Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 9:45pm
Darren Sproles could not contain his smile. He did not want to reveal what Eagles coach Chip Kelly has planned for him in the offense this season. He would only admit that his preseason totals of nine carries and three catches were not even a glimpse of what's to come when the Eagles open the season Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"We haven't shown anything yet," Sproles said.
Teammates volunteer praise for Sproles. The 31-year-old veteran is a diligent worker who fits in the Eagles' locker room culture. But when asked how Sproles would be used, those teammates became similarly mum.
"Y'all just need to wait and see," quarterback Nick Foles said.
Sproles would only say that Eagles fans would like what's to come. The story went on to say the Eagles are committed to using him in the running game, which Sproles has said is one different way he expects to be used. The LeSean McCoy-Sproles package is also going to be a wrinkle. The Eagles want to create mismatches for Sproles with linebackers, so where they align him and move him before the snap will be involve the intricacies that the team has kept veiled so far.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 8:03pm
Matthews said his work ethic, his willingness to come to work early and stay late, is owed, in part, to watching veterans like Johnson and Green prepare in the offseason. They told him “don’t take a play off, not in practice or the game.” It’s the kind of advice you’d expect from players of that caliber, even if the Eagles would prefer Matthews to remember that the season is only just starting, and it’s a long one.
“The biggest thing with Jordan, and there are some other guys on the team like him, we have to make sure we manage him because he’s got such a high motor,” HC Chip Kelly said. “Whether it’s in meetings or on the practice field, we have to make sure he understands we’re playing a 16-game season here.”
Gonzalez believes the Eagles need Matthews to contribute right away. He points out that after Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, they’re pretty thin at receiver. Josh Huff is still recovering from a shoulder injury. Brad Smith is solid on special teams but has never been a consistent offensive receiving threat. And Jeff Maehl rounds out the group. He has four receptions for his career. While this isn't breaking news, it's best to take a wait-and-see approach with Matthews. He likely didn't get drafted in typical leagues. The Eagles are expected to use a lot of TEs Zach Ertz and Brent Celek as well. With RB Darren Sproles also around, there are a lot of targets.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 3:37pm
Even without Lane Johnson for the first four games, the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive line still has plenty of firepower. Johnson will miss the first four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
But with Allen Barbre likely filling in alongside Evan Mathis, Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and center Jason Kelce, the Eagles' offensive line should be quite strong.
“I feel really good about the progress we've made and how we've played as a unit and how we will play as a unit,” Mathis, an All-Pro left guard, told the Philadelphia Daily News. “I see everything being better. It's not brand new to us anymore. We have experience doing it. If there's anything any of us had flaws at, we've worked really hard at correcting those, as well as improving on every other aspect of the game.”
Running back LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing last season with 1,607 yards. Quarterback Nick Foles threw 27 touchdowns, two interceptions and compiled a passer rating of 119.2. The line was a big part of that and has turned into a strength of the team, especially in Chip Kelly's offense that runs a lot of plays. McCoy is a top back this year and Foles is expected to have another great season, although a 27-2 ratio probably shouldn't be expected.
Monday, September 1, 2014, 6:10pm
It's like Robinson won't see a ton of snaps between all the time he's missed and that he's a little buried on the depth chart. He's very risky for fantasy lineups, but we'll have to keep an eye on his role in Week 1.
Saturday, August 30, 2014, 4:13pm
Start with the fact that the Jaguars offensive line has been in a state of flux throughout training camp. Add in the fact that Toby Gerhart, the starting running back, had just 16 carries in the preseason.
The result has been a Jaguars running game that hasn’t been in sync and needs to jell quickly with the regular season starting a week from Sunday in Philadelphia.
Ideally, the Jags will need to run the ball and take time off the clock to keep the Eagles offense off the field. The Birds defense is improved, but can the Jags keep this game, and others, close so that Gerhart gets his touches - and fantasy points. Week 1 will be a good test and Gerhart ranks 16th on our RB list to open the season.
