overall, he had three tackles for loss in that game, and on the season, Babineaux’s got 2.5 sacks. Evan Mathis will see plenty of him on Sunday. As of this writing, it’s unclear whether Danny Watkins will be healthy enough to start at right guard. If he can’t go, rookie Dennis Kelly will get the nod. The Eagles switched backup centers during the bye week, but Dallas Reynolds remains the starter.

5. At linebacker, the player to watch is Sean Weatherspoon. He’ll be used in a variety of ways, including as a blitzer. Weatherspoon blitzes an average of 5.7 times per game, per PFF. And he’s second on the team with three sacks. Michael Vick’s been great against the blitz (29-for-42, 405 yards, four TDs, 0 INTs) in his last three games. Akeem Dent takes over at middle linebacker after Curtis Lofton left for New Orleans in the offseason. Stephen Nicholas plays the SAM and stays on the field with Weatherspoon in nickel. The Falcons have been the top team in the league at covering opposing tight ends, according to Football Outsiders. Brent Celek is coming off a rough game against the Lions, in which he dropped a couple balls (including a touchdown) and was called for offensive pass interference in the end zone, negating another score.

6. With Brent Grimes injured, Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson are the Falcons’ starting corners. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin don’t have to worry about getting pressed at the line of scrimmage. Samuel and Robinson will play off for most of the game. The Falcons have allowed a league-low six touchdown passes and are tied for third with 10 interceptions. According to Pro Football Focus, Robinson’s been targeted 37 times and Samuel 32 times. At safety, Thomas DeCoud has four interceptions, and William Moore has two. For the Eagles, Jackson is quietly having a really good year and is on pace for career-highs of 77 yards and 1,240 yards. He has yet to drop a pass all season. Jeremy Maclin gave the Falcons fits last year with 13 catches for 171 yards on 15 targets, although he dropped a fourth-down pass from Mike Kafka with the Eagles driving late.

7. There is a lot going on for the Falcons on any given play. Let’s start with their pre-snap looks. Here, you’ll see they stack the box with eight defenders against the Raiders. The key is the safety, Moore, who hovers around the line of scrimmage. This is a couple seconds before the ball is snapped. It appears that the deep middle of the field is going to be wide open.

But just before the ball is snapped, Moore retreats deep.

Part of the pre-snap calls for Vick and Reynolds involve identifying where the safeties are. You can see that the Falcons don’t make that easy.

And then there’s the movement up front. Another angle of the pre-snap look on the same play. Eight defenders in the box. Only three with their hands down. Who’s going where?

Babineaux, the defensive tackle, drops back into coverage. But instead of dropping back immediately, he first engages the center.

When Babineaux drops back, Abraham, who started at left defensive end, loops inside and gets in Carson Palmer’s face as he releases the ball. The center was initially blocking Babineaux and is now accounting for no one. The left guard can’t get there in time either.

Again, this was all going on before and during one play. Reynolds, Vick and the offensive line will need to be sharp mentally, or the offense will commit more turnovers Sunday.

8. One of Mike Nolan’s chess pieces is Biermann, the versatile DE. Not sure many other DEs in the league are being used the way Biermann’s being used. He does the typical things – rushing the passer, playing the run. But then he does things like you see here. The Falcons show a heavy blitz look with eight at the line of scrimmage on this 3rd-and-7 play.

Atlanta ends up rushing six, and Biermann drops back. But it’s not like your average defensive lineman dropping back into coverage. He’s pretty much the free safety on this play.

Biermann is asked to get way downfield. He pretty much turns and sprints towards the deep middle part of the field. This only happens a handful of times per game, but it’s something the opponent needs to be aware of. Biermann has played about 68.7 percent of the Falcons’ defensive snaps, per PFF. He’s another guy Vick and the Eagles will have to account for.

9. You saw the good and bad of Samuel on consecutive fourth-quarter drives a couple weeks ago. With the game tied at 13, the Raiders faced a 3rd-and-6 at the Falcons’ 28-yard-line. Worst-case scenario, you set up for the field goal on fourth down, right? Well, not exactly. Here, you’ll see it looks like wide receiver Denarius Moore has space against Samuel.

