Philadelphia Eagles

Arizona transfer put Nick Foles on path to Eagles

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Arizona transfer put Nick Foles on path to Eagles

This is the fourth installment of a five-part series that will run this week taking an in-depth look at the life of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Part I, on Foles' heroes -- his mom and dad -- ran Sunday. Part II on the women in his life, his mom and wife, ran Monday. Part III on how he chose football ran Tuesday.

One difficult decision Nick Foles made in May of 2008 could very well have dramatically altered the course of not only Foles’ life and career but also of the Eagles’ franchise for the next 10 years.

The decision: Leave Michigan State and enroll at Arizona.

The result: Foles got to play college football and ultimately wound up as the Eagles’ quarterback.

"When I look back at everything,” Foles says now, “I really think that you have moments in your life where you can go one way or you can go another.”

Foles, then just 18 years old, had just finished his freshman year at Michigan State. He redshirted that football season -- he got into one game against Alabama-Birmingham and threw eight passes -- and with current Redskin Kirk Cousins and Oklahoma transfer Keith Nichol set to battle for the Spartans’ starting quarterback job, Foles just didn’t have a reason to stay in East Lansing.

He loved Michigan State, but he knew there was a very good chance his football career would never materialize if he stayed.

“There was a moment there where I didn't know what to do, what direction to go,” he said. “I was 18, from Texas, up there, and I just prayed to have God, ‘Guide me.’ And I had tears in my eyes because I had no clue what to do.

“I talked to the family and talked to coach [Mark] Dantonio and decided it was best to go elsewhere. It was a very tough decision. I mean, I don't think I had a horrible year. I developed a lot of great friendships. (Current Eagle receiver) B.J. Cunningham was there with me. We had a lot of great times. Brent Celek's brother (Garrett) was my roommate. Love that Garrett to death.

“You’re leaving all those guys that you've developed friendships with, but I just knew in my heart that it was the right thing to do.”

Foles, who had originally committed to Arizona State as a high school junior, wound up transferring to Arizona.

He joined a program that won only four bowl games in school history and hadn’t had a winning record in nine years.

Foles didn’t have much talent around him at Arizona and won just 15 of 35 starts. But Andy Reid, then the Eagles’ head coach, loved his toughness and grit and used a third-round pick to select him in the 2012 draft.

Foles showed flashes in 2012, becoming the first rookie in NFL history to complete 60 percent of his passes while throwing for at least 240 yards per game.

But he won just one of six starts on an awful team and didn’t even begin the 2013 season as the starter. But after replacing an injured Michael Vick, he blossomed, going 8-2, setting several NFL records, fashioning the third-highest passer rating in league history and earning Pro Bowl MVP honors.

If he stayed at Michigan State?

Who knows where Foles would be right now? Who knows who the Eagles' quarterback would be?

That decision was monumental.

“When I was going through the transfer process, I was going to try initially to stay in the state of Texas,” Foles said. “And no one offered. No one really even gave me a look, really.

“And Arizona, coach (Sonny Dykes, offensive coordinator) had recruited me when he was at Texas Tech. He said, ‘Hey, we’d really like you to come here, but we don’t have a scholarship. You’d have to be a walk-on the first semester.’

“It was just one of those things where making that decision to walk on at Arizona was a big life decision. ‘Do I want to do this? Should I do this?’ I knew I would regret it if I didn’t give it everything I had.”

That first season, in the fall of 2009, Foles lost a training camp battle for the starting quarterback job with Matt Scott.

But after Scott struggled the first three games, Foles became the starter and stayed there the rest of his college career.

And even though he threw for only 57 yards in his Michigan State career, he said he looks back at the experience as an important one in his development.

“I learned a lot about myself that year,” he said. “When I went to Arizona, what I went through at Michigan State equipped me to go through the battles I would have upcoming with sitting out a year, going to be the scout team quarterback every single day, going in a quarterback battle my redshirt sophomore year, not winning the quarterback battle, being a backup, and then all of a sudden I get an opportunity against Iowa and we go on an 80-yard touchdown drive and I throw it to Juron Criner [for a touchdown].

