For Jason Peters, 6th Pro Bowl means the most


For Jason Peters, 6th Pro Bowl means the most

Jason Peters didn’t just come back. He came back as good as ever.

On Friday night, a year and a half after his second Achilles surgery, Peters was named to his sixth Pro Bowl team (see story).

Peters made the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2008 with the Bills and 2009, 2010 and 2011 with the Eagles before missing all of last year as he tried to return to form after blowing out his Achilles twice in the spring of 2012.

At 31 years old and standing 345 pounds, it was anything but routine.

“Coming off two Achilles surgeries, and I was kind of banged up a little bit earlier in the year, it’s definitely my best one yet,” Peters said.

“This is really special. Two Achilles surgeries, people thought I wasn’t going to even be able to play football again -- the doctors -- especially after the second one. They didn’t think I was going to be able to play at a high level. They maybe thought that I could come back and play, but not at a high level.

“I never took it for granted. Every year, I try to work to make the Pro Bowl. And I just know, if I’m working to make the Pro Bowl, the team is going to succeed. If I’m playing good, the guys beside me are playing good and as a team we’re going to play good.

“So anytime you make the Pro Bowl, you have other players around you that’s going to be playing good as well.”

Peters missed part of the Green Bay game earlier this year with an assortment of nagging injuries, but he’s still played 952 of a possible 1,037 snaps this year, or 92 percent.

Peters and NFL rushing leader LeSean McCoy were the only Eagles named to the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl team.

“I know he’s happy because he kept calling me,” McCoy said Friday night. “‘Hey, have they called you yet? Do you know what’s going on?’

“I’m like, ‘No, man. I don’t know.’ This is the first year he’s acted like that, so this is big for him. I know it is. He kept asking me, ‘Do you know who made it?’ He kept calling me and he never does that.”

The Eagles are second in the NFL with 421 yards per game, first with 162 rushing yards per game and second with 27.9 points per game.

With a win over the Cowboys Sunday night in Dallas, the Eagles will reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

“I think it’s a confidence booster,” McCoy said of Peters. “You get banged up and you get hurt, some people kind of write you off. It shows you the hard work and dedication to get back healthy and be the dominant player he once was and still is.

“I’m happy for him. He’s an unbelievable talent and a great teammate and a great person. He deserves it.”

Although Peters was selected to the Pro Bowl team, linemates Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce were snubbed.

In fact, right guard Todd Herremans Friday night tweeted as much, adding DeMeco Ryans and Trent Cole to his snub list:

Peters entered the NFL as an undrafted tight end before converting to offensive tackle in his second season.

Only three undrafted offensive linemen in history have been selected to more Pro Bowls: Hall of Famers Jim Otto (12) and Lou Groza (nine but mainly as a kicker) and Jay Hilgenberg (seven).

“He’s by far the best lineman I’ve ever played with in my career, from high school to college to the pros,” McCoy said. “He’s a combination of speed, power, intelligence, you name it. The guy is terrific. I’m happy to play with him. I feel like he makes my job a lot easier.”

Coach mum on Giants' awareness of Josh Brown's abuse record

Coach mum on Giants' awareness of Josh Brown's abuse record

LONDON -- The New York Giants have yet to decide whether Josh Brown will stay on the team after admitting he abused his former wife, coach Ben McAdoo said Friday in a press conference that raised more questions about the franchise's knowledge of the kicker's off-field behavior.

McAdoo faced repeated questioning about Brown following the Giants' first practice in London for a game Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

Brown did not travel to London and the team has yet to say if he will be suspended or cut following the release of county police records in which the player said he physically abused his wife, Molly, over a protracted period. She told police in the documents released by the King County Sheriff's Office in Washington state that the abuse and other threatening behavior stretched from 2009, when she was pregnant with their daughter, to the Pro Bowl in January 2016.

At the Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Brown's wife said she called NFL security to move her and her three children to another hotel to avoid harassment from her estranged husband. She said he had pounded on their hotel door seeking to get in. The allegation is included in the final report filed last month by the local investigating detective, Robin Ostrum.

Brown's former wife did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment from The Associated Press.

A law firm representing the kicker declined comment.

When asked whether the Giants knew about Brown's behavior at the Pro Bowl, McAdoo repeatedly said the Giants were still gathering information on the 9-month-old event. Finally, he said: "I'm not going to answer that."

When a reporter asked McAdoo about his comments in August suggesting he would show no tolerance for players abusive of their family members, McAdoo said his comments then were more nuanced.

"When did I say zero tolerance?" he said, adding: "I do not support domestic violence, if that's what you're asking. I do not condone it."

McAdoo described Brown as a "man of faith" who was trying to improve his behavior and the Giants organization was supporting him in this. But when asked to explain how the Giants provided this or monitored his off-field behavior, McAdoo said he couldn't detail any specific acts of support.