But as he’s done so many times in his career, Samuel reads the quarterback, jumps the route and picks Palmer off for a 79-yard game-changing score.

On the next drive, with the Raiders now down seven, they faced a 1st-and-10 from the Atlanta 43 with 1:15 left. This time, Palmer gave Samuel a little pump-fake, and he bit.

Derek Hagan ran right past him for a 38-yard gain.

Two plays later, Darren McFadden scored the game-tying touchdown.

Samuel will definitely want an interception in his return to the Linc. Will he get one? Or can the Eagles make him pay for gambling?

Considering how far off Samuel plays, don’t be surprised to see screens to his side. And if I’m the Eagles, I’m running to the right all game long.

10. Leftovers: Atlanta’s red-zone defense is 27th, allowing touchdowns 64.29 percent of the time. The Eagles’ offense is 26th, scoring touchdowns 42.1 percent of the time. …The Falcons are 20th in third-down defense, allowing conversions 41.67 percent of the time. The Eagles’ offense is 14th, converting 41.38 percent of the time. …Vick was 8-for-12 for 91 yards last year when the Falcons blitzed him.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Twitter Mailbag: On Peters, Asante And Safety Depth

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

 From @JoshCahan: What do you put the chance of Peters being back sometime in late Nov/early Dec?

Just as a quick refresher: The Eagles have until November 6 to put Peters on the practice-eligible list. They have three weeks from placing Peters on the list to activate him to the 53-man roster. That means November 27 is the last day they can activate him. There is a good chance they will use every bit of that time to allow the big lineman to recover from a pair of ruptured Achilles.

Even if they opt to put him on the 53-man, it doesn’t mean they have to play him right away. It sounds like Peters’ rehab is going well — he’s running and also doing some agility drills — and Terrell Suggs‘ rapid recovery from a similar injury is fueling optimism regarding a potential Peters’ return.

My gut says we’ll be a couple weeks into December before Andy Reid decides to give Peters the green light, if he gives it to him at all.

From @static71: Do you think the Eagles will put in some plays to isolate Asante in space and make him tackle?

Samuel does have six missed tackles on the year, according to Pro Football Focus. Running right at him and forcing him to make stops is never a bad way to go.

I also think you might be able to get Samuel on a double move or two in this game. You know he will be hyped and is dying to make the Eagles look bad for their decision to get rid of him. He is a gambler by nature, and may be even more willing to risk getting burnt in the name of an interception. Seems the Eagles would be wise to take advantage of his aggressiveness.

From@mstry001:  Bowles coaching from box or field during game?!

Undecided, according to Bowles. Said they will make a decision Friday.

From @Lemur421: A healthy Colt Anderson wasn’t good enough to be backup safety last year but coming of ACL surgery this year he is?

Couldn’t agree with you more. Safety depth was one of the major concerns exiting training camp. That kind of went on the back-burner for a while because Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman started out relatively strong and were healthy. Losing Allen to a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter against the Lions was a crusher. Anderson is a very good special teams player but, as you pointed out, he is not  a viable option at safety — especially coming off a major injury.

You can’t be deep everywhere, granted, but this was a vulnerability heading into the season and everyone knew it. Howie Roseman and Reid have to own that.

Asante: Eagles Didn’t Want To Trade Me To Falcons

The Eagles’ offseason trade of Asante Samuel was complex for a few different reasons – most of all, because of Samuel’s contract.

The veteran cornerback had to restructure his deal with any team that wanted to trade for him, so in reality, it was almost like he was a free agent picking his destination. If the Eagles found a trading partner that was willing to offer up acceptable compensation, the call was still pretty much Samuel’s. No team in the league was going to trade for him and pay his original salary from the Eagles contract.

“It was a joint thing,” Samuel said, per the Falcons’ web site. “It was something we all had to agree on together. I had other choices that I was not going to pick. Atlanta was the place I wanted to come. They tried to not let me come to Atlanta of course, but we got it done. We got it done.”

The Birds ended up settling for a seventh-round pick from the Falcons.

