Philadelphia Eagles

'Pro's pro' Mychal Kendricks continues to build strong résumé in preseason

'Pro's pro' Mychal Kendricks continues to build strong résumé in preseason

It's not a secret Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks would like to be somewhere else. 

In Jim Schwartz's defense, he's been relegated to a part-time player who played just 27 percent of the team's defensive snaps last season. It got to the point that this offseason, Kendricks asked for the Eagles to trade him. 

When the Eagles declined, Kendricks didn't hold out. He didn't throw a tantrum. Instead, he kept showing up to work — Doug Pederson called him a "pro's pro." And through two preseason games, Kendricks has been one of the best players on the field. 

How has Kendricks gone about his business in recent months? 

"I'm blessed, man," he said. "That's the God's honest truth. Just knowing that there's so many things wrong with this world today and so many things going on in this world today, you look at your situation and it's not that bad. I just try to approach every day like that. Have an attitude of gratitude and just keep balling, man."

Kendricks was certainly balling on Thursday night. He picked up his second interception in as many preseason games, to go along with a sack, two tackles for loss and a pass defensed.

After two preseason games, Kendricks' stock is extremely high. The Eagles didn't trade him in January, but there's still a chance they could move him now. He might be more valuable to the Eagles on their own team, but trading him would still make some sense — if they can find the right partner. 

"It's a résumé, man," Kendricks said. "We're all renting space like I told you guys a couple weeks ago. This is a résumé. But it is preseason. It's not going to go in the books for Pro Bowl, ya feel me? It doesn't count but everything matters." 

Kendricks wasn't surprised that he played a lot against the Bills on Thursday night — 27 snaps, most coming with the first team — because the Eagles were in their base defense to combat what the Bills put on the field. The Bills didn't come out with three wide receiver sets, so Kendricks stayed on the field. Normally, he's the odd man out when the Eagles go into their nickel defense, which happens much more often than not. 

Despite the normal lack of playing time, the 26-year-old linebacker is still technically a starter in the Eagles' defense. But the pass-happy NFL has gone the way of three wide receiver sets and Schwartz values having Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham on the field over Kendricks. 

Kendricks' career path has been an interesting one. He once looked like he was on his way to becoming a Pro Bowler in Philadelphia, signed a long-term contract extension but then became a part of a rotation under Billy Davis and a part-time player under Schwartz. He actually has a bigger base salary than Hicks and Bradham combined in 2017. 

While Kendricks has looked dynamic through the first two preseason games, he claims nothing has changed from last year. 

"Everything's still there," he said. "It's always been there. It's always been there." 

A problem for Kendricks has been that his best skill is probably blitzing, something Schwartz does very rarely, especially when they're not zone blitzes. On Thursday night, however, Schwartz dialed some up and Kendricks had a chance to get back to what he does best. 

"Obviously, you know, [Schwartz] used him in a little bit of a blitz package tonight," Pederson said. "He can definitely put some pressure on the quarterback. It’s exciting to see where he's at. [I’m] very comfortable with that, and we've just got to keep them coming.”

Kendricks wasn't sure if blitzing will become a part of the Eagles' normal defensive plan. Last season, Schwartz worried about the predictability of using Kendricks in those situations. 

But Kendricks has no questions about his role with the team. 

"I think my role is to uplift people around me and make people around me better," Kendricks said. "And that's at a minimum. If I know that, I'll be cool." 

NFL Notes: Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE; daughter sues NFL, Patriots

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NFL Notes: Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE; daughter sues NFL, Patriots

BOSTON -- Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez had a severe case of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, his lawyer said on Thursday in announcing a lawsuit against the NFL and the team for hiding the true dangers of the sport.

Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, said Hernandez had Stage 3 (out of 4) of the disease, which can cause violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive disorders.

"We're told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron's age," attorney Jose Baez said.

Hernandez killed himself in April in the prison cell where he was serving a life-without-parole sentence for murder. Baez said Hernandez had shown signs of memory loss, impulsivity and aggression that could be attributed to CTE (see full story).

Jets: Williams limited with bone bruise in wrist
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams was limited at practice with a wrist injury that he says is a bone bruise.

Williams was originally injured during the preseason, and says Thursday that his wrist is bothering him at times. It doesn't appear that the injury will keep him out of the Jets' home opener Sunday against Miami, but Williams might have to play through it.

Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson sat out practice for the second straight day with a sore shoulder. He said Wednesday that it wasn't a big deal, and coach Todd Bowles says the Jets will see how it feels as the week goes along.

