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How are the Eagles handling the banner reveal and the high powers Atlanta Falcons all in one day ?

— SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS (@TheEaglesReview) September 2, 2018
Dave Spadaro: It’s going to be a challenge, but the Eagles have to take the energy from the stadium and harness it and maintain it for 60 minutes. I like what running back Jay Ajayi said the other day when he talked about the emotion. He said the team that plays the most sound football in the second half of the game will win it. Emotions are going to be high for both teams. There’s going to be a “feeling-out” period for a bit because, let’s face it, neither team looked particularly good in the preseason and the starters didn’t get much time together. I think the Eagles and Falcons will play a competitive first half and then we’ll see what happens in the second half.

I don’t expect a repeat of 2003 when the Eagles opened Lincoln Financial Field and Sylvester Stallone made an appearance and then the team played a lousy game in a 17-0 loss to Tampa Bay. I think this Eagles team is ready to handle the emotions.

Fran Duffy: That’s a loaded question and one that all the best coaches find ways to answer. Emotion is hard to avoid in football, but the best teams can avoid riding the waves that come with the highs and lows of a given season. Focusing on the details, honing in on one game at a time, and shutting out all of the surrounding noise all sound like clichés, but they are all very relevant when it comes to staying focused in situations like this. I think Doug Pederson will have his team ready to do all of the above on Thursday night.

Chris McPherson: I think back to Doug Pederson’s press conference on Sunday when he was animated with the media about the Nick Foles report. That to me set the tone for the week. It’s back to business. The players asked to remove the Super Bowl sign from the locker room. They were tired in the summer of talking about the championship. They’ve talked all offseason about being the hunted and embracing that. I think Pederson prepared his team for the emotional aspect as much as he could. I love what Foles said about strictly being focused on the game and not worrying about seeing the banner being revealed. Defensive end Brandon Graham admits he’ll take pride in seeing it, but the taste of winning one makes him want to get another.
When it comes to the X’s and O’s, Fran has that aspect covered in his Eagle Eye series. The question now is what new wrinkles have the Eagles been working on behind the scenes now that practices aren’t open to the media? I can’t wait to find out.

Does replacing Kendricks (who had a solid season) with Kamu get balanced out by the return of Hicks? Worried about getting killed over the middle by Freeman and the slot

— grayson (@grsnphl) September 2, 2018
Fran Duffy: First, keep in mind that the Eagles will only play with three linebackers on the field for about 30 percent of the snaps, if that, in any given game. Kendricks did have a solid season last year, especially after Hicks’ injury, but with his cap number being what it was, it made sense to move on. Kamu Grugier-Hill, who was named a captain this week for his work on special teams, is a better athlete than Kendricks and offers more in the third phase of the game. Nathan Gerry is another player who has made big strides throughout his young career as a converted college safety. I’m excited to see what both Grugier-Hill and Gerry bring to Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night.

Dave Spadaro: Having Jordan Hicks on the field means everything to the defense. That said, losing Nigel Bradham hurts a whole lot more than having Mychal Kendricks gone. The Eagles will go with a lot of two-linebacker personnel groupings, using Malcolm Jenkins as a quasi-linebacker and inserting Corey Graham into a safety spot. It’s fair to worry about the Atlanta passing game involving the running backs. This is an outstanding screen team. Atlanta brings a lot of weapons to the table for this game. The Eagles have to stop the run and put quarterback Matt Ryan in third-and-long situations and then get after him, as they did in the NFC Divisional Round last season. I look forward to seeing Grugier-Hill in action. He had a strong preseason. I’m just not sure how much playing time he’ll actually have. As for Hicks, he knocked off some rust in the preseason, but I’m not sure he’s all the way to where he was before the injury. Only the regular season and his performance can answer that.

Chris McPherson: All preseason long, the depth in the secondary was in the spotlight. Why not use that to their advantage? I wouldn’t be surprised to see the dime (six defensive backs) personnel mixed in against the Falcons because of Jenkins’ versatility. I truly believe that even though is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, Jenkins is vastly underrated. Either that or the big nickel with Graham in and Jenkins can play the slot if needed.
How prominent will the RPO be used?

