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.
It’s not every day an NFL team comes to your neighborhood school to put together a playground for the students. That’s why there was so much excitement when the Philadelphia Eagles came out to the Comegys Elementary School at 51st Street and Greenway Avenue.
The Eagles Youth Partnership (EYP) and the Philadelphia Eagles worked with the Southwest Philadelphia school for the 16th annual Eagles Playground Build. The students joined a number of players such as quarterback Michael Vick, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and linebacker Demeco Ryans in painting the exterior and interior murals, laying mosaic tiles on benches and tables, constructing a large play structure and planting gardens. A turf field was also installed to give the students an area to play field sports.
Comegys School has more than 450 students from kindergarten through 6th grade. The school was chosen by EYP and the School District of Philadelphia for the playground build. The murals were created by a team of artists, led by David McShane, from the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
Lisa Wilmer, principal at Comegys School, was very impressed with the efforts of the Eagles, volunteers, students and staff. Wilmer remembers the day when her school was selected for the playground build.
“It was a busy day that day,” Wilmer said. “So, to get the phone call at the end of the day that says ‘Congratulations! You won the Eagles Playground Build’ was just awesome. We had been trying for years to get the playground. We always came in second place, but this is our year.
“You can see the joy in the eyes of the kids. We have volunteers who are community members. They just wanted to come and help. It’s bringing the community together. The staff has been great. Everybody is proud. You’re proud to be a Comegys student and staff member. I’m just happy to be the principal.”
Christina Weiss Lurie, president of EYP, has been involved with this neighborhood effort for a long time.
“This is the 16th playground build or as I call it ‘school transformation,” said Weiss Lurie, wife of Jeffrey Lurie, chairman and CEO of the Eagles. “We’re just so excited to be here and to watch the kids with their big eyes watching their playground gradually take hold whether it’s field or the garden or the mosaic, murals or the playground structure. Now, they have a safe place to be kids and dream their dreams of what they want to do as they grow old.”
The players have been really busy with the OTAs. However, McCoy was happy to spend time with the kids.
“It’s great to come out and hang with the kids and the fans,” McCoy said. “It’s a good thing to give back. This is where it really counts off the field where we can go out and do some good deeds.”
Earlier this spring Vick was playing chess against some of the city’s best players. This week he was helping to paint one of the murals at the school playground.
“I’m really enjoying this,” Vick said. “It’s going to be nice to ride past the school and say hey, ‘I made a contribution to the school.’ This is a school in the community. I think to bring our team out here to paint the school and make a contribution is phenomenal.”
Curtis Brinkley doesn’t have lot of time before training camp begins next month with the San Diego Chargers. Brinkley, Chargers running back who starred at West Catholic and Syracuse, will do something nice for his Philadelphia neighborhood.
Curtis Brinkley’s Second Community Day will take place at the Abbotsford Community Homes, Fox Street and Roberts Avenue. The event will be held on July 7 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Brinkley grew up in this East Falls community. He knows how important it is to give the youngsters in this neighborhood something positive to do in the summer.
“It’s a great event,” Brinkley said. “We want to build off last year just having different guys come up from the league. I have LeSean McCoy (Eagles running back) coming. I got Jameel McClain (former George Washington High star) coming from the Baltimore Ravens. I got the twins (former Prep Charter standouts) Marcus Morris (Phoenix Suns) and Markieff Morris (Houston Rockets).
“I was born and raised in this development. It’s just a day to sign autographs, take pictures and talk to the kids. They’ll have a chance to talk them and they’ll let the kids know how they were able to get to where they are today. We want to show the kids that it’s more out here than some of the negative things that’s going on.”
In addition to the special appearances from professional athletes, there will be food, beverages, face painting, contests and other activities. It should be a big day for Brinkley as well as his community. Moreover, this should be a big year for Brinkley with the Chargers. A year ago, he scored his first NFL touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football. Brinkley scored on a two-yard run. The 5-foot-9, 208-pounder is ready to make a solid contribution this season.
“I started off on special teams,” said Brinkley, who was signed by the Chargers in 2009 as an undrafted free agent. “I had that game on Monday night. That was big and having the opportunity to be able to start. I’m really looking forward to this year.”
Brinkley has been a sensational football player going all the way back to his scholastic days. In 2003, he rushed for 2,294 yards using his speed and great open field moves. After a year at Hargrave Military Academy, he played some good football for the Orange. Brinkley rushed for 1,165 yards and ran for 14 touchdowns his senior year. The former Catholic League standout is happy to be in a position as a professional athlete to make a difference in his community.
