The Eagles returned to practice on Tuesday and following the training session most of the questions were about the return of running back LeSean McCoy. In 5 Things to Know Today, I'll look at both sides of what turned out to be just one of two big trades back on the first day of the league year in March.
1. Ertz: McCoy Probably Wants To Set Record
Two years ago Tuesday, running back LeSean McCoy rushed for a franchise-record 217 yards in the Snow Bowl win over Detroit. McCoy, the all-time leading rusher in Eagles history, returns to the site of the Snow Bowl this Sunday as a member of the Buffalo Bills. Nearly nine months ago, McCoy was traded to Buffalo in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso. The Eagles eagerly await McCoy's return.
"He probably wants to set the rushing record this game," tight end Zach Ertz said of his former teammate. "Everyone loved Shady here. He's a heck of a person, a heck of a player. Everybody knows about his individual assets as a player, but right now he's not on our team. Our defense is focused on stopping him."
"I know he has a specific skill set and really, I think he's the only back in the league with what he has," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "He's probably one of the most elusive runners in the game. He just has a knack for finding holes and making holes, making guys miss and making big plays, hitting the home run. But (he's) consistent and patient enough to take the 4 or 5 yards here or there. He's a mismatch in the pass game when you put him on linebackers. He just creates plays. That's why he's who he is."
Catch up with some of the Buffalo Bills' key players that the Eagles will face in Week 14. View the full gallery here...
2. Alonso Looks At Sunday As Just Another Game
While McCoy is hyped to face his former team, the other player involved in the trade is downplaying the matchup.
"The fact that I got traded for him really has no relevance at all," Alonso said. "The guy's a great player and we're going to have to be on top of our game and run to the ball and play sound football to stop that guy."
Alonso is coming off a game in which he played the most snaps this season. The inside linebacker was on the field in New England for 70 snaps, 16 more than his previous season high which came against Tampa Bay on November 22.
"I think I did alright," said Alonso of his performance in the win over New England. "Obviously I gave up a touchdown this past week, but that's the way this game goes. You just have to keep grinding and keep getting better."
3. Eagles Adding More Firepower To RB Rotation
For the first time since the Week 10 game against Miami, running back Ryan Mathews was in action on the field. Mathews suffered a concussion in that game. He's "optimistic" about playing Sunday, but admitted that he needs time to get back in the flow of the offense.
"I felt good. I was happy to be back out there with my teammates. My legs were a little rusty, but I was happy," Mathews said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling good. I just have to take it day by day and just do what I can. I'm really optimistic about it and whatever the coaches and the training staff have planned for me, that's it."
Mathews has 427 rushing yards on 75 carries this season and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry with five touchdowns. He's also caught 14 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.
"I want to get back out there and inspire all of my teammates," Mathews said. "It's all about having fun. I've got to take it slow. I haven't played and ran and done stuff in a few weeks. I've got to break it in."
4. Watkins Preps To Face His Half-Brother
Cornerback Jaylen Watkins was a fourth-round pick of the Eagles in 2014. Heading into this year, Watkins had a date circled on his calendar - this Sunday's matchup against the Buffalo Bills. Why? He would get to see his half-brother, Sammy, a receiver and former first-round pick.
Watkins was released at the end of this year's Training Camp and ended up in Buffalo on the Bills' practice squad.
"We were able to spend a lot of time together, obviously competing against each other and getting each other better," said Jaylen. "There were no hard feelings in the competition, it was just really hard work like we were back at home."
The Eagles re-signed Watkins on November 27 and the siblings could square off against one another with their father, grandfather and Jaylen's mother in attendance.
"I know there are a lot of brothers in the league, but I don't know if they play opposite positions," said Jaylen. "I don't know how many brothers are corners/receivers, to the point where they could potentially go up against each other. That'll be very fun if it comes down to it."
5. 5 PM: One-On-One With Chip Kelly
Our live coverage begins today at 10:50 AM with head coach Chip Kelly's press conference. Following practice at 1:15 PM, quarterback Sam Bradford and linebacker DeMeco Ryans address the media. This evening, Kelly joins Dave Spadaro in studio for their weekly one-on-one interview presented by Wawa for the coach's final thoughts on the win over New England and a scouting report of Buffalo.