‘Papa Bair’ Making His Case For Roster Spot

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It was easy last year for Brandon Bair to go unnoticed.

He signed on to the Eagles’ practice squad in September, reuniting with his college coaches Chip Kelly and Jerry Azzinaro. Bair was one of the players capable of going about his business in the locker room without being bothered.

Even last night after the team’s win over the Steelers, a couple reporters spotted him packing up his stuff and asked each other: “That’s Brandon Bair, right?”

But there’s a sense that things are about to change for the 29-year-old, given how well he has played this preseason. Against Pittsburgh, he was credited with a pair of batted passes and continued to be active against the run. Kelly consistently preaches that the Eagles’ defensive linemen are not just responsible for eating up blocks. He expects them to shed blocks and get to the ball-carrier. That’s something Bair has done consistently all preseason long. Read more »

Kelly: Don’t Know What Henery’s Battling

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Chip Kelly sees no reason to handle Alex Henery with kid gloves.

The Eagles’ kicker hit a 36-yard field goal against the Steelers, but later missed a 31-yarder.

Asked if Henery is battling a confidence issue, Kelly said: “I wish I could put my finger on it. I don’t know what he’s battling, but obviously you’ve gotta make a field goal like that. You’ve gotta make it.” Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: What We’re Watching

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles take on the Steelers tonight at 7:30 at the Linc. Here’s what we’ll be keeping an eye on:

WR situation – Riley Cooper is scheduled to see his first preseason action. The Eagles will likely ease him in, but we’ll get a sense of how Cooper’s holding up after suffering a foot injury earlier in training camp. Jeremy Maclins (hamstring) status for tonight is unknown.

And then there’s Jordan Matthews. He had nine catches vs. the Patriots, but only one came against New England’s starters. With Brad Smith likely sidelined, Matthews should get a chance to go with the first team. We’ve said all along that he’ll be the first-team slot receiver once the real games begin. He can solidify that standing with a good showing vs. Pittsburgh. Read more »

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

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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 »

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