— JackFritzadelphia Is Legendary (@jackfritzfans) September 2, 2018
Chris McPherson: Defensive coordinators around the league have had the offseason to see what they can come up with to slow down the RPO game. Well, I think this is the Eagles’ chance to see what they’re going to do to stay ahead of the curve. The Eagles lost some quality coaches in the offseason in Frank Reich (Colts head coach) and John DeFilippo (Vikings offensive coordinator), but don’t dismiss what new offensive coordinator Mike Groh and new quarterback coach Press Taylor bring to the table. And, of course, this is still orchestrated by Coach Pederson. Foles talked about getting into a rhythm, a zone the other day. The RPO and a strong run game are good ways to help ease him into the game. The Falcons’ defense is fast and aggressive up front, much like the Eagles’ unit. Use that against them.

Dave Spadaro: A ton. That’s what works for this offense and for quarterback Nick Foles. I think the offense wants to establish the running game and grind it out against Atlanta, but the Eagles want to keep the Falcons off balance and using the RPO-based attack is a good way to do it.

Fran Duffy: The RPO will always be a part of what Doug Pederson and his coaching staff use to attack defenses, it would be crazy for it not to be. In some games, like the Super Bowl, it won’t be a major part of the game plan. In others, like against Atlanta in the Divisional Round, it will be. Just like any other aspect of the offense, Pederson and his staff will mix it in on a week-to-week basis, as both Nick Foles and Carson Wentz have shown the ability to succeed running those schemes.

What time does H lot open??? Lol

— Mike McVeigh (@upper_darby_boy) September 3, 2018

Chris McPherson: Surprised you’re not there already.

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Who wins a job on Thursday night? I mean, that’s what this week is really all about, isn’t it? Most of your minds are on the Falcons and the regular-season opener on September 6, but there is a game to be played on Thursday (vs. Jets, 7 p.m., NBC Philadelphia) and there are jobs at stake, so that’s the focus here.

The question is: What jobs could actually be won? Who steps up and earns a spot on the 53-man roster? Here are some thoughts:

Josh Adams, RB

Who is the team’s fourth running back if the Eagles keep four? Will it be Wendell Smallwood, who had a big game with 53 rushing yards in Cleveland? Could it be Josh Adams, the undrafted rookie from Notre Dame who at 6-2 and 225 pounds runs upright, has some nimble feet, and burst and power. He’s looked good in the two preseason games Adams has played. You’d think the Eagles would give him a chance to show his skills on Thursday night against the Jets. The running back competition seems to be down to Smallwood and Adams, with Matt Jones and Donnel Pumphrey, ready to make his preseason debut, still hopeful.
De’Vante Bausby, CB

In the spring it sure looked like De’Vante Bausby would be in the mix for the nickel cornerback job. However, Sidney Jones appears to have earned that job, with Avonte Maddox in close competition. Bausby has continued to play well, and he has some versatility, but the numbers are stacked as the Eagles have, as we’ve said many times, loaded up on the position since the 2017 draft. An outstanding game from Bausby could give the Eagles a lot to think about with a group that looks fairly set with Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Jones, Maddox, and 2017 draft pick Rasul Douglas considered locks or near-locks to make the roster. This is a very interesting position to watch as the 53-man roster is set.

DeAndre Carter, WR

Signed on July 28 as kind of (to the outside world) a roster-filling kind of player, DeAndre Carter has impressed far beyond the “fresh legs” idea. He’s quick, he’s got good hands and he’s made plays with the football in his hands. The wide receiver room is unsettled at the moment with Alshon Jeffery on the Physically Unable to Perform list and with Mack Hollins coming back from his lower-body injury. If the Eagles keep five receivers, the likely group would include Jeffery (unless he starts the season on PUP, in which case he would not count against the 53-man roster but is unable to practice for six weeks), Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor, Hollins, and probably Shelton Gibson, a 2017 fifth-round draft pick who has played well this summer.

Carter? All he’s done is make plays. But that may not be enough to make the 53-man roster.
“He’s done a really good job,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said of Carter on Monday. “He’s a guy that we added in Training Camp and I’m glad that he’s here. He certainly has put himself in a position to be really competitive for a roster spot. Made some good plays the other night and some other plays he has got to improve on. Some easy things that we can get cleaned up. I think he’s focused on getting that done. He’s made some plays and he’s certainly shown up in the games.”

Bruce Hector, DT

As the Eagles look to firm up depth at defensive tackle and with the uncertainty of still-sidelined Tim Jernigan, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was asked about Hector on Monday during Schwartz’s weekly press briefing. Schwartz spoke highly of Hector.

