The Philadelphia Eagles just wrapped OTAs and now the players are off until training camp, which begins next month. The Eagles training camp will take place at Lehigh University. The rookies and quarterbacks will report on July 22. The remaining veterans will arrive on July 25.
The Eagles would appear to be heading into the 2012 season in much better shape than a year ago. They have all the important pieces under contract in players like wide receiver DeSean Jackson and running back LeSean McCoy. In addition, players such as cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha had all of mini-camp to work together. DeMeco Ryans, the Eagles newly acquired middle linebacker, had a chance to get acclimated to the team’s system as well.
Andy Reid, Eagles head coach, has been pleased with the way his team has worked during the offseason. Reid can see the team has been playing with plenty of energy.
“You saw that last year,” Reid said. “I think that’s something that they’ve carried over into this year. The d-line (defensive line) starts it off, and the o-line (offensive line), even though they can’t really compete right now, keeps it loud and exciting. It’s a good atmosphere. There’s no pads on here so they can’t really compete. With the back end guys, it’s just contagious and it carries on into the linebackers and the secondary. Those guys can compete. They can’t do bump-and-run, but they can compete. Likewise on the offensive side, the guys are challenging each other and trying to get better.”
The Eagles certainly want to play better than last year. The team posted an 8-8 record and didn’t go to the playoffs. They did finish the season on a high note winning their last four games against the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
Michael Vick, Eagles quarterback, struggled with injuries and some inconsistency. Vick threw for 3,303 yards with 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The Eagles need a big year from their signal caller.
“Michael knows what he needs to do and he’s worked like crazy,” Reid said. “One of the reasons that we’ve had the attendance here that we’ve had and one of the reasons that we’ve had energy is Michael Vick. He was here and he hasn’t missed a workout. He’s the one who’s out here motivating that energy and making the players around him be here. He’s done a great job of that this offseason.”
The Eagles first preseason game will be against the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 9 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles will open the regular season against the Cleveland Browns on the road on Sept. 9. The home opener will be on September 16 against the Baltimore Ravens.
NOTE: The Eagles announced that single-game tickets will go on sale for all 10 home games for the 2012 season on June 21 at 10 a.m. Fans can purchase tickets at that time by going to www.philadelphiaeagles.com. Prices range from $70 to $95 and there is a four-ticket limit per household.
The NFL draft is less than a month away. In fact, the draft will be held April 26–28. There are a number of NFL prospects from historically Black colleges and universities around the country who will be available for the draft.
The list includes some of the top players from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Southwestern Athletic Conference and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference as well as some HBCUs from the NAIA ranks. Although there haven’t been many Black college players taken in the draft recently, these prospects have a way of making it on to many NFL rosters as free agents.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Philadelphia Eagles defensive back, was a first-round pick out of Tennessee State in 2008 when he was selected by the Arizona Cardinals. Rodgers-Cromartie was the last HBCU player taken in the first round. A year ago, Kenrick Ellis, Hampton University defensive tackle, was selected in the third round by the New York Jets. There were three other players taken in the seventh round.
There’s a chance you could hear some of these names on draft day. If not, don’t be surprised if a number of these players land somewhere as an undrafted free agent. A good example is Isaac Redman, who played his college football at Bowie State. In 2009, Redman, a solid running back, wasn’t drafted. He currently plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Redman has already played in the NFL playoffs and a Super Bowl in just two seasons.
Write some of these names down starting with the local players from Cheyney University and Lincoln University.
Tim Hume, Cheyney University, defensive lineman:
Hume had a great year. The 6-foot-1, 260-pounder, was a major player of the defensive line for Cheyney. Hume was named All Super Region One Defensive Player of the Year by the Don Hansen’s Football Gazette. He was named by Beyond Sports Network as a Division II second team All-American.
Hume was chosen as the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Gene Upshaw Award (Division II Lineman of the Year). He led the conference in tackles for loss with 21.5. Hume was the team leader with 6.5 sacks. He also had 62 total tackles.
