Mike Vick, Leader

Mike Vick, Leader

While a pair of extensions to the NFL's collective bargaining agreement are cause for optimism that a new deal can be reached, the Eagles' signal caller is still preparing for the worst. Mike Vick, who signed his one-year franchise tender on Wednesday, has a contingency plan in the event of a lockout: he'll organize his own workouts.

"Wherever we agree to be collectively. It may be Florida, it may be Hawaii. We'll get our work in," Vick said. "Being on the same page, timing, which is very important. I think everybody has to be on one accord, all thinking the same. Practice and film study are important, but just familiarizing ourselves with each other, that's going to be big for us."

One of the primary concerns with an extended lockout is the absence of off-season workouts, possibly even a shortened training camp and preseason. Those programs are especially important to new and developing players, such as free agent acquisitions, the incoming class of rookies, and the slew of second-year players already on the roster.

Many view the upcoming camps as vital to Vick's growth as well. This is the first off-season he enters as a starting quarterback since returning to the league.

Vick had an abbreviated summer in 2009, joining the team after they had already played their first preseason game. Last year he worked behind Kevin Kolb, who took the bulk of the snaps and coaches' instruction in practice. And while Kolb was gaining rapport with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, Vick was throwing passes to Chad Hall and Jordan Norwood.

This being Vick's third year in Andy Reid's system, he's expected to take the proverbial next step. Obviously, there is no replacing the environment at Lehigh or the NovaCare Complex, but any progress in lieu of that structure would be welcome.

Maybe most important at all, this is another sign that Vick "gets it." Not that there were any doubts about his new and improved work ethic or desire to win, but now he's going above and beyond the call of duty. Privately organized workouts are not entirely unusual—Donovan McNabb routinely invited the wide receivers to his home in Arizona—but it serves as yet another example of Vick's maturity.

Thankfully, it may not come to this.

While it's still anybody's guess whether owners can settle their differences with the players union in the next week, the fact that they extended the deadline at all is a sign negotiations are at least serious. Funny... as soon as the ruling came down that owners violated the current CBA and may not receive money from their television contracts during a lockout, suddenly they seem very motivated to get a deal completed.

>> Vick: Long-term pact depends on 'actions'on and off the field' [NFL.com]
AP Photo

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson talks protesting anthem, Myke Tavarres doesn't

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson talks protesting anthem, Myke Tavarres doesn't

A day after flip-flopping on whether or not he planned to stand or sit during the national anthem, Myke Tavarres had nothing to say about this complex issue.

Tavarres, a rookie undrafted linebacker with the Eagles, told ESPN on Monday he planned to emulate 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and sit during the playing of the national anthem Thursday night prior to the Eagles’ preseason game against the Jets at The Linc.

Tavarres said he wanted to draw attention to racial inequality and social injustice with the demonstration.

"We’ve got an issue in this country in this day and age, and I feel like somebody needs to step up and we all need to step up,” Tavares  told ESPN.

But within a couple hours, Tavarres had changed his mind.

“Make plans on standing for the national anthem,” his agent said in a statement. “Myke does not want to be a distraction to the Philadelphia Eagles organization. Mike’s goal is and will always be to make the Eagles’ 53-man roster and help the team win a Super Bowl.”

Kaepernick, who four years ago led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, spoke for 18 1/2 minutes about his decision to sit during the Star-Spangled Banner.

Tavarres said at his locker after practice Tuesday he had nothing more to say.

“I made a statement through my agent last night,” he said. “If you have any other questions, please talk to him.”

Head coach Doug Pederson said he did not talk individually to Tavarres, a fringe prospect who is unlikely to survive this weekend’s roster cuts.

But he did discuss the broader issue in a meeting with the full team and said he believes his players should stand during the anthem.

“Listen, I can appreciate everybody's opinions and I respect everybody's opinions,” Pederson said.

“But at the same time, I feel that [the national anthem] is important and it's obviously out of respect for the men and women of our country that sacrifice in order for us to coach and play this great game.

“So I get it. I understand it. But at the same time, I encourage everybody to stand.”

If not yet suspended, Lane Johnson would start at RT in opener

If not yet suspended, Lane Johnson would start at RT in opener

The Eagles are just 12 days away from the season opener against the Browns. 

And Lane Johnson still isn't suspended. 

The Eagles' starting right tackle is facing a 10-game PED suspension once the B sample returns and shows the same peptide from an amino acid that his A sample did. Johnson expects it to, but it hasn't happened yet. On Aug. 13, after news broke about the looming suspension, Johnson said he thought the results from the B sample back in two to three weeks, although there's no set timetable.  

… Nothing yet. 

So, at what point do the Eagles, who shifted the offensive line in anticipation of the suspension, have to plan for Johnson to be active for the opener? 

"[That’s] a great question, and this is something that we wrestle with every day," head coach Doug Pederson said. "The conversations are such that we've got to have – especially offensively – just have a plan ready to go. 

"I'll tell you this: If he's ready to go, then he's our guy." 

Since news of the impending suspension broke, Johnson has been working with the second team at right tackle. To replace him, the team moved Allen Barbre from left guard to right tackle and inserted rookie Isaac Seumalo at left guard. He stayed there until an injury forced Stefen Wisniewski into the lineup. 

If there's no suspension and Johnson is able to play in the opener, things would then shift back. Johnson would take his job at right tackle, and Barbre would go back to left guard, sending Seumalo and/or Wisniewski to the bench. 

"I think he had a tremendous camp and tremendous offseason at left guard, and you kind of put the pieces back in place," Pederson said of Barbre. "We've seen enough from the [G] Isaacs [Semualo] and [C/G Stefen] Wisniewskis, and [G/T] Allen [Barbre] over there at right tackle that we know we've got the combination of guys – and ‘Big V’ [T Halapoulivaati Vaitai] got plenty of reps – to sustain this thing through the duration."

For now, though, the Eagles aren't treating Johnson like a starter. The veteran will be playing on Thursday in the preseason finale. It might be his last game until Nov. 28 against the Packers. Or not. 

The waiting game continues.  

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts despite awful numbers vs. Max Scherzer

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts despite awful numbers vs. Max Scherzer

Despite having awful career numbers against Max Scherzer, Ryan Howard is in the Phillies' lineup against him Tuesday night.

Howard, 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts against the Nationals' ace, bats fourth. 

Howard seems to be coming back to Earth. He hit .357 with seven home runs, four doubles and 16 RBIs in his first 20 games out of the All-Star break, but has gone 2 for 16 with two singles and eight strikeouts since.

Jimmy Paredes gets another start in left field. Peter Bourjos is out of the lineup for a fourth straight game.

The rest of the lineup is standard. Odubel Herrera, who bats second, is 6 for 19 with five walks in his career against Scherzer (see game notes).

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