Good morning, Eagles fans! The Eagles will practice inside at the NovaCare Complex today as they prepare to face the loud, indoor atmosphere at the Superdome on Sunday. You can watch it live beginning at 1:20 p.m. The players will meet with the media in the locker room following practice around two hours later. Here's what you need to know in today's Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft beginning with the importance of this weekend's road trip.
1. Find A Way To Win
While nobody is giving upon this season, there is a clear level of frustration with the Eagles' 4-5 record. While last year at this point the Eagles were 8-1 and establishing themselves as Super Bowl contenders, this season they are struggling through mistakes and a mountain of injuries that have depleted key positions. The reality is, no one in the NFL will feel bad for the Eagles. But there is also a lot to play for. The Eagles are two games back from the Redskins with two games to play against them as well as another with the Cowboys. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro writes that the Eagles can turn this around but it has to start on Sunday against the Saints:
The NFL has no room for sentimentality or excuses or free passes. You are what your record says you are, and the Eagles are 4-5 and fighting to find their groove again.
"We've been upbeat and positive," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "We are gonna keep fighting. It's tough. It's not a good feeling, but we just have to keep pushing and fighting and we have to find a way to get us a win. That starts Sunday in New Orleans."
2. Pederson On Injuries, Attitude
Head coach Doug Pederson spoke with the media yesterday to offer updates on injured players and preview this weekend's game against the Saints. He said that cornerback Sidney Jones would practice this week with the hope he starts Sunday while cornerback Jalen Mills will take a longer time. Pederson also announced that tight end Josh Perkins will miss "substantial" time with a knee injury, which is why tight end Richard Rodgers was taken off the Injured/Reserve list into a practice period. Finally, he said defensive tackle Tim Jernigan would "do a little more" this week but is still day-to-day as they try to get him back on the field.
When talking about the Saints, Pederson admitted they will be a tough challenge for the Eagles but he is excited for it. He believes their defense gets overlooked and has plenty of playmakers and that the offense has a plethora of weapons that give quarterback Drew Brees options to get rid of the ball:
"That's how he's playing the game, he's staying ahead of the chains," Pederson said. "They're doing a real good job of it. He's been around the block. He's a smart quarterback, he's seen just about every defense out there, so you're not going to be able to fool him too much."
3. Jenkins Locked In
Sunday will be a homecoming of sorts for Malcolm Jenkins as he plays in the city that drafted him in 2009 for the first time since leaving the Saints in 2013.
But he won't have a lot of time to be sentimental. Sunday is a crucial game and a difficult task against the league's best offense. In addition, the injuries in the secondary have left Jenkins to be the rock at the center of the unit as well as the glue that holds it together. Chris McPherson writes that it will be up to Jenkins to keep the Eagles' defense balanced and slow down the Saints' offense as much as possible:
There will be a lot of pressure on the secondary. The Saints' offense is well-balanced with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram powering the rushing attack and MVP candidate Drew Brees guiding the passing game. Brees has been sacked a league-low nine times this season. According to the NFL's Next Gen Stats, Brees gets rid of the ball faster than any quarterback in the league, at an average of 2.57 seconds. Tackling and limiting the yards after the catch will be at a premium.
"At the end of the day, you have to go compete," Jenkins said.
4. Superdome Goes Green
In case you forgot, the Eagles will be wearing their home, midnight green jerseys at the Superdome this Sunday when they take on the Saints. This is because of Pederson's stellar golf swing.
In the offseason, Pederson and Saints' head coach Sean Payton were paired together to golf at the spring NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. Their competitive juices began to flow and the coaches ended up placing wagers on some shots. One Pederson victory rewarded the Eagles' coaching staff with a New Orleans-themed meal. The other, as Payton hit a shot into the water to seal the deal, gave the Eagles the ability to wear their home jerseys on the road. Hopefully, the Eagles can carry that winning mojo into New Orleans Sunday.
5. Josh Adams Ranked Among Rookie RBs
The Ringer took a look at the 2018 running back class and how it has made an immediate impact on the league. There were 20 running backs drafted in 2018 and several more undrafted who are playing. The Ringer's Danny Kelly listed the Top-12 rookie running backs in 2018 and coming in 11th on the list is the Eagles' undrafted running back Josh Adams:
Neither Wendell Smallwood nor Corey Clement has stood out in his attempts to secure the lead running back job since Jay Ajayi tore his ACL in early October, and Adams is already nipping at their heels in the backfield rotation—making the rookie a sleeper breakout candidate for the second half of the year. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound former Golden Domer brings a physical element that the team's been missing and has racked up nine broken tackles on just 27 rush attempts this year. ... It's not going to be surprising if Adams climbs up this list before the season is done.
6. Wentz Among Comeback Candidates
Each year as part of the league's annual honors, the NFL gives an award to the Comeback Player of the Year. Chris Wesseling compiled a top-10 list of potential candidates for the award and Eagles' quarterback Carson Wentz, returning from an ACL and LCL tear, came in ninth:
Philadelphia's offensive output is down through little fault of his own. The highest-rated passer under pressure (118.3, per Next Gen Stats), Wentz has actually increased his completion percentage (60.2 to 71.0), passing yards per game (253.5 to 306.9) and passer rating (101.9 to 108.5) from last year's campaign, which had him in the thick of the MVP race.