Philadelphia Eagles

After signing 1-year extension, Jason Peters expects to retire as an Eagle

After signing 1-year extension, Jason Peters expects to retire as an Eagle

As Jason Peters returned to the NovaCare Complex this week for mandatory minicamp, the future Hall of Famer expressed his desire to retire as an Eagle.

After signing a one-year extension, Peters is convinced that's going to happen. 

"Yes," Peters said just off the field Wednesday. "No doubt.

"I don't think I'm going to go that much longer. Three-year extension. I'm going to give them everything I've got."

Peters, 35, is coming off his ninth Pro Bowl season and seventh with the Eagles. In recent history, it's been very rare for great Eagles to end their careers in Philadelphia (see story), but now that Peters is locked up through 2019, he has a real chance. 

His one-year extension, which includes an $8 million signing bonus and is worth $32.5 million over three years with $15.5 million guaranteed, according to a league source, offers him more contract stability, something he admitted he wanted earlier this week.

Does Peters think he'll play out all three years on his deal? 

"I'm year-to-year. I feel good," he said. "I feel like I got more than three years. But it's just a three-year extension and I'm going to keep going, trying to chase a ring."

Last season, Peters was able to play all 16 games thanks to the way his health was managed by first-year head coach Doug Pederson. Peters estimated the coaching staff saved him from taking over 200 extra reps throughout the season. It led to a bounce-back year for the Pro Bowler. 

Peters arrived in Philadelphia in 2009 after five seasons in Buffalo. He entered the league as an undrafted tight end from Arkansas but has built an impressive Hall of Fame résumé as an offensive tackle. He's been a Pro Bowler in nine of the last 10 years, missing just 2012, when an Achilles injury forced him to miss the season. 

The personal success Peters has achieved in the NFL is undeniable, but team success hasn't followed. 

He never made it to the playoffs with the Bills and has been to the playoffs just three times with the Eagles, suffering wild-card losses in 2009, 2010 and 2013. Peters has never won a playoff game, but he's hoping Carson Wentz will be his ticket to get a ring. While he couldn't say if he'd want to stick around if Wentz hadn't arrived, having a franchise quarterback certainly provides some stability. 

What does he think about his chance to win a Super Bowl? 

"I think it's good," he said. "We've got a good team this year. Good quarterbacks, good skill position, good line, good defense. We got a good chance. We just got to put it in place Week 1."

Peters' signing an extension will obviously push back the date for when Lane Johnson ultimately takes over his post at left tackle. But Peters said he'd be willing to move to guard at some point if the team wanted him to and Pederson brought up that same possibility earlier in the day (see story)

For now, having Peters at left tackle and Johnson at right is their best bet. While the Cowboys' offensive line is considered to be the best unit in the league, Peters thinks his offensive line is close. 

"We're right there with them," Peters said. "We don't have a lot of first-round picks, but we're right there tit-for-tat with them."

Peters made sure to thank Eagles owner Jeff Lurie several times on Wednesday. He has an extremely close relationship with the billionaire owner, saying the two are "best friends." 

While Peters and Lurie could be cast on a TV remake of "The Odd Couple," Peters seems indebted to the man who brought him to Philly and pushed to make sure he stayed here. Peters said the two talk about football and life. 

Those conversations will get to continue at the facility for another few years. And maybe Peters really will get to retire as an Eagle. 

Why is he so loyal to Philadelphia? 

"The fans, the organization," Peters said. "The fans deserve a Super Bowl, playoffs, make the Linc rock, get home-field and go from there. Like I said, the city of Philly deserves it."

Former teammate Jay Cutler thinks Alshon Jeffery will be just fine

Former teammate Jay Cutler thinks Alshon Jeffery will be just fine

For the last few weeks, there has been plenty of talk about Alshon Jeffery. He was hurt, then Doug Pederson kept him out and then his position coach said he was behind (see story).
 
Turns out, all everyone needed was just a little Jay Cutler perspective on the whole situation.
 
Cutler, in his typical Jay Cutler fashion, said on Monday that he wouldn't be worried at all about Jeffery.
 
"He'll be fine," said Cutler, who was teammates with Jeffery for five seasons in Chicago before joining the Dolphins this summer. "Obviously, I don't know what's going on here, I don't know where he is in the system, what his production's been like.
 
"As long as he's healthy, he's going to produce. He's going to go out there, he's a pro. He knows football, he's got a great feel, great instincts. If he's healthy, that wouldn't be a guy I'd worry about."
 
Cutler and the Dolphins are in town early for this Thursday's preseason game at the Linc and are having joint practices with the Eagles on Monday and Tuesday. Obviously, a big topic of conversation with Cutler was about his former teammate.
 
So a few questions later, Cutler was again asked about him.
 
"You guys are worried about Alshon," Cutler said jokingly. "He's going to be fine. What's going on? Is something going on that I don't know about?"
 
It was explained to Cutler that Jeffery missed some practice time during camp after hurting his shoulder. 
 
"Well, he had a shoulder injury," Cutler said. "What do you want him to do?"
 
Jeffery, who signed a one-year deal to join the Eagles this offseason, played in the Eagles' second preseason game after missing the first. And on Monday, he probably had his best practice since joining the team (see 10 observations).
 
Dolphins head coach and former Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase has said Jeffery is the only player he's ever coached that had him feel comfortable enough to tell his quarterback to just throw it up even if he isn't open.
 