Brandon McElwee, Lincoln University, linebacker:
McElwee had a tremendous season. He was the NCAA Division II statistical leader in solo tackles with 79. He led the team with 114 total tackles. He was named to Don Hansen’s Division II USA College Sports Senior All-American Team and the Beyond Sports College Network All-American first team. He was an All-CIAA first team defense selection. He also played in the Division II vs. NAIA Senior Bowl.
Daron Jones, Lincoln University, linebacker:
Jones was named to Don Hansen’s Division II USA College Sports Senior All-American Team and the Beyond Sports College Network All-American first team. He was second on the team in tackles and third in the CIAA. He returned three interceptions for touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder, played in the third annual HBCU All-Star Bowl.
Brucelee Sterile, Lincoln University, linebacker:
Sterile has great quickness and knows how to find the football. He’s a good tackler. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder, had 32 total tackles. He was a Don Hansen Division II USA College Sports Senior All-American.
Casey Therriault, Jackson State, quarterback:
Therriault is one of the best quarterbacks in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, completed 272-of-453 passes for 3,808 yards with 27 touchdowns. He had five games where he threw for more than 300 yards.
Nicholas Cooper, Winston-Salem State, running back:
Cooper rushed for 1,712 yards this season. He averaged 7.0 yards a carry and scored 21 touchdowns. The 6-foot, 240-pound running back, has power and speed. He led Winston-Salem State to the NCAA Division II semifinals.
Mike Mayhew, North Carolina A&T, running back:
Mayhew, a 5-foot-10, 195-pounder, rushed for 1,120 yards while scoring nine touchdowns. He was named co-MEAC Offensive Player of the Year.
David Carter, Morehouse, running back:
Carter, a 5-foot-11, 225-pounder, was one of the top running backs in the SIAC. He led the conference in rushing with 1,495 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. He averaged 6.4 yards a carry.
Nick Andrews, Alabama State, wide receiver:
Andrews is a small receiver like the Philadelphia Eagles DeSean Jackson. At 5-foot-9, 170-pounds, he knows how to get open. Andrews led the SWAC in receptions (78) and receiving yards (1,095) while scoring 10 touchdowns this season.
Willie Carter, Howard, wide receiver:
Carter, a 6-foot-1, 202-pounder, had 60 receptions for 731 yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 12.2 yards a catch. He’s been one of the top receivers in the MEAC over the last four years.
Renty Rollins, Jackson State, tight end:
Rollins can block and run good pass routes. The 6-foot-4, 255-pounder, had 39 receptions for 591 yards and five TDs. He averaged 15.2 yards a catch.
Mario Louis, Grambling State, wide receiver:
Louis is one of the most explosive players in the SWAC. He has great speed and terrific moves in the open field. He led the conference in yards per catch with 21.3. The 6-foot, 190-pounder, scored 17 TDs.
Kendall Noble, Norfolk State, offensive lineman:
Noble, a 6-foot-4, 290-pounder, is a good run and pass blocker. He can really move his feet.
Ryan Davis, Bethune-Cookman, defensive lineman:
Davis, a 6-foot-4, 240-pounder, was named the MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. He led the conference with 12 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss while recording 60 total tackles.
Adrian Hamilton, Prairie View A&M, defensive lineman:
Hamilton was named the co-SWAC Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3, 255-pounder, led the nation with 20.5 sacks and was second with 26.5 tackles for losses totaling 126 yards. He also had 81 total tackles.
Cory Hart, Alabama A&M, defensive lineman:
Hart, a 6-foot-3, 230-pounder, led the country in tackles for loss (27.0) and had 14 sacks. He can really get to the quarterback.
Cliff Exama, Grambling State, linebacker:
Exama, a 6-foot, 230-pounder, led the SWAC with 139 total tackles. He was the conference co-Defensive Player of the year. He had 17.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and four passes defended.
Corwin Hammond, Norfolk State, linebacker:
Hammond, a 6-foot-1, 220-pounder, had 120 total tackles with 13 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He knows how to come up and make plays against the run.
Alton Keaton, Winston-Salem State, defensive back:
Keaton was named the CIAA Defensive Player of the year. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder, has the speed to run with most receivers. He has good anticipation. He’s a good tackler, too.
