Eagles Wake-Up Call: Birds Become Special Again

Darren Sproles. (USA Today Sports)

Darren Sproles. (USA Today Sports)

FOXBOROUGH, MA — Chris Maragos lined up in his “right five” position as Caleb Sturgis prepared to kick the ball off. The special teams ace, who was the fifth man from the right sideline, sprinted down the field along the right hash mark after Sturgis booted the ball. Maragos then darted to the left hash mark, eluded a blocker and dove at the returner’s legs to make the tackle at the 13-yard line.

It was possibly Maragos’ best play of the season, but it also happened in early October when the Eagles beat the Saints in Week 5. Prior to Philadelphia’s shocking upset in New England, Chip Kelly showed Maragos and the rest of the team that play in a hotel conference room on Saturday night.

“He was reminding us of who we really are,” Maragos said, who noted that Kelly’s tactic helped give players confidence in a tumultuous time. “He always verbally tells us, but he actually showed us plays to reaffirm who we are as football players.” Read more »

Photos: Eagles Training Camp, 8/13

What They’re Saying About The Eagles

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Here is what the national media are saying about the Eagles during the days leading up to training camp.

Robert Mays of Grantland lists Jason Peters as the NFL’s top offensive tackle:

Where [Joe] Thomas or [Tyron] Smith are usually content to sit back and let a pass-rusher spin and juke however he wants to, there are plays where Peters can actually mirror those movements as they happen. It’s technically wrong, but his feet are so good that it doesn’t matter. More than any other offensive lineman, Peters has plays that make me laugh and shake my head. The way he can move defies any law of nature we have, and those feet are also what make him so devastating in the run game, especially in Chip Kelly’s offense. Kelly frequently asks Peters to make blocks no other left tackle in the league could. Thomas may be the steady standard on the left side, but Peters’s more spectacular approach gives him the edge over everyone right now.

Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Three Eagles Leftovers

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Here are three Eagles leftovers to get to:

1. LeSean McCoy was one of the few Eagles who spoke up in support of DeSean Jackson after the team released Jackson during the offseason. And earlier this week, he unveiled a pretty hilarious impression of the speedy wide receiver.

We never got to see what a Chip Kelly offense would look like with McCoy, Jackson and Jeremy Maclin all on the field at the same time. Maclin tore his ACL in the summer of 2013, and Jackson was gone by the time this season rolled around.

McCoy was asked about the prospects of Jackson and Maclin teaming up in Kelly’s offense.

“Just a lot of big plays, a lot of space, a lot of yards,” he said. “That’s what I would think. But you never know.” Read more »

Smith’s Development “Stifled” By Switch

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

It was out of necessity that Marcus Smith II was shuffled from outside linebacker to inside linebacker earlier this year, and it is out of necessity that he is now being shuffled back to his original position.

Trent Cole broke his hand against Dallas and is expected to be sidelined for at least one week. That means Brandon Graham steps into the starter’s role while Smith figures to be the next man in.

“I expect to get some snaps. I’m not sure how many snaps I’ll get but I’m sure to get action,” said Smith. “Hopefully go out there, run around and just make a play.”

Smith is currently practicing at the Predator position, so he’ll likely rotate in for Graham at times. Bryan Braman is the other option at outside linebacker.

Smith was moved inside back in September after Mychal Kendricks and Najee Goode went down with injuries. He was already having a difficult time acclimating to the pro level, and now had to do so while learning a new position. The results haven’t been good. Smith has appeared in six games and has played just 74 snaps, totaling one tackle and one quarterback hurry.

“We set him back by moving him inside, but we needed that because of all the injuries we had at inside,” said Billy Davis. Read more »

Inside Voices: Training Versus Practice

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

There is a saying that floats around the NovaCare Complex, one that many of the players can recite on the spot:

You don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. 

“When the game is on the line, it’s the fourth quarter in a rivalry game in prime time, you’re not all of a sudden going to rise to the occasion,” Malcolm Jenkins explained, “you are going to sink to what you’ve trained and prepared for. Obviously we’ve done a good job of training in those situations because we’ve showed up pretty well.”

The term “training” has replaced “practice” in this team’s lexicon. It’s subtle, but significant. Read more »

Braman’s Long, Hard Road to Philadelphia

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Bryan Braman was born to be a professional athlete. His maternal grandfather, Ivan Cecil Braman, stood at 7-4 and weighed 365 pounds. His mother, Tina Braman-Fields, was an elite sprinter in high school in which she was part of a four-girl state champion track team and held the 100 meters school record.

That’s why it’s no surprise Braman is a 6-5, 241-pound “athletic freak” as described by many of his teammates. When he was in high school, his track and field coaches expected him to be an Olympian before he chose to pursue football. On the gridiron, he routinely ran around offensive linemen untouched to tackle ball-carriers in the backfield. Read more »