Meanwhile, Samuel was asked about his Tweets last week, following the news that Andy Reid had fired Juan Castillo:

Asked about those comments, Samuel said, “Y’all assumed that was about Andy. I didn’t say it’s for Andy. I just made a quote and then another quote and everybody said that was for Andy, so y’all did that.”

But he did stick up for Castillo.

“Juan’s my guy. Shoutout to you, Juan,” Samuel said. “He had the 12th defense in the league. He was doing a good job as I could see, and it’s just unfortunate that he had to resign from his job or whatever. But great guy, man. Worked hard. Any coaches out there need another coach, he’ll definitely get the job done for you.”

Samuel and the Falcons sit at 6-0. They’ll take on an Eagles team that is at .500 and has lost three of four. Samuel’s clearly keeping tabs on his former team, so what does he think the Eagles’ issues have been so far?

“It’s kind of hard when 22 ain’t there,” Samuel said. “22 keeps things going for you, know what I mean? So just got to deal with it. Make your bed, you gotta lay in it, you know?”

And finally, he was asked what kind of reception he expects to get from the fans here Sunday afternoon.

“They better cheer for me,” Samuel said. “They’re going to cheer for me or we’re going to have a problem right there in Lincoln Financial Stadium.”

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Eagles Wake-Up Call: DRC On Asante

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Asante Samuel are cut from the same cloth in a lot of ways. Both Florida boys. Both cornerbacks, obviously. Both funny, eccentric. Both playmakers.

In another set of circumstances, it would be no surprise if the two ended up being good friends. But the situation last year had the two prideful vets pitted against one another to a degree.

“Of course it’s going to start off awkward. Everybody wanted to be on the field,” said Rodgers-Cromartie. “But as time went on we started to open up to each other and talk a little bit.

“I’ll shoot him a text every now and then, saying ‘Man, I see you out there.’ But that’s about it.”

Samuel’s departure is directly connected to DRC’s arrival from Arizona via trade. Last season, Rodgers-Cromartie — with Samuel as the established left corner and Nnamdi Asomugha brought in to play on the right side — was forced to play out-of-position in the slot. The results were not pretty. Rodgers-Cromartie never adapted to life on the inside, Samuel spent the whole season feeling slighted and the defense disappointed overall. In the offseason, Samuel was dealt to Atlanta for a seventh-round pick.

Now he returns to Philadelphia wearing the red and black of the 6-0 Falcons. Rodgers-Cromartie mans his old position. Does that get the competitive juices flowing all the more?

“Not with me,” said Rodgers-Cromartie, who has three interceptions to Samuel’s one this season. “It might be on his end, but I don’t think like that. I’m just trying to go out and play ball, man.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

If you’re looking for a reason to be optimistic, Michael Vick is showing marked improvement against the blitz. Sheil uses the All-22 tape to illustrate.

Could Jason Peters return during the regular season? Andy Reid says there is a chance. 

Two days after saying he wasn’t talking, Danny Watkins talked.

Defensive ends Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham are trying to stay patient.

The linebackers talk about their new defensive coordinator.

 Fletcher Cox was fined for throwing a punch against the Lions. And Brian Rolle gets a workout.

If you missed our show this week, here’s a link to the podcast.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Andy Reid comes in at No. 3 this week on Mike Florio’s coaching hot seat list.

“This feels like  a game Andy Reid finds a way to win because he can’t afford to lose. He can’t afford to go to 3-4. He can’t afford another embarrassment, or he won’t be back for a 15th season.”

The top-5:

5)  Romeo Crennel
4) Mike Mularkey
3) Andy Reid
2) Pat Shurmur
1) Ron Rivera

Graham is the latest to speak about the defense’s predictability late in games under Juan Castillo. From CSN Philly:

“That’s what he talked about, not being predictable in the fourth quarter, because by the fourth quarter everybody knows what we’re going to do, and that’s how we get beat,” Graham said.

“I think Coach Bowles, it’s going to be fun to see what he’s going to be doing, because I think everything we run in practice we’re going to actually really run in the game.”