“He’s impressed us all along the way,” Schwartz said. “But I think the thing that’s been most impressive is that there’s a lot of guys that look good early and then they level out, or they fade, or they can’t stay healthy, or they plateau and they just don’t improve, (but) that’s not Bruce. Bruce impressed us early but going on he has steadily improved. And he’s been on the field and he’s healthy enough to be on the field. Then in the last couple games, particularly in the last game, we got him some reps up against some better players and some better competition. He responded well. Those are all things you look for. He’s on the right track.”

Cameron Johnston, P
Some key numbers on Cameron Johnston’s behalf in this preseason: His 45.2-yard net average is third in the NFL and he’s had zero punts for touchbacks while he’s tied for sixth best in the NFL with six punts inside the 20-yard line. We’ve all waited to see if Johnston would falter because, well, the Eagles can’t afford to have a punter who is shaky. So far, no shaky. All good. Johnston has done a good job in limited duty holding for placekicker Jake Elliott as well. Johnston may not be in a position where he will win a job on Thursday night, but a poor outing could hurt him. He’s been terrific so far.

Jordan Mailata, OT

The seventh-round draft pick may have already played his way onto the 53-man roster with his rapid improvement, but you never really know until the roster is settled. The Eagles drafted Jordan Mailata knowing he would be a project, so they’re excited at the progress they’ve seen from the athletic left tackle. But there are many steps to take with this large piece of clay. The numbers are crowded along the offensive line and Mailata and sixth-round draft pick Matt Pryor need to play well on Thursday night. It’s a big game for both players.

Tre Sullivan, S

He’s been around the football quite a bit this summer, he knows the defense, and he’s improved his game. Is that enough for Tre Sullivan to earn a roster spot on the 53? Can the Eagles even keep a fourth safety with all of the roster juggling they’re going to have to do?
Sullivan and Jeremy Reaves are still here, and that means they’re going to have an opportunity to make it happen on Thursday night. A big game and …

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Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver Mack Hollins called himself just a “Padawan” when it comes to his touchdown dance, so he was hesitant to put himself too high on the list of top Eagles celebrations this year.

“I mean the home run one, any time we hit a deep ball we’ll do the home run one,” said Hollins, beginning his rankings. “I saw an edit of Nelson [Agholor] when he fell back and they turned [the end zone] into a ball pit; that was pretty cool.”

“I could put myself up there, but I could be better. You can always grow,” he joked.

The Yoda of “The Backpack” — the dance Hollins broke out following a 64-yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz on Monday Night Football against the Washington Redskins — is 15-year-old Russell Horning from Georgia, an internet sensation who gained attention when he stole the show during an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” with Katy Perry. Hollins and Horning connected after Hollins did his rendition of the dance.

“He’s way more famous than me or viral than me,” Hollins said. “Hopefully we can get him to a game. We’ve talked and we’ve exchanged words. Maybe we can get him to a game and we can make a video together.”
Eagles rookie Mack Hollins broke out “The Backpack” after scoring his first NFL touchdown on Monday night. James Lang/USA TODAY Sports
Hollins is starting to get his own following. The long touchdown and ensuing celebration in front of a national audience didn’t hurt. Nor did the fact that he was spotted riding his bike to Lincoln Financial Field on the day of the game, pedaling past fans largely unnoticed.

“No,” he responded when asked if he gets recognized, “but I’m sure they will now.”

Hollins said he doesn’t have a car yet — “just gotta find the right deal, I guess” — and lives pretty close to the sports complex, so he opts for the 15-minute bike ride over taking an Uber. He rode a motorcycle when he attended North Carolina, “but they’re not too fond of motorcycles in the NFL. So that’s sitting at home,” he said.
His work performance isn’t hurting any. Hollins hasn’t been used a lot, but has fully maximized his opportunities to this point. Wentz has targeted him six times, and he has converted each into a catch for a total of 134 yards (22.3-yard average), with three first downs and a TD.

“Every time he is in there, it seems like he just makes plays,” said Wentz of Hollins, a fourth-round pick. “He finds a way to get open and he is effective. And I don’t think a lot of teams really respect that or know that about him. So he is just a big weapon for us when we need a guy.”

Having caught the attention of his teammates and coaches, it’s likely Hollins will have a bigger role moving forward, which should mean more chances to up his TD celebration game.

“It’s only been a couple days,” said Hollins, when asked if he knows what he’ll do next. “I’ve got to wash the mind and get some new material.”