What's the Deal With Curtis Marsh?

What's the Deal With Curtis Marsh?

As we mentioned in our earlier "Scenes From Training Camp," second-year cornerback Curtis Marsh reportedly has been seeing action with the ones up at Lehigh, apparently in preperation for his new role as the immediate backup behind Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the outside. Some followers might describe this as a surprising development given the fact that Marsh only dressed in seven games last season, and was used very sparingly on defense at that -- just 13 snaps according to Pro Football Focus.

For the Eagles, it was all part of the plan.

Marsh was the club's third-round pick in 2011, so it was only natural to be somewhat disappointed when he amounted to a total non-factor in his rookie season. In Marsh's case however, his inability to get on the field was not a sign that he was a bust believe it or not.

For starters, it wasn't that long ago the Eagles were trying to find a way to get along with three Pro-Bowl corners who were all best suited on the outside. If it wasn't working out with Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie, and Asante Samuel in the same secondary, adding the untested Marsh into the mix certainly wasn't going to be the solution. Heck, who would you dare have him replace? He was blocked, it's as simple as that.

At 6'1", 197, Marsh projects as another press corner in the mold of an Asomugha or DRC, only he happens to be a bit of a project, which also hurt his chances of making an impact from day one. Taken out of Utah State, Marsh actually began his collegiate career as a running back before switching over to defense as a junior. To make that leap and go on to be drafted in the third round, Marsh obviously demonstrated an instinct for the position, but there is just no way anybody could expect him to be as polished -- especially after a lockout-condensed offseason.

Not that it necessarily would have mattered either way. The whole situation is reminiscent of when the Birds took Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown in rounds one and two of the '02 Draft. With Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor still under contract and doing their jobs at a high level, Sheppard and Brown only started 12 games combined during their first two seasons in Philly. Clearly it's not uncommon for the team to groom cornerbacks in this manner.

For Marsh's part, he was impressive during the preseason last year, albeit against second-rate talent. He showed a willingness to get physical with receivers though, and the size and athleticism to cover them. The coaches obviously liked what they saw too, as once they were able to work him in on special teams, Marsh even became the focal point of a of trick punt return. The fact that it failed is beside the point -- they trusted him enough to try.

It only makes sense to increase his role now that Samuel is out of the picture. Joselio Hanson is a pure slot corner, and 2012 fourth-round pick Brandon Boykin is likely to battle for that spot as well. That leaves a relatively thin crop of players behind Asomugha and DRC, and none with Marsh's pedigree or natural ability.

The fact that they aren't simply utilizing him as a second stringer, instead putting him on the field at the same time as Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie, suggests his role may be even greater than imagined. Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and Asomugha aren't backing down from the challenge of turning 24 into a do-it-all defensive back. If Nnamdi is going to line up anywhere other than at right corner on a regular basis, Marsh figures to be the man on the outside on gameday.

Whether Marsh is ready for that or not, obviously no one knows. It may be easy to explain why he wasn't on the field last year, but until he performs, he's still just another kid who has to prove he belongs. However, the Eagles must like what he brings to the table, because they don't seem to be afraid to keep putting more on his plate. Marsh is definitely a player to watch going forward.

Source: Eagles CB Ron Brooks to have knee surgery

Source: Eagles CB Ron Brooks to have knee surgery

It sounds like the Eagles will be out without a member of their secondary for a while, perhaps the rest of the season.

A league source tells CSN's Derrick Gunn that Eagles cornerback Ron Brooks will require surgery to repair an injury to his right knee. The Philadelphia Daily News' Les Bowen is reporting the injury is a serious quadriceps rupture that will end Brooks's first season as an Eagle and put him on the shelf until next summer's training camp.

Brooks was carted off the field after attempting to make an open-field tackle during the first quarter of Sunday's 21-10 win over visiting Minnesota. Brooks stayed down on the field for several minutes before his leg was stabilized and he was placed on a cart.

Brooks, 28, is primarily the Eagles' slot corner, but he's also a standout on special teams. A free-agent who left Buffalo to sign a three-year deal with the Eagles this past offseason, Brooks has 12 total tackles and a pass deflection this season, the LSU grad's fifth in the league.

Malcolm Jenkins slid over to slot corner in Brooks' absence Sunday, which allowed Jaylen Watkins to come in and see more playing time.

If Brooks is placed on injured reserve, the Eagles will have an open roster spot, possibly for another corner.

Doug Pederson: Eagles rebound after getting 'lip bloodied a little bit'

Doug Pederson: Eagles rebound after getting 'lip bloodied a little bit'

They were great before the bye. They were bad since.

The Eagles rallied against the Lions only to lose late because of two turnovers. Then last week at Washington, they laid an egg.

But on Sunday, they looked like the pre-bye team — at least defensively — and handed the Vikings their first loss of the season.

"This is a team that for two weeks in a row has kind of got their lip bloodied a little bit," head coach Doug Pederson said after the 21-10 victory (see Instant Replay). "The Detroit game, obviously feeling sick about that one, and then last week in Washington not playing well and up to our potential.

"These guys are professionals. They know how to get themselves ready to go. I don't feel like I have to motivate them. ... They really took it upon themselves this week to really make the corrections, No. 1, from last week and the adjustments. The veterans, the leadership stood up today, took command of the game, and that's what you like to see from this group."