Christian Thompson, South Carolina State, free safety:
Thompson, a 6-foot, 211-pounder, attended the NFL Combine. He had 46 solo tackles and one interception.
Micah Pellerin, Hampton, defensive back:
Pellerin had 41 total tackles, two interceptions and 14 pass breakups this season. He was one of two HBCU players that attended the NFL Combine.
Moses Ellis, Prairie View A&M, defensive back:
Ellis, a 5-foot-8, 170-pounder, has been a solid defensive back. He can play the run as well as the pass. He had 36 total and 26 solo tackles this season.
ATLANTA — A person familiar with the deal says the Falcons have acquired four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel from the Philadelphia Eagles.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday afternoon because the deal has not been announced.
The trade was made after Samuel agreed to restructure his contract to a three-year, $18.5 million deal with Atlanta. His current contract with Philadelphia calls for him to earn $9.9 million in 2012 and $11.4 million in 2013.
Atlanta is expected to send a draft pick to Philadelphia.
The 31-year-old Samuel gives Atlanta a strong trio at cornerback with Dunta Robinson and Northeast High school priduct Brent Grimes under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
Grimes signed his franchise tag tender on Tuesday. Grimes will make $10.262 million this season.
The Falcons have six picks, but no first-round selection in the NFL draft.
Samuel became expendable when the Eagles signed Nnamdi Asomugha and acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie last July, giving them three Pro Bowl cornerbacks. But the team couldn't find a suitable deal for Samuel, so they kept him and used Rodgers-Cromartie in the nickel spot.
While Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie struggled in a new defense and new roles, Samuel was the most consistent of the trio. The outspoken Samuel probably sealed his fate in Philadelphia when he criticized the front office at the trade deadline, saying management was "playing fantasy football with the owner's money."
Samuel has 45 career interceptions in nine seasons. He had three interceptions in 14 games last season. -- (AP)
The Philadelphia Eagles will open training camp on July 22 at Lehigh University. The rookies and selected veterans will report the first day. The rest of the players will report on July 25. The first full practice will take place on July 27.
The Eagles first preseason game will be against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles will open the regular season on Sept. 9 against the Cleveland Browns on the road.
With all that in place, this should be a big year for the Eagles. All their key players are healthy and signed. Now, it’s time to get down to business. There are some players who need to have good seasons if the team is going to get to the Super Bowl or at least make a strong run in the NFC playoffs.
Vick is capable of having a much better season. The Eagles signal caller was injured during portions of last season. That had a big impact on his game. Although he threw 14 interceptions, he still managed to pass for 3,303 yards with 18 touchdowns. Vick played much better the last four games of the season. The Eagles won all of those games and finished 8-8.
Vick has himself under the microscope this season. He recently brought himself, as well as the team, a lot of attention with his comments on Comcast SportsNet. He said, “I think we have a chance to develop a dynasty.”
The 6-foot, 215-pounder, is surrounded by a number of very talented players at the skilled positions. This may be one of the best Eagle teams in regards to personnel in a long time.
LeSean McCoy/running back
McCoy was arguably the best running back in football last year. He had 273 carries for 1,309 yards while scoring 17 TDs. McCoy has good speed and great moves in the open field. Eagles head coach Andy Reid needs to establish the running game with McCoy. If he can run the football the way he did last season, that will be a big help to Michael Vick.
DeSean Jackson/wide receiver
A year ago, Jackson was playing without a contract. Well, now that’s been settled. He’s signed his deal. Jackson is one of the most explosive players in the NFL. Two years ago, he made the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver and punt returner. Last year, he had 58 receptions for 961 yards and four TD receptions. He should be able to surpass those numbers this year. He’s a big-play receiver with tremendous speed.
Demetress Bell/offensive tackle
The Eagles are hoping Bell will step in and help the offensive line. He will replace Jason Peters who is out for the season with a ruptured right Achilles tendon. The 6-foot-5, 311-pounder played for the Buffalo Bills last season.
DeMeco Ryans/middle linebacker
The Eagles need Ryans mostly to play against the run. Last year, it seems like every running back that played against the Eagles had a big day rushing. Ryans, a 6-foot-1, 247-pounder, had 64 tackles with the Houston Texans last season. He should be a big help to the Eagles defense.