The NFL's official policy is to suspend players guilty of domestic abuse for six games on their first offense. Brown was suspended for one game, the Giants' season-opening victory over the Dallas Cowboys, in punishment for his May 2015 arrest at his family home in Woodinville, Washington, on suspicion of assaulting his wife by grabbing one of her wrists as she tried to reach for a phone, leaving an abrasion and bruising. No charges were filed but the detective, Ostrum, gathered detailed statements from Molly Brown who also provided her husband's written admissions of abuse in diary and email entries.

The NFL said its investigators asked to see these records but were denied.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suggested in a BBC interview Friday that Brown could face further punishment now that league officials can see the full King County evidence file detailing Molly Brown's allegations of more than 20 episodes of abuse fueled by alcohol and other threatening behavior to herself, her two sons from a previous relationship and the couple's daughter.

"We have asked repeatedly for those facts and the information that's been gathered by law enforcement both orally and in writing. And we weren't able to get access to it. So you have to make decisions on whatever information you have," Goodell said in a transcript of the London interview provided by the BBC.

"We take this issue incredibly seriously. ... When it happens we're not going to tolerate it. So we have some new information here, we'll evaluate that in the context of our policy and we'll take it from there," Goodell said.

The Giants in April re-signed Brown to a two-year contract valued at $4 million. When facing his one-game suspension, Brown in August said he was divorced from his wife, although police documents released Wednesday suggested that civil proceedings remain incomplete.

The Giants have signed kicker Robbie Gould, an 11-year veteran of the Chicago Bears who was cut in September for salary cap reasons. The 34-year-old is expected to practice with the team Saturday.

"I've seen him (Gould) make a lot of kicks against me in the past. He's been successful, and we're hoping that continues," McAdoo said.

Eagles-Vikings scouting report: Birds won't have their usual mismatches

Eagles-Vikings scouting report: Birds won't have their usual mismatches

Eagles vs. Vikings
1 p.m. on FOX

Vikings favored by 3
Over/under: 40

Sizing up the intriguing Week 7 matchup between Carson Wentz's 3-2 Eagles and Sam Bradford's 5-0 Vikings:

When the Eagles have the ball
The Eagles didn't have the ball much last Sunday and that was a major reason the offensive was so out of sync. The way that game flowed, the way the loss played out was a perfect illustration of why it's so difficult to predict NFL outcomes. Who foresaw a mediocre running team like Washington gashing a previously stingy Eagles' run defense and controlling the time of possession so handily?

Wentz was just 11 for 22 for 179 yards with no TDs last Sunday, but the struggles were owed more to the aforementioned game flow, the second-string right tackle and all of the penalties than they were to the Redskins' defense.

Whereas this Sunday, if Wentz struggles, it will likely be because of the Vikings' elite defense.

Minnesota is rock solid at all three levels on D. Defensive tackle Linval Joseph and ends Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter and Brian Robison can collapse the pocket. Linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks are two of best athletes in the league at their positions. And in the secondary, the ageless Terence Newman has been a lockdown cover man, free safety Harrison Smith is having another All-Pro caliber season, and former first-round cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes have each improved.

The Vikings' defense has been death on opposing receivers, especially No. 1 wideouts. Through five games, the undefeated Vikings have allowed just 59 catches for 627 yards and two TDs to wide receivers. All of those numbers are second-best in the NFL to the Broncos.

Minnesota held Odell Beckham Jr. to three catches for 23 yards, limited Randall Cobb to 42 yards on five catches, held Jordy Nelson to five receptions on 11 targets, shut out Kelvin Benjamin, and kept DeAndre Hopkins catchless until the end of the third quarter of a blowout win.

This is by far the best defense the Eagles have faced. They don't do one thing well, they do everything well. Barr and Kendricks are big-time playmakers who have the speed to cover running backs and tight ends and can also get after the quarterback, but Minnesota's front four has been so solid that the linebackers aren't asked to blitz much. 

A lot of times you look at a matchup and see why Zach Ertz and Darren Sproles should be able to get open and play key roles. But this Sunday? You can't just assume either will win his matchups against a Vikings linebacker consistently given the speed and coverage abilities of Barr and Kendricks.

The Vikings have also been excellent at stopping the run. The three best backs they've faced so far — DeMarco Murray, Lamar Miller and Eddie Lacy — combined for 112 yards on 33 carries (3.4 average). Murray did score two receiving touchdowns.

Ryan Mathews' power running style doesn't match up well against the Vikings' physical front. The Eagles would be wise to give some more playing time to Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood, who are more elusive.

The weak link, if there is one, in the Vikings' defense is veteran nickel corner Captain Munnerlyn. He's been targeted 28 times in the slot and allowed 21 catches for 206 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. The only slot corner in the NFL who's allowed more catches is Lamarcus Joyner of the Rams.

That matchup, as well as the pressure that will likely be placed on Wentz, could again lead to a lot targets for Jordan Matthews, who so far has been Wentz's go-to guy and security blanket. At times, Wentz has focused too intently on Matthews, missing open receivers elsewhere. Last week, Wentz had Ertz open downfield a few times but was locked on Matthews.

