It was a hard-fought win in Week 11 at Indianapolis, and the Eagles have been full steam ahead to Sunday Night Football against the Packers. The team will wear their blackout uniforms for the first time in front of the Philly faithful eager to welcome the Birds home. The Thanksgiving holiday is behind us, and I'll take you inside the locker room and around the NovaCare Complex before Aaron Rodgers and company come to town.
LEARNING THROUGH ADVERSITY
While the Eagles remained undefeated in mid-October, center Jason Kelce spoke at the podium about learning through adversity – while the Eagles hadn't touched the loss column yet, players began fielding questions about how the team can be mentally tough when they've found so much success. Kelce said you don't need to lose to learn through adversity.
I followed up with quarterback Jalen Hurts this week on the topic. I asked what the team learned battling through challenges on Sunday despite the win against the Colts.
"You don't necessarily have to lose a game to come to reality," Hurts commented. "You can look yourself in the mirror after your so-called successes and reflect, be honest with yourself, and say, 'What can I learn from?' And I think that's what we try and do. From this point, I feel like we've learned from a lot, I feel like I've learned from a lot."
AARON RODGERS VS. FAMILIAR FACES
This week on The Pat McAfee Show, Aaron Rodgers spoke at length about cornerback Darius Slay, who spent seven seasons in the NFC North. He said, "Darius Slay is one of the elite corners in this game and it's good to see him getting the recognition he deserves."
For Slay's part, he said Rodgers is the only one missing from his "Mount Rushmore" of picked balls. He has his intercepted balls from Tom Brady and Drew Brees on display in his house, and "he's (Rodgers) the only one missing."
Slay said it's just plain tough to intercept No. 12. "He throws the ball where a lot of DBs can't make a play on it, that's what makes him so good at it."
With three interceptions so far this season, could Aaron Rodgers finally join Slay's Mount Rushmore on Sunday night?
For defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, he also played in the NFC North – five seasons with the Lions. He's recorded a total of 5.5 sacks against Rodgers in his career and when asked about that number this week, he said: "they're not enough, I'm trying to add that tally up a little more."
"It's always good to have familiarity with a player and a team," Suh said. Although familiar, both Suh and Slay shared similar sentiments that Rodgers always finds something new to add to his game.
This will also be Suh's Lincoln Financial Field debut, and he's very excited to get in front of the home crowd.
LANE JOHNSON, THE BEST SPORT
Right tackle Lane Johnson was named the Eagles' nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award this week.
Created in 2014, the award is presented annually to a player who "demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition," according to the NFL.
Head Coach Nick Sirianni said, "It just speaks so much to who Lane is. Not only the best tackle in this game, but also just a phenomenal leader, a phenomenal teammate, a phenomenal person."
Johnson said he's humbled by the nomination. "I just respect everybody – the teams I play against, I respect all the players, coaches – everybody that puts in the work over the years. Really, I just approach the game with a lot of respect for who I'm going against and feel like I've shown that for the duration of my career."
"You can ask anything of Lane, he'll do it for you," running back Boston Scott said. "He definitely gives of himself. He's always around, consistent. He's a leader. And he's been leading not just on the field, but off the field in a lot of areas that I feel like more players need to speak up about."
A group from the NFL Legends Community will select eight finalists from the list of 32 nominees, and those eight names will be placed on the Pro Bowl ballot when voting opens in December.
ROOKIES GIVE BACK
On Monday afternoon, the 2022 rookie class visited MANNA, an organization that provides nourishing meals to community members who are battling serious illnesses. The players helped pack Thanksgiving meals.
"It's great being able to feed these families, feed people in need just anytime," said linebacker Nakobe Dean. "I know it's Thanksgiving, holidays, so that makes it a little more special. But any time of the year, what they're doing here is great."
On a weekly basis, MANNA serves 1,600 neighbors three meals a day, seven days a week. They distribute 135,000 meals per month. MANNA's main mission is that food is medicine and they want to eliminate the burden of finding access to nourishing foods when someone receives a serious health diagnosis.
"They are so grateful that that is one stress that we can take away from them, so they can really focus on their care, and we make sure we're giving them the right nourishment, the right fuel, the education from our dieticians," MANNA's CEO Sue Daughtery said.
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING DEBATE
While in the spirit of Thanksgiving at MANNA this week, I asked Dean and punt returner Britain Covey about the best Thanksgiving side dish. Covey said stuffing WITH cranberry sauce, while Dean said "dressing."
Yes, Dean calls stuffing, dressing. This opened a massive debate. From the sample size of rookies, it seemed that generally those raised in the South say dressing, while others say stuffing.
I followed up with Boston Scott in the locker room, a Louisiana native, who confirmed it's dressing.
This is your hard-hitting journalism for the week.
ALLEN AND WATTERS ANNOUNCED AS SEMIFINALISTS FOR THE HOF CLASS OF 2023
This week, 28 modern-era players were named as semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2023.
Two former Eagles, cornerback Eric Allen and running back Ricky Watters, were a part of the list.
Allen played for the Eagles from 1988-94. In his seven seasons in Philadelphia, he recorded 34 interceptions, tied for the most in franchise history. In 1993, he had a career-high six interceptions and four touchdowns. This is the third time that the Eagles Hall of Famers has been named a semifinalist.
Watters wore Eagles green for three seasons, as this is also his third time as a semifinalist.
The list of 28 Semifinalists will be reduced to 15 Finalists before the voting process for the Class of 2023.