Josey and Tucker have looked great in the preseason but the Birds opted to stick with Polk who had a hamstring injury much of camp. He tried to go in preseason Week 4 but was unable to; however, apparently it was enough for the team to keep him around.
This means that Alex Henery will soon be cut. Parkey will be a cheap, attractive option on draft day given the way the Eagles move the ball.
Friday, August 29, 2014, 9:49am
Cody Parkey, acquired last week in a trade with Indianapolis, boomed a 54-yard field goal attempt late in the first half. In the third quarter, the Eagles wanted to see if that first kick was a fluke, so they sent him out for a 53-yard attempt. Once again, Parkey was successful.
At Auburn, Parkey's career long for a field goal was 52 yards and he surpassed that twice on Thursday. It may have not been a regular season game, but a job was on the line as Parkey and Alex Henery are vying for the kicker job.
Owners drafting this weekend should avoid Henery. It looks like his job is in serious jeopardy.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 5:18pm
On Tuesday, Jets QB David Lee held court and talked mostly about QB Geno Smith’s progress as he enters his second season. Smith’s preseason is done, after three games, because starters don’t play in the fourth and final preseason game, Thursday at the Eagles.
Smith has officially been named the starter, at least for Week 1 against Oakland. Throughout this summer, teammates have raved about the progress they see in his composure and confidence.
Lee loves all of that. But most of all, he just wanted to see Smith stop giving the ball away. He threw 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions last season, and lost four fumbles. Couple that with Mark Sanchez’s 26 turnovers in both 2011 and 2012, and the Jets’ primary quarterbacks over the past three seasons have committed 77 turnovers.
Through three preseason games, Smith threw just one interception – and it appeared to stem from a miscommunication with receiver David Nelson.
“That’s probably been the No. 1 most encouraging thing, is he’s secured the ball in the pocket,” Lee said. “He’s had two hands on the ball, he’s working with two hands on the ball as he’s escaping the pocket and (he’s) moving and sliding. Just his ball security has been a gigantic (improvement). And that’ll be the biggest turnaround thing for us, if he just takes care of the ball and doesn’t get it knocked loose. So that’s a good observation. That’s the big thing he’s improved.”
Smith didn't turn the ball over the Jets final two games last season, which were both victories. He's ranked just 28th on our list and isn't getting a lot of draft day action. The Jets will likely be a run-first team for one reason and the turnover threat is another. We still project Smith for more INTs than TDs. He may have some limited value in some certain matchups. But it appears he's making strides to fix the turnover issues from last year.
The guy who is going to make you forget about Jackson isn't even a wide receiver. He's a tight end. He's Zach Ertz.
And while you might think I'm jumping the gun mentioning somebody who has played only 459 NFL snaps in the same breath with three of the most dangerous pass-catching tight ends in the NFL, Ertz has that kind of ability, that kind of upside.
"You knew when you watched him in college that he had the chance to be something special," Eagles tight ends coach Ted Williams said. "He's one of the best route-runners I've ever seen. He takes a lot of pride in that. He has a lot of confidence. He's hard to defeat, because he doesn't take defeat very well. He feels, 'You can't cover me.' "
Ertz was eased into the offense as a rookie last season by coach Chip Kelly. He played 36 percent of the offensive snaps in the Eagles' first eight games and 45 percent in the final eight. Finished with 36 catches - 25 for first downs - for 469 yards and four touchdowns. All four of those scoring catches came in the second half of the season. He also had a touchdown reception in the Eagles' playoff loss to New Orleans.
