Eagles Wake Up Call: Travis Long, Take Two
Travis Long tore the ACL in his left knee in the final quarter of the final preseason game against the Jets last year.
The undrafted free agent out of Washington State had the feeling that the Eagles were going to make him part of the 53-man roster. He was on a couple of the first-team special teams units late in the exhibition season, and was being cross-trained at inside linebacker in the name of upping his versatility. His read on the situation was correct.
“Obviously, he got hurt late in the preseason, but if he wasn’t hurt, he would have made our team last year,” said Chip Kelly.
It was at inside linebacker where the injury occurred. “I was just adding in on the running back, planted, and it just popped,” Long said. Just like that, his season was over. He suffered the same injury to his opposite knee his senior year at Washington State, and now faced another long rehab.
It appears that he has recovered well to this point. Long (6-4, 255) has been participating in spring workouts and says he’ll likely ditch the brace come training camp. We’ll have a better feel for where he is when the physicality and speed ramps up this summer.
The Eagles could use him. As stacked as the team appears to be on the inside at the moment, outside linebacker is in need of a player or two that will step up and step into the rotation. There is Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham and then question marks. Will Marcus Smith take a step forward? Might someone from the crowded inside linebacker room kick outside?
Then there’s a question of what Long brings to the table. The 23-year-old posted 201 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 11.5 pass break-ups, an interception and four forced fumbles during his four years with Washington State. He had 9.5 sacks his senior season despite missing the final two games because of injury.
After a trip inside last preseason, Long is currently training where he’s most comfortable — on the edge.
“It’s kind of nice being able to focus on one position right now, especially still being in the recovery mindset,” he said. “I definitely do enjoy playing outside ‘backer a lot more.”
Long said he is currently working at Predator, though he’s learning Jack as well. With the backup spots very much up in the air, he’ll have an opportunity to contribute this year.
“Travis is playing outside right now and doing a really good job. We’re really excited about him. We were excited about him last year,” said Kelly.
“So he’s really right back to where he was. He’s really contributing well on special teams and he’s making a push toward outside linebacker right now.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Kelly is looking into how virtual technology can help his team win football games.
“I’ve been doing everything I can do.” Earl Wolff and Kelly don’t appear to be on the same page regarding the safety’s his injured knee.
A friendly reminder to preorder your Eagles Almanac today if you haven’t already.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
David Murphy of the Daily News thinks Darren Sproles could pick up some of the slack left by Jeremy Maclin:
“For us, especially in the beginning of the year, [Sproles] was our only other running back,” Kelly said before this year’s draft. “So when you try to move him around and put him in a lot of different spots you’re kind of holding your breath . . . That’s why our goal in this offseason, if we moved LeSean, was that we wanted to bring two guys in and we wanted to have some depth at the running-back spot and possibly carry four guys during the season. There’s a lot factored into that, but I think obviously in Year 2 we have a lot more familiarity in what we’re doing and in getting acclimated more we need to get [Sproles] on the field more.”
Who will replace Maclin at wide receiver? It might be a running back.
Jason Peters tells Reuben Frank of CSN Philly he will return to form after struggling down the stretch last season:
But even though he went to the Pro Bowl last year for the seventh time in his last seven healthy seasons, Peters came out of last year disappointed.
“Just trying to clean it up,” he said. “When I went back and watched the last four games, I didn’t play as good as I wanted to. Trying to clean that up now. Drove me during the offseason.”
Peters said when last season ended, he feared that he was simply worn down.
But when he studied the sacks he allowed during the offseason, he realized that wasn’t the case.
“That’s what I thought, but when I went back, it was just a technique issue,” he said. “My feet was just crossed up, but it’s something I can fix.”
Just what is a “growth mindset” and where did the term come from? Sheil has the story on the roots of the Eagles’ offseason message.