EaglesBengals: The Dhani Bowl

EaglesBengals: The Dhani Bowl

We're sure you're already sick of all the stories about that guy who used to play for the Birds. The man is a superstar though, and he played a major role in Super Bowl XXXIX. We're talking of course about Dhani Jones, who signed with the Bengals in 2007 and has actually become a very capable middle linebacker on a stout defense.

Unlike the Jaguars last week, Cincinnati should provide somewhat of a test for Kevin Kolb and the offense. The Bengals' defense ranked as a top five unit overall last season, featuring a pair of excellent, young corners in Justin Joseph and Leon Hall who wouldn't mind putting the hype about Philly's own youngsters to rest. Something's gotta give.

The skill players aren't the only ones who will be tested. The Bengals front seven will give the Eagles' line all they can handle. DT Domata Peko is the catalyst up front. He and Tank Johnson will go after an interior that has plenty of question marks right now, including C Mike McGlynn who is making his second start of the preseason.

Jason Peters will be matched up one-on-one with DE Anwtan Odom, who was off to a flying start in '09 with 8 sacks before his season was cut short with an ACL injury. He's back on the field, but he seemed to be lacking burst in Hall of Fame game against Dallas.

The Bengals have also been using second year player Michael Johnson to wreak havoc from the linebacker position. Johnson, a 6'7" converted defensive end from Georgia Tech, doesn't seem like a good fit at first impression, but he plays very fast and had a pair of sacks in the Cowboys game. This will help us get a feel for where the offense is with their blitz pickups, especially in the backfield.

On defense, we'll be keeping an eye on the right cornerbacks. Whether it's Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens, Ellis Hobbs and company are in for some stiff competition. Even though both receivers are past their primes, and Carson Palmer may be as well, they're still quality veterans who can easily beat inferior competition.

Up front, Stewart Bradley and the Eagles' run D will have their hands full with fantasy football zombie Cedric Benson. Benson, not Palmer, has really become the focal point of the Bengals' offense, and he forms a nice little thunder-lightning combo with speedy Bernard Scott. Should be interesting to see how Bradley is moving around out there and if the linebackers can keep either ball carrier from reaching the secondary.

Also of note, we didn't get a chance to talk about it this week, but Michael Vick looked absolutely explosive against Jacksonville. He was playing within the offense, going through his progressions and checking down, but he also showcased that Houdini elusiveness. His 15-yard dash to the end zone may have looked easy, but the fact that he beat everybody to the pylon was downright impressive. He's back, and perhaps better than ever.

We'll also almost definitely have more opportunities to evaluate Nate Allen and the rest of the first string defense, who played all of six snaps last week. The starters are expected to play the entire first half, so even though it doesn't count, there should be some solid football tonight.

Pete Mackanin sends Cesar Hernandez a message

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The Associated Press

Pete Mackanin sends Cesar Hernandez a message

Pete Mackanin dropped second baseman Cesar Hernandez to eighth in the batting order for Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Nationals.

“If you want to call it a message you can call it a message,” Mackanin said.

Hernandez entered the game hitting .255 with a .616 OPS. Last year, he hit .272 with and .687 OPS.

“I expect more out of him,” Mackanin said. “I think he's a better hitter than he's shown. I think he's a .280 hitter and I think he's at .250. I want to see improvement. We need him to get back up to .280, where I think he belongs. He’s got to make adjustments. We need offense.”

Mackanin pointed to Hernandez’ double-play partner, shortstop Freddy Galvis, as an example of a player who has made improvements.

Galvis entered Tuesday night hitting .257 with a .696 OPS. But in the month of May, he was hitting .277 with a .708 OPS.

“Freddy is starting to come on,” Mackanin said. “He’s starting to make adjustments.”

Galvis has also played excellent defense.

The Phillies are a rebuilding club with a number of potential big-league contributors rounding out their development in the minors. The team’s top prospect is a shortstop – J.P. Crawford – and he’s in Triple A now. It’s not out of the question that he will be the team’s opening day shortstop next season.