Sports Illustrated recently asked 180 NFL players to identify the most overrated player in the league. Tim Tebow (34 percent) was the overwhelming winner, followed by teammate Mark Sanchez (8 percent) and Tony Romo (8 percent). Michael Vick placed fourth, receiving four percent of the votes. Ray Lewis (3 percent) rounds out the top 5.

COMING UP

Practice today at 1:50. Todd Bowles will address the media today.

Asante Takes Jab At Reid Over Castillo Firing

One person who voiced his opinion publicly soon after the Eagles announced Juan Castillo’s firing was Asante Samuel.

Here’s what he Tweeted:

 

The Eagles, of course, traded Samuel to the Falcons during the offseason. The second Tweet references an Inquirer story that reported Reid felt the cornerback was in steep decline, and that was a major factor in dealing him.

Samuel and the Falcons visit the Linc after the bye.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Examining the Vick Theories

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael VickThe most recent Michael Vick injury has brought about several theories and opinions about what exactly is going on with the Eagles starting quarterback.

Here are some arguments I’ve heard, along with thoughts on what’s valid, and what’s not.

Argument: Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg should stop trying to change Vick.

My take: Normally, this is referring to the idea that the coaches are trying to get Vick to be a pure pocket passer and not run with the football. That’s simply not the case. Let’s look at where Mornhinweg and Reid have been. Mornhinweg was the 49ers offensive coordinator from 1997-2000. In 1998, his quarterback, Steve Young, ran 70 times for 454 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. He also completed 62.3 percent of his passes, throwing 36 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Meanwhile, during Reid’s most successful years, his quarterback was Donovan McNabb. McNabb averaged 429.2 yards rushing per season from 2000-2004 as the Eagles reached the playoffs five times, the NFC title game four times and the Super Bowl once.

The point is that Reid and Mornhinweg want Vick to use his legs. They just want him to be smart when doing so, and they want him to be able to make plays from the pocket when they’re available. According to the Football Outsiders Almanac, 24 percent of the Eagles pass plays last year had the quarterback out of the pocket on a bootleg, rollout or scramble. That was the highest percentage in the NFL. Part of that was Vick’s improvisation. But much of it was by design with the coaches trying to take advantage of his athleticism.

Argument: Vick has always been injury prone. That’s just the way it is.

My take: The stat you’re going to hear non-stop is that Vick has started 16 games just once. That’s true. And considering he was drafted in 2001, on its surface, that seems alarming. But we can always twist numbers to support our arguments. What if I told you that in five years as the Falcons starting quarterback, Vick played 15 or 16 games four times? That sounds pretty good, right? Well, it’s true.

And by the way, Vick averaged 114.5 rushing attempts in those four seasons where he stayed relatively healthy.

The point is not that Vick should run more, or that blaming him for the injuries is misguided. He’s 32-years-old and trying to learn to play the position in a way that was foreign to him until last year. But the injuries were not as big a factor earlier in his career as some may have you believe.

Argument: Vick’s injuries occur because he’s reckless.

My take: Let’s be clear: Vick absolutely needs to do a better job of protecting himself. Anyone who argues otherwise is not paying attention.

But let’s also remember that all six of his injuries in the past two seasons (four in 2011, two in the preseason) have come while he was in the pocket. Not one occurred while he was running downfield (although you can certainly argue that those hits take a toll throughout the course of a year). All six also occurred on plays where he attempted a pass. Three were the result of Vick taking big hits: from Daryl Washington in the Cardinals game, from Chris Canty against the Giants and from Jermaine Cunningham Monday night.

The other three were somewhat flukey: bumping into right tackle Todd Herremans against the Falcons; Justin Smith of the 49ers hitting his finger; and Vick slamming his thumb against Jason Kelce’s helmet in the first preseason game.

The first three had to do in part with Vick’s decision-making – knowing when to get rid of the football, knowing when to take off and knowing when to just take a sack. They also had to do with the Eagles’ offensive line, running backs and tight ends suffering miscues in protection. Those are the plays that Vick and the offense need to avoid.

I’m not sure there’s anything anyone can do about the second three.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Cullen Jenkins and Reid have talked it out after Monday night’s dustup. T-Mac’s got details here.