Carson Wentz is still building that type of chemistry with Jeffery, but Cutler remembers what it was like to have a target like that.
 
"You just throw it," Cutler said. "You just throw it out there and he'll make it right. You get a guy like that 1-on-1, you can back shoulder him, you can put him over the top. It's hard to cover a guy like that and I'm sure Carson and some of these quarterbacks have witnessed his ability to catch the back shoulder balls and get on top of guys as well."
 
Jeffery is two years removed from his last 1,000-yard season, but the Eagles are really hoping he can regain the form that led to back-to-back seasons with at least 85 catches and 1,100 yards in 2013 and 2014. Cutler, of course, was his quarterback then.
 
And he still thinks his former teammate has it.
 
"Obviously, he's had a shoulder injury," Cutler said. "He had some injuries for us (the Bears) that were speed bumps for him. But when he's healthy and he's rolling, he's one of the best out there."

Wendell Smallwood ready for his 'chance to take it' in Eagles' next preseason game

Wendell Smallwood ready for his 'chance to take it' in Eagles' next preseason game

Don't give that fourth running back spot to Corey Clement just yet.

Wendell Smallwood isn't going to go down quietly.

Smallwood, the Eagles' second-year running back from West Virginia, is back practicing with no restrictions after missing nearly two weeks with a hamstring injury.

Smallwood has yet to play in a preseason game, and with undrafted rookie Clement acquitting himself well both at practice and in the first couple preseason games, the pressure is on Smallwood to produce soon to secure a roster spot.

“It was real frustrating," Smallwood said after practice Monday. "Just missing those reps, missing two straight preseason games, not being able to get better. You get better with those game reps and those practice reps, so I think I need to start taking advantage of every one I have."

Smallwood got hurt two weeks ago Monday, and although he returned on a limited basis last week, Monday's practice with the Dolphins was his first with no restrictions since he got hurt.

He looked good. He looked fast and physical. And he said he finally feels 100 percent.

“I think so," he said. "I feel good. Today I forgot about it. Wasn’t even thinking about the injury. Didn’t think twice about cuts, running, bursting, anything like that. I think I got it back.

"It’s a huge relief just because last week practicing I could sense that it was still there and I was still kind of thinking about it, and the coaches could sense it, so being this week, I’m full go, it’s not bothering me. You could see I got some of my burst back. I’m good."

Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said Monday that Smallwood is more of an every-down back than he first realized.

"You know, I think Wendell is a true three-down back," he said. "When we first drafted him, I kind of looked at him as more like a first- and second-down back. I thought he would be OK on third down, but really he's turned out to be better on third down than I thought.

"So really I think he is a very versatile back who knows protections very well, who runs good routes, who catches the ball well. And then I think he's a slashing runner on first and second down, so we like that combination. He's done very well. He works very hard at it. Love him mentally, and really glad he's in the mix."

Smallwood played well early last year before he admittedly got out of shape, hurt his knee and wound up on injured reserve.

He ran for 79 yards against the Steelers and 70 against the Falcons — the Eagles' two biggest wins of the year — before fading later in the season.

He said learning how to work through an injury is an important lesson for a young NFL player.

"I’m definitely more equipped in my second year getting hurt than my first year because I dealt with it differently," he said. "I let it get to me a lot and kind of shied away from the game, but this year I got more into the game.

“It was frustrating, but I stayed into the game plan, stayed in my playbook, [and] I didn’t let it get to me. I stayed dialed in. It was frustrating to me, but I know what I can do and I know what I’m capable of. I’m right back out here and I’m ready to go, and I’m full go."

Much has been made of the Eagles' struggles running the ball this preseason.

LeGarrette Blount is averaging 1.9 yards on nine carries, rookie fourth-round pick Donnel Pumphrey has two yards on seven carries, Clement and Byron Marshall are both averaging under 4.0 yards per carry, and Darren Sproles and Smallwood haven't gotten any carries.

As a group, the Eagles' running backs are averaging 2.4 yards per carry.

The Eagles finish the preseason against the Dolphins at the Linc Thursday — the first offense is expected to play into the third quarter — and at the Meadowlands against the Jets, when most starters won't paly.

Smallwood knows people are already questioning the Eagles' running game.

“We sense it, we hear it, but like Doug (Pederson) said, we’re not going to overreact, we’re not going to underreact," he said. "It’s preseason, we’re going to get better at it, we know what we’re capable of doing. We’re not going to let it get to us that much.

“This game is going to be the one where we dial up the run and show how we can run the ball."

And it needs to be the game that Smallwood does the same thing.

“I’m definitely very hungry," he said. "I missed a lot of reps and missed a lot of game reps that could have made me better. So this is my chance to take it and go full throttle.

“It’s the game, man. It’s my welcome home party. I’m back on the field, going to go out there, I'm going to get some plays, I’m going to get some runs, going to get some passes. It’s real important for me."

Smallwood finished last year with a 4.1 rushing average, becoming only the fourth Eagles rookie running back to rush for 300 yards with an average of 4.0 or more in the last 35 years (also Correll Buckhalter, LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown).

And he felt before the injury he had come a long way from his rookie year.

“I definitely think I took that step," he said. "From last year to this year, I took that leap that I needed, and I think just my running, I was more dialed in, my shoulder pads were getting low, I was running through people instead of trying to run around. I wasn’t thinking so much. I was just playing with confidence.

"Now I’ve just got to do it Thursday night — and every day we’re out here at practice."