Philadelphia Eagles News

Morning Roundup: The Battles To Watch

Good morning, Eagles fans! The team will host a full practice on Tuesday before traveling to Cleveland tomorrow for the starters' "dress rehearsal" ahead of the regular-season opener against Atlanta. Head coach Doug Pederson addresses the media today at 10:30 a.m. and quarterback Nick Foles will speak to reporters following practice at around 1:30 p.m. Until then, here's what you need to know in the Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft.

1. Jaws Believes Eagles Can Repeat

The Eagles hosted a couple of dozen alumni for practice at the NovaCare Complex on Monday. Dave Spadaro recapped the afternoon which featured these words from Eagles Hall of Fame quarterback Ron Jaworski:

"How great is this feeling!" Jaworski said on the field during practice. "You look out here and see all these great players, past and present, the Super Bowl Champs getting ready to defend their title. It's not going to be easy. Being the hunted team is very difficult. But if there is a team ready to do it, it's this Eagles team. I spend a lot of time with Doug (Pederson) and he understands the challenges. It's going to be highly competitive. There's a reason only eight teams have repeated as Super Bowl Champs."

2. Two Key Position Battles To Watch

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz met with reporters prior to Monday's practice and indicated that this week will go a long way toward determining two of the biggest position battles remaining - weakside linebacker and nickel cornerback.

Nathan Gerry has been the starter at WILL in the first two preseason games, but Kamu Grugier-Hill remains very much in the mix.

"We're bringing out the best in each other," Grugier-Hill said. "The way I look at it, we're both going to help the team this year. For me, I saw this season as an opportunity. Kinda felt I would have a chance to play, and the way things happened have been the way I thought it would go. I'm excited. I'm ready to go."

At nickel cornerback, it's 2017 second-round pick Sidney Jones battling rookie Avonte Maddox.

"Nothing has been settled there. Each guy brings a little bit different skill set, a little bit different strengths and weaknesses to the position," Schwartz said. "I think the competition is good. This game will go a long way to deciding who is going to be out there in the opener."

3. Will Carson Wentz Be Cleared For Atlanta Game?

The Pro Bowl quarterback said "it was a good day" referring to his return to team drills on Sunday. Wentz won't play Thursday night in Cleveland as he still needs to be cleared for full contact. When will that come? Ever the optimist, Wentz admits that it'll be a "close" call looking ahead to the regular-season opener on September 6. Graham Foley has more:

"It's been a grueling process," Wentz said. "With the offseason, just from a rehab standpoint, when you're in the building every single day, every day during the week, all offseason, you really don't get any break. And it's just the physical limitations early on, getting over that step-by-step. It's been a grueling process, but I'm thankful for where I'm at."

4. Brandon Graham All Smiles In His Return To Practice

Defensive end Brandon Graham was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list Monday and practiced for the first time since undergoing offseason ankle surgery. Graham Foley explains what the next step is for Graham to be ready for the Falcons game:

Graham said sitting out during camp gave him time to reflect and observe the team from another perspective. But he also doesn't want to fall behind both in terms of X's and O's and his health.

"Ankle feels pretty good, but now I'm just getting in football shape," Graham said. "So you have another uphill battle, but we're always uphill, the season's uphill, so that's what I'm trying to do.

"When I do start hitting people, I'm going to be so sore. But you need to work through that soreness like we always do and eventually that soreness will start to become your armor and you continue to keep building on that. So I can feel good about that and be like, 'Alright, I'm back in it.'"

On Monday afternoon, Eagles alumni stopped by practice at the NovaCare Complex to catch up with current Eagles players and coaches.

5. NFL Working On New Helmet Rule Video

The helmet rule was a hot topic of discussion on Monday at the NovaCare Complex as Schwartz and a number of players detailed the challenges that the change presents. ESPN reported Monday night that the league is crafting a new video tutorial that will be disseminated with enough time to prep for the regular season.

"We're trying to be educated on what's going to get called and what's not. The instructions we've given guys is try not to lower your head and try to take your head out of it. And I think our guys are trying to do that. The other thing we say is you want to lower your target, but along with lowering the target and trying to say away from the head, sometimes that causes you to dip your head," Schwartz said.

"I think I can confidently say we don't have any players that are trying to play outside of the bounds. We don't have any guys that are 'headhunting,' that are being selfish. They're trying to play within the rules. ... It's going to be very important work over the next couple weeks not just learning from our own mistakes but learning from other teams."

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