Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz thinks Eagles have talent to win NFC East

Carson Wentz thinks Eagles have talent to win NFC East

Carson Wentz thinks the Eagles have enough talent to go from worst to first in the division. 

After going 7-9 and finishing in the basement of the resurgent NFC East in Wentz's rookie season last year, the 24-year-old quarterback thinks that the 2017 Eagles have enough talent to supplant the Cowboys as the top team in the division. 

"We have high expectations around here," Wentz said in a radio interview on WIP Thursday morning while in Fargo, North Dakota. "We hope and we expect to be playing into January and then to see what happens. I think that's the biggest thing. 

"Our goal is to win the NFC East and we believe we have the guys to do it. 

"We just have to now go put the work in and go make things happen. We have high expectations ... 7-9 is never good enough. I never want to be done after the regular season again. That doesn't sit well with me and it never will. We definitely have high expectations to be playing into January and then hopefully get hot and see what happens."

It's worth noting that the Eagles went 7-9 after a tremendous start in 2016 that saw them win the first three games on the schedule, including a 34-3 walloping of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the Eagles went on to lose nine of their next 11, including a five-game losing streak that lasted a month from November into December. 

On paper, Wentz should have more to work with in 2016. If Lane Johnson can stay on the field, Wentz's offensive line should be much better, and the Eagles added plenty of new weapons in free agency in the draft. 

"We went out and have a couple new additions and everything," Wentz said. "It's been fun. Honestly, it's been fun just to get to work with them. Last year, obviously this time of year, I was working with a lot of the third-team guys. It's just been fun to have a whole offseason under my belt now as we're, I think, 10 days away from camp. Just getting the opportunity to get the team reps. 

"You can throw routes on air and do all those things you want, but the spring, getting those team reps, those valuable reps with a lot of the guys, the new rookie guys, the free agents that we signed and everything in-between. I'm really liking where we're at and it's still a process, it's still a process, but training camp is right around the corner and honestly, I can't wait to get back there."

Rookie WR Mack Hollins seizing opportunity with Eagles

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AP Images

Rookie WR Mack Hollins seizing opportunity with Eagles

Turns out that Mack Hollins is much more than a deep threat.

Hollins, the Eagles' rookie fourth-round pick from North Carolina, recorded the first three receptions of his brief NFL career Sunday in Kansas City, with second-half catches of 11, 8 and 13 yards from Carson Wentz in the Eagles' loss to the Chiefs.

Hollins, who got just five offensive snaps in the opener in Washington, earned 17 snaps against the Chiefs and made the best of his chances. Will be interesting to see what this leads to against the Giants Sunday at the Linc and moving forward.

“I think it went well for my opportunities, but as a player your goal is always to win," Hollins said.

"I’d rather have zero catches in a win than a bunch in a loss, but it’s a start. It’s a situation that (receivers coach Mike) Groh has been preparing me for since I got here. Prepare like you’re going to be in the game, so if you do go in, there’s no dropoff. 

"That was my plan when I got my opportunity. Just try to execute as well as I can."

All of Hollins' snaps so far have come in two- or three-wide sets filling in for Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor or Torrey Smith. He said he doesn't know if the increase in reps will continue.

“Really, whatever coach wants," he said. "If it goes to zero snaps this week and we win the game, then I played my role in what our goal as a team is to do, and that’s to win games. I’m ready for whatever coach (Dave) Fipp, coach (Pederson) and coach Groh throw at me. I’m ready to go."

At North Carolina, Hollins was known mainly as a deep threat. He led the NCAA with 24.8 yards per catch as a junior. From 2014 through 2016, his 20.6 yards-per-catch average was fourth-highest in Division 1 (just behind Shelton Gibson).

But he's shown since he got here he's much more than that.

“That’s something people have assumed since I was at Carolina," he said. "But I’ve been working at routes since I was at Carolina and I’ve been able to run routes since I was at Carolina. Obviously I’m not the best route runner because you can only get better, so I’m always working on my routes. 

"But I think people assume I’m only a deep threat since that's  primarily what I was at Carolina, but I can do more than that. I’m more than just a one-trick pony."

At UNC last year, Hollins was overshadowed by Ryan Switzer, who caught 96 passes for 1,112 yards, and Bug Howard, who caught 53 for 827.