Rodgers-Cromartie didn’t get a chance to exhibit his skills with Asante Samuel here. But Samuel has been traded to the Atlanta Falcons. Rodgers-Cromartie played some good football for the Arizona Cardinals before the Eagles acquired him. He had 16 interceptions in his first three seasons. Four of those interceptions were returned for TDs. The 6-foot-2, 182-pounder is a terrific cover guy. The Eagles need him to play well against the pass and the run. He had just 28 tackles last season.
Asomugha is regarded as one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks. The Eagles are going to need his aggressive play on the corners. Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie should form a good combination in the secondary. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder had 40 tackles and three interceptions last season.
The NFL free agency signing period will begin today. If the Philadelphia Eagles want to sign a player who could have a big impact, they should take a good look at a guy who grew up in Philly and played for the West Oak Lane Wildcats, Northeast High and Shippensburg University. His name: Brent Grimes.
That’s right, Brent Grimes. He plays defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons. Grimes is one of the top NFL free agents whom nobody is talking about. That’s because he missed just about the entire season with an Achilles injury.
According to published reports, Grimes seems to be progressing quite nicely in terms of his injury. Before he was hurt, he was one of the best players at his position. Defensive back is a position of need for the Eagles. Plus, it’s not clear whether Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a free agent, will return.
Grimes has plenty of experience, talent, speed and tackling ability. He’s not the biggest player at his position. Despite his size, 5-foot-10 and 181 pounds, he can really play.
He had a great season in 2010, making the Pro Bowl. He had 76 solo tackles and five interceptions. In 2011, Grimes, 29, had 49 total tackles and one interception. He’s one of the best tacklers in the league. He doesn’t mind coming up on sweeps and taking on blockers and making tackles. He’s an old- school cornerback.
Grimes can also cover the NFL’s best wide receivers with his speed. He can run stride for stride with most receivers. The Falcons got to the NFC championship without him, but they definitely could have used him against the San Francisco 49ers, who stopped the Falcons from getting to the Super Bowl.
Grimes is a guy who had to roll up his sleeves to get to the NFL. At Northeast High, he couldn’t have weighed more than 135 pounds. Nevertheless, he was a threat to score just about every time he touched the football.
He was a Division II All-American at Shippensburg, but went undrafted in 2006. He had to play a year in NFL Europe for the Hamburg Sea Devils before finally getting his chance to play in the NFL.
He was basically a special teams player in his first two seasons with the Falcons. In 2009, he started to get on the field as a regular at defensive back. Grimes would definitely give the Eagles a lift with his ability and leadership.
The Eagles would be bringing a player home who could strengthen the defense with skills that were missing the last two seasons. You won’t see players run around or through Grimes, with his grit and determination. You won’t see receivers running past him either.
The free agency period is just starting. If you have never seen Grimes play the game, pay YouTube a visit. He’s got a lot of highlights which clearly showcase his all-around skills. He has the talent to improve the Eagles secondary.
When Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie makes the big trip back to face his old team, the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon, he will be taking a 2-0 record with him. In fact, the Cardinals are also undefeated after two games.
The Eagles are coming off an exciting 24-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. The Cardinals upset the New England Patriots, 20-18, in Foxborough, Mass.
This game also has an interesting twist. In 2011, Rodgers-Cromartie was traded to the Eagles along with a second round pick for quarterback Kevin Kolb, who may start again for the Cardinals if opening day starter John Skelton is still recovering from an ankle injury he suffered against the Seattle Seahawks in week one.
Rodgers-Cromartie didn’t get a chance to show much last year. He had 36 total and 27 solo tackles and no interceptions. He spent a good portion of the season playing inside as part of the Eagles’ nickel page, mostly due to the outside presence of since traded cornerback Asante Samuel. But Rodgers-Cromartie is playing some great football right now and already has two interceptions and two solo tackles this season.
“I feel real good especially to be 2-0 and get them in front of your home crowd,” Rodgers-Cromartie said of the Eagles win against the Ravens. “You got to love it. I just look to build from there. I would just say as a team and as a unit we put the time in and they finally allowed me to go back to where I was. They got me feeling comfortable and allowing me to play fast.”
