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August 14 Practice Report: Set For The Pats

Posted Aug 14, 2014

FOXBORO, Mass. -- With Friday night's preseason tilt between the Eagles and Patriots one day away, the two teams took things a little easier on Thursday during a joint practice that featured some half-speed 7-on-7 work and little else. As for what to expect tomorrow night and in the week to come, here's everything you need to know ...


Wide receiver Riley Cooper has been frustrated to play the part of practice on-looker the past few weeks. Sidelined for a time with a foot injury and a part-time participant in practice this week, Cooper will not play on Friday night against the New England Patriots.

When the Eagles return to practice at the NovaCare Complex on Sunday, though, Cooper is hoping to be a full participant.

“That’s what I’m shooting for,” Cooper said. “I definitely need to play, I mean I can’t just jump in Week 1 against Jacksonville and start playing, so that’s my goal. I want to play next week and get back in the swing of things.”

Cooper was asked if a player of his veteran standing even needs game action to prepare himself for the regular season.

“Absolutely. I mean, you take so much time off, especially if you don’t play preseason, so it’s definitely of value, it’s definitely of importance,” said Cooper, who is targeting action in the third preseason game next Thursday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. “It’s something that I need to do. That’s my goal.

“I’m anxious to get back out there.”

With Cooper’s absence, coupled with the recent hamstring injury to Jeremy Maclin, plenty of receivers lower on the depth chart have had increased opportunities. From his vantage point, Cooper has taken notice of the rookie draft-pick duo of Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff.

“I’m really impressed with Huff and Jordan, just how fast they’ve picked everything up,” Cooper said. “They’ve done really well. They don’t look like rookies coming in. they picked up the game plan really well and just have a knack for the game.”


Jordan Matthews has enjoyed his week of joint practices against the Patriots and now is prepared for his second preseason game. The debut in Chicago was, in the words of head coach Chip Kelly, “inconsistent.” Matthews wasn’t pleased that he failed to make a couple of plays on passes that were catchable.

He’s keeping his focus for Friday to “do my job. That’s all I’m thinking about is my job.” The idea that Matthews had “first-game jitters” is something he doesn’t buy.

“I think to say that would be kind of an excuse,” said Matthews. “I don’t like to make excuses. The game happened. It is what it is. We’re just trying to move on from it. If I was up here like, ‘Yo, I had first-game jitters,’ that’s an excuse, and I don’t. There is no reason to ever make excuses.”

Matthews is working solely on the slot position and is expected to see a lot of time working behind veteran Brad Smith against New England.


The Eagles offense had its ups and downs in the preseason game in Chicago and now looks for more efficiency against New England. For tight end Zach Ertz, who has been sensational all week in Foxboro, Mass., the goal is clear: Put the ball in the end zone.

“We have to execute better. We can’t have stupid penalties like we had last week and we can’t turn the ball over,” he said. “If you lose the turnover battle, it’s going to be tough to win any game, and if you have three penalties on one drive, you’re definitely not going to convert. That’s what we’ve got to focus on right now.”


Safety Keelan Johnson spent some time this week working with the second-team defense at safety alongside Chris Maragos. After spending much of the 2013 season on the Eagles practice squad, Johnson had big expectations in proving himself heading into Training Camp. Those hopes were put on hold, though, when Johnson was excused from camp following an arrest prior to the start of practice.

The safety explained Thursday that he’s grateful for the opportunity provided to him by the Eagles to return to fight for his spot on the roster.

“I could have easily been gone,” Johnson said. “When you get a second opportunity, you don’t want to take it for granted. This is a league where it’s easy to find replacements in this profession, so to come back just means everything.”

With the missed time, though. Johnson knows that he has to stand out in order to make an impression.

“I’ve been running out of time,” he said. “I missed a week, so I’ve been running out of time. I’m trying to do enough to stand out but not enough to jeopardize my job or my chances to make that happen. So I think just making the best of the situation I’ve been given right now.”

Johnson describes himself as a versatile safety and he’s set a goal to record his first touchdown since high school. But he also knows that in the battle for a roster spot, special teams will need to be his primary weapon.

“Without a doubt,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how many safeties they plan on keeping on the roster, but if I’m one of them, then special teams is definitely where I need to make my money and my playing time and impact on this team.”


Seventh-round draft pick Beau Allen earned praise for his play against Chicago. He’s taken reps with the starters during this week and could see quite a bit of time against the Patriots. The feedback from the coaching staff has been strong for the nose tackle.

“It’s been positive for the most part. We watched the film last week and it’s weird. It seems like such a long time ago. It’s just been a week, but I think we’ve kind of moved on, to be honest,” said Allen. “I think I’ve gotten better this week, and that’s what you want. You don’t want to take steps back in practice.”

Allen has impressed with his quickness off the ball and his leverage at the line of scrimmage. He’s a 322-pounder who has shown he can anchor inside.

“I feel good about my situation,” he said. “I’ve been getting a lot of reps, which is what I need. That’s good. You get a lot of reps and you get that experience and muscle memory and that’s all you can really ask for as a rookie.”


A day after feeling his left hamstring “grab” during practice, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin did not take part in the team’s walkthough on Thursday. Maclin did not speak with reporters after the practice.

Also missing the walklthough: cornerbacks Jaylen Watkins and Nolan Carroll II, linebacker Jake Knott and running backs Chris Polk, David Fluellen and Matthew Tucker. Wide receiver Damaris Johnson took some reps in the backfield and could be available should the Eagles need him given the injuries at running back.


With Polk, Tucker and Fluellen likely not to play against New England, free-agent rookie Henry Josey could see some major minutes on Friday. He is keeping his perspective.

“The main thing is to focus on my job and not worry about how many carries I get or anything like that,” he said. “I’m not caught up in the numbers at all. I’m just working on improving every day and that’s all I can do. I am here to keep learning and keep working hard and if I do that, I’ll be satisfied.”

Josey ran for 2,771 yards and scored 30 touchdowns in three seasons at Missour, overcoming a major knee injury to reach the NFL.

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