Domowitch is one of the Eagles better beat writers, so there's something to what he's saying. He points out that without Jackson the Eagles' passing game is expected to undergo a slight transformation this season. In preseason Week 3, the Birds had four TDs of nine plays or more - five fewer than they had all season. Domo said to look for fewer deep balls and more bubble screens and slants by the wide receivers and more screens and wheel routes by running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles. The only thing holding back Ertz this season is teammate Brent Celek possibly taking away some targets, but Ertz still figures to be a low-end TE1 and should be drafted ahead of Celek. The writer believes both Celek and Ertz are in for increased workloads.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 8:54pm
Ever since he was drafted to a roster that also boasted premier passing-down backs such as Sproles and Pierre Thomas, Ingram has been marginalized to obvious run situations. That usage pattern has allowed defenses to key on him as an obvious candidate to touch the ball whenever he's on the field.
Now that there's some overlap in skill sets among Ingram, Thomas and hard-charging tackle-breaker Khiry Robinson, Sean Payton can tie defenses in knots with less predictable personnel packages.
In addition to being earmarked for the primary early-down role, Ingram expects to be a bigger factor in a pick-your-poison passing attack.
Ingram is looking like a possible later round steal. If you've yet to have your draft, you may have to reach a round or two higher to get him as the news continues to be positive.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 6:16pm
HC Rex Ryan wasn’t exactly reassuring to the former second-round pick Tuesday while being peppered with questions about Hill’s future during his daily press conference.
Based on Ryan’s comments, the combination of drops, injuries and the fact Hill doesn’t play special teams have put the speedy ex-Georgia Tech star in a precarious roster position going into Thursday’s preseason finale at the Eagles and Saturday’s final cutdown.
“He’s had some strong moments, but there are others where we wish maybe he had hung on to a ball or so,” Ryan said of Hill, a 2012 pick by former GM Mike Tannenbaum. “But he’s had a pretty good training camp. I don’t want to say it’s been outstanding, but it’s been pretty good.
Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson look to all be ahead of Hill at this point on the Jets depth chart. Hill is buried down our WR list at 110th.
That runs counter to the popular narrative that emerged when the Eagles acquired the shifty running back from the Saints for a fifth-round pick during the offseason. In his eight-year career, Sproles has been mostly known as a receiving threat out of the backfield. During five years in San Diego and three more in New Orleans, Sproles never carried the ball more than 93 times in a single season. His highest rushing total was 603 yards with the Saints in 2011.
In fairness, he was mostly a backup with the Chargers, and he was employed primarily as a pass catcher with the Saints. Since 2009, Sproles has had at least 45 receptions each year. His receiving numbers spiked with New Orleans, where he hauled in 188 passes over the last three years.
While the Eagles expect him to be a good receiver in the offense, Chip Kelly insisted that Sproles is a running back first and capable of carrying the ball when needed. Pat Shurmur echoed that sentiment this week before practice at the NovaCareComplex
“We’ve said it all along. Darren can play running back on first, second and third down,” the offensive coordinator said. “We always try to use our players in a way where we maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses, no matter what the situation.”
If there’s a concern about Sproles carrying the ball, it’s what kind of impact the increased workload might have on his body, the story said. He’s been a pretty durable player in his career, missing a total of just six games in eight years. This very well may have everything to do with Chris Polk struggling to get on the field and still not being 100-percent. It would make much more sense to keep Sproles in his receiving role and use another back like Polk - ideally - on early downs should McCoy ever miss time.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 12:05pm
Both could both land on the practice squad if they don’t last past final cuts, but there could be other teams willing to snatch them for their 53-man rosters. Josey has rushed 12 times for 104 yards in the preseason. He had a 70-yard, one-shoe TD jaunt brought back by a penalty. He’s swift and can also catch the ball out of the backfield (three catches for 39 yards and a TD). Both Tucker and Josey have looked willing and capable as blockers.
Both have LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Chris Polk and Kenjon Berner making the team. The biggest question right now is whether they are accurate about Polk, who has missed much of camp with a hamstring injury.
"That's coach's call," Gash said, referring to how Mike McCarthy intends to use Lacy. "But I have trained him as a three-down back. He will be ready to go."
Great news for potential and current Lacy owners. He looks to be a real steal the later he slips after the top-three of Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy come off the board. If you really want to take a RB in the middle of the first round, Lacy could be your guy...
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