Good morning, Eagles fans! The Eagles continue preparing for Sunday's showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers later this morning. Head coach Chip Kelly will provide the latest updates at 10:50 AM. Following practice at around 1:15 PM, linebacker DeMeco Ryans will meet the media. If you're too busy throughout the course of the day, join us at 5 PM for Eagles 360 as Coach Kelly joins Dave Spadaro for their weekly one-on-one interview. Until then, here are the 5 Things to Know Today for Wednesday, November 18 ...
1. Can The Eagles Find The Spark?
In Week 10 of the 2014 season, the Eagles routed the Carolina Panthers 45-21 in a primetime game. The loss was part of what ended up being a seven-game winless streak that continued through Week 13.
Since then, the Panthers have won 13 straight regular season games?!? Tommy Lawlor wrote in his Fan-Demonium column about how the Eagles need to find consistency in order to stabilize their season.
"Kelly and the players need to keep grinding and trying to figure out what it takes to get this thing right. The NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint," Lawlor wrote. "The 1994 Eagles were 7-2 and looked like Super Bowl contenders. They ended up missing the playoffs. This team is half a game back from the division lead. This team, as erratic as it is, still controls its own destiny. Go win this week. Then build on that.
"The ultimate goal is more than just winning the close games. We would all like to see this team play to its potential on a consistent basis. If that were the case, Sunday's game would not have been close beyond the first quarter. Life in the NFL is hard. Not every game is going to be a blowout. Still, the Eagles are keeping opponents in games with the self-inflicted wounds. Make the other team beat you. Don't help them out. It takes a lot of discipline and focus to play well each week. The Patriots are the best example. They are like a machine."
2. No Practice For Sam Bradford
Quarterback Sam Bradford was a spectator during Tuesday's training session. That meant Mark Sanchez took the first-team reps and Thad Lewis worked with the backups.
Lewis signed with the Eagles on September 21. The 6-2, 200-pound signal-caller has starting experience from his time in Cleveland and Buffalo. He's also played in St. Louis and Houston before coming to Philadelphia.
He's been inactive each week on the Eagles' roster, but "will be ready" if needed this Sunday.
"I've been here since Week 2, nose down in the playbook since I got here and have had plenty of opportunities to study, so now it's pretty much second nature. I feel very comfortable," said Lewis. "It's similar to what I've done in the past, just different terminology, but the same concepts."
Take a look at the key players the Eagles will need to contain on Sunday afternoon when they take on Tampa Bay ...
3. Peters Set To Return?
Tackle Jason Peters has missed the past two games due to a back injury. Peters was close to making a return last Sunday. Even tackle Lane Johnson said he found out at the last second that he had to fill in for Peters again on the left side.
Johnson told reporters following Tuesday's training session that he expects "to play right" tackle against Tampa Bay.
In addition to Bradford, linebacker Connor Barwin, safety Jerome Couplin, running back Ryan Mathews and safety Walter Thurmond also did not take part in the team warm-ups. The first official injury report is released by the team on Wednesday.
4. Alonso Close To Full Strength
After missing five games with a knee injury, linebacker Kiko Alonso is getting closer to full strength. He returned for the Dallas game and has played 59 snaps over the past two contests recording six tackles in that time.
"We were really excited with him coming out of that game with no setbacks at all, so we’re going closer and closer to more reps," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said on Tuesday. "So we've got to see how (his) body responds to that kind of workload."
Alonso's role will be one to watch down the stretch following the loss of rookie Jordan Hicks in the middle.
5. Shurmur Not Concerned About Kelce
Following Sunday's loss to Miami, Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce told reporters that he played the worst game of his career.
Facing the duo of Ndamukong Suh and Earl Mitchell will do that to the best of interior linemen. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said the hyperbole was a little bit much.
"To me, I think that's what makes Kelce a great player. He can self-analyze, and probably was overstating maybe a handful of plays, because he does a lot of really good things too," Shurmur said. "That's why guys will tend to have long careers and be really good players, because they're hard on themselves when a few bad plays happen."