Philadelphia Eagles News

Ella on the Scene: Revving up for December football

Miles Sanders
Miles Sanders

The Eagles have reached double-digit wins with six regular-season games remaining. The Tennessee Titans are coming to town to round out the Birds' AFC South slate, while Eagles' wide receiver A.J. Brown will face his former team. I'll take you inside the locker room and around the NovaCare Complex as we get ready for Week 13.

STOPPING DECEMBER DERRICK

The Eagles' defense has had its hands full this season, facing some of the best running backs in the league, such as Jonathan Taylor, D'Andre Swift, and Aaron Jones. Sunday will be no different.

The big-bodied, 247-pound Derrick Henry will stomp his way into Lincoln Financial Field, hoping to pressure the Eagles' rushing defense. He had a five-week stretch this season of 100+ yard games, his best coming against the Houston Texans, where he rushed for 219 yards and two touchdowns.

"You gotta stop him before he gets started. That's the key," said defensive end Brandon Graham. "Make sure that he doesn't get clear holes to run through."

Graham continued by making it clear that everything starts and ends up front.

In 2022, Henry ranks second in rushing yards with 1,048 and third in rushing touchdowns with 10.

Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave was asked if Henry is the toughest guy to tackle. "He up there," Hargrave laughed, noting that everyone is excited for what's to come in Sunday's game.

December is when Henry historically comes alive. Since entering the league in 2016, he's the only player with 2,000+ yards and 20 rushing touchdowns in the month or later. He also is responsible for averaging 118.7 career-rushing yards per game on the road during that span.

"We can't let him get to the second level because he definitely has a track record," Graham said. "Just make sure we get numbers to the ball with him. I respect his game, just make sure that we rally and play our game."

THE STOUT MINDSET

Now focusing on the Eagles' running back situation – Miles Sanders is having the best season of his career. He's 100 yards away from his first 1,000-yard season. If he hits that mark, he will be the first Eagles running back to do so since LeSean McCoy in 2014.

In week 12 against the Packers, Sanders rushed for a career-high 143 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. This week, Sanders told us at his locker that he hasn't allowed time for reflection throughout the season, good or bad. His focus is on these final six games of the season.

Sanders also expressed his gratitude for the offensive line, something he does regularly. He explained that is takes a certain mindset to play for that unit. "I respect how all of them as a group handle themselves and come to work ready to play each and every week."

I asked left tackle Jordan Mailata what it means to have that "certain mindset."

"You gotta be able to take coaching, because he (Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland) coaches pretty rough and pretty honest and that's because he's a very detailed coach, he knows what he's talking about," Mailata said.

"They know and I know that Stout — that stuff's all out of love," Sanders said. "Because Stout really loves this game of football because he really shows it and his guys are prepared for him."

BROWN VS. THE TITANS

Following Night 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft, I think it's safe to say Eagles fans had Week 13 against the Tennessee Titans circled on their calendar.

Why? Well, A.J. Brown would now be wearing midnight green after the Titans traded their star wide receiver to Philly on draft night.

In three seasons down South, Brown led the Titans in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. It was perhaps a business decision for Brown and Tennessee to part ways, but the wide receiver has put the past in the past and is approaching Sunday as "another game on the schedule."

Brown is now in the present and happy to be here — he's playing with his best friend Jalen Hurts, he leads the Eagles with 831 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. "We're 10-1 here, and we're trying to keep it going."

Brown scored plenty of touchdowns for Tennessee, we'll see if he can score one against his former team come Sunday.

ROOKIE DUTY

Defensive Tackle Jordan Davis' 21-day practice window opened this week. He spent the previous four weeks on Injured Reserve healing an ankle injury. In the meantime, the Eagles signed defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh for some fresh legs and added help up front.

As Davis saw the crowd of media swarm his locker this week, he turned around with a smile and said, "I knew this was coming." A pro already.

Davis reported that he feels great both physically and mentally with hopes to play on Sunday.

As for his readiness, he shared that he's lost 20 pounds, and it'll be a process to continue to build his conditioning: "Rome isn't built in a day."

As for the cold Philadelphia weather? That's a big no-no for the rookie.

"I'm looking around for a nice little jacket. I need to get some gloves, I don't have any gloves," Davis said, who grew up in North Carolina and went to college at Georgia.

"I had to get my dog a little sweater. If I'm cold, she's cold," Davis charmed the media. "I got her a little sweater, little booties, so she doesn't have to walk on cold ground."

He also shared this week that it's his responsibility to decorate the defensive line room for the holidays. "Everyone wants a little festive fun. 'Tis the season."

FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH

In the wake of the tragic September shooting following a football scrimmage at Roxborough High School, the three teams impacted that day were invited to Lincoln Financial Field this week for a variety of discussions surrounding trauma, how to ask for help, and how to best support one another led by Positive Coaching Alliance.

Eagles players sat side-by-side with the teens through deep conversation while also answering questions through a Q&A panel.

Linebacker T.J. Edwards, who sported a Roxborough High School football jersey in Week 4 to show support, felt thankful to be present and meet these players in person.

"I felt like we built so many connections just hanging out with them," Edwards reflected after the event. "Just bringing that joy to football again and making them realize that it's still a game that you love and although there's some tragic things that happened with it, talking to each other, communicating with each other, being a part of a team is what helps you get over those things. It was awesome being here today."

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