Gameday: Eagles without three starters on defense versus Washington

Gameday: Eagles without three starters on defense versus Washington

Big game for the Birds today. Huge game in fact. A win would give Philadelphia a half-game lead over idle Dallas in the NFC East standings. A loss will drop the Eagles to 5-6—2-3 in the division—muddying their path to the playoffs.

If the Eagles are going to extend their winning streak to three games, not to mention end home losing-streak that’s into its 14th month, they’ll have to do it shorthanded. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher, interior linebacker Mychal Kendricks, and safety Earl Wolff are all inactive today due to injuries.

Fletcher missed last week’s game already with a pectoral injury. Kendricks and Wolff both suffered knee injuries in the victory at Green Bay as well.

Wolff’s absence is no surprise. The rookie safety was declared out today earlier in the week. Patrick Chung has been active the past two weeks after missing time with a deep shoulder contusion, so at least the Eagles have a veteran to turn to.

Roc Carmichael made his first NFL start for the Eagles last week in place of Fletcher. The former Houston Texan held up well against the Packers’ backup and third-string quarterbacks, although the officials probably could’ve flagged him for pass interference a few times.

Najee Goode replaced Kendricks last week and was serviceable. With DeMeco Ryans having such a huge game stuffing the run, it made Goode’s job that much easier in his first meaningful NFL action on defense.

Of the three injuries though, Kendrick is probably the biggest loss. He likely would’ve been used to spy electrifying Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, who by the way is looking much better than he was the last time around.

The Eagles raced out to a 33-7 in the game’s first 32 minutes when they met Washington in Week 1. The Skins were unprepared though, both for Chip Kelly’s offense in his pro head coaching debut, and Griffin who had not faced a live rush at all after suffering a torn ACL last January.

Griffin has long since shaken off the rust, and he has Washington looking respectable again. He can still beat defenses with his arm and his legs, and he has some pretty good weapons in Alfred Morris (third in the NFL with 825 yards rushing) and Pierre Garcon (seventh with 803 yards receiving).

Nick Foles and the Birds’ offense will likely be called upon to put points on the board this week, because the Eagles’ streak of holding opponents to 21 points or fewer may be in jeopardy.

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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