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Kudos To Some Under-The-Radar Eagles

Posted Oct 5, 2017

This 3-1 start has been a total team effort, all 53 players on the roster and then some (read: Jake Elliott, Kenjon Barner), and the encouraging aspect is that the Eagles don’t yet think they’ve played their best football ...

This 3-1 start has been a total team effort, all 53 players on the roster and then some (read: Jake Elliott, Kenjon Barner), and the encouraging aspect is that the Eagles don’t yet think they’ve played their best football.

Four games into the season and there are many things clear about this team, namely the rise of quarterback Carson Wentz, the performance of the offensive line, the belief in the running game, and the effort and relentlessness of the defense and special teams.

With all of that, there are some under-the-radar players who deserve to have a moment in the sun for contributions to a winning start.

CB PATRICK ROBINSON

He wasn’t particularly impressive in the preseason, but Patrick Robinson seems to have found his niche in the Eagles’ defense as the inside cornerback lining up against the opposing slot receivers. Robinson, signed to a one-year contract in the offseason, has quickness in the short area and he’s been tenacious in coverage.

The coaching staff has noticed.

"I think he’s performed at a really high level,” defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said this week. “He’s really taken that position over. He’s limited his focus to that position. I think that’s helped, also, and has quietly done his job.”

A former first-round draft pick of New Orleans in 2010, Robinson’s biggest challenge staying in the NFL has been staying healthy. In the course of his seven seasons prior to signing with the Eagles, Robinson has been plagued by a concussion as well as hip, groin, hamstring, and knee injuries.

Keep your fingers crossed with Robinson, then. He’s done a nice job and has helped the defense in the weeks since Ronald Darby was injured at Washington.

RB COREY CLEMENT

Who in the world would have expected anything from Corey Clement, signed after the draft and a long shot from the very start to even make the 53-man roster? Well, Clement has done more than just make the team. Clement has 16 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown, and while those numbers aren’t especially eye-popping, his role in the offense is growing. The Eagles have a lot of trust in Clement as a ball carrier – he ran for three first downs on the final clock-eating drive in Los Angeles on Sunday – and as a pass protector and receiver.

Also, Clement has delivered with two tackles on special teams, been used as the upback on punts, and is working his way into Dave Fipp’s plans as a core member of the third phase.

P/HOLDER DONNIE JONES

Does this guy ever age? Donnie Jones has a gross average of 44 yards per punt, with a net of 40.1 yards per kick. Jones also has four punts inside the 20-yard line (would have been five if the coverage unit didn’t botch a chance to down Jones’ first punt of the game against the Giants at the 1-yard line).

Jones is just solid, solid, solid. He’s also a great holder for the field goal operation, helping make the transition to Rick Lovato at long snapper and Jake Elliott at placekicker so smooth.

G STEFEN WISNIEWSKI

Just when you count out Stefen Wisniewski making a significant contribution, he ends up on the field. That’s pretty much how it’s worked with Wisniewski at left offensive guard. He was, basically, a third-string guard and a second-team center throughout the summer, but after Isaac Seumalo struggled and as Chance Warmack settled in, Wisniewski became the starting left guard.

A starter in his first five NFL seasons – four with Oakland and one in Jacksonville – Wisniewski didn’t get a whole lot of love in free agency and signed a one-year contract with the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent in 2016. He was expected to be a backup interior offensive linemen. Wisniewski became more than that, starting six games and playing 54 percent of the snaps.

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Wisniewski signed a three-year contract in the offseason to stay with the Eagles, and it’s proven to be a very wise move for both the Eagles and Wisniewski, who has one start – he is expected to start on Sunday as well – and has played 32 percent of the snaps in four games. Wisniewski has solidified the position and helped the Eagles establish a powerful running game.

WR NELSON AGHOLOR

Look at how far Nelson Agholor has come since 2016. He is a totally different player than he was last season, and the offense is thankful. Agholor is playing out of the slot and has 12 catches, 173 yards, and two touchdowns, playing 69 percent of the snaps. He’s a starter, basically. Think of it that way, because the Eagles like to get Agholor on the field as part of the three-wide receiver sets and create favorable matchups.

Agholor is the most explosive receiver on this roster and he’s played that way. He clearly has benefited from the way the Eagles handled the situation last year, backing him off for a game and giving Agholor a chance to clear his mind after a series of drops and mental mistakes.

The 20th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Agholor is finding his footing in his third season. The numbers may not be Pro Bowl level, but Agholor has delivered and he and quarterback Carson Wentz are very much on the same page.

DE CHRIS LONG

One of the underrated additions in free agency, Chris Long has shown that there is plenty of life in his legs. He’s played in 39 percent of the defensive snaps and has two quarterback sacks and a forced fumble. Long gives great effort. He is always in the right place at the right tackle. There are no mental mistakes.

The Eagles’ defensive end rotation has worked through four games with Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham starting, with Long and rookie Derek Barnett as the reserves in the four-man rotation. Steven Means, a quality end, has had trouble breaking through for more game reps.

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