Earl Wolff Runs with First-Team Defense, Clay Harbor Trying Out Wide Receiver

Earl Wolff Runs with First-Team Defense, Clay Harbor Trying Out Wide Receiver

The other shoe finally dropped after Nate Allen’s rough outing in the preseason opener. According to reports out of the NovaCare Complex, the fourth-year safety was replaced in the defense’s top pairing at practice on Monday by rookie Earl Wolff.

Wolff being elevated to the first string at this stage in camp is big news, as it would seem the fifth-round pick is getting a serious look to start sooner rather than later. Patrick Chung remained with the first-team defense, and he probably has one of the two spots locked down, but the other job is still wide open.

Allen fumbled his opportunity on Friday against the Patriots. He took a horrible angle to the ball carrier on Stevan Ridley’s 62-yard run to open the game. He would have been on the hook for a touchdown in coverage had the starting quarterback still been on the field. Generally speaking, he hasn’t looked very sharp.

Allen worked with David Sims in the second grouping on Monday per reports. However, Kenny Phillips was not at practice, as he’s apparently dealing with a quad injury – not sure who would have run third string, though my gut says Sims.

When the unofficial depth chart was released last week, Wolff was at the very bottom. That was reflected in the game as well, as Wolff did not get in until late. It’s a huge jump, going from the seventh safety on the roster to potential starter Thursday versus Carolina in a matter of days.

Also of some interest, multiple reports over the past two have had Clay Harbor working with the wide receivers. The team is still thin there after a series of camp injuries, and Harbor’s fine receiving performance on Friday – three receptions for 47 yards – stood out.

One popular line of thinking is the Eagles will keep four tight ends, and Harbor is in line for that final spot so far. Chip Kelly likes to move those guys around the formation, too, so it's probably important to find out whether Harbor can be more than an in-line tight end. The head coach did mention Harbor is the fastest player at his position, per Reuben Frank:

“We’ve got seven tight ends, and he already knows how to play inside because all the tight ends know how to play the slot,” Kelly said. “He had three big catches for us Friday night. He’s probably the fastest of the tight ends. Until, really, there’s some cut downs and there’s some guys available, we think that the best route for us is the guys we have.

The big news is Wolff though. Chip has downplayed the existence of a true depth chart at every turn, but given Allen’s performance and that he had previously run with the ones all of last week, it’s tough not to read into the change. And given the state of the Eagles’ safeties, it’s not unreasonable at all to assume a rookie has a chance to start there.

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

Ben Simmons, Robert Covington react to Ersan Ilyasova trade

On Wednesday, the Sixers traded Ersan Ilyasova to the Hawks in exchange for Tiago Splitter and a 2017 second-round pick, as well as the option to swap 2017 second-round selections (see story).

"I want to thank Ersan Ilyasova for his positive contributions to this organization both on and off the basketball court," president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said in a statement. "Ersan is a true professional whose daily examples of hard work, focus and consistency have helped facilitate the ongoing growth of our program and culture."

The Sixers took to Instagram to express their appreciation for Ilyasova’s leadership. Ilyasova quickly embraced the role of a veteran go-to when he was traded to the Sixers in early November. Both posts below exemplify his team-first mentality.

✊🏼 A true Pro @ersanilyasova7

A post shared by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Thanks for being a great teammate @ersanilyasova7. Wishing you the best in ATL

A post shared by Rob Covington (@atf_33) on

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Rickard Rakell broke a tie with his second goal with 2:34 to play, and the Anaheim Ducks snapped Boston's four-game winning streak under new coach Bruce Cassidy with a 5-3 victory over the Bruins on Wednesday night.

Rakell also scored in the second period for the Ducks and has 24 goals in his outstanding season. Ondrej Kase, Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Anaheim, and Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves in his first victory since Jan. 23.

Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal in the third period for the Bruins, who hadn't lost since Cassidy replaced Claude Julien on Feb. 7. Defensemen Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara scored early goals, and Tuukka Rask stopped 20 shots.

Anaheim beat Boston for the seventh straight time (see full recap).

Rare goal from Russell lifts Oilers over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kris Russell's goal with 7:58 left was his first in more than a year and lifted the Edmonton Oilers over Florida 4-3 on Wednesday night to snap the Panthers' five-game winning streak.

Russell's goal was his first since Feb. 11, 2016, when he played for Calgary. He went goalless in his first 48 games with the Oilers.

Fellow defenseman Oscar Klefbom also scored for Edmonton, as did forwards Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Connor McDavid, who came into the night leading the NHL scoring race, had an assist on Russell's goal.

Aleksander Barkov, Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Florida. Keith Yandle had two assists for the Panthers, giving him 400 points for his career.

Cam Talbot stopped 31 shots for the Oilers, who have won their last eight games at Florida -- last losing on the Panthers' ice in 2002. James Reimer made 31 saves for the Panthers, who just completed a 5-0-0 road trip (see full recap).