“It’s just one of those things where if I didn’t have Michigan State and went through that, I don’t think I would have been able to do what I did at Arizona. And when I say, ‘do,’ I mean able to handle the situation, every day, just not let it get to me, and just keep working.

“Everybody says it’s luck. Well, it’s, ‘Are you prepared for that opportunity when it arises?’ Because some people aren’t and then they never get another one.

“I knew at that time I would probably get one opportunity and if I didn’t show it, it might not ever happen again.”

NFL Notes: Giants WRs Beckham, Marshall listed as day to day

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NFL Notes: Giants WRs Beckham, Marshall listed as day to day

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. is being listed as day to day with a sprained left ankle.

Speaking on a conference call Tuesday, New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo didn't give many details about Beckham's ankle, refusing to say whether the injury in a preseason loss to Cleveland on Monday night was a high sprain, which usually takes longer to recover from.

McAdoo said the team will wait to see how Beckham responds to treatment. An MRI on the ankle was negative.

X-Rays on the shoulder of fellow wide receiver Brandon Marshall were also negative, the coach said. The 33-year-old veteran also is being listed as day to day.

One of the NFL's most dynamic players, Beckham was hurt after being hit around the knee by defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun after catching a pass. The impact flipped Beckham onto his side and his head bounced off the turf (see full story).

Jets: Forte practices fully, says he’ll play in opener
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Matt Forte's hamstring is feeling healthy and he's ready for some game action.

The New York Jets running back practiced fully on Tuesday for the first time in more than three weeks and insists he'll be ready to play in the regular-season opener.

"No doubt," said Forte, who was sidelined since July 31 with a hamstring injury that limited him to only individual drills the last several days.

The Jets' projected starter at running back ran without any issues in practice Tuesday.

"It felt good to finally be out there, and be more than just a jog-through," Forte said. "I hate having to watch through camp. But with an injury, you've got to do that" (see full story).

Saints: Hospital says no ‘misdiagnosis’ by fired doctors
NEW ORLEANS -- The hospital system employing two recently fired New Orleans Saints team physicians says its review of the doctors' work yielded no evidence of an unusual diagnosis or a "misdiagnosis."

Ochsner Health system says the review came after the Saints removed orthopedic surgeons Deryk Jones and Misty Suri from the team's medical staff last week.

Coach Sean Payton has said the decision came after cornerback Delvin Breaux learned he needed surgery to repair a fibula fracture that was initially diagnosed as a bone bruise.

A statement Tuesday by Ochsner CEO Warner Thomas and chief medical officer Robert Hart says "it is not uncommon for stress-related fractures to be unnoticeable in initial imaging," and that "follow-up diagnostics are always required when a patient doesn't show appropriate clinical progress."

Patriots: Team gave President Trump Super Bowl ring
BOSTON -- President Donald Trump has a Super Bowl championship ring -- just like Vladimir Putin.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft gave Trump the diamond-encrusted ring. The sitting president usually receives gifts from sports teams during celebratory White House visits -- a personalized jersey is standard -- but Kraft gave Trump a ring as well, Patriots spokesman Stacey James said Tuesday.

Kraft decided after the team's April visit to have a ring made for Trump so he would have something special to display in his presidential library, the team said. The rings were distributed to Patriots players and staff in June; it was not clear when Trump got his.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

The NFL pays up to $5,000 apiece for 150 rings for its champion, with teams picking up anything over that. The Patriots' 2017 ring -- their fifth-- is white gold with more than 280 diamonds and a carat weight of 5.1. According to Josten's, the ring manufacturer, it is the largest Super Bowl ring ever made -- bigger than the Patriots' 2015 rings that were valued at $36,500 apiece (see full story).

Eagles-Dolphins joint practice Day 2 observations: Wentz rebounds from rough start

Eagles-Dolphins joint practice Day 2 observations: Wentz rebounds from rough start

The Eagles held their second and final joint practice against the Dolphins on Tuesday morning. 

