The weekend is almost here, Eagles fans. It's the final edition of 5 Things to Know Today for the week. As the weather starts to cool outside, things are heating up here at the NovaCare Complex. Let's find out what's in store for this Friday, December 4 ...
1. Live Coverage Begins Sunday At 2:30 PM
On tonight's Eagles 360 at 5 PM, Dave Spadaro and I will break down the key matchups ahead of Sunday's game with the New England Patriots. Quarterback Thad Lewis will also join us in studio for this week's Lay's Kettle Cooked presents Crunch Time.
Sunday's kickoff between the Eagles and the Patriots is set for 4:25 PM. Our coverage begins at 2:30 PM with Inside the Eagles and Eagles Game Plan. The Best of 360 from this week leads into the Kickoff Show with myself and Joe DeCamara at 3:30 PM. We'll provide an hour of the latest news, analysis and live reports from Dave and Alex Smith from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
2. Speaking Of Key Matchups ...
For the second straight day, tight end Rob Gronkowski did not practice for the Patriots. He was listed by the team as "week to week" and it would be a surprise if he suited up on Sunday.
Assuming that is correct, it will be a huge loss for New England. Of course, Chip Kelly was asked about the Patriots' injuries on offense and the head coach joked, "Did they lose (Tom) Brady?" Still, Gronkowski leads the team in yards receiving (931) and touchdowns (9) this year.
However, don't sleep on backup Scott Chandler. He may not be one of the team leaders in production thus far with 19 receptions for 198 yards and three touchdowns, but the Patriots will use Chandler in the same ways as Fran Duffy pointed out in the latest Eagle Eye in the Sky column.
"The veteran tight end was already a big part of the New England offense. That was apparent as soon as I turned on the tape against Denver. They moved No. 88 all around the formation, placing him along the line of scrimmage, as a wing, in the slot and out wide," Duffy wrote. "They do a lot of things with Chandler that you would expect them to do with Gronkowski, which begs the question, with Gronk out of the lineup, will they still do them? Or were they able to put him in those situations because of the attention that defenses had to pay to the All-Pro tight end?"
3. Sam Bradford Remains On Track To Play
We know Tom Brady will start at quarterback for New England this week, and it looks like we're closer to finding the answer for the Eagles. Sam Bradford has been a full participant in the most involved days of training this week. The team will hold a walkthrough on Friday. Bradford already said that barring a setback that he will play. Again, it's the non-throwing shoulder sprain and not the concussion that is the question mark. Kelly explained that the key over the next two days is whether or not there are any "residual" issues from throwing the ball.
"I think it's the residual part of it – is he any more sore? We have another big day of throwing (Thursday), so we'll see where he is and kind of figure out what goes on Friday and Saturday," Kelly said.
4. First A Hall Of Fame Receiver, Now A Quarterback?
Cornerback Eric Rowe knows he's going to get picked on. The rookie prepares to make his first career start and it comes against one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history in Tom Brady. Dave Spadaro checked in with Rowe to see how he is mentally gearing up for the big challenge and what strides he has made since being chosen by the Eagles in the second round.
"As smart as Tom Brady is, he's watched the Lions film and I had a couple of nervous reps. I looked pretty bad, technique-wise. I know they're probably going to have something planned," Rowe said. "He's going to look my way. I'm expecting that, big time.
"He can fit the ball. He can make every throw - deep throw, the intermediate throw, I mean he's fitting the ball in tight windows. He's throwing the ball before the receiver breaks because he already knows where he wants to go with it. We have to keep our eyes on our man. The minute we look (away), he can change the route and do a double move and we're in trouble."
A look at some of the hard-hitting sacks delivered by the Eagles' defense this season, all in Midnight Green. View the full gallery here...
5. Belichick Lavishes Young Eagles Receiver With Praise
On November 24, the Eagles promoted wide receiver Jonathan Krause from the practice squad to the active roster. It wasn't a move that made big headlines, but it was noticed by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Krause spent the vast majority of 2014 on the Patriots' practice squad during the team's run to the Super Bowl.
"We went down and saw (Jordan) Matthews and saw Krause. They both were very productive at Vanderbilt," Belichick said on a conference call with Philadelphia media this week. "Jonathan has both inside and outside flexibility. He can play in the slot, can play on the perimeter, runs well, smart kid, works hard, good hands, a very dependable player. We didn't get (him) until about the middle of the year last year. He was in Cleveland and rehabbing an injury through the early part of the season, so he was a little bit behind, but mentally he caught up quickly and really did a great job for us on the practice field.
"We had a hard time covering him when he was on the scout team running and being our opponent's receiver. He did a good job. Unfortunately, he got banged up for us at the end of preseason, but I like Jonathan. I think he's a good young player with a good future. It was a good move by Philadelphia to get him in their system."
Krause was inactive last Thursday in his first game on the Eagles' active roster. Let's see if anything changes against his former team.