Philadelphia Eagles

Fipp: Henery 'roughly the 14th-best kicker' in NFL

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Fipp: Henery 'roughly the 14th-best kicker' in NFL

Dave Fipp keeps hearing how awful Alex Henery is and how the Eagles need to replace him and find another kicker and upgrade the position.
 
From Fipp’s perspective, that’s going to be really hard to do.
 
Fipp, now beginning his second year as Chip Kelly’s special teams coach, acknowledges that Henery has some weaknesses that he needs to work on but said Henery’s strengths make him the Eagles’ best option moving forward.
 
Henery's accuracy has dropped from 89 percent as a rookie to 87 percent in 2012 to 82 percent last year. And his kickoffs were among the worst in the NFL last year.
 
Fipp talked at length Monday about Henery and gave him a vote of confidence … sort of.
 
Henery has two jobs. Making field goals and kicking off. Fipp acknowledges that Henery must improve his kickoffs but believes he can. He also believes he’s a better placekicker than he gets credit for.
 
First, the kickoff issues.
 
Henery managed only 37 touchbacks in 89 kickoffs last year, and his 41.6 percent touchback percentage ranked 24th among 32 kickers who kicked 50 times or more.
 
That means better field position for the other team, and that means more points.
 
Fipp said Henery simply has to be better, and the two seem to have a plan to try and make that happen.
 
“Some of it is a strength thing,” Fipp said. “There’s a million things he can work on, but probably the biggest for us is the way he strikes the ball. We’re trying to drive it a little more than hit it high. Obviously a little less hang time and a little further.
 
“If you look at the guys who are hitting with the best touchback percentage, they don’t necessarily have a stronger leg but they’re striking the ball a little bit different, so their trajectories are a little bit different, so we’re trying to bring him back down to that.”
 
Then there’s the placekicking.
 
Henery in his three NFL seasons has made 74 of 86 field goal attempts, and his 86.0 percent career accuracy is tied for sixth-best in NFL history among kickers who’ve attempted at least 50 field goals.
 
But when you look inside the numbers, you see some concerns. He’s missed five field goals of 39 yards or shorter in his career, two in a one-point loss in 2011 to the 49ers that cost the Eagles a winning record. He missed a 48-yarder that would have given the Eagles a second-quarter lead in the playoff loss to the Saints. He missed field goals in three straight games early last year.
 
He’s also made just two kicks of 50 yards or more in his career and none over 51 yards.
 
Fipp believes Henery’s field goal numbers overall are very good. And he explained why.
 
“So many people get caught up in that overall number,” he said. “He went from [87 percent] to [82 percent]. But that could be the difference in one kick. It’s not like a passer completion percentage, where they have a million throws. These guys have [approximately] 28 kicks and one or two kicks off is a major shift.
 
“The other thing with Alex, his number dropped off significantly, but how did the number drop? We asked him to kick a 60-yarder right before halftime [against Dallas]. Well, there was a slim chance to make that, so he misses that, but if we didn’t ask him to do that, his number is higher.”
 
Take away that low-percentage 60-yarder, and Henery’s accuracy in 2013 goes from 82.1 percent to a more palatable 85.2 percent. Take away a 61-yarder he missed as a rookie and his career mark goes to 88.1 percent, fourth-highest in NFL history.
 
“Where his struggles are is long-range field goals,” Fipp said. “And I’m not arguing with that, but you’ve got to put everything into perspective.
 
“What’s happening? You can’t just look at the end results and say, ‘His numbers are terrible.’ Really, his numbers in a lot of the ranges are really good and most teams in this league would take those numbers.
 
“Now, the dilemma is that he hasn’t kicked the ball off well enough, but short to mid to mid-long he’s a very accurate field goal kicker. … Now, touchbacks are a different story.
 
“But replacing a guy like that is not easy because who’s out there as a field goal kicker? If he’s out there, somebody’s taken him. So you’re trying to find a guy who’s hard to find. But the bottom line is Alex has got to get better. I’ve got to do a better job, he’s got to do a better job, but there are some things he’s really good at.”
 
Henery, a fourth-round pick in 2011, does have competition this year for the first time as a pro. The Eagles signed undrafted rookie free agent Carey Spear out of Vanderbilt, but he’s a longshot to beat out Henery.
 
Especially after Fipp spoke at length about how tough it would be to replace Henery.
 
“At the end of the day he’s still a really good kicker,” Fipp said. “There are a lot of teams that would like to have a kicker as accurate as him on their team.
 
“Would you like him to be better on kickoffs? Sure you would. But if you take both of those stats, where does he rank in the league in [field goals and kickoffs], and add 'em up and divide by two … he’s roughly the 14th-best kicker in this league.

“So there’s 17 teams that want a guy as good as him.”

Source: Paul Turner out for another three weeks with fractured scapula

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Source: Paul Turner out for another three weeks with fractured scapula

Eagles receiver Paul Turner, who has been missing from Eagles practice since Aug. 2 with a shoulder injury, will be out for another three weeks. 