The Cowboys drafted Switzer in the fourth round, but he doesn't have any catches the first two weeks. Howard was in training camp with the Colts but didn't make the team.

“We had one of the best receiving corps in the country with me Bug and Swittz and we were able to have Switz underneath and me take the top off," Hollins said. "If it works, do it, and it worked."

The most impressive thing about Hollins has been his comfort level. He really carries himself like a veteran, and on Sunday at Arrowhead he played like a veteran.

“Had a little butterflies but once I get a snap on special teams or offense, they go away," he said. "It’s football. We’re all here for a reason. They’re good players, we’re good players. So just be confident in your skill set, and I am."

2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Six seniors to keep an eye on

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USA Today Images

2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Six seniors to keep an eye on

It wasn't the intention of the author to profile all seniors, but here we are.

On Saturday, there will be six seniors in action during three of college football's biggest games. All six are worthy of NFL draft consideration. And all of them could possibly help the Eagles in 2018 and beyond.

Let's take a look at a few players to keep your eye on Saturday.

No. 16 TCU at No. 6 Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

►James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State, senior (6-1/205)

Washington could've skipped his senior year after two extremely productive seasons for the Cowboys, but opted to return. And so far the results have been prolific. Through three games, Washington has 13 catches for 367 yards and three touchdowns. He's averaging 28.5 yards per catch, good for fifth in the country. Washington isn't a polished route runner, but his quick feet indicate he could become one. He has a second gear when the ball is in the air and is excellent at tracking it.

►Travin Howard, LB, TCU, senior (6-1/213)
Howard is a tackling machine. The senior 'backer is coming off back to back 100-tackle seasons. His disruptive plays were down a bit from his sophomore to junior year, but he's already notched 2 ½ tackles for a loss and a pick six in three games this season. He's undersized, though he looks bigger than his listed weight. Still, the NFL is trending toward small, quicker linebackers. With Nigel Bradham on the final year of his deal and Mychal Kendricks perpetually on the trade block, linebacker is a sneaky need for the Eagles.

No. 4 Penn State at Iowa, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)

►Marcus Allen, S, Penn State, senior (6-2/207)

Hey, Eagles fans. Can we talk for a second? Cool. I know you all think Saquon Barkley would look fantastic in midnight green, but here's the thing: unless, the Eagles win four games or less, they likely have no shot at landing Barkley. 

Moving on, Allen is a safety prospect that would seem to fit Philly quite well. He's coming off a strong junior campaign where he recorded 110 tackles, including six for a loss. He's built more like a corner, but Allen is physical and plays with edge. He recorded his first career interception last week against Georgia Southern, so you'd like to see more production there. With that said, the Eagles could use a developmental safety to learn under Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. While he's learning, Allen could be a special teams maven with his speed and physical nature.

►Akrum Wadley, RB, Iowa, senior (5-11/195)
Wadley isn't the biggest back, but boy is he fun to watch. He's coming off  a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown season. He also snagged 36 passes in 2016. Wadley is an ankle breaker. Some of the cuts he makes are LeSean McCoy-esque. He's been slowed by an ankle injury, but is expected to play today. And the Hawkeyes will need him against the Nittany Lions.

No. 7 Washington at Colorado, 10 p.m. (FS1)

►Azeem Victor, LB, Washington, senior (6-3/231)

Even after losing a bunch of extremely talented players to the NFL (including two to the Eagles) the Huskies' defense is still force. Part of that is Victor. Before suffering a broken leg late season, Victor recorded 68 tackles in nine games. Even with the injury, Victor was named All Pac-12 first team. You have to love what head coach Chris Petersen is doing up at Washington. His players play a fast and physical brand of football. It's worth mentioning that Victor was suspended for the team's opener for violating team rules, but hasn't had any off-the-field issues.

►Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado, senior (5-8/190)
Another undersized back, Lindsay had a big junior season, rushing for 1,252 yards and 16 scores. He was also impressive as a receiver out of the backfield, with 53 receptions for 493 yards and a TD. He's off to another strong start, notching two games of 140-plus yards and finding pay dirt in all three games. He's more of a north-south runner for a smaller back, but if he finds daylight, he has the speed to run by defensive backs. Every once in awhile, he'll break off one of those Darren Sproles-like pinball runs as well.