It feels like an especially long time since the Eagles played and, given NFL cadence, it has been. But the Eagles have used the extra time since the win over Minnesota to prepare for Monday night in Tampa against the Bucs to get the roster in order, to get injured players set for prime time, and to study an unbeaten Tampa Bay team that has done all the right things in a 2-0 start.
The Eagles are ready. The locker room has that feel to it as we take a trip around the team and feel the vibe ...
Nicholas Morrow: How quickly things change in the NFL
He played 100 percent of the defensive snaps last year with Chicago, so when the Eagles opened this season in New England and Nicholas Morrow was on the practice squad, well, it was an adjustment. He was an observer at his home.
"It was very weird, changing diapers and burping babies," said Morrow, who has a months-old newborn. "I went from that on Sunday to playing on Thursday. That's how this league works. You always have to be ready."
There are many lessons here, and Morrow understands that, at the end of the day, whatever role he is given, he is expected to execute. With Nakobe Dean sidelined, Morrow played middle linebacker for the Eagles against the Vikings and he's in line to do the same on Monday night against Tampa Bay.
He's preparing for it with the goal of being great.
"Doesn't matter your role. Just be the best you can be," he said. "Things change in life. You have to be adaptable, especially in this business. Man, things change in a hurry."
The 2-0 Eagles take flight to battle the 2-0 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football. Photography Director Kiel Leggere provides an exclusive look at the team's preparation.
Brandon Graham: Beating the heat of Tampa
The temperatures at kickoff on Monday night are expected to be in the 80s and, yeah, it's Tampa in September. Brandon Graham understands the importance of starting the hydration process long before 7:15 PM on Monday.
"All week, for sure," he said. "You have to stay on top of it. You have to be ahead of it or it will get you."
The Eagles are 2-0 and that is what matters, and Graham is aware of the progression of the season. The goal is to keep winning and to keep progressing. That's it.
"Of course there are things we want to work on and improve on," he said. "That's the way it is every week in this league. But we're 2-0 and we have a big one on Monday. Tampa Bay has a good offense. They've been playing smart football, taking care of the ball and making big plays. So, we have to find a way to disrupt what they're doing. We have to win up front. They have a good offensive line and Baker (Mayfield, quarterback) is doing a good job getting the ball out on time. This is a tough one."
Mario Goodrich: 'There is a very small margin for error'
What a difference a week makes. At least, that's the way cornerback Mario Goodrich is looking at things. He saw the first action of his NFL career against Minnesota, 37 snaps, and now he has a new perspective, more experience, and a lot more confidence.
This is how you learn to be a pro.
"I started off pretty shaky. My eyes and stuff weren't in the right spots and once I got comfortable and settled in during the game, I felt like I got better," he said of the Minnesota game. "I learned about the pace of the game – it is different from a preseason game – and you get a feel for the different motions and things like that. You're playing against the starters. It's a welcome-to-the-NFL moment – everything is crisp, on point. There is a very small margin for error."
It is the only way to get better in the league, to gain experience. And Goodrich has done that, so this week he has felt different in a good way.
"I've felt it all week. I'm feeling the different motions, getting lined up, having my eyes on my keys, really just honing in to the details," he said. "We need to be that way this week. Tampa Bay has a good team, they like to get the ball out quick and get into third-and-manageable situations. They have nice backs, a very good receiving corps, and we know they're going to give us their best shot."
Of course, it is another prime-time game and that means something to Goodrich.
"It's Monday night so, yeah, you know everybody is watching and that's special," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting back out there and improving."
Cam Jurgens offers a scouting report on Vita Vea
All week, the Eagles have watched Tampa Bay's defense and they've been impressed. The Bucs are powerful up front, fast at linebacker, solid in the secondary. Right guard Cam Jurgens has all kinds of respect.
"Good D coordinator, good D-line, they're coached up really well and teams haven't been able to run against them," Jurgens said of a defense that ranks second in the NFL (behind Philadelphia) allowing a paltry 54 yards per game. "They're tough."
The toughest of them all is nose tackle Vita Vea, a 346-pound dominator who does it all. He's big, powerful, quick, relentless, and, truly, a game-wrecker.
"They can put a lot of players at the line of scrimmage and Vita, man, he's a great player. He's a huge guy and he's really able to move laterally and he's unique," Jurgens said. "He has twitches to him that a lot of big guys don't have."
Britain Covey: The mindset is always hunger
Britain Covey knew the plan all along, as the Eagles explained to him how his roster situation would likely work early in the season – practice squad to start and a move to the 53-man roster as soon as possible. That move happened during the week and Covey explained what it meant to him.
"It feels good to be wanted and on the 53. More than anything, it doesn't change my mindset. I like the idea of being on the practice squad and earning the promotion every week," he said. "That's how I'll feel all year. You think, 'What's the best motivator?' It's not fear of failure, because that doesn't work long-term. Financial? That won't last. You want to find that feeling of, 'How can I be a kid in the backyard again playing a game I love?' You're not overthinking and you're playing to the best of your abilities and it's tough. I'm a returner. I'm in one play every 30 minutes or something like that. It's a challenge that I love."
Covey's goal is to average 13 yards per punt return. He's over 10 yards now, so there is some work to be done.
"Thirteen yards has been the Pro Bowl standard the last several years," Covey said. "I'm going to keep working at it, working at it. I'm hungry to be the best I can be and that's never going to stop. Tampa Bay, they're physical on special teams and we have to be ready for that."