Turner's injury is more serious than previously thought. He actually has a fractured scapula, a league source told CSNPhilly.com. 

Turner, 24, initially made the Eagles' roster out of training camp last year but was cut when the team claimed Bryce Treggs off waivers. He then spent the first 10 games on the practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster. He ended up catching nine passes for 126 yards in four games as a rookie. 

During last year's training camp, Turner instantly became a fan favorite as a rookie out of Louisiana Tech. He shined in practices and then was the NFL's leading receiver last preseason with 17 catches that went for 165 yards. And he also had a tremendous one-handed grab. 

With another three weeks added to his recovery time, making this year's roster will be incredibly hard for Turner, who is buried on the depth chart. Three weeks will bring us right to the start of the regular season. 

Other players have been making a push for the final roster spot at receiver. Marcus Johnson, in particular, has shined this summer. 

The rise of Steven Means and his sack celebration of many names

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The rise of Steven Means and his sack celebration of many names

Some of Steven Means' teammates call his sack celebration The Hammer. Some say it's The Nail In the Coffin. Assistant defensive line coach Phillip Daniels calls it The Undertaker.

Means says he likes them all. 

"The Atomic Bomb," interjected fellow defensive lineman Destiny Vaeao, who was listening in from the next locker. "Because when it hits …" 

That might be the new leader in the clubhouse. 

Whatever it's called though, Means has been doing the emphatic celebration much more often in recent weeks. That's a good sign for the 27-year-old and his chances to make the Eagles' 53-man roster. 

In the Eagles' preseason opener, Means had a half sack. Last Thursday against his hometown Buffalo Bills, Means picked up two more.

And after each sack in games and in practice (yes, he does it in non-contact practices too), Means celebrates with what has become his hallmark. He first points both fingers toward the sky, "giving God the glory," before it looks like a surge of pure energy flows through his body, starting with his toes until he releases it with a leg kick and one swift downward chopping motion with his hands. 

Means started doing the celebration during OTAs last season. It wasn't something he planned — "It just happened," he said. But he liked it and has continued it since, including last season in the fourth quarter against the Vikings, when he picked up his first-career regular season sack. 

"I don't know," Means said smiling. "I'm just out there having fun, just trying to make plays. And keep doing [the celebration]. If I'm doing it, I know I'm doing the right thing." 

This training camp, Means is a part of an extremely deep group of defensive ends. Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry are the starters. Chris Long and Derek Barnett and next up. And then there's Means and last year's seventh-round pick Alex McCalister. There seems to be a chance that just one between Means and McCalister will make this year's team. 

Even though they're competing for a roster spot, Means doesn't really think about his fellow defensive ends as competition. His brain just doesn't work like that anymore. His only competition is the offensive linemen he faces during games. 

So when McCalister picked up a sack of his own Thursday night, Means looked even more pumped about it than he did. 

"Seeing us come from where we come from and being successful at this level, I'm ecstatic for anybody when they're out there making plays," Means said. "And if I'm out there with them, I'm probably going to be more excited than them every single time."

When the time comes for the coaching staff to decide on the 53-man roster, Means will have at least one advantage. During this training camp, he's worked at defensive end and has also taken some reps at defensive tackle. DT is a new position for Means but he's excited about adding some versatility to his résumé.  

"One of the big things we've done with Steven, obviously, he's gotten a few more opportunities," defensive line coach Chris Wilson said. "And he's taking full advantage of it. That's one thing he does consistently. He's physical, he's smart, he plays with a great motor. He's always in position to make plays and when he's had opportunities in the game."

Since entering the league as a fifth round draft pick of the Buccaneers in 2013, Means has become somewhat of a journeyman in the NFL. He was with the Bucs, Ravens and Texans before joining the Eagles in December 2015. 

When he signed with the Eagles, he joined a coaching staff with Chip Kelly and Billy Davis that was on its last legs. Kelly was fired three weeks after Means got to Philadelphia and Davis was let go after the season. 

Then something great happened for Means. New head coach Doug Pederson brought on Jim Schwartz as his defensive coordinator and Means got a chance to play in an incredibly aggressive defense that allows defensive linemen to attack quarterbacks. 

"I'm just going to be 100 percent honest with you," Means said, "I wouldn't rather be anywhere else. Wherever Schwartz is, that's where I want to be."

Now entering his fifth NFL season, Means laughs thinking about how far he's come and about "how bad [he] probably was" as a rookie. Means finally looks like he's found a good spot in Philly. 

He's taken over the fourth quarters of both preseason games. In these two games, he has 2 1/2 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, 2 passes defensed, 2 tackles for loss and 4 combined tackles. 

Means has been filling up the stat sheet and turning heads along the way. 

"Letting God just play through me instead of trying to make something happen myself," said Means, who is vocal about his faith. "I'm a lot more comfortable and confident."

It shows every time he gets a sack and The Atomic Bomb hits.