Good Morning, Eagles fans! Dallas week is coming to a close. The Eagles will have another full practice today at the NovaCare Complex before leaving for Texas tomorrow. Head coach Doug Pederson will meet with the media at 10:30 a.m. and the team will speak to the media in the locker room at 1:30 p.m. Here's what you need to know in today's Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft leading off with the honor for a well-deserving team leader.
1. Man Of The Year
Chris Long was named the Eagles' candidate for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award yesterday. Through the Chris Long Foundation, Long has worked tirelessly to provide clean drinking water to impoverished areas in East Africa, support and empower military families, fund youth educational programs, and more. Fans can read about his accomplishments here and can support Long by tweeting #WPMOYChallengeLong or retweeting tweets with that tag.
“Walter Payton is a legend, one of those players that’s revered by everyone he played with and fans alike, and I know that award has meant a lot to a lot of guys,” Long says. “But I think the best part about it is the attention that it would bring to the people that need help.
“It would give our foundation and some of the things we’re trying to do more momentum because, at the end of the day, I’m all about trying to make more of a change.”
2. Calm, Confident, Comedic
Everyone in the media yesterday was eager to hear from linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill in the locker room. Toward the end of the locker room session, Grugier-Hill's No. 54 white practice jersey emerged with a hoodie on and a towel upon his head. When he reached his locker and turned around, he was revealed to be wide receiver Shelton Gibson, grinning as his teammates and reporters laughed.
The fake-out was hilarious and Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro explains that it shows how loose, energetic, and confident the Eagles are heading into the biggest game of the season. It's the exact right attitude to have.
“I think everybody is excited for this,” defensive end Chris Long said. “We know that Dallas is a good team and we know that they beat us here a month ago. This is a big game for both teams. I think that’s what you want at this time of the year. You look forward to these kinds of games.”
3. Can Eagles Return The Favor?
The Cowboys turned their season around with a huge win in Philadelphia on November 11. The Eagles now have a chance to return the favor. With a win on Sunday, the Eagles will continue their winning streak and move into first place in the NFC East. In a conference call with Philadelphia media on Wednesday, Jason Garrett previewed Sunday's game and explained what it took for the Cowboys to go from 3-5 to 7-5.
“We have a young football team that’s getting better and better every week,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told Philadelphia reporters Wednesday during a conference call. "We’ve done some good things here in the last two ballgames but we’re a work in progress like everybody else.
“We’ve played some close games,” he added. “We’ve played against some good teams we’ve had to battle for 60 minutes of the game. I just think probably in general, we’ve done a good job handling the success and adversity of the game.”
4. Game-Changers Up Front
The defense dominated on Monday night leading to an important 28-13 win over Washington. The defensive line ruled the day, once again using pressure to disrupt the offense up front and take the pressure off of a banged-up secondary. But another major factor was the play of the run defense. Although running back Adrian Peterson broke through for a team-record 90-yard touchdown rush, he was still held to less than 100 yards rushing in the game. Safety Malcolm Jenkins was a force in stopping the run and, as Fran Duffy writes in his Eagle Eye column on the defense, that will be crucial against another powerful running back on Sunday:
As I pointed out with Amy Campbell on this week’s Eagle Eye in the Sky video breakdown, the Eagles will need a repeat performance from Jenkins and the rest of the unit against the run this week. Not only does Dallas have a better back in Ezekiel Elliott, but the Cowboys run similar schemes to Washington in that they like to pull their linemen outside as lead blockers for the runner. Keep an eye on how the Eagles defend those perimeter runs on Sunday afternoon.
5. Grant Before Minnesota
Most football fans know of Bud Grant as the legendary head coach for the Minnesota Vikings. But before Grant began coaching at just 30 years old, he was a prolific player for the Eagles. He started at defense until his athleticism was so good that coach Jim Trimble moved Grant to the offense in place of Pro Football Hall of Famer Pete Pihos. In 1952, Grant's second season with the Eagles, he led the NFL with 997 receiving yards for an average of 17.8 yards per catch. Ray Didinger has more on the history of an NFL great:
"There is no telling how good this young man can be," Trimble said as the 1952 season wound down. "He has played more basketball than football so he's just scratching the surface of his ability. He's on his way to being the best receiver in the league, I really believe that."
6. Injury Report
Six Eagles missed the team's first full practice of the week yesterday. Running back Josh Adams was a full participant after being limited Wednesday. See the full list in yesterday's injury report.