Cowboys 29, Eagles 23: Standout plays

Cowboys 29, Eagles 23: Standout plays

Reviewing the key moments in the Eagles' how-did-that-happen? loss to the Cowboys?

1. First quarter: Marcus Smith sack
Smith, the Eagles' first-round pick in 2014, entered the game with 1.5 career sacks -- and none this season. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Smith sacked Dak Prescott, and then on the next play stopped Ezekiel Elliott for a 2-yard gain.

2. First quarter: Caleb Sturgis 30-yard field goal
The acting job after the kick was worth mentioning. Sturgis drew a running into the kicker penalty on the Cowboys but should have been whistled for a flop.

3. First quarter: Dez Bryant 53-yard catch
Bryant simply beat Leodis McKelvin down the right sideline for a 53-yard reception. No other Eagles' defender was in site. After Elliott burst up the middle for 15 more, Prescott got the 'Boys on the board with an easy 7-yard touchdown.

4. Second quarter: Three runs by Sproles
This guy is really 33? On the Eagles' first touchdown drive, Sproles cut on a dime (sorry Shady) to make a guy miss before getting stopped for two yards. So then on 3rd-and-1, he zipped down the field for nine. Then two plays later, he jitterbugged his way for 19 to convert a 2nd-and-15.

Those runs — and a holding penalty on Dallas — set up Ryan Mathews' easy run for the Eagles' first touchdown.

5. Second quarter: Sturgis 55-yard field goal
He made this one twice, but the first one didn't count because Jason Garrett called timeout. They have to change that rule. 

Great job by Sturgis, and it wouldn't have been possible without the bullet to Dorial Green-Beckham with four seconds left. Green-Beckham did a great job to get both feet in and get out of bounds with just one second left, giving Sturgis a shot.

6. Third quarter: Jordan Matthews 5-yard TD catch
Easy pitch and catch, and notable because Doug Pederson mixed things up on the Dallas D, which wasn't ready for a sudden change in tempo. The Eagles put their foot on the gas, eschewed the huddle and drove 69 yards in 12 plays to take 10-point lead. 

“Did Chip Kelly come back in the building? What happened here?" NBC analyst Chris Collinsworth exclaimed after Matthews' TD catch.

The Eagles once again had their share of drops, but both Matthews and Agholor had nice third-down catches this series to keep the drive alive. 

7. Third quarter: 30-yard run by ... punter Chris Jones 
Kudos to the Cowboys on this one. The Eagles had all the momentum after going up 10 and forcing a 3-and-0ut ... but Jones on a fake punt took some back. It resulted in a Dan Bailey field goal, which came after Terrance Williams prevented Dak Prescott's second interception in the end zone by taking down McKelvin. 

8. Third quarter: Josh Huff 53-yard kickoff return
The Eagles' special teams weren't going to be outdone. Huff took the ensuing kickoff 53 yards to set up a 34-yard field goal.

Only Bailey prevented Huff from his second kickoff return for a touchdown in as many weeks and the Eagles' third straight week with a kickoff return for a TD.

9. Fourth quarter: Wendell Smallwood fumble
You're up 10. With the ball. There's 13:05 left to go. Sproles has been great all night. And you give the rookie his first touch of the game now? 

Easy to say after a fumble, hindsight being 20-20 and all that, but still.

Thanks to the Eagles' D, Smallwood's fumble cost the Birds only three points, as Bailey squeezed in a 49-yarder.

But when the Eagles look back at how this one got away, this is step No. 1.

10. Fourth quarter: Sean Lee throws Sproles for 6-yard loss
And here's No. 2.

It was 3rd-and-8 at the Dallas 30. Wentz tossed it to Sproles, but Lee flew right by a hobbled Jason Kelce, swallowed up Sproles, and moved the Eagles out of field goal range. 

Dubious play-call when staying in field-goal range had to be the priority. Instead of attempting a 54-yarder, the Eagles played it safe, punted and pinned the Cowboys back at their own 10.

11. Fourth quarter: Bryant 22-yard TD catch
Problem is, the Cowboys drove 90 yards in 11 plays, and the drive ended when Bryant beat Nolan Carroll with a superstar catch to tie it. Not much else to say.

12. Fourth quarter: Wentz sacked ... but doesn't fumble
On 3rd-and-19 from the Eagles' 11, Wentz escaped pressure, wound up to throw ... and was walloped from behind by corner Orlando Scandrick. Everyone was looking for the ball to fly out ... but somehow Wentz held on, and the Eagles punted.

13. Overtime: Jason Witten 5-yard TD
How did Witten get so wide open? Rodney McCleod and Malcolm Jenkins collided at the goal line, allowing Witten to easily catch his first score of the season. Game over.

Fletcher Cox among Eagles not at OTAs; Doug Pederson updates position battles

Fletcher Cox among Eagles not at OTAs; Doug Pederson updates position battles

The Eagles had near-perfect attendance as they kicked off their Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Tuesday morning, but there were a few notable absences.