Against the Vikings, you're going to have to spread the ball around. I've mentioned this in previous scouting reports, but in a game like this it does favor the Eagles to not have a true No. 1 receiver the offense funnels through. When the Vikings played the Giants, they focused on stopping Beckham and letting Eli Manning figure out another way to beat them. He couldn't do it because he's so reliant on OBJ. Same went for the Texans with Brock Osweiler and Hopkins. Those teams don't do a great job of spreading the wealth, whereas Wentz has gotten a lot of pass-catchers involved.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the Eagles are going to need to do a better job of helping overmatched right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. It was borderline inexcusable last week to have Vaitai try to block Ryan Kerrigan by himself early in his first start. Look for Brent Celek or a running back to stay in on obvious passing downs to help chip the defensive end across from Vaitai. Even that might not help. It limits Wentz's throwing options, but it's necessary when you have a clearly inferior right tackle. That may be harsh, but at this point in Big V's career it's true.

When the Vikings have the ball
The Eagles' best, maybe their only way to win this game is by matching the Vikings' defense drive for drive. Bradford has been excellent and efficient this season, averaging 245 yards per game with 70.4 percent completions, six touchdowns and no interceptions, but the Vikings' offense is still toward the bottom of the NFL in many categories.

Minnesota is averaging just 302.6 yards per game, more than only the Rams and 49ers. The Vikings' 2.5 yards-per-carry average is last in the NFL and no other team is below 3.1.

The Vikings have been shorthanded on offense. Adrian Peterson is out a while and left tackle Matt Kalil is done for the season. Minnesota has utilized a two-RB system with Jerick McKinnon getting most of the work between the 20s and Matt Asiata coming in to finish drives. Asiata, who scored three short TDs against the Eagles in that deflating 48-30 loss in 2013, has scored in consecutive weeks.

In the passing game, Bradford's two most-targeted receivers are tight end Kyle Rudolph and second-year WR Stefon Diggs. 

Diggs, limited in practice this week with a groin injury, has 25 catches on 33 targets for 372 yards and a TD. He's expected to play Sunday coming off the bye.

Rudolph leads the team with 37 targets and has caught 21 passes for 236 yards and three TDs. He's the only Vikings skill player other than Asiata with multiple TDs. The Vikings move Rudolph all over the place and have him run all types of routes. And we know how much Bradford loves his tight ends. 

The Eagles had been the best defense in the NFL against tight ends until Vernon Davis hurt them last week. Rudolph isn't super fast, but he's strong and has good hands so it will still be tough for linebackers like Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks to shut him down. Bradford has hit him in the corner of the end zone a few times, placing the ball where only Rudolph can snag it.

Cordarrelle Patterson is an X-factor, a wide receiver with great speed and acceleration who can make big plays but could also finish with zero catches.

If Diggs is feeling close to 100 percent, I expect a big game from him Sunday. He's one of the best receivers in football that people don't talk about. He's fast, makes catches in traffic and has the quick-twitch moves that enable him to gain separation and make things happen after the catch. The Eagles have one of the league's worst cornerback groups, so Diggs could ball out.

You also have to account for the familiarity factor between the Eagles and Bradford. This defense knows better than any what Bradford likes to do in certain situations, how to read his eyes and where he tends to go in key spots. Bradford knows the Eagles' defensive personnel too, but he doesn't know exactly how they'll be deployed because Jim Schwartz wasn't here when he was.

The Eagles' defensive line needs to show up in this one. That unit's poor play in Washington was a shock after how well Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox began the season. With Bennie Logan likely out with a groin injury, it will be up to Cox, Graham and one of Vinny Curry or Connor Barwin to make Bradford feel uncomfortable. Logan is a big, underrated run stuffer who has also shown this season that in a 4-3, he can collapse the pocket and get to the QB. The Eagles will miss him.

Special teams
Smallwood's kick return TD last week was the first in the NFL this season, and it was nothing new for a unit that has scored often under special teams coordinator Dave Fipp. Teams have to be pretty worried about the Eagles' return units with Sproles and Smallwood and all the capable, experienced blockers, some of whom are here only for their special teams prowess. 

Patterson returns kicks for the Vikings and is certainly a threat there. He had four kick return TDs in his first three years.

Kicker Caleb Sturgis continues to do his job for the Eagles, converting 12 of 13 attempts this season.

Vikings kicker Blair Walsh has a huge leg — he was famously 10 for 10 from 50-plus yards as a rookie in 2012 — but he's also had some ridiculously easy misses in his NFL career. It was his 27-yard fail last postseason that eliminated the Vikings, and he's missed six of 49 extra-point attempts since the league moved PATs back.

I foresee a low-scoring game in which the Eagles are more competitive than some might think. But in the end, the Vikings have the personnel and the defensive-minded head coach (Mike Zimmer) to get key stops down the stretch.

Vikings 20, Eagles 16