“This is something I always thought about doing,” Brinkley said. “I always dreamed about being in the NFL and wanting to give back. I want to make life a little easier for kids. Now, I’m in a situation where I can do that. It really makes me feel good.”
PHILADELPHIA — LeSean McCoy ran his way onto the short list of the best running backs in the NFL. He can now stamp his name among the highest paid.
McCoy and the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to a five-year contract extension that runs through 2017. The deal is for a reported $45 million, with $20.765 million guaranteed.
McCoy set franchise records in 2011 with 17 touchdowns rushing, and 20 total scores, while earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. He also led the NFL with 102 first downs and 48 runs of 10-plus yards, while finishing as the league's fourth-leading rusher with 1,309 yards.
"I love this team, and I'm kind of a hometown kid from Harrisburg which is like an hour and a half away," McCoy said Thursday night. "Nothing could be better than being here for the long term. Once you kind of realize the feeling of wanting to be here for the long term, we contacted the team and it was a mutual feeling. So, it kicked off from there."
In 2010, McCoy ranked fourth in the NFL with 1,672 yards from scrimmage while leading all running backs with a career-high 78 catches.
Philadelphia had a disappointing 4-8 start last season, before rallying with four straight wins to end the year. The Eagles did not make the playoffs.
Usually called by childhood nickname, Shady, McCoy was Philadelphia's 2009 second-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh. He has played in 46 games, with 32 starts, and has registered 4,241 yards from scrimmage.
"He does it all, so this isn't a one-dimensional running back," coach Andy Reid said. "This is a running back that can not only carry the football for you but can catch the football as well as the wide receivers and he can block and loves playing the game. That brings great energy to this football team."
He had one year left on his original four-year rookie contract.
The Eagles already this offseason signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson to a five-year contract that runs through 2016 and acquired two-time Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans. They signed defensive end Trent Cole to a four-year extension through 2017 and tackle Todd Herremans to a three-year extension through 2016.
The Eagles believe they have the pieces in place to again become contenders in the NFC. McCoy doesn't turn 24 until July, giving the Eagles hope they can get a full five years of use out of McCoy, even at a rugged position like running back.
"It's exciting because we are trying to build for the long term," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. "We're trying to bring a championship to the city of Philadelphia and we're going to do whatever we can to do that, but on the same token, we're going to try and keep building it and sustain some success. Keeping him here is a big piece of that."
McCoy now his name up there with Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson and DeAngelo Williams as one of the highest-paid running backs. Minnesota's Peterson signed a $100 million, seven-year contract before last season. Johnson signed a $53.5 million contract extension worth $30 million guaranteed with Tennessee before last season.
"I'm just honored to be in the range financially with those guys," McCoy said.
McCoy ran for 2,731 yards in his two seasons, and posted 38 total touchdowns at Pitt. -- (AP)
Demetress Bell will be a busy man in a few weeks. Bell, Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle, will be in training camp on July 25 at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
But before training camp begins, the Eagles’ 6-foot-5, 311-pound offensive lineman, will host the Philadelphia Kids Fun Day on Tuesday, July 10 at Northeast High School, Cottman and Algon avenues and will have a variety of events for kids and adults, including autograph and photo opportunities with NFL players.
The event will begin at 2 p.m. with a free football and cheer camp for kids in grades 1–8. At 6 p.m. there will be the “Great Amazing Race with NFL players.” Kids will be paired with adults. The cost of the race is $40. Bell will have a chance to make a difference in the community prior to the start of the season.
“This is a great opportunity for the kids,” Bell said. “I always wanted to give back to the community. I wanted to do something in Philadelphia. This is where I play. It should be a fun day for everybody.”
Bell will be playing a big role in the community next week. He will be playing an important role for the Eagles this season, too. The Eagles signed Bell to a five-year deal in April. He is expected to replace left tackle Jason Peters, who suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon in March.
Bell played left tackle for Buffalo Bills. He was started 30 games for the Bills over the last three seasons. A year ago, he played in seven games where he started six times and Buffalo had a 4-2 record in those matchups. He helped a Bills offense that tallied a season-high in points, rushed for 171 yards and gave up only one sack in a 41-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a part of the offensive line that didn’t give up a sack for two straight games that culminated in a 34-31 victory over the New England Patriots.
Bell will be blocking for one of the most talented offenses in the NFL, which features quarterback Michael Vick, running back LeSean McCoy, wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and tight Brent Celek. He’s looking forward to working with the Eagles offense.
“I know the players and coaches that I’m working with,” Bell said. “I don’t think I could be in a better situation. The offense is explosive at every position. We got Pro Bowl players at every position. We have a lot of great players across the board.”