More from Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz:

The defense
If the Eagles were going to win this game, the defense would have to dominate.

It did (see story).

The Vikings finished with only 282 yards from scrimmage — or 52 more than the Redskins rushed for last week against the Eagles.

The Eagles held Minnesota to 93 yards rushing (3.4 per carry) and battered Sam Bradford, who was 24 for 41 for 224 yards with a pick and a garbage-time TD. They sacked him six times (they had zero last week) and forced him to fumble four times. Bradford entered the game without a turnover this season.

"I think the guys just put it in their mind to play better than last week," Pederson understated. "Our defensive line really came off the ball today, really took it upon themselves to just attack the line of scrimmage and play on their side.

Two of the Eagles' three takeaways occurred in the red zone and in the first quarter, when the game was scoreless. They picked off Bradford on 3rd-and-goal at the 6 and forced a fumble on 1st down at the 17.

"It's huge," Pederson said. "Our defense playing as well as they did down there and stopping them. ... It was fun to watch our defense today. That's the defense that we expect every week going forward."

Bring the heat
The Eagles blitzed more than they had all season (see story). 

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz prefers to let his front four bring the pressure, but it hadn't worked the last two weeks, and now they were facing Sam Bradford, who was familiar with the scheme.

"Anytime you know a quarterback on the other team and kind of know his strengths and weaknesses and things like that — just try to give him some different looks, put some pressure on him from different areas," Pederson said. "It was a great game plan. ... Sometimes just changing things up to help your guys be in position — we benefitted from that today, and guys did a nice job."

Going for two after a made PAT
Midway through the second quarter, Pederson took a point off the board and decided to go for two after the Vikings were penalized for hitting Caleb Sturgis on an extra point, which was successful.

Wentz made the conversion with a QB sneak.

"It was kind of a no-brainer, because you get the ball at the 1," Pederson said.

"I've got a lot of trust in our guys. If you don't work those situations in practice and talk about those situations, then yeah, negative things can happen. But I felt totally 100 percent confident in our guys to execute that play."

Another "no-brainer"
Pederson hasn't been afraid to go for it on fourth down — the Eagles entered the game 4 for 4 on fourth downs — and on Sunday he converted another.

On the aforementioned drive, the Eagles faced a 4th-and-2 at the Vikings' 44. After unsuccessfully trying to draw the Vikings offside, the Eagles called timeout ... and sent the offense back out to go for it.

"Sometimes at that point, they feel like you're going to rush the punt team out there and burn the timeout," Pederson said, "but I went with the offense. I just had total confidence that we were going to get the first down.

"It was a kind of, again, a no-brainer — almost like the two-point conversion."

The play was an run-pass option ... until Wentz dropped the snap. He then ran six yards for the first.

"Obviously when he dropped it, at that point, it was run all the way," Pederson said. "But great execution."

"One more shot"
With 15 seconds left in the first half, the Eagles had the ball at the Minnesota 17. 

Pederson sent out the field goal unit for a 35-yarder, but when the Vikings called timeout to ice Sturgis, it gave Pederson time to change his mind.

The offense came back onto the field. Wentz threw incomplete to Jordan Matthews in the end zone, and then Sturgis came back and hit the field goal.

"Take one more shot," Pederson said. "Max the protection. It's two-man route. It's either a completion or an incomplete pass."

Wentz said there was "a little indecisiveness on the sideline," but once the play was decided on ... 

"It was just a max protect throw to Jordan or throw it away," Wentz said. 'It was pretty plain and simple: Don't take a sack."

All's well that ends well
Wentz botched a handoff. He threw two ugly interceptions in the first quarter. 

OK, those things happen (see Wentz's overall evaluation).

But he also dropped three snaps. How?

"I'm not really sure," Wentz said. "I just have to catch the ball, for starters. Some of them were a little off, but those are the things that we have to clean up."

On one of the dropped snaps, he converted the 4th-and-2. On another, he recovered and found Darren Sproles for a 19-yard gain.

Now, about those interceptions. On the first, he overthrew a blanketed Brent Celek. On the second, he forced a throw to Nelson Agholor with too much purple around.

"That one was 3rd-and-12, and there's no need to force that one," Wentz said. "As a quarterback, sometimes that happens. There's really no rhyme or reason. You see things and you kick yourself in the tail after the play, but you learn from it and move on."

Picks aside, Wentz's numbers weren't pretty — 16 for 28 passing for 138 yards with a TD. Pederson said Wentz "might have been pressing a little bit early" but overall "played efficient."

"Love the way he settled in," Pederson said. "There was no panic for him and any of us on the sideline."

Big V
Wentz was sacked five times last week. On Sunday, he wasn't sacked at all.

The Eagles at times max-protected, but they also benefitted from the improved play of rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who was in his second game in place of suspended Lane Johnson.

Pederson said he didn't help Vaitai as much as he did against Washington.

"I felt he kind of settled in this week, did a nice job," Pederson said. "The run game obviously helps. ... We were in some two tight-end sets a little more today, and that obviously helped him a little bit. We'll evaluate the film tomorrow, but I thought overall he did a nice job."