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5 Things: Bradford The Difference-Maker


Good morning, Eagles fans. Head coach Chip Kelly offers one final preview of the Buffalo Bills at 11:45 AM. Later this evening, make sure to join us as Glen Macnow offers his bold predictions for Sunday's game and we'll get the latest on the Bills in our Behind Enemy Lines feature. Until then, here are the 5 Things to Know Today for Thursday, December 10 ...

1. Sam Bradford: We Control Our Destiny

Coach Kelly would disagree with his quarterback, but Sam Bradford said that despite the team's 5-7 record the Eagles "control our own destiny" since they are tied for first place with four games to go in the season.

Of course, the Eagles were in a similar situation a year ago, but lost three out of their final four games and missed the playoffs. Sunday's game with the Bills marks the beginning of three straight at Lincoln Financial Field. Bradford wasn't a part of the stretch run in 2014, but he's playing his best football of the year at the right time. In his last three games, Bradford has thrown four touchdowns and no interceptions. Bradford credited the turnaround to his increased familiarity with the offense.

"Just getting more comfortable. Not forcing things. Going through my progressions. Not sticking on one or two. Checking the ball down if I have to. Just trying to not put our team in bad positions," Bradford said.

"I've never been someone to throw a lot of interceptions. That was new to me. I think it was a variety of things. I missed some throws that ended up being picked. I made some bad decisions. It was all over the place."

2. Fletcher Cox Honored By His Teammates

On Wednesday morning, the Eagles announced defensive end Fletcher Cox as the recipient of their 2015 Ed Block Courage Award, as voted by the players inside the Eagles' locker room.

The Ed Block Courage Award is named after Ed Block, a long-time head trainer for the Baltimore Colts and a respected humanitarian dedicated to helping children. Recipients are often players who have overcome devastating injuries or tragedies in their personal lives to return to top-level competition in the NFL.

Cox is having the best year of his career in a season that he's dedicated to his late brother, Shaddrick, who passed away in January at the age of 34, the man that Cox considers his father figure. No big decision was made in Fletcher's life without counsel from his older brother. In honor of his brother, Cox devoted his 2015 season to him and the family he left behind.

"I go to battle with those guys every day, and for them to vote for me for that award, I truly think they appreciate me and I appreciate those guys and I'll continue to appreciate those guys," Cox said. "It's always good to be around your boys. Anybody can make you laugh, and with these guys right here, you've got a lot of characters in the locker room."

Dive into some of the best images from the #PHIvsNE game through this week's Caption This. View the full gallery here...

3. Some Key Injuries To Watch In Buffalo

The Eagles only had one player miss practice on Wednesday and that was nose tackle Bennie Logan, who is dealing with a knee injury. Running back Ryan Mathews was limited. Mathews practiced for the first time since the Week 10 game against Miami on Tuesday. Everyone else was a full participant.

Meanwhile in Buffalo, cornerback Stephon Gilmore is unlikely to play due to a shoulder injury. Backup running back Karlos Williams, the thunder of LeSean McCoy's lightning, also missed practice with a shoulder injury. Top tight end Charles Clay was limited with a knee injury.

Catch up with some of the Buffalo Bills' key players that the Eagles will face in Week 14. View the full gallery here...

4. McCoy Prepares For Homecoming

The big storyline this week is the return of LeSean McCoy, the franchise's all-time leading rusher. McCoy spoke with Philadelphia reporters on Wednesday and Max Rappaport has more.

"LeSean McCoy vividly remembers the cheers from the Philadelphia faithful, he remembers the tight-knit bond he established with his teammates and he remembers with pride the success he had during his six years as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. 

"But after tying his worst mark in rushing efficiency (4.2 yards per carry) since his rookie campaign in 2014, McCoy was traded in March to the Buffalo Bills, the team the Eagles will host this weekend. On Wednesday, the three-time Pro Bowl selection spoke to members of the Philadelphia media via teleconference about his thoughts on returning to the city where his NFL life began.

"'I had a blast, man. I really did. The fans were excellent, my teammates, I played with some great players, learned from some great players,' said McCoy, who has 792 yards rushing and five total touchdowns in 2015. 'Being in that City of Philadelphia, the fans are cool and there's so much to do there, I really had a blast there.'"

5. DeMarco Murray To Talk Today

Running back DeMarco Murray told reporters that he will address them today. Earlier in the week, ESPN's Ed Werder reported that Murray addressed concerns about his role in the offense with Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie on the team flight back from New England on Sunday. Coach Kelly said that the overall production of the offense is a big reason for Murray's lack of touches. He cited the abnormal play count from Sunday's game as well as the matchup against the Patriots.

Dave Spadaro took a big-picture look at how the offense must produce down the stretch.

"Murray is the micro story, and with all due respect to him and to every other player who wants the football more - what players don't want more touches? - the macro story needs to be the focus. The Eagles rank 29th in the NFL in yards gained per play with 5.12. They are 20th in the NFL in red zone touchdown efficiency, 53.13 percent. There have been too many giveaways, 22. The team has averaged 23.2 points per game, 15th in the league.

"'We're not exactly where we want to be offensively from any aspect,' Kelly said. 'I don't think anybody feels we're where we want to be offensively. I'm frustrated, alright? But when you look at that game, it was a unique football game. We scored 14 points in the third quarter with an interception return and a punt return, and we're not having success on the offensive side of the ball, so be it. I'm pretty jacked up about that because we just scored 14 points.'"

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