Tim took a break from Foles-Mania and let me write about the rookie QB. It looks like he’s got a legitimate shot to win the backup job.

Brandon Boykin could be closer to stealing the nickel corner position from Joselio Hanson.

Reid says Michael Vick will be ready to go for the opener.

And finally, a game review of the Eagles’ offense from Monday night.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Asante Samuel is not listed as a starter on the Falcons’ depth chart, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And the former Eagles cornerback is sticking to his preference of playing the left side:

“Of course, that is where I made my living,” Samuel said. “All my production came from the left. It’s going good. It’s a new thing for me, switching back and forth, trying to get my mojo right. All is good. The coaches are going to do what they think is best.”

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sat out practice Wednesday because of back spasms, according to NJ.com.

“It’ll end up being precautionary based on what he had to do today by not letting him work,” Tom Coughlin said. “He would have practiced and played, but the medical people kind of said this would be the best way to go so that we ensure going forward that he’ll be okay.”

And be sure to check out Tommy Lawlor’s Eagles-Patriots game review on IgglesBlitz.com. Always like seeing what Tommy picked up on that I missed while re-watching.

COMING UP

The Eagles will have a mock game (closed to the media) and then head west to Cleveland. We’ll have plenty of content throughout the day, including a look at new secondary coach Todd Bowles and a new 53-man roster projection.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Rough Night For Asante

Last summer, when Asante Samuel thought he might get traded, he responded by telling reporters that perhaps the Eagles no longer needed his “play-making ability.”

The veteran cornerback, now with the Falcons, prides himself on reading quarterbacks and coming up with interceptions. His 45 picks rank fourth on the active list.

But in last night’s preseason game, the Bengals took advantage of Samuel, as wide receiver A.J. Green beat him with a double-move and hauled in a 50-yard touchdown from Andy Dalton.

“We were going at it,” Samuel said, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I relaxed on the deep ball a little bit, and he got over on top of me.”

According to the article, Samuel has told coaches that he prefers to play on the left side to take advantage of right-handed quarterbacks (this argument may sound familiar to Sean McDermott and Juan Castillo). Normally, Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes plays the left side. Atlanta’s coaches will have to decide where everyone fits in the regular season.

The Eagles traded Samuel in exchange for a seventh-round pick. He and his teammates visit the Linc in Week 8.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Tim checks in on the progress of rookie running back Bryce Brown.

The injury report Thursday had Antonio Dixon, Nnamdi Asomugha and Joselio Hanson on it.

Eagles fullback Stanley Havili says he has a similar skill set to Leonard Weaver.

Tim’s Twitter Mailbag contains Michael Vick’s thoughts on Nick Foles.

Tra Thomas couldn’t hold back the tears when he talked about head coach Andy Reid.

And finally, I took a second shot at projecting the Eagles’ 53-man roster.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Albert Breer of NFL.com stopped by Lehigh earlier this week and wrote about the relationship between Reid and Vick:

“I can honestly say he’s been the substitute for the man in my life that I don’t have right now,” Vick said. “It’s great, because I really don’t have too many people to lean on.”

The status of Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is up in the air as he recovers from a lacerated spleen. Per Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com, the plan right now is just for Witten to rest:

Witten’s status still is uncertain for the Cowboys’ regular-season opener on Sept. 5 against the New York Giants.

Per doctor’s orders, Witten must remain idle to help the laceration close. He has been a spectator at the Cowboys’ walkthroughs the past two days and will travel with the team to San Diego on Friday.

And finally, a story about Jerry Jones, Cowboys Stadium and a burned butt. I really don’t have much more to say, except thanks to BGN for the link.

COMING UP

The Eagles practice at Novacare at 2:10, and we’ll hear from coordinators Marty Mornhinweg and Juan Castillo in the morning.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Eagles Wake-Up Call: DeSean Honored To Play For Reid

While Andy Reid was addressing the media Wednesday morning, answering questions about how he was dealing with the death of his son, DeSean Jackson was walking out to his car.