Fletcher Cox, Jason Peters and Donnie Jones are not with the team.

"Obviously as you guys know too, it's a voluntary offseason program," head coach Doug Pederson said. "I've been in touch with all three of those guys, so we've communicated for the reasons for them not being here. But no worries with them going forward."

This is the second year in a row that Cox has missed the start of OTAs. Last year, he was waiting on his big contract, which came after the minicamp in June.

Cox, who signed a mega contract less than a year ago, send out an Instagram story on Monday in Philipsburg, Netherlands Antilles.

"The reason is satisfactory, but again it's a voluntary program," Pederson said. "I would love for everybody to be here. That's just me personally, I would love everybody to be here. But I know it's not always going to work out that way.

"Fletcher is one of the leaders on the football team and guys like that, you do expect to be here, but I get the rules, we abide by the rules and he's one of the guys too, at the end of the day, I'm gonna hang my hat on and go to war with."

As far as the guys who are with the Eagles this week, Pederson revealed some of the starters at positions in question (see OTA storylines).

Second-year guard Isaac Seumalo will begin OTAs as the team's starting left guard, taking Allen Barbre's place. Pederson did say Barbre is getting over a calf injury.

"This gives [Seumalo] an opportunity to work in there so we can get Allen," the head coach said. "Allen's a guy, as you guys know, one of those versatile offensive linemen who can play guard and tackle, so when we get Allen back we want to work him not just at guard but also at tackle."

Jason Kelce, who has been the center of plenty of rumors and whispers this offseason, is still going to take first-team reps at center, while Stefen Wisniewski and Seumalo will also get some reps at center.

And second-year player Jalen Mills and free agent pickup Patrick Robinson will start the camp running with the ones at corner (see players to watch at OTAs).

This first round of OTAs runs three days: May 23-25.

5 Eagles to watch on offense and defense at OTAs

5 Eagles to watch on offense and defense at OTAs

Tuesday is a big day in the progression of the 2017 Eagles

The team is finally all together as OTAs kick off at the NovaCare Complex. We've already looked at the biggest storylines of the week (see story), but how about the individual players? 

Well, let's look at five offensive and five defensive players to watch this week, leaving out Carson Wentz. Yeah, we're going to watch the QB. 

Offense

Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery won't be hard to spot. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound receiver was brought in on a one-year deal this offseason. He's been in Philly working out, but this will be his first time at a real practice with his new team. Maybe we'll quickly get a sense of his chemistry with Wentz. 

Torrey Smith
At his introductory press conference in March, Smith was asked about his speed and responded by jokingly challenging a reporter to a race. While that never happened, it's fair to wonder what the Eagles are getting in Smith. He wasn't the same player in San Francisco, so we'll get to see if he has some gas left in the tank. 

Donnel Pumphrey
We already got a glimpse of Pumphrey during rookie camp, but didn't get a long time to watch practice. At OTAs, we'll see everything. The biggest thing that stood out about Pumphrey a couple weeks ago was his size — or lack of size. How will Doug Pederson use his new weapon? We might get some hints this week. 

LeGarrette Blount
Pumphrey and Blount technically play the same position, yet Blount is 74 pounds heavier. To put that in perspective, 74 pounds is about the weight of an average 10-year-old. Blount has been in the league for nearly a decade, but he's in a new offense in Philly (without a true fullback), so we'll see where he is in a short time with the team.  

Taylor Hart
Normally we wouldn't put an offensive lineman on a list of guys to watch in shorts, but Hart is transitioning from defensive tackle to offensive tackle and this is the first chance to see him on offense. Worth watching. He was pretty excited about the switch in January (see story).

Defense

Timmy Jernigan
Honestly, it's harder to evaluate defensive players during OTAs because there's no hitting, and it's even harder to evaluate linemen. Jernigan, though, is worth watching because he's replacing Bennie Logan. 

Rasul Douglas
We've already seen Douglas at rookie camp, but he was really looking forward to lining up against some veterans like Jeffery. Douglas was a third-rounder, but he might be more important to the team in 2017 than any other rookie simply because of his position. 

Patrick Robinson
Speaking of the cornerback position, this week is the first of seeing Robinson, who signed a one-year deal that's mostly gone forgotten. The 29-year-old former first-round pick is coming off a rough yearlong stint with the Colts, but he was much better in 2015 with the Chargers. He's on a prove-it deal, so who knows if he'll be the Eagles' best option. 

Ron Brooks
One of the biggest losses the Eagles suffered during the 2016 season occurred when Brooks went down with a bad leg injury. No, Brooks wasn't great before the injury, but he was the team's slot corner, which kept Malcolm Jenkins at safety. Not sure where Brooks is in his recovery, but don't forget about him. Jim Schwartz clearly likes Brooks. 

Joe Walker
Walker is recovering from an ACL tear from last preseason. He was lining up to be the team's backup middle linebacker before the injury, and the 2016 seventh-round pick will probably have the inside track to win that job this year ... as long as he regains his form from before the injury.