They had their rest after a convincing win over the New York Giants. The week that's been for the Philadelphia Eagles has centered around the many challenges the Carolina Panthers bring to town for Sunday's game (1 p.m., FOX). Cam Newton and the varied weapons the Panthers bring on offense have had Jim Schwartz's defense in the film room doing extra work. The speed and effectiveness of the Carolina linebackers make that defense go.
All in all, it's been an intense week of preparation.
On Friday afternoon, after the team finished its practice, the locker room was buzzing. Active. High energy. Ready for Sunday's game. The Eagles have their focus on Carolina, and a Trip Around The Locker Room was in order to catch up on all the stories …
JAKE ELLIOTT: As The Winds Shift At Lincoln Financial Field …
This is the time of year, right now, when the weather turns and the winds start to become a factor and the temperatures dip. All of that impacts the football's flight, and that means Jake Elliott has to be particularly wary of the shifts in the game-time conditions.
"It's really weird this year because there's been no in-between. It was warm and now it's going to be cold on Sunday (the temperature at kickoff is expected to be in the 40s)," Elliott said. "We'll see how it is on Sunday. The ball has been flying alright this week. You definitely notice a little bit of a difference as far as carry and with the wind picking up. This is the time of the year when you really have to focus on hitting a clean ball.
"It's getting colder, but it's not in the 30s yet. That's when you really notice the difference in how far the ball carries."
Elliott said he is "aware" of the weather forecast for Sunday, but he doesn't "obsess" about it. He practiced at Lincoln Financial Field this week on a windswept day and had a taste of what is coming for much of the rest of his regular season. His pre-game kicks on Sunday will determine his range for that game, a number that he and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp work on together.
"I just want to go out and hit the ball well and stay in my rhythm," said Elliott, who has made 10 of 13 field goals attempts this season. "If I do that, I'm going to be OK."
CHRIS LONG: Very Aware Of Carolina's Multi-Dimensional Attack
Chris Long doesn't want to get fooled. That's the intention of the Carolina offense with all of its motion and misdirection and deception. The focus is on quarterback Cam Newton and running back Christian McCaffrey for a Panthers offense that relies on the running game first and foremost.
So for a defensive end, discipline is key.
"It starts with Cam. It starts with quarterback runs, their run game in general, Christian McCaffrey, we know (wide receiver) Torrey (Smith) well, kind of stretching the defense. They've got a number of good targets – (wide receiver Devin) Funchess, those tight ends are good ballplayers," Long said. "They have a lot of weapons. They play together and the run game is central. Not just the running backs but the quarterback run game with Cam."
Newton will use the read-option throughout the game, so the ends must stay within their assignments and keep the edge. Otherwise, Newton can break a long gainer.
"It's a lot that they throw at the defense," Long said. "They have dynamic playmakers and a dynamic scheme, too."
NIGEL BRADHAM: Giving Props To An Outstanding Veteran Tight End
Is Carolina tight end Greg Olsen heading to Canton, Ohio and the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday? Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham thinks so.
"Hall of Famer, man," Bradham said. "Look at his numbers."
In his 12th season, Olsen has 645 receptions (sixth all time among tight ends) for 7,637 yards (seventh all time among tight ends) and 53 touchdowns (10th all time among tight ends). It may be a stretch to think he will reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but Bradham's point is a good one: Olsen is a dangerous weapon in Carolina's passing game. Limited by a broken foot this year, Olsen has just six receptions for 81 yards. But he's healthy now and a threat to the Eagles' defense.
"He's a big guy and he gets open and knows how to find openings in the defense," Bradham said. "Tough guy and crafty. He's one of the best. I have a lot of respect for him."
Bradham and safety Malcolm Jenkins will likely see a lot of Olsen and hope to take him away from Newton as the Eagles' defense tries to hone in on the Panthers' tendencies and strategies through the five games they've played.
DEXTER McDOUGLE: A Whirlwind Career Lands McDougle Back With Eagles
Talk about an NFL journey. Dexter McDougle, signed by the Eagles this week given the rash of injuries in the defensive secondary, has played with the New York Jets (2014-16), Eagles (2017), Saints (2017), Jaguars (2018), and Lions (2018).
Now he's back in Philadelphia, and while he says his role has not yet been defined, it's possible that McDougle could factor into the equation substantially Sunday with safety Corey Graham and cornerback Sidney Jones both out with hamstring injuries.
"We'll see where they use me on Sunday. I'll just go from there and take it day by day. I'm just happy to be back," McDougle said. "It's been a lot of ups and downs, but that's how life is. I feel like I've gone about it the right way. I've always had a positive attitude. I've always stayed hopeful. Deep down, I always wanted to be back here. Being here last year, I love my teammates, I love the coaches. I love everyone in the building. When I got that call, I was really excited and really happy. I just wanted to make and impression and hopefully I'll continue to do that."
McDougle actually kept his playbook from 2017 so he is familiar with the scheme. He said the Panthers are "multiple" and have a lot of "guys that can hurt you" in the passing game.
Keep an eye out on No. 34 on Sunday. He could see a decent amount of snaps in the defense.
ZACH ERTZ: Bond With Wentz Developed Through Work, Work, Work
You know all about Zach Ertz and the red-hot start he's had in 2018. He knows Carolina will pay a lot of attention to him on Sunday and will be physical and aggressive with him. There will be times when Ertz will rely on the connection he has with quarterback Carson Wentz to make something good happen for the Eagles' offense.
"We've put a ton of work in together. This thing didn't happen overnight," Ertz said. "All of the reps we've had in practice, on the side during practice, after practice, in games, it's all paid off. We're always on the same page.
"We talk so much football, we watch so much football, that we always have these discussions about what we're going to do against each and every coverage against that defense that week. We're never going to be surprised by what the other person is thinking. We've repped everything so many times. Having a quarterback that is so smart, who loves the game and works so hard as Carson does, it makes my job easy."