Expect Darren Sproles to be featured in the passing game this season. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said that every week during game planning meetings, they will ask, "How can we get this guy the football?"
"Sproles is the original, right?" Reich said. "He's the original guy. He's the prototype. Right from the start, I remember coming in some of the immediate talk was the excitement of how we get to use a guy like Darren Sproles. . . . In Doug's offense, they've done that in the past. We'll continue to mix in some other things that we've all done, that our staff has done to kind of isolate backs and get good matchups."
As the article mentioned, Reich's history with Danny Woodhead shows that he knows how to get a pass-catching back the football. After Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz, the Eagles are looking for playmakers in the passing game, and Sproles can certainly help in that area. He has finished in the top 30 in seven straight seasons in PPR formats.
Given the state of the Eagles receivers, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Nelson Agholor looked better in preseason game two, but with Jordan Matthews hurt, no one else has really stepped up. It's hard to imagine DGB making a huge fantasy impact coming to a new team, but if he can show any kind of signs of consistency the Eagles may have no other choice but continue to give him chances.
Monday, August 22, 2016, 12:02pm
A step he won't be taking this week.
Speaking on Monday at the NovaCare Complex, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Wentz won't be throwing at practice due to soreness, but didn't sound overly concerned about the development.
The goal seems more to get Wentz ready for some playing time against the Jets, the team's final preseason game.
Sunday, August 21, 2016, 2:05pm
Good luck trying to get Paul Turner to talk about himself.
Not just with the media. With his teammates, too.
“He’ll make a big play, he’ll act like it didn’t even happen,” Jordan Matthews said with a laugh. “He just goes right back to the huddle.”
Turner, a quiet, humble undrafted rookie wide receiver from Louisiana Tech, has been opening eyes both in practice and in the preseason games with his playmaking ability.
In an underachieving wide receiver group, he’s really stood out.
It’s rare for undrafted rookie wideouts to make the Eagles’ roster. Rarer still for them to contribute. Exceptions are Hank Baskett and Greg Lewis, the latter of whom is now Turner’s position coach. The Eagles WRs haven't been all that great in camp so there's a chance Turner could make the team, but it's still hard to imagine he'd pass guys like Nelson Agholor or Rueben Randle for a significant fantasy role.
After Jordan Matthews went down in practice a couple of weeks ago with a knee injury and Zach Ertz had to be tested for a concussion, the tight end expressed his frustration about how the Eagles’ rookies were hitting during practice.
But Matthews said today, in his first media availability since his injury, he’s not upset with Jalen Mills’ low hit and he'll be ready Week 1.
“I’m not the type to get mad. Getting upset or anything isn’t going to help my knee get any better,” Matthews said. “Right after it happened, Jalen came up to me and was like, ‘Yo bro, I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize.’ I just looked at him and was like, ‘It’s cool, bro. I’m fine.’ I’m just not the type to get pissed off about that. It’s football."
It’s unclear when Matthews will return and if he’ll play in the preseason, but he said he’ll “for sure” be good to go for the regular season. The 24-year-old, who played through a painful hand injury last season, added that the Eagles’ two preseason games are the only games he’s missed in his entire life since he began playing sports.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is taking the long view when it comes to rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, but the plan is to give him a little work Saturday to see how he is progressing after suffering a hairline rib fracture in the preseason opener Aug. 11.
"We're going to test him a little bit today, just throwing a little bit. But that's one that I'm not going to rush back," Pederson said. "I know that injury can be a little discomforting but at the same time, want to see where he's at."
Pederson indicated that he is still trying to get Wentz ready to play in the Sept. 1 preseason finale against the New York Jets. The head coach described Wentz as "day-to-day." This is possibly the last chance Wentz would have to play this year as the plan remains to start Sam Bradford with Chase Daniel the backup.
Steelers running back LeVeon Bell has been suspended three games by the NFL for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The running back was facing a four-game suspension but appealed to the league. Though Bell will be eligible to practice and play with the team through the preseason, he will miss the team’s first three regular-season games against the Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles.
This will boost Bell's projections, but he's still a little dicey as a 1st round pick since he'll miss the first three games of the year. He has extra value in leagues where more than half the teams make the playoffs. He's also recovering from MCL and PCL tears but recently declared himself 100 percent, for what it's worth.
Eagles beat writer Reuben Frank (CSN Philly):
I don’t care if I write this every week, I really like Kenjon Barner. He just looks like a football player to me. Sometimes you see guys put up big numbers in the preseason but you don’t really expect them to ever carry it over into the regular season. Barner hasn’t done anything since he got here in 2014 to make me think he can’t play in this league. He runs hard, slashes through traffic, has a terrific feel for the defenders around him and is tough enough to run through guys (rushing stats: 7 for 35 vs. the Bucs, 6 for 41 Thursday night). He’s explosive in the return game, picks up the blitz, getting better as a receiver. We all know Ryan Mathews’ injury history. We all know Darren Sproles is a gifted player but not equipped for double-digit carries. We haven’t even seen Wendell Smallwood play yet. It’s pretty clear Barner has to be this team’s No. 2 back. Not only that, he needs to have a role on offense as well.
Reuben Frank of CSN Philly:
Paul Turner has been the Eagles’ second-best wide receiver this preseason, the best if you consider that Jordan Matthews has been out a couple weeks. Turner has done what you hoped Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff would do. Make plays. Flash. His highlight-reel one-hander from Chase Daniel for 23 yards to set up a touchdown in the third quarter is the kind of play we’ve been waiting to see Agholor make. Turner is an undrafted rookie free agent from Louisiana Tech, and Agholor is a second-year first-round pick, but Turner is flashing in a way that Agholor hasn’t. This team is desperate for wide receivers. So far, one guy is making plays. Not only does Turner deserve to make the team, he’s quickly showing that he deserves to play.
