We're nearly there. The long wait is about to end as the Eagles finish their week of preparation and then, on Saturday, take the team charter to Detroit to begin the 2022 regular season. There have been plenty of stories covered throughout the week, but let's go around the locker room – it's open to the media for the first time since the 2019 season – to see how some of the players are feeling for this game against the Lions.
There is a homecoming to consider, an Eagles debut or three (or four or five) to think about, and a new look for the offense. Without further ado, let's get after it ...
DE Brandon Graham: Going home healthy and ready to go
Defensive end Brandon Graham loves the scenario: Sunday marks his first game since suffering a season-ending Achilles tendon last September and he'll be on the field in his hometown of Detroit.
"It's set up for me this year already," Graham said. "Going back to Detroit, first game of the season, coming off injury. Had a great camp, just excited to go out there and show what we've been working on."
Graham expects a large contingent of his family and friend on hand, many of whom he said stopped watching last season when he was injured. He admits that emotions are going to be something he will have to handle when the game begins.
"It's giving me goosebumps just thinking about it," Graham said. "I'm already just imagining me walking out on the field, just hearing the boos, seeing some people in the crowd, knowing what section my family is in. Just soaking it all up."
WR A.J. Brown: Excited, but let's keep it in perspective
He's making his Eagles debut on Sunday so, yeah, A.J. Brown is excited about seeing how the offense plays in the opener at Detroit. But in the big picture, Brown is approaching it like any other Sunday. He has a "Dawg Mentality" every day, something he prides himself on.
"Let's not make it bigger than it is. We have to execute the game plan and play our best football, like every Sunday," Brown said. "We're approaching every day with the idea that Sunday is going to be the time to play our best football and to do that we have to be focused."
Hanging on Brown's locker at the NovaCare Complex is a sign that says, "Always Open," something that he has fun with and that is new to Philadelphia. Brown laughed when asked about the sign and said he should have taken it down before reporters entered the locker room, but it's there and it has meaning.
"It's most definitely a mentality you have to have as a wide receiver," Brown said. "Even when I'm covered, I'm open. Give me a chance. That's my mindset. It's a good thing Jalen (Hurts, quarterback) knows my mindset. I'm excited. He's excited."
LB Haason Reddick: Ready to get after it!
The way the Eagles trained in the summer has paid benefits, says linebacker Haason Reddick, who says his body feels better than it has ever felt heading into a season. Reddick admits it – he's hyped and ready to go.
"Every day that we get closer I get more excited, I get more pumped, I have more energy," he said. "Like today (Wednesday), I had to control myself at walkthough. I realized I was going a little too fast. I had to slow down just a little bit. I can't wait to get out there."
The Eagles have a plan for how to deploy Reddick but they've kept it under wraps. Sunday will be the unveiling, if you will.
"I can't wait to see how it goes and what I will be doing," he said. "We have some stuff that hasn't been seen and we're still working on some things. When the game starts, that's when we learn about ourselves."
RB Miles Sanders: Looking ahead to big things in offense
Running back Miles Sanders was a full participant in Thursday's practice and that's a good sign for the fourth-year running back and the Eagles' offense. Sanders has been rehabbing a hamstring injury for a few weeks and says he is "absolutely" ready for the opener after "attacking" the rehab work.
Looking to "making every play positive" this season, Sanders says all the pieces are in place for the offense. He's running behind one of the game's best offensive lines, a key for his success.
"Every year, we've been having the same guys since I've been here," he said. "I'm excited every year watching them for four years. They haven't lost a step. It's crazy."
Three seasons into his career, Sanders feels there is much more to accomplish.
"There is absolutely a lot more in the tank," he said. "I can only control what I can control. I only care about winning and controlling what I can control. I'm a team-first guy. It all starts by taking it one day at a time and grinding. That's what it has been all about this offseason. We just want to take it one day at a time and not look past anybody. On Sunday, it's time to ball out."
TE Dallas Goedert: Our WR will open things up for me
We all know that defenses will have a tough time deciding how to play against wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, right? Well, add tight end Dallas Goedert into the mix and it's a triple headache of sorts for coverages.
"I think it's going to be tough for defenses," Goedert said. "Smitty and A.J. are two tremendous football players, both in their own ways. They both bring a lot of different things to the table, but I'm really excited to take the field with them. Hopefully, they can help me out getting me open and I can do the same for them. I'm really looking forward to going down to Detroit and showing them everything we've been working on."
Goedert said he has "really high expectations for this offense, for this defense, for this team in general," and it all starts in Detroit. Goedert, like everyone else, has high praise for the progress made by quarterback Jalen Hurts but, like everyone else, we're all going to see how it plays out.
Beating Detroit 44-6 last season isn't a focus here because, as Goedert said, both teams are different.
"We just have to get after them from the jump," he said. "That's the focus. I'm looking forward to seeing how Detroit plays us and how we attack them. It's going to be a lot of fun. We know they're going to be fired up to play, and so are we."