A lot has changed in the past three years for wide receiver Jason Avant.
On the field, Avant is now an outstanding slot receiver playing the best football of his career. He has had 15 catches in the past two weeks and is coming off of a career-high nine catches against the Bills. With 23 receptions already on the year, Avant is easily on pace to shatter his personal-best of 51 a year ago.
Off the field, things have changed as well. It was nearly three years ago to the day that quarterback Donovan McNabb called a players-only meeting to help the season get back on track. The Eagles had lost two straight games to fall to 2-3 on the season. After McNabb spoke, only one other player wanted to address the team - Avant.
On Wednesday, Avant called his own players-only meeting as the Eagles are in a tougher situation than the 2008 team losing four straight games leading up to Sunday's matchup with the division-leading Redskins. Avant didn't want to divulge specifics on what was discussed, but the main message was how the team needs to remain united as one.
"We need to circle the wagons around each other," Avant said.
Defensive tackle Mike Patterson is one of the longest-tenured players in the locker room having been selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Patterson reiterated Avant's notion of staying together.
"Just turn off the TVs and don't listen to (the media)," Patterson said. "Stay focused on being in the locker room with the guys and not worrying about what's going on outside."
Respected by the players, Avant was named the Ed Block Courage Award winner last season for how he overcame a tough childhood in Chicago.
The 2008 season continued to have its ups and downs before ending in the NFC Championship Game in Arizona. On Sunday against Washington, we will see how Avant's meeting affected the players.
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