The Eagles had a disappointing season a year ago. They expected to have a great year with a long run in the playoffs. But that didn’t happen. The Eagles finished the season with an 8-8 record, winning their last four games. However, there is a great deal of anticipation following a major let down from last year. The Eagles have all their key players under contract. The team is coming off a good mini-camp where all the players appear to be on the same page.
“I think everybody is excited,” Bell said. “Our practices have been really good. I think it’s going to be a good year for everybody. I know everybody wants to get back to playoffs. They want to have a big year. I understand that.”
Bell will be entering his fifth season in the NFL. He has proven to be a solid offensive lineman over the years. He feels each year he has made significant strides in terms of his skills.
“I think I’ve improved over the years,” he said. “Last year, I got injured (shoulder injury). But I’ve been working hard each year. I still feel I can do better. I feel I can do a lot more. I haven’t been playing football that long.”
Bell grew up in Summerfield, La., where he was an All-State and All-America honorable mention basketball player at Summerfield High School. He went to Northwestern State on a basketball scholarship. Before he joined the football team in 2005 as a defensive end, Bell had never played football at all. Despite the lack of experience, he was named to the Associated Press All-American and first team All-Southland Conference. He was also selected first-team All-Louisiana his senior year in 2007.
In 2008, he was a seventh round draft pick of the Bills. As far as playing football, Bell has come a long way in a very short period of time.
“I played power forward in basketball,” he said. I was a product of a basketball family. I was a basketball guy growing up. I’m working hard every day, but I still feel that I have only scratched the surface. I’m still learning more and more each day.”
It looks as if Bell’s best days are in front of him. His days as an Eagle will begin very soon in training camp.
NOTE: Bell’s event is produced in partnership with Flying Colors Sports, a marketing and community relations firm that works with professional athletes. For more information on the event, go to www.GreatAmazingRace.com.
Failing to live up to enormous expectations was a humbling experience for the Philadelphia Eagles last year.
That's why no one's talking Super Bowl — not publicly, at least.
These Eagles are just as confident as the group that went 8-8 last season after all that "Dream Team" hype. But they're not going around telling people how good they are. They'd rather show it on the field this time.
"With the expectations and us not only not meeting our goals, but not making the playoffs, we learned a lot," star running back LeSean McCoy said. "I think it humbled us. With all the big-time players that we have, we really have to check ourselves and go into the season to prove ourselves. I really think all of the hype is out the window and it's a new year. I think there's a lot of pressure for us as players because we fought hard for our coach and he's back here again. We have to make sure we do the right things."
Andy Reid returns for his 14th season as coach, though owner Jeffery Lurie admitted he thought long and hard about making a change. Reid could be facing a make-or-break year, especially after all the major turnover in the front office.
Longtime president Joe Banner stepped down, saying he wanted to seek other opportunities, though many insiders feel he lost a power struggle with Reid and general manager Howie Roseman. That means Reid could be running out of time to end the franchise's 52-year championship drought.
"Every year, the goal is to win the Super Bowl," Lurie said. "There's no ultimatums, that's our goal and every year that's the plan."
Keeping Michael Vick healthy will be the top priority if the Eagles are going to make a serious run. Vick, the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback, missed three games last season and has started 16 games just once in his nine-year career.
With him, the Eagles have a dynamic offense capable of lighting up the scoreboard against any opponent. Vick has plenty of talent surrounding him, including McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek.
Without him, the Eagles may not have much of a chance. Unproven Mike Kafka and journeyman Trent Edwards will battle for the backup spot in training camp.
"We just feel like we should have accomplished a lot last year," Vick said. "We just want to have fun and be the best that we can be. We want to work hard to get there. We know it's not going to be easy, but we're going to work at it.
"We have an opportunity to do some special things. That's what we're hoping for and that's what we're working towards. We have to keep grinding and understanding that nothing is going to come easy."
Despite their troubles last year, the Eagles weren't eliminated from playoff contention until right before their next-to-last game kicked off and they ended up second behind the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants (9-7).
A four-game winning streak ended a disappointing season on a slightly positive note. It also made it that much tougher to accept falling short because one game was the difference between missing the playoffs and winning the division.
"The momentum we had to end the season is a good start," Jackson said. "I think we can kind of go back to just refreshing that in our memory with the last four games, as far as the people who were here. For the people who weren't here, it'll be hard to gain that momentum. The guys that were here have that hunger and the feeling of having our backs against the wall, especially since we had a terrible start to the season. This year the biggest thing is to start fast and finish strong."
