Still Standing: Celek Sets Tone For Eagles

Brent Celek scores in the first quarter.

Brent Celek set up in-line next to right tackle Allen Barbre. When Nick Foles took the snap, he released and headed up field before turning diagonally to the sideline on a corner route.

Foles scanned the field, tried to move the safety with his eyes and then came back to Celek. The eighth-year tight end turned his body towards the line of scrimmage, reached his hands over his head and made the grab for a 22-yard gain. Just as he did, safety Patrick Chung lowered his shoulder into Celek’s chest, while cornerback Malcolm Butler sandwiched him and knocked his helmet off.

Celek rose to his feet, turned towards the end zone full of Patriots fans, balled his fists and let out a yell.

“When a guy like that makes a catch like that, takes a hit and helmet falls off and jumps right up, it’s a boost to everybody,” said Nick Foles. “…With the young guys seeing that, they see the fire you need. It just gives you something. I know when I saw that, it just pumped me even more than I was because one of my teammates sacrificed for us at that moment and just got up and was ready to go. He’s just got that toughness. He’s very unique.”

It’s a scene Eagles fans have seen play out for years. Celek has played in 117 games for the Eagles (regular season and postseason). This was the first quarter of a preseason game in August, but he was playing the way he always does. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: What Life’s Like For Marcus Smith II

Marcus Smith

Tra Thomas wasn’t wearing pads or a uniform. Instead, he was dressed in a black Eagles t-shirt and black shorts.

With his hat cocked to the side and dark sunglasses covering his eyes, Thomas settled into his stance at left tackle just as he’d done thousands of times throughout the course of his 12-year career.

Lined up across from him, angled to the left, was rookie Marcus Smith II. Thomas, now an assistant on Chip Kelly’s staff, started 174 games in the NFL and made the Pro Bowl three times. He’s seen 4-3 fronts, 3-4 fronts and everything in between. On some weeks, he faced the game’s best pass-rushers. On other occasions, guys that had no chance of getting past him.

In 1998, the Eagles took Thomas in the first round. In 2014, they took Smith. And on Monday after practice, the two were working together. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Why It’s Working For Sanchez (So Far)

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

When Mark Sanchez’s night was through Friday, tight end Zach Ertz approached the quarterback and congratulated  him on going 12-for-12.

“I said, ‘No, man, I went 11-for-12.’ He said, ‘Yeah, but that [interception] didn’t hit the ground,’ ” said Sanchez with a grin. “You have to have a sense of humor about it.”

No matter how you slice it, Sanchez has completed passes at a high rate in his limited time in an Eagles uniform. The six-year vet is 18-for-22  for 196 yards with two touchdowns and an interception over the first two preseason games. That’s a completion rate of 82 percent. Read more »

Notes: Kelly On Sanchez’s Trade Value, Injury Updates

Sanchez

Towards the end of today’s session with the media, Chip Kelly was asked about the future of quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Sanchez has gone 18-for-22 for 196 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the first two preseason games. How would the Eagles weigh potentially trading him against keeping Sanchez on the roster as the backup?

“Good question, cause Mark has played well,” Kelly said. “But we haven’t had anybody call or ask us anything. So that’s not something we’re talking about because you’re just spending time on things that could happen, should happen… I don’t know. Read more »

Kelly: Pass Rush The Issue On Third Down

NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots

Chip Kelly could have offered a generic answer about the front end and the back end working together.

He could have expanded on how disappointed he was with the penalties, or even just given credit to Tom Brady. But when asked about the issues the Eagles are having on third down, Kelly pointed directly to the guys up front.

“We need to generate a better pass rush,” he said. “I think our defensive line needs to do a better job in terms of what their rush contains are. We had the one play with [Ryan] Mallett where Marcus [Smith II] does a nice job, makes him flush up in the pocket, but we got nobody on that side containing the quarterback, and you let the quarterback scramble for a touchdown.” Read more »

Matthews Much Better Second Time Around

Matthews
FOXBORO, MASS. –
The Jordan Matthews that had opened so many eyes this summer was not present at Soldier Field a week ago. He resurfaced Friday night in New England.

The rookie caught nine balls on as many targets and was far and away the game’s leading receiver with 105 yard in the Eagles’ 42-35 loss to the Patriots.

“He got the jitters out. He got the butterflies out,” said Mark Sanchez. “This is not an easy game to jump in and have an impact like that. He went through that last week in Chicago, got used to the hotel, the bus, the airport. All that stuff. There are a million things that are different from college — the speed of the game, and all that. But this week he looked great. Trusted his technique, trusted his coaching, played really well.” Read more »

Frustrated Kelly Sounds Off On Penalties

NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots

FOXBORO, Mass. — When Eagles players returned to the locker room following their 42-35 loss to the Patriots Friday night, they were greeted by a frustrated and stern Chip Kelly.

“Very strong,” said Cary Williams, when asked about the head coach’s message. “You could tell that he was frustrated. You could tell that he was upset about it. He wasn’t very happy about the way we played.

“He said he’s frustrated about penalties. He said that he wanted us to be better. We don’t practice like that. We shouldn’t play like that. We’ve gotta get our butts in gear and do something about it.” Read more »

Ertz Opening Eyes In New England

Ertz
FOXBORO, MASS. –
 There is a growing buzz about Zach Ertz as he gets set to enter his second NFL season. Is he aware of what’s being said and written about him?

“Oh yeah,” he said. “I’m on Twitter now and then, on Instagram.

“My mom will retweet something or my agent will retweet something. And it will just be like, ‘Zach Ertz, breakout year coming’ or whatever. I read it and it’s good that there are positive things that are being said about me,” he said, “but at the same time if I go out and have a few drops, the last training camp they said I have bad hands, so it goes both ways.”

True enough. This camp there has been little to pick apart about Ertz’s game, though. He has been getting open with regularity and catching about everything that has been thrown his way. That trend continued this week during joint practices with the Patriots. During one period of 7-on-7s Thursday, Mark Sanchez threw a total of five passes. Three of them were touchdowns tosses to Ertz.

“He’s athletic. He’s fast, he’s faster than I thought,” said Patriots linebacker/defensive end Chandler Jones. “I feel like he is more of a skill player than anything. He runs his routes very well. I’ve had the opportunity to cover him during two days of practice and he’s been a handful.” Read more »

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