For the Eagles, it was an extremely hot practice, one of their hottest of the summer. For the Dolphins, it was a breezy morning away from the Southern Florida heat. 

These two teams got a lot of work in over the last two days and somehow avoided scuffles, which normally seem to happen during these joint practices. The closest anyone got was on Monday, when Malcolm Jenkins and Kenny Stills jawed a little bit. A lot of Kumbaya over the last couple days. 

Let's hop into observations: 

1. *Clears throat* injuries: Brandon Graham (elbow) and Jordan Hicks (quad) both missed Tuesday's practice after leaving early the day before. Pederson said both players are "day to day." 

Nick Foles (elbow) was held out of practice, but Pederson claimed it was just "precautionary." Foles has been dealing with that elbow injury all training camp and said he isn't going to play Thursday. 

Defensive end Vinny Curry left Tuesday's practice early with cramps. He'll be fine. 

2. The beginning of practice was a little bit of a struggle for Carson Wentz, who overthrew David Watford and Marcus Johnson in 7-on-7s to start his day. Overthrows were a bit of a recurring problem for Wentz on this day. 

But he rebounded nicely. After the Eagles' defense stopped the Dolphins in a situational period, Wentz drove his unit down the field to set up a field goal opportunity. Wentz wasn't as good on Tuesday as he was the day before, but he was OK. 

That one period was fun. The first units went up against each other on one field with everyone watching. The Dolphins' drive sputtered early before the Eagles ended their drive on a field goal. 

3. Jay Cutler looked pretty darn good once the teams went into 11-on-11 drills. He threw a beautiful deep ball to Kenny Stills for a touchdown and then came back to hit Anthony Fasano for another deep ball with Nigel Bradham in coverage. Cutler had a good couple days of practice. 

4. Marcus Johnson had the play of the day. Wentz overthrew him during 7-on-7s, but Johnson somehow tipped the ball up to himself and snagged it just before it hit the ground. He has a great shot of making the roster. 

5. Alshon Jeffery had another active day, especially when the Eagles got into the red zone. Wentz failed to connect with his big target for touchdowns, but it's clear he wants to work on that connection. On the first fade, Jeffery was mugged by Dolphins corner Xavien Howard. For some reason, the ref right on the play didn't throw a flag. Not sure why they were even out there if they missed that one. On the next fade to Jeffery, Wentz simply overthrew him. 

6. Trey Burton made another nice one-handed catch. It wasn't nearly as spectacular as one he made earlier this summer, but this one clearly wasn't luck. For the second time this summer, he used his left hand to snag a ball one-handed. For the record, Burton is right-handed ... at least, that's the hand he throws with. 

7. To start Tuesday's practice, Chris Long filled in at left defensive end for Graham. On Monday, when Graham left early, Derek Barnett was getting those reps. Later on Tuesday, when Curry left, Long stayed on the left side and Barnett filled in at right. 

Without Hicks, Najee Goode took first-team reps at the MIKE. Joe Walker took them on Monday when Hicks and Goode were out of practice. 

8. Matt McGloin has struggled so much over the last few weeks, it has become really tough to evaluate the players who are on the field with him. But on Tuesday, one of his poor passes actually led to Mack Hollins making a great catch during 7-on-7s. Hollins has been quiet recently, but he made a few nice grabs Tuesday. 

9. Wendell Smallwood has looked explosive since coming back from his hamstring injury. Pederson said LeGarrette Blount will have a big role with the team (see story), but don't be surprised to see Smallwood get a lot of carries this season. He's probably the Eagles' best overall running back. 

10. Jaylen Watkins has had a quiet camp and seems to have an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster, but he had a nice day against the Dolphins. He picked off a Matt Moore pass in the corner of the end zone and celebrated by tossing it up 30 feet in the air. The Eagles have played Watkins at safety, cornerback and even in the nickel corner spot this training camp, but they just probably don't have a job for him. 

Stupid Observation of the Day: For the second straight day, former backup linebacker Stephen Tulloch was at practice. Afterward, I needed to do a double-take when I saw him in the locker room with the other linebackers. The Eagles could probably use him this season, but he's still retired.