Defense was a major issue for Philadelphia last season. Offensive-line-coach-turned-defensive-coordinator Juan Castillo appeared overmatched early in the season and some of the high-priced newcomers had trouble adjusting to his scheme.
The Eagles addressed their defense throughout the offseason. They acquired two-time Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans to fill a major need. They also drafted three defensive players in the first two rounds, taking defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in the first round and linebacker Mychal Kendricks and defensive end Vinny Curry in the second.
Veteran safety O.J. Atogwe was signed to add depth in the secondary, and cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie should benefit from playing their natural positions now that Asante Samuel is gone.
"Once I had the opportunity to maybe join them, I was excited because I just knew what they had on the offensive side of the ball as well as what they had on the defensive side of the ball," said Atogwe, who played for Washington last year. "They played us tough both times we played them, and we weren't very effective against their defense. They had a very good defense as well as offense.
"Everything just didn't come together until the end of the season, which is why they didn't have as successful of a season as they wanted to. It seems we have the potential to do everything we have the desire to do this year. We just have to work on everything coming together at the same time." — (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.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Garrett Reid was a “happy-go-lucky” guy who conquered drug addiction, loved being in the weight room and enjoyed making players laugh.
That’s how many of the Philadelphia Eagles closest to Reid remembered their coach’s oldest son, who was found dead Sunday morning in a dorm room at the club’s Lehigh University training camp. Police said the 29-year-old’s death was not suspicious, and the cause was under investigation.
“I spent plenty of time with him,” guard Evan Mathis said Monday. “He was always in the weight room with us and was always on the field with us. He was a happy-go-lucky guy and always a joy to be around, always telling jokes and having fun. Really just brightened your day when you were around him.”
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday. It’s a scheduled day off from camp, so the team is expected to attend.
“I spent a lot of the offseason hanging out with Garrett. We were pretty close,” center Jason Kelce said. “I want to be there to say ‘Goodbye’ to him.”
The Eagles on Monday held a regular morning walkthrough and a full afternoon practice without coach Andy Reid for the second straight day. Reid spoke to the team Sunday before he left camp and impressed upon them the importance of sticking to their daily schedules. The Eagles (No. 8 in the AP Pro32) open the preseason against the Steelers on Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie already said he expects Reid, a father of five, to return this week.
“For us to not take any days off and be out here having Coach Reid and Garrett on our minds, it’s been tough,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “The biggest thing is that he wants all of us to stay together as a team. He said, ‘Guys, stick together. We’re all in this together.’
“We’re actually his extended family, and he said it’s tough right now, but we need to stay together as a team even in his absence. He wants us to be here, stay together, train hard and try and achieve our goal. Playing a game is something big, but playing for him and his family actually motivates us a little bit more.”
Garrett Reid had been staying at camp where he assisted strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin in an unofficial capacity. Exercise and training had become a passion for Reid and he aspired to make it a career.
“He was putting a lot of work into it, doing a lot of research,” Kelce said. “That was his goal — to be a strength and conditioning coach as a head guy. He was good at it.”
Reid’s knowledge and affable personality was a big reason why quarterback Michael Vick spent so much time working out with him during the offseason.
“Just a great spirit, a lot of enthusiasm, fun to be around and always is going to make you smile when you are in a bad mood,” Vick said. “He can always get you to crack a smile and that’s what I’m going to miss about him. That’s what I enjoyed each and every day. In the offseason, he was one of the reasons that I came to work five days out of the week.”
Players who knew Reid five years ago saw his transformation. They knew he had come a long way. Garrett Reid was sentenced to nearly two years in prison for a 2007 high-speed car crash while he was high on heroin that injured another driver. Police found heroin and more than 200 pills in his car. When he surrendered to begin his sentence, prison guards found Reid had tried to smuggle prescription pills into jail.
His younger brother, Britt, also had problems with drug use and was arrested on the same day as Garrett in 2007 for a road-rage encounter. Police discovered weapons and drugs in Britt Reid’s vehicle.
But Reid’s two oldest boys appeared to be on the right track. Britt is a graduate assistant coach at Temple, where Spencer Reid is a redshirt freshman running back.
“I think it’s a remarkable turnaround to go from where he was to — you guys have seen him — he lost a lot of weight, health became a huge part of his life; he had everything going in the right direction,” right tackle Todd Herremans said.
Linebacker Casey Matthews worked out often with Garrett Reid as a rookie last year, and didn’t even realize he was the coach’s son for the first couple months.
“He was a good guy,” Matthews said. “When I got to know him in the weight room, I didn’t even know he was Coach Reid’s son.”
