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Spadaro: Visiting A.J., Albert O., and more in trip around Eagles locker room

Albert Okwuegbunam
Albert Okwuegbunam

After a welcomed bye week, the Eagles are back on the grind and preparing for the final eight games of the regular season. It all starts up again on Monday night at the Kansas City Chiefs in a highly anticipated prime-time game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. What has the locker room been like this week? Let's find out what the players are thinking ahead of the Week 11 contest ...

CB Bradley Roby: Ready to play

Bradley Roby signed with the Eagles in early October, just in time to suit up and play 25 snaps in the win over the Los Angeles Rams and 30 in the loss at the Jets. But a shoulder injury sent Roby to the sidelines and he has missed the last three games. So, yes, the bye week was perfect for Roby, who has practiced all week and says he "feels great and I'm ready to go" on Monday night.

"It was tough because I felt I was playing well and I was really happy to be out there," Roby said. "But that's football. You have to take advantage of everything and stay positive."

Roby used his time wisely, digging into the Eagles' playbook and becoming ingrained in the defense. In a sense, then, the rehab time allowed Roby to get mental reps and gain a better grasp of his responsibilities.

The hope is that when he returns to the secondary, likely in a nickel cornerback role, he will have a smooth transition.

"I know what I'm doing out there and, being in the league as long as I have," said Roby, in his 10th NFL season, "I feel I'll get out there and be ready right away. I'm excited to play again."

TE Albert Okwuegbunam: The position room has changed

Dallas Goedert won't play on Monday night and it's not been determined how long he will be out after suffering a forearm injury in the win over Dallas, so the tight end room has a different look with Jack Stoll, Grant Calcaterra, and Albert