Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles left with plenty of options in slot because of 'design of the offense'

Eagles left with plenty of options in slot because of 'design of the offense'

After sending Jordan Matthews to the Bills in a trade, the Eagles could take a committee approach at slot receiver in 2017.

It's been widely assumed Nelson Agholor would step into that vacated slot role — he took first-team reps there at practice Saturday. The third-year wideout also had a strong offseason and filled in during spring sessions while Matthews was out with knee tendinitis.

"That’s coach’s decision as far as who’s going to step up, but Nelson’s done some great things," Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz said. "Obviously, he can fly. He can roll in the slot and put some pressure on defenses."

While Agholor will no doubt continue to see plenty of work in the slot, the job isn't necessarily going to be his exclusively moving forward.

"We move so many guys around in that position," coach Doug Pederson said. "It's just kind of by design of the offense."

Matthews served as the Eagles' primary slot receiver since he was selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, but lined up there less last season than in years past. That was in large part because Pederson was much more imaginative than his predecessor, Chip Kelly, mixing up personnel and formations with far greater frequency.

Under Pederson, the Eagles have been more likely to deploy running backs and tight ends from the slot. Darren Sproles, Donnel Pumphrey, Zach Ertz and Trey Burton will all take a fair number of snaps in there.

Agholor may be facing some competition in the receiver room as well. After a breakout performance in the preseason opener, Mack Hollins was also getting a look in the slot Saturday.

"We'll continue to develop him and work him in multiple spots," Pederson said. "One thing about Mack is he's a smart guy. He picks up the offense well and he understands coverage and leverage and things like that."

Hollins seems like a receiver more in the mold of Matthews. Listed at 6-foot-4, 221 pounds, he's far bigger and stronger than most of the nickel cornerbacks who would be trying to cover him on the inside.

For now, Hollins is continuing to work primarily on the outside, but his size is something the Eagles could try to take advantage of.

"This game is a bunch of matchups," Hollins said. "So if my best matchup is inside against a smaller nickel, then that’s where I’ll be, and if it’s outside vs. a smaller corner, that’s where I’ll be."

The Eagles also like the fact Agholor brings a different skill set to the position than Matthews did. Matthews' size was an asset in the middle of the field, but he lacked explosion. Agholor has the potential to become the consistent deep threat down the seam that the offense has been lacking.

“Without a doubt, they’re different skill sets," Wentz said. "He’s more of a burner, whereas J-Matt was more of that savvy possession guy underneath.

"Obviously, Jordan made plenty of plays down the field as well, they just bring a different element down the field as well."

A first-round draft pick in 2015, Agholor has been a massive disappointment through two seasons in the league, with 59 receptions for 648 yards and 3 touchdowns in 28 games. 

For what it's worth, Agholor has appeared to make strides in his development while working from the slot this year. The 24-year-old looks comfortable, and it may very well be the role he is best suited to play in the NFL.

Agholor played slot his junior season at USC when he racked up 104 receptions for 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns.

"Staying inside, you have to have a little bit more spatial awareness because there are bodies in there, a lot going on," Agholor said. "Your awareness and your understanding of zones has to be at a higher level. Outside, you kind of have a one-on-one even in some zones."

Even last season, Matthews was still the primary slot but shared the responsibility. After running 532 routes in the slot in 2015, he was down to 329 with Pederson at the helm, according to Pro Football Focus. Injuries also limited Matthews to 14 games, but that doesn't account for a difference of over 200 plays.

No matter how the plan shakes out, Agholor is fine with divvying up the snaps.

"We want to put defenses in a bind," Agholor said. "We want to find mismatches and move players around so that we keep them guessing."

Dimitri Patterson injures 2 police officers trying to flee court room

ap-eagles-dimitri-patterson.jpg
AP Images

Dimitri Patterson injures 2 police officers trying to flee court room

Former Eagles cornerback Dimitri Patterson injured two police officers while trying to flee during a family court hearing on Tuesday, according to police, via The Miami Herald.

Patterson, 34, appeared in Lawson E. Thomas Court Center when he was ordered by the judge to be taken into custody. At that time, he tried to run out of the door and tackled a female officer who fell and hit her head, while another officer suffered a wrist injury before Patterson was taken into custody.

The female officer was taken to the hospital but later released.

This isn’t Patterson’s first brush with the law. ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported in 2015 that the Miami native was charged with felony child abuse.