Rodgers-Cromartie, a 6-foot-2, 182-pounder, has certainly been one of the Eagles biggest bright spots on defense, but he’s not the only standout. DeMeco Ryans, Eagles middle linebacker, has been a real defensive stalwart.
“DeMeco is a great man,” he said. “You can see that in stopping the run and playing the pass. He got an interception. He’s a dominating linebacker. Then, you got Nnamdi (Asomugha) coming over. You’re not going to take balls his way. He can take down a whole side of the field. Our defensive line is fierce. They’re fast off the ball. The quarterback knows if he holds the ball too long he’s going to be sacked. Then, we got Brandon Boykin (rookie) coming in making plays. I think that’s big for him as a rookie coming in and taking over for (Joselio) Hanson and doing a good job.”
Rodgers-Cromartie is one of the best young cornerbacks in the league. In 2009, he was named to the Pro Bowl after hauling in six interceptions and forcing three fumbles that year. He played a big role in the Cardinals’ success. He helped Arizona to a 32-25 win over the Eagles in the NFC championship game that season. In addition, he played in Super Bowl XLIII, losing a close one to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-23. He’s looking forward to returning to Arizona and competing against his former team.
“It’s going to be good just to see some old friends and some of the guys,” he said. “It’s going to be nice to get back out there. But I have to understand I’m going out there to play a ball game. I can’t get too caught up into it.”
Rodgers-Cromartie was a terrific player at Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton, Fla. He was an all-area selection as a defensive back and wide receiver.
He played his college football at Tennessee State where he was one of the top players in the country. The former Ohio Valley Conference star was the 16th player selected in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft. Rodgers-Cromartie was the first Tennessee State player chosen in the first round in since 1974 when defensive end Ed “Too Tall” Jones (Dallas Cowboys, first overall) and linebacker Wayman Bryant (Chicago Bears, fourth overall) were selected.
So far, it’s been a big year for Rodgers-Cromartie, the Eagles and Tennessee State. He’s been keeping up with the Tigers.
“Big Blue is off to a 3-0 start right now,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “We beat Jackson State, FAMU (Florida A&M) and Austin Peay. I’m very proud of them. Rod Reed (Tennessee State head coach) has the program turned around. They’re doing real good. So, shout out to Big Blue.”
The Philadelphia Eagles will open the preseason against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, Sept. 9 at Lincoln Financial Field. The kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. on 6ABC as the NFL season gets underway in Philadelphia.
Of course, the Eagles preseason matchup with the Steelers is secondary as the team deals with the passing of Garrett Reid, son of Eagles’ coach Andy, on Sunday.
On the field there are some key players to watch in this contest. Although the veterans don’t usually play very much in the preseason, it’s time to take a look at what they have been able to do in training camp so far.
Offensively, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will have plenty of eyes on him. Vick is coming off a lackluster year last season. He needs a big year for the Eagles to make a strong run and get to the Super Bowl.
In the first two or three possessions, Vick will be under the microscope in terms of his passing, leadership and how well the offense moves the ball. Vick remains one of the NFL’s most exciting players and can explode at any time. With that in mind, if and when he breaks the pocket will he slide or get out of bounds? He has to remain healthy.
Demetress Bell, Eagles offensive tackle, is replacing Jason Peters on the offensive line and is a player to keep your eyes on. Bell has to open those holes for running back LeSean McCoy. He has to provide good pass protection for Vick.
On defense, DeMeco Ryans will be playing middle linebacker. The Eagles need his leadership and experience at this position. Tackling will be the key thing to watch. A year ago, teams had a field day running on the Eagles. They needed help at middle linebacker. That’s why they went out and acquired Ryans from the Houston Texans in the offseason. He has to stop the run. He needs to establish himself right away.
In the secondary, cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha are two talented players who really struggled last season. They will be expected to make a lot of plays against the run as well as the pass.
Up front, the Eagles should give some playing time rookie defensive end Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. Cox, a first round pick, is considered a playmaking defensive lineman. It’s time to find out how much he has learned in the training camp. Graham, a former first rounder, hopes to get on the field to show what he can do.