Turner may be worth a look late in drafts. The Eagles are hurting at receiver and the new regime isn't going to show favoritism to Agholor if someone else is outplaying him.
So which receiver – or receivers – might benefit from Green-Beckham’s departure, keeping in mind the Titans are not likely to keep five on the final roster?
As for the veterans, it clears more room for guys like 31-year-old Harry Douglas and 35-year-old Andre Johnson. It seemed unlikely the Titans would keep both veterans – and that still may be the case – but it’s easier to make a case for that happening now.
The DGB trade could also breathe new life into Justin Hunter, a 2013 second-round pick who – like DGB – has suffered from inconsistency. Another player who benefits is Tre McBride, the second-year player out of William & Mary who spent last season on the practice squad. He wasn’t receiving much attention at the start of camp, but has come on strong over the last few weeks.
From the Eagles side, one thing was pretty obvious in their first preseason game - they need WR help and Beckham has a chance to step right in and be an outside option, complimenting Jordan Matthews who plays the slot. Nelson Agholor wasn't impressive and Rueben Randle looked lackluster at best, so the door is open for a fresh start for Beckham. Beckham struggled his rookie season but did average 17.2 yards per catch with four TDs and had a solid points per target (1.18). However, he was again having a rough camp with the Titans and wasn't projected as a top-three WR, falling behind Tajae Sharpe for an outside spot opposite Rishard Matthews. He was recently singled out for running a bad route in the Titans perseason game which led to a Matt Cassel INT, so he was clearly in the Mike Mularkey doghouse. For the Titans, it's not a big return, but it opens the door for Sharpe to start on the outside with Kendall Wright in the slot. Sharpe's stock and ranking should climb with this news.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016, 8:37am
On his next to last play in the fourth quarter, Wentz was drilled in the side by Buccaneers linebacker Micah Awe. Wentz remained in the game and threw a pass on his final snap. He even tried to participate in Saturday's practice, but later in the day had a CT scan to reveal the full extent of the injury. The Eagles said that they hope to have Wentz back before the end of the preseason, which is what Wentz echoed Sunday night.
"I really hope so. I love to play a lot," Wentz said.
Wentz said this is the first time he's suffered a rib injury. He described it as "weird" and "sore" which is why he wasn't sure how to react to the injury. Wentz will be able to dictate when he returns to practice, but he must be cleared by team doctors before he can play in a game.
The preseason is critical for Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick, to get as many reps on the field as possible before giving way to Sam Bradford in the regular season. Now, he'll have to soak everything in while watching with the hope of getting back on the field for the final game.
Monday, August 15, 2016, 8:34pm
The longest reception by an Eagles wideout went for 10 yards in their opening preseason game. It belonged to Paul Turner, an undrafted rookie from Louisiana Tech, who also was the team's leading receiver for the evening, with six catches for 34 yards.
The two longest receptions went to tight ends - 19 yards to Zach Ertz and 16 to M.J. McFarland. With Jordan Matthews sidelined by a knee injury, the field was wide open for 2015 No. 1 pick Nelson Agholor, 2014 third-round pick Josh Huff, former Giants second-round pick Rueben Randle, or former Rams and Ravens starter Chris Givens to step up and make a case.
None of them did. Turner was the lone bright spot. Eagles quarterbacks passed for 114 yards, with several drops.
The Eagle receivers couldn't get a lot of separation against the Bucs. Randle played uninspired, admitting camp has taken a toll on him. Agholor played 32 snaps and was target twice but didn't catch a pass. This is an area to watch for potential fantasy owners to hopefully see some improvement in their next contest. Outside of Matthews, there isn't a lot of excitement from a fantasy standpoint right now.
If the Eagles get the Ryan Mathews who gained 1,255 yards for the Chargers in 2013, there won't be any worries, but that is the only one of Mathews' six seasons in which he played a full 16 games. No, the likelihood is that offensive coordinator Frank Reich will be looking around for other answers, and he just might find one in rookie Wendell Smallwood, who is expected to make his preseason debut on Thursday in Pittsburgh.
Smallwood, who missed the first exhibition game because of a slight quadriceps strain, has been back on the practice field this week, hoping to show why the Eagles selected him in the fifth round of the draft.
Smallwood was the Big 12's leading rusher, gaining 1,519 yards with a 6.4 average, and he did very well at the combine, setting the lowest times among running backs in the three-cone drill and 60-yard shuttle run, the story said. Darren Sproles is effective in small doses, but at 33 years old can't be used that much; and that Kenjon Barner is a career special-teams player. That all means if Smallwood can show anything he may end up behind Mathews on the depth chart and be in line for a lot of carries if Mathews gets hurt.
When it rains, it pours.
And this might be some of the worst news the Eagles could have gotten.
One day after it was revealed that their franchise offensive tackle will likely be suspended 10 games this upcoming season after testing positive for PEDs, the Eagles announced Saturday that rookie quarterback Carson Wentz has a hairline fracture in his rib.
"Carson felt some discomfort and soreness as we began this morning's practice. We decided to limit him throughout the remainder of practice and, as a precaution, sent him for a CT scan after practice," head coach Doug Pederson said in a statement. "The scan revealed a hairline fracture in his ribs. We do not know an exact timetable for his return, but we hope to have him back before the end of the preseason."
The injury to Wentz might cost him the rest of the preseason. The Birds have no plans to start him or even make him the QB2 with Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel in those slots. If the Eagles have their way, this was going to be the only time this season the rookie was expected to play, and it was going to be key in his development.
- Page 1