Per police reports obtained from the incident, Patterson met his ex-girlfriend at Aventura Mall on Aug. 1, 2015, for a custody exchange of their 1-year-old child when an argument ensued over child support payments.

“While placing the boy in the back seat of the car, Medina told Patterson to calm down, warning him that she wouldn't allow him to take the child,” Cimini reported.

“Patterson ‘grabbed her around her neck and threw her to the ground,’ according to the incident report. ‘While this occurred, [Medina] was holding [the boy]. This action caused [him] to fall also and hit his head.’”

Court records show Patterson was eventually acquitted for culpable negligence and battery.

Patterson spent time with the Redskins, Chiefs, Eagles, Browns, Dolphins and Jets during his eight-year career. With the Eagles in 2009 and 2010, he appeared in 27 games (nine starts) with 50 tackles, four interceptions and one sack.

Patterson was last with the Jets in 2014 but suspended indefinitely by the team after leaving without contacting the organization. He was released a short time later and retired.

NFL Notes: NFLPA officially appeals Ezekiel Elliott's 6-game suspension

uspresswire-cowboys-ezekiel-elliott.jpg
USA Today Images

NFL Notes: NFLPA officially appeals Ezekiel Elliott's 6-game suspension

NEW YORK -- The NFL Players Association has appealed Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension over the league's conclusion that its 2016 rushing leader injured his former girlfriend in three separate incidents last summer.

The union said Tuesday it will represent Elliott "to ensure that the NFL is held to its obligation of adhering to principles of industrial due process under the collective bargaining agreement."

The NFL suspended Elliott last week after a yearlong investigation into an Ohio domestic violence case that prosecutors declined to pursue. Elliott's attorneys blasted Commission Roger Goodell's ruling, saying the league "cherry-picked" evidence to reach its conclusion.

A hearing with Goodell or an arbitrator will be scheduled within 10 days with a decision "as soon as practicable" after the appeal is heard, according to the labor agreement.

The Cowboys open the regular season Sept. 10 at home against the New York Giants.

Panthers: Davis signs 1-year contract extension
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Thomas Davis won't have to worry about ever playing for another NFL team.

The Panthers have signed the 34-year-old veteran outside linebacker Thomas Davis to a one-year contract extension, keeping him with the team through the 2018 season. The deal is worth $6.76 million and includes $3 million in guaranteed money, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team doesn't release financial terms of contracts.

"I'm extremely excited. Everybody knows how I feel about being a Carolina Panther," Davis said in a team release Tuesday. "This extension solidifies me being here for the rest of my career, and I'm excited about that. Now I'm totally focused on winning a Super Bowl."

Davis' contract was set to expire after this season. Some blamed general manager Dave Gettleman's handling of extensions for Davis and tight end Greg Olsen as the reason he was fired earlier this offseason and replaced by interim general manager Marty Hurney. Olsen has two years left on his current contract but is seeking an extension, too (see full story).

Raiders: Lynch says teammates ‘proud’ of protest
NAPA, Calif. -- Marshawn Lynch isn't shedding anymore light on his decision to sit during the national anthem before the Oakland Raiders' first exhibition game.

Lynch declined to comment on why he chose to sit down Saturday night while the rest of his teammates stood during the anthem before a game in Arizona against the Cardinals.

That left his teammates to answer for him on Tuesday after the team returned for its first practice since that game.

"I'm proud of him," tight end Jared Cook said. "I think it's awesome. Everybody has points of discussion after what happened in Charlottesville just the night before. I think it's important for men in our position to step up and speak on unnecessary situations we find ourselves in as minorities in this country. That's why I'm proud of him" (see full story).

Jets: Whitehead out indefinitely with broken foot
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets wide receiver Lucky Whitehead has a broken foot and will be sidelined indefinitely.

Coach Todd Bowles said Tuesday that Whitehead was injured during practice Monday and it's uncertain whether he will need surgery. Bowles did not know if Whitehead will be out for the year, saying only that it'll be at least "a little while."

Whitehead, who was on crutches during the team's indoor practice, appeared to be the top contender to serve as the Jets' primary punt and kickoff returner.

The injury is the latest in a string of bad news for Whitehead, who has had a strange summer. He was waived by Dallas last month following a shoplifting incident that turned out to be a case of false identity. New York claimed Whitehead off waivers on July 26.