The Eagles’ walk-through was over, and players were looking to get out of Bethlehem and enjoy some free time before their preseason opener against the Steelers at the Linc.

But first, Jackson stopped and took questions about Reid’s return.

“It’s actually an honor to have him back,” he said. “The circumstances and the funeral yesterday — no quicker than 24 hours, he’s right back on the field with us. It shows us how important he is and how much he cares about this football team. We just want to uplift his spirits and make him feel in a comfort zone so he doesn’t have to really worry about too many things. It’s really an honor to have him as our head coach. He’s really a great guy, so whatever it is we have to do to keep him up in spirits and keep him going, that’s what we’re here for.”

Perhaps Jackson, more-so than any other player on the current roster, illustrates the fine line Reid has been able to walk over the years, between support and discipline. The coach-player relationship was tested last year when Jackson let contract distractions affect his on-field play. In the second half against the Patriots, Reid benched the wide receiver. And after Jackson violated team rules, Reid told him not to show up against the Cardinals.

But the bond that was formed when Reid and the Eagles drafted Jackson back in 2008 has endured. By all accounts, Jackson’s new offseason deal was helped along in large part by Reid, who wanted the speedy playmaker back.

As Jackson acknowledged, it’s now his turn to be in his coach’s corner and help Reid in whatever way possible during the coming weeks and months.

WHAT YOU MISSED

When Reid addressed the media, he said the tragic events of this week have humbled him. Tim did a nice job of capturing the scene and reporting the details.

Michael Vick said the Eagles will dedicate their season to Garrett.

McManus and I are going head-to-head with our 53-man roster projections. I went first with my projections right here. Even though his will be comparatively worthless, Tim will post his later today.

And finally, an extended roundup of what the national media are saying about the Eagles. One writer has heard whispers that the Eagles are concerned about Jackson.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Asante Samuel is still talking. Paul Domowitch of the Daily News caught up with him this week.

“They had me out there swinging like a rag doll,” Samuel said. “[They were saying], ‘Hey, we got Asante Samuel for sale. I feel like they devalued me. But it is what it is.”

And this:

“When they first traded for DRC, I got a call from upstairs and everybody was excited,” he said. “They said, ‘We got DRC. You and him are going to be great together.’ Then, no sooner did they hang up then I got another call telling me they had signed Nnamdi and that people were calling and wanting to trade for me.

“First they told me I wasn’t up for trade; that those were just rumors and this and that. At the end of the day, it was all a lie. They did have a trade [in October] on the table, but it broke down at the last minute.

There’s more too. Click here for the full column.

Meanwhile, Bovada released updated Super Bowl odds yesterday. The Eagles are 12/1. Only the Packers (6/1), Patriots (13/2) and 49ers (10/1) are ahead of them. The Texans are also 12/1.

If you’re wondering about the rest of the NFC East, the Giants and Cowboys are both 18/1. And the Redskins are 60/1.

COMING UP

Football? Yes please. The Eagles open the preseason at the Linc against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kickoff is set for 7:30, and the game will be broadcast locally on 6ABC.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Asante: Things Went Downhill After I Left

From an entertainment standpoint, Asante Samuel’s presence at Lehigh is sorely missed.

Many of us had gotten used to his constant back-and-forth with wide receivers coach David Culley during one-on-one wide receiver/cornerback drills. And the way he led the defensive backs in a “Get money!” chant at the end of practice, while other positional groups went with more conventional phrases like “Hard work!”

And even though Samuel is now down in Atlanta with the Falcons, he’s going to get plenty of questions about his time here with the Birds.

In fact, it only took him about four minutes to bring up the Eagles during a recent interview with ESPN.com’s Ashley Fox.

“Seems like I left, and things started to go downhill,” Samuel said. “[Team president] Joe [Banner] left. What’s going on? Maybe they should hire me in the front office over there somewhere [to] keep everything together.”

Perhaps the only surprise here is that Samuel didn’t mention he could have helped with Andy Reid’s diet or Jeffrey Lurie’s divorce.

As we’ve mentioned several times, Samuel will return to the Linc when the Eagles host the Falcons on Oct. 28.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.