Philadelphia Eagles News

Morning Roundup: The Perfect Playmaker

We'll have live coverage from the NovaCare Complex beginning with the team's practice at 9:45 a.m. (updated as this previously read 9:15 a.m.) followed by head coach Doug Pederson, and quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Nick Foles meeting the media after practice. Until then, get ready for the day with our Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft.

1. Zach Ertz Is 'The Perfect Playmaker' For Today's NFL

Monday was Eagles Day at The Ringer and among a number of features dedicated to the Super Bowl Champions was a piece by Robert Mays on how Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz is the "perfect playmaker" for the game today:

If the Eagles are the perfect team for today's NFL, then Zach Ertz might be the perfect player. No member of the roster embodies Philly's cutting-edge approach quite like the 27-year-old tight end. It's fitting that Ertz scored the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, capping a seven-catch performance that showcased everything he brings to this table. ...

Ertz's Super Bowl showing makes it tempting to lump him in with many other tight ends, who operate as de facto receivers in today's NFL. But the genius of the Eagles offense is that Ertz vacillates between traditional and nontraditional tight end alignments depending on formation. Ertz received 53 targets from the slot and 53 targets as a standard inline tight end in 2017, according to Football Outsiders. That's no accident. This variation helped Philly excel on late downs all season, and the Super Bowl was no exception. The Eagles torched the Patriots by going 12-of-18 on third- and fourth-down conversions. They succeeded in a pair of short-yardage scenarios that took advantage of Ertz's inline positioning.

Mays does an exceptional job of posting plays that highlight Ertz's unique skill set and value to the Eagles. He also argues how Ertz is the embodiment of how the Eagles were able to take the league by storm in 2017.

2. Brandon Brooks, The 'Best In The Business'

Graham Foley wrote about Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks, who is taking on some new roles after his career year of 2017. I love how Brooks thanked offensive line coach/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland for helping him through his bouts of anxiety in 2016.

"Stout was in my corner through thick and thin, even to the point where he was like, 'I'm not even concerned with this football stuff right now. I'm concerned for you as a person,'' Brooks said. "You don't get that everyday. I'd run through a wall for any one of these coaches because at the end of the day, we're a family. It's all love here."

3. Doug Pederson's Way Is 'Pedal to The Medal'

Former Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo is now the offensive coordinator of the Vikings. He was asked in Peter King's Football in America column what was the most valuable lesson that he learned while working with head coach Doug Pederson.

"Coach is gonna do it his way. His way is pedal to the medal. He wants to score on every play. He gets upset sometimes because we don't score on every play, in a good way," DeFilippo said. "He's going to stay on the attack when there's that point in the game where you can either try to put an opponent away or just kind of ride it out. He'll always take the shot to put the opponent away. And the players followed. In all we did, we locked arm and arm, here we are, and prepared the same no matter who we played. Our term for that year was, 'faceless opponent.' And each week we treated our opponent like it was a faceless person."

4. That Changed Quickly

On Saturday, Pederson offered an update on wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who is the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason.

"He's doing a great job with his rehab," Pederson said. "He is in I would say more the strength phase with the weights and that part. He's still doing his lower body conditioning with running and doing some things that way with his legs, making sure his cardiovascular is good."

OK, sounds fine. On Monday, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport posted the following.

Well, that would mean Jeffery would not be available for the first six weeks of the regular season. Rapoport seemed to realize that pretty quickly.

Pederson will speak to reporters following practice today.

5. The Insider's Training Camp Awards

This should become an annual feature. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro tossed some bouquets in his recent news and notes column.

Here's one, his most improved player is wide receiver Shelton Gibson:

Perhaps the most improved player from last year to this year is wide receiver Shelton Gibson. He caught the 63-yard touchdown pass from Nate Sudfeld on Thursday and followed up with strong practices on Saturday and Sunday. It's just so obvious that his confidence level is so much higher than it was a season ago. Of course, Gibson needs to keep it going, but he's stacking some days and earning the confidence of the coaching staff and the quarterbacks.

6. Practice Notes: Defense Leads The Way

Heavy rain forced the team inside to the practice bubble for the first time this summer, so practice was a little more condensed than usual on Monday morning.

Fran Duffy and Ben Fennell went deep to offer 20 takeaways from the practice, as the defense rose to the occasion:

We've seen numerous pass breakups already in practice, and Ronald Darby gets in on the party in this period, flying high to defend a throw intended for Kamar Aiken along the left sideline. A few plays later, Rasul Douglas jumped an out route for a diving pass breakup that causes the defensive sideline to erupt. It was a great break on the ball from the second-year corner.

7. Get Christian Hackenberg A Hoagie

All of the attention was focused on the quarterbacks early at Monday's practice as Christian Hackenberg warmed up with his new teammates. He tried out for the Eagles on Sunday, took part in the walk-through, then headed back to New Jersey to get a suitcase before returning to the team hotel.

The former Penn State star and second-round pick of the New York Jets explained to reporters after practice how he worked out with his personal trainer undergoing 86 two-a-days of workouts to work on his arm motion and footwork.

"Being able to finally get that call and come in and do things, it puts things in perspective," Hackenberg said. "You take things for granted and you don't miss it until it's taken away from you and I understand it's not like a year or anything like that, there's been way crazier stories, but getting a taste of that, it's not a good sandwich to bite into. So like I said, just really happy to be here, smile on my face and enjoying every minute of it."

Victoria. #EaglesCheer

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