Matthews said Garrett Reid talked about his past at times, but players never brought up the topic. Like others who knew Garrett Reid, Matthews said he would be shocked if his death was drug-related.
“He was past all that,” Matthews said. “He was always happy, always upbeat, always had your back.” — (AP)
ARLINGTON, Texas — Almost completely out of character for Jerry Jones, the Cowboys owner has publicly expressed fear about facing Philadelphia again after what happened earlier this season.
Dallas (8-6) is the only team that doesn't need help to win the NFC East, and the outcome of the game may end up having no effect at all on who does.
Star-studded Philadelphia, anointed by many in the preseason as a team with Super Bowl expectations and sure to defend its division title, now harbors only long-shot playoff chances that could be gone before kickoff at Cowboys Stadium on the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
Since the Eagles (6-8) failed to parlay an impressive 34-7 victory over Dallas nearly two months ago into something much more significant, they would be eliminated from postseason contention if the New York Giants beat the Jets earlier in the day.
"I don't worry about it," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "If you let all that other garbage get in the way, then you don't go through the process of preparing for the Dallas Cowboys. ... And if you worry about all that other stuff, that doesn't help you. You can't control that."
Despite any possible anxiety by Jones, who later characterized his feelings as an exciting time that "carries with it all the emotion of what's at stake for us," there is another strange twist if the Giants (7-7) win.
Not only would the Eagles' playoff hopes be officially dashed, likely changing their entire demeanor, the outcome of the game for Dallas would be rendered meaningless in determining the NFC East title. The division champion would then be the winner of the regular-season finale between the Cowboys and Giants.
"We're focused on playing our best game against Philadelphia, and we won't really get emotionally involved in that (Giants-Jets) game," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
Plus, if the Giants lose to the Jets, who lost 45-19 to Philadelphia last week, Dallas would have the opportunity to wrap up its 18th NFC East title before the home fans instead of having to worry about what happens New Year's Day at MetLife Stadium.
So there could be a lot of scoreboard watching for both sides during pregame warm-ups at Cowboys Stadium, when the Giants and Jets will be playing their game.
Or maybe not.
"We don't think anything other than just playing these guys this week. It's literally nothing less or more than that," Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. "We're out here to beat the Eagles. That's all we can control."
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick figures he will at least have an eye on the Giants-Jets score.
"But you try to stay away from watching it," Vick said. "You can't get too wrapped up in it."
Regardless of what happens in the New York game, the Cowboys have a chance to avenge their most-lopsided setback in a season otherwise filled with close losses. Their other five losses are by an average margin of four points, the largest a six-point overtime loss.
When Philadelphia wrapped up that rout at home against the Cowboys on Oct. 30, both teams were 3-4 and two games behind the Giants.
"We just didn't play well. We know we have to play better and execute," linebacker Bradie James said. "For a fan and a competitor, this is a game you want to play in. We have things on the line. This is what it's about."
Especially after last season, when like Philadelphia this year, the Cowboys started with Super Bowl expectations only to falter early.
This year's division standings got scrambled when the Eagles lost four of their next five games after beating Dallas, which later swept through four November games undefeated. The Giants lost the division lead by dropping five of their last six games, the only win coming two weeks ago at Cowboys Stadium.
NFC rushing leader LeSean McCoy had a career-high 185 yards with two touchdowns for Philadelphia in that Sunday night rout earlier this season. Vick threw two TDs as Philadelphia piled up 495 total yards and held the ball more than 42 minutes after new Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had referred to the Eagles before the season as the "all-hype team" and predicted his squad would thoroughly dominate them.
"I think it'll be a lot different because they're a better team. Each year, teams progress and they get better and better as the year goes on," receiver Jason Avant said. "They've been playing winning football. Even in some of the games that they've lost, they've played really well. The old game that we had is definitely out the window, we have to come out and play a different team, with a different mindset."
Philadelphia is coming off a dominating victory over the Jets, who are coached by Ryan's twin brother, Rex. But the Eagles are now big fans of the New York team in the AFC.
"We all are for the right reasons," Vick said.
While Jones is excited about what good could happen for the Cowboys, there is still that uneasy anticipation.
"Because it is the Eagles, after the butt-kicking they gave us up in Philadelphia, I'm scared," the owner said during one of his regular radio appearances this week. "I have that kind of feeling about the respect turns into being afraid of what they can do to you if you have some breakdowns out there. You can put that scared in there if you want to. I think sometimes I do the best when I'm scared."
Then again, Jones and the Cowboys might not have anything to worry about. -- (AP)
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.