PHILADELPHIA — Four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel missed a second consecutive practice Thursday with a hamstring injury.
Samuel is in danger of missing the Eagles' game against the Cowboys on Saturday, a game the Eagles could need to win to keep alive their slim playoff hopes.
If the Jets beat the Giants in an early game Saturday, Philadelphia would stay alive in the division race with a win in Dallas.
Samuel hurt his hamstring in the Eagles-Jets game last Sunday, and coach Andy Reid said Samuel aggravated it at practice Tuesday. He hasn't practiced since.
"Asante is still a little sore, and we'll just see how he does here over the next couple days," Reid said. "He jogged a little bit (Tuesday) and got sore ... so we just backed off him. We're trying to rehab it and see how it goes from there."
Samuel has three interceptions this year and 45 in his career, fourth among active players.
Reid said Samuel is experienced enough that he'd be able to play Saturday without practicing, as long as his hamstring is healthy.
"He knows what we're doing, it's just a matter of getting the soreness out of there to where he feels comfortable," he said. "Nobody wants to play more than he does, so you know he's going to do everything possible to get himself ready to go."
Reid said if Samuel is unable to play Saturday, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would start at left cornerback opposite Nnamdi Asomugha.
Rodgers-Cromartie, a Pro Bowl cornerback with the Cardinals, made his only start as an Eagle against the Bills in October, when the Eagles opened in a three-cornerback alignment.
Like Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie is in his first year in Philly and has gradually grown more comfortable playing a new role with a new team.
Rodgers-Cromartie missed three games with a high ankle sprain before returning for the Eagles' wins the last two weeks over the Dolphins and Jets.
"He was a good player before he came here this year, so that was never in question," Asomugha said. "But like everything else, learning this new system, it wasn't going to be a quick turnaround for him, I think.
"And when you come back from injury, then the confidence has to play a part and you have to start getting that back and be sure of yourself. And we're starting to see that a lot more from him, that he's putting the injury behind him and he's playing better through it."
The Eagles (6-8) will win the NFC East with victories over the Cowboys and Redskins combined with a Giants loss to the Jets on Saturday and a Giants win over the Cowboys on Jan. 1.
A win over the Cowboys would give them their first three-game winning streak of the season.
Reid said that recent injuries to all three of the Eagles' Pro Bowl cornerbacks demonstrate why he believed it was important to take the unusual step of carrying all three this year.
"It's tough for those guys to get through the season, at least the history of it has been that way here," Reid said. "That position (and) your D-line, you can't have enough of those guys, and we're fortunate to have the guys we have at that spot."
Defensive tackle Trevor Laws was the only other Eagle who wasn't a full participant at practice. Laws, who has knee tendinitis, was limited. -- (AP)
Cullen Jenkins has been one of the Philadelphia Eagles’ most consistent players on the defensive line. Jenkins, Eagles defensive tackle, had a big game in the Eagles’ 19-17 victory over the New York Giants. He had five solo and seven total tackles including two hurries.
The Eagles (3-1) will need another strong performance from him when they battle the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2) on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. (FOX Channel 29). The big key will be getting pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers brilliant quarterback. Although the Steelers have struggled in the first three games, Roethlisberger has been terrific. He has completed 80-of-120 passes for 904 yards with 8 TDs and just one interception. Jenkins knows this is a huge task with Roethlisberger’s size and ability to move around in the pocket.
“That’s when you have to be more discipline because you know that possibility is there,” Jenkins said. “For us up front, it’s just getting him down. If you can get him, you have to get him wrapped up and keep him from throwing the ball.”
Of course, Jenkins believes stopping the running is a factor as well. The Steelers have three solid running backs with Rashard Mendenhall, Will Johnson and Isaac Redman.
“It’s always the No. 1 goal each week going in to stop the run, keep the run contained and down and distance in our favor,” said Jenkins, a 6-foot-2, 305-pounder. “If you do that, you usually have pretty good success.”
Jenkins has 13 total tackles this season. He’s been very aggressive against the pass as well as the run. Jenkins has received plenty of help from middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, safety Kurt Coleman and others.