Starting right guard Brian Winters (abdomen) and tight ends Jordan Leggett (knee) and Eric Tomlinson (elbow) also didn't practice. Fourth-year backup Dakota Dozier would start if Winters is unable to play (see full story).

Packers: Perry latest key player to go down with injury
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The banged-up Green Bay Packers have lost another key player to injury with outside linebacker Nick Perry scheduled to have hand surgery.

Coach Mike McCarthy says he doesn't know how much time Perry will miss. He was off to a good start as the bookend to fellow edge rusher Clay Matthews with 1 sacks.

The Packers' first-round draft pick in 2012, Perry had a breakout 2016 last season with 11 sacks in 14 games.

The loss of Perry places added importance on the return of Ahmad Brooks, who was a full participant in practice on Wednesday after missing the Week 2 loss at Atlanta because of a concussion (see full story).

Broncos: Miller baffled by low hit from Cowboys receiver
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Von Miller says he's baffled by Cowboys wide receiver Noah Brown's low hit on him Sunday.

The Broncos linebacker pushed through Brown's block on the game's second snap and Brown got up and dived at Miller's knees as Denver's star chased down Ezekiel Elliott on a hand-off from Dak Prescott.

Miller shook off the hit to have a monster game in Denver's 42-17 win , but he has dealt with soreness in his left knee this week.

"My stance is as a player I've always tried to take care of my players on my football team and opponents as well, whether it's the quarterbacks, receivers, the running backs. So, when it's the other way around, it's just baffling," Miller said Thursday after returning to practice full-time following a limited practice Wednesday.

"But you can't really spend too much time on it," Miller added. "Everybody's situation in the National Football League is different. Everybody doesn't have the same outlook that I have and some of my comrades in the National Football League (have). Everybody doesn't see it that way. Everybody doesn't play the game like I play the game. You've got to respect that."

Earlier in the week, Broncos coach Vance Joseph declined to criticize the Cowboys wide receiver for his low hit, saying, "I saw it. It wasn't called. I'm OK with it."

Miller shook off the low hit and finished the afternoon with two sacks, five quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup.

Chris Long: Putting 'my money where my mouth is' with donation of game checks

Chris Long: Putting 'my money where my mouth is' with donation of game checks

Whether it was his passionate defense of Colin Kaepernick, his show of support for Malcolm Jenkins' raised fist by draping his arm around his teammate during the national anthem or his strong words about racism and violence in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, Chris Long has been extraordinarily outspoken since he joined the Eagles.

Now he's more than outspoken.

"I had a few people that were like, 'Hey, these gestures are great but why don’t you guys get out there in your communities?'" Long said.

So he is.

Long announced via his Twitter account earlier this week that he plans to donate his first six game checks from this year's salary — more than $350,000 — to create two scholarships for students in Charlottesville.

At his locker on Wednesday, he explained what led to the remarkably generous gesture.

"My wife and I have been investing in scholarships in my hometown for a while," Long said. "I'm interested in education, always have been, and … the best way I can give back to something I love is take it out of my game check, because what I love doing is playing football.

"I could [fund the scholarship] another way, but just taking it out of my game check makes it real easy for me to realize why I’m coming to work every day. It’s been a blessing."

Long, 32, is in his 10th NFL season and first with the Eagles. He's the son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, who graduated from Villanova in 1981.

Chris Long had his first sack as an Eagle Sunday against the Chiefs. He now has 59½ in his career.

"I’ve been lucky," Long said. "I’ve made a lot of money in my career, so it’s not like I’m scrapping check to check. This isn’t a hero thing. It’s nothing like that. It’s honestly just that I want to put my money where my mouth is.

"It’s something we’ve done before, but we’re upping the ante this time."

Long signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Eagles this offseason after winning a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots last year, the first time he's ever played for a team with a winning record.

His 2017 base salary is $1 million, which means each of his 17 game checks equal $58,823. Six game checks equal $352,941.

Long said being able to donate that kind of money makes the game more meaningful for him.

“It for certain does," he said. "It means a lot to go out and play football every Sunday. To be honest, I would play games for free. The thing I wouldn’t do for free is sit in meetings and do practice every day.

"Honestly, it’s a joy no matter what. But just knowing that the game checks are going to that makes it more special for me. You know, 10th year, you don’t know how long you’ll be able to do this, so your platform is really important and meaningful now. You don’t know how meaningful it’ll be in a year or two.”

Long said he's not done yet, either.

His foundation — the Chris Long Foundation — has more charity work in store in the coming weeks.

"My foundation is going to launch another campaign this year that’s going to be similar that’s hopefully going to have some fan involvement," Long said.

"It’s going to be broader reaching than just a couple kids getting scholarships, so I’m excited about that."