Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles' pass-rushing need may not be addressed

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Eagles' pass-rushing need may not be addressed

You know the Eagles need pass rushers. I know the Eagles need pass rushers. Howie Roseman and Chip Kelly certainly know the Eagles need pass rushers.
 
Only problem is, good ones are really hard to find.
 
Going into the offseason, adding a pass rusher or two was at the top of everybody’s list of Eagles needs. They didn’t sign one in free agency, because they just didn’t feel there was good value there, and there’s a sobering chance they won’t draft one, at least not in the early rounds.
 
Which leaves them … with the same guys as last year?
 
“You’re always looking to add pass rushers,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. “There’s no doubt about it.
 
“But at the same time, you don’t want to sign or draft someone that you don’t think is a good player and that you don’t think is worth the resource that you put out there -- whether it’s a pick or money. Those are hard guys to find.”
 
The top 3-4 pass-rushing outside linebackers in this year’s draft are Khalil Mack from Buffalo and Anthony Barr from UCLA, who are both expected to be long gone by the time the Eagles pick at No. 22.
 
Ryan Shazier of Ohio State and Kyle Van Noy of BYU are potential late first-round picks the Eagles could target, as is Missouri’s Kony Ealy, a 4-3 defensive end who should be able to convert to 3-4 linebacker in the NFL.
 
But Roseman indicated Thursday that there’s a good chance the Eagles will simply stick with what they have: veteran Trent Cole, who goes into his second year as a 3-4 linebacker after nearly a decade playing 4-3 defensive end; Connor Barwin, who once had an 11 1/2-sack season with the Texans; one-time first-round pick Brandon Graham; and whoever else they can scrounge up.
 
“When you look at every draft, we’ll be sitting here saying the pass rushers are going to go early,” Roseman said. “That’s normally what happens. You don’t sit in the third and fourth round and go, ‘Man, I can’t believe that pass rusher is still on the board.’ Because it’s hard to find. Those are guys that every team is looking for [to find] ways to get pressure on the quarterback.
 
“Obviously, we just saw the Seahawks. That was one of their claims of fame in the season, their ability to get pressure and have multiple pass rushers.”
 
The Eagles recorded just 37 sacks last year, 20th in the NFL. More than half (19) came in four games. They had seven games with one or no sacks and five more with three or fewer.
 
So the obvious reaction to that is to stockpile pass rushers. But Roseman said one more year in Billy Davis’s defense could be a smarter solution than just adding new players.
 
Cole had no sacks through eight games a year ago as he transitioned to a new position, but he recorded eight over the last eight games of the season, and during that stretch only four players in the entire NFL -- none of them linebackers -- had more sacks than Cole.
 
“Trent Cole was a 4-3 defensive end who came in his first year and had eight sacks and most of them were in the second half of the season when everyone would say, ‘Well maybe he’s gonna start to wear down,’” Roseman said.
 
“When you look at his production over the last couple of years vs. the better pass-rushers in the NFL, it’s pretty good. I don’t think he gets enough credit for his transition into this defense and the production he had.
 
“And then Brandon Graham has shown he can play in a 4-3 or a 3-4. We’re always gonna be looking for those guys. Obviously we brought in Connor, who we think is a really good fit. And we have some young guys that are here in the offseason that we’re excited to see, that we almost feel like are extra draft picks.”
 
At the top of that list is Travis Long, a 6-foot-4, 250-pounder who the Eagles signed as an undrafted free agent just before training camp. Long had 20½ sacks at Washington State, including 9½ as a senior.
 
“He’s one of the guys that when we came back after the June/July break, and we looked at our list of guys still [available], we said, ‘Man, he’s not on a team,’” Roseman said. “And we had him work out and he did a tremendous job and he’s bulked up this offseason.
 
“We had a chance before the games to watch him every week get better in his drops, he’s shown the ability to rush the passer in the Pac-12.”
 
So would the Eagles move forward with Cole, Barwin, Graham and Long and no new outside linebackers?
 
It’s not that far-fetched.
 
“It’s something we’re going to constantly be looking at,” Roseman said. “But we also think we have some guys in the building who can do the job.”

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.