Crawford’s eventual ascension impacts both Galvis and Hernandez. Galvis can also play second base. Whether Hernandez or Galvis becomes the second baseman when Crawford arrives could be determined by who hits. This is the time to make impressions.

“That's basically what it boils down to,” Mackanin said. “I've even talked to them about that — 'It's an important year for both of you because there are people who want to be in the big leagues that are in the minor leagues and want to take your job.' You have to approach it that way. You can't let down. You have to stay focused and work hard.”

While all signs point to Crawford taking over at shortstop in the future, Mackanin said Galvis’ defense should not be taken for granted.

“As well as Freddy is playing shortstop, you'd hate to move a guy like that out of that position,” Mackanin said. “It's a defensive position and he's been so good at it.”

Galvis entered Tuesday night with just two errors in 50 games. His .990 fielding percentage trailed only San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford and Detroit’s Jose Iglesias, both .995.

National champion Villanova honored by President Obama

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National champion Villanova honored by President Obama

WASHINGTON — For the most successful senior class in the history of Villanova basketball, Tuesday's trip to the White House was the culmination of a championship season and quite possibly the final time the 2016 National Championship team will be together as one.

President Barack Obama praised their poise, which was epitomized by the final play when Ryan Arcidiacono fed Kris Jenkins for the buzzer-beating, championship-winning three-pointer.

"A lot of teams would have had their spirit broken — the Wildcats, they took control, they responded," Obama said. "And on a play called ' 'Nova,' Kris took a pass from Arch and pulled up a few steps behind the line and shot this team into basketball lore. That was a good shot. It was like Christian Laettner-good. It was like a Jimmy-V-running-up-and-down-the-court shot. Charles Barkley apparently jumped out of his seat, which — (laughter) — he doesn’t do very often these days." 

In what has become customary for a championship team's visit, head coach Jay Wright presented the 44th President of the United States with a Wildcat jersey and the number "44." The Wildcats wore the uniform when they played Oklahoma on Dec. 7 of last year in Obama's home state of Hawaii.

"This was an amazing day for us," Wright said. "We not only presented him with the jersey, but with a picture of him that mirrored Kris Jenkins hitting that game-winning shot, because we've got a lot of respect for him as a great leader."

While gracious as guests at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., it was the Wildcats who spoiled Obama's tournament bracket when they knocked off the president's pre-tournament pick, Kansas, in the Elite Eight on their way to the Final Four. At the time he made his picks back in March, Obama mentioned Wright's Wildcats, telling ESPN, "I know eventually they're going to break through." He just wasn't confident enough to see the 'Cats win it all roughly three and a half weeks later.

Obama on Tuesday confirmed he should have listened to his second-in-command, "Joe (Biden) wanted me to remind you that he picked 'Nova to win it all. This is the type of wise counsel that you are looking for from a vice president. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow his counsel and so my bracket was busted.

Wearing a stars-and-stripes bow tie, junior Josh Hart, who decided last week to return to Villanova for his senior season, attended nearby Sidwell Friends School, where he was a classmate with President Obama's oldest daughter Malia.

"We talked a little, not too much," Hart said. "I try to give her some space. She's busy with senior projects and graduation and stuff."

Now Hart will refocus on guiding Villanova to become the first school since the Florida Gators in 2006-07 to win back-to-back National titles, and with that, a return trip to the White House.

Kris Jenkins shared video of Villanova doing Running Man Challenge at White House

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Kris Jenkins shared video of Villanova doing Running Man Challenge at White House

Tony Hawk has skateboarded at the White House. Women's lacrosse champions have worn fliflops at the White House.

Now, the Villanova Wildcats have done the Running Man Challenge at the White House.

The video was shared on Kris Jenkins' Instagram account this afternoon. They don't call him "Big Smooth" for nothing.

Officially ending this Runningman challenge. Presidential edition. #GameBlouses #NovaSzn

A video posted by Kris Jenkins (@bigsmoove2) on

In case you missed it earlier, President Obama welcomed the 2016 NCAA Champion Villanova Wildcats to his crib and called Jay Wright the, "George Clooney of coaches." He's not wrong.