“Just playing together as a team,” Jenkins said. “Everybody just being accountable for their gaps and assignments, it’s just a team effort. There’s definitely a level of trust out there and I think we have that this year. You’re confident the guy next to you or the guy behind you is going to take care of their assignment and you know that you just need to care of your assignment to make it easier on that person.”
The Eagles have won three of four games by a grand total of four points. Jenkins has been impressed with the way the team has been able to win these close games.
“Because we’ve been fighting, fighting through the whole game,” Jenkins said. “It’s never any doubt in us. It’s never any let up. Guys aren’t pointing their finger out there. You know, heck, if the offense doesn’t have the best day, the defense tries to step it up for them and then again if the defense is struggling late in the games, you know, we’ve given up some points and allowed teams to get the lead, and the offense steps it up for us and they come right back and get the lead back. This has been a great team effort so far this year where everybody has each other’s back.”
The Philadelphia Eagles will visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in what should be a rugged non-conference game against an intra-state rival at Heinz Field. The Eagles (3-1) are coming off a huge 19-17 victory over NFC East rival and defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
The Steelers (1-2) are looking for a win. Pittsburgh has one victory over the New York Jets (27-10). They’ve dropped two decisions to the Denver Broncos (31-19) and most recently to the Oakland Raiders (34-31). Pittsburgh has just completed its bye week.
The Eagles will carry some momentum into this contest. Michael Vick, Eagles quarterback, had a solid performance in the victory over the Giants. He completed 19-of-30 passes for 241 yards and one touchdown pass. He had six carries for 49 yards.
Moreover, Vick had zero turnovers.
“That’s a good thing, and we’re making progress in the right direction,” said Andy Reid, Eagles head coach. “He’s been knocking the rust off from not playing. This game is so stinking fast that if you have no snaps in the preseason and you’re asked to come out and play at a high level against the football teams we’re playing against, particularly against the defenses we’re playing against, it’s tough. It’s tough for anybody. As great of a player as he is, it’s tough. He found himself, and he did a nice job with it.”
The Eagles did a good job of mixing the run with the pass against the Giants. LeSean McCoy, Eagles running back, had 23 carries for 123 yards. McCoy averaged 5.3 yards a carry. DeSean Jackson was the Eagles leading receiver. Jackson had six receptions for 99 yards including a 19-yard TD catch from Vick.
Defensively, the Steelers are led by linebacker Larry Foote (18 solo tackles, one sack) and safeties Ryan Clark (13 solo, one interception) and Ryan Mundy (10 solo tackles).
On offense, Pittsburgh could be a handful with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is having another good year. Roethlisberger has completed 80-of-120 passes for 904 yards with 8 TD passes and just one interception. Isaac Redman, former Paulsboro High and Bowie State star, is the Steelers leading rusher. Redman has 32 carries for 72 yards and one TD. The ex-South Jersey standout has six receptions for 42 yards.
Roethlisberger has a prolific passing attack with wide receivers Antonio Brown (18 receptions for 240 yards and one TD), Mike Wallace (17 receptions for 234 yards and 3 TDs) and tight end Heath Miller (15 receptions for 129 yards and 4 TDs). These receivers will test the Eagles secondary. Kurt Coleman, Eagles safety, had four solo tackles against the Giants. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eagles defensive back, had four solo tackles and one interception. Brandon Boykin, rookie defensive back, also had four solo tackles.
Vick knows how difficult it is to win in this league. That’s why the victory over the Giants has great significance in the NFC East.
“It means a lot,” Vick said. “It means a lot to be 3-1. It means a lot to be at the top of the division. We still have a lot of tough games ahead of us but that’s what it’s all about. This is the NFL and this is why we play this game.”
NOTES: The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its list of nominees for 2013, including a number of former Eagles: Randall Cunningham, Ron Jaworski, Brian Mitchell, Herschel Walker, Ricky Watters, Cris Carter, Jimmy Smith, Carl Hairston, Eric Allen, Troy Vincent, Gary Anderson, Sean Landeta, Dick Vermeil, Bud Carson, Bill Cowher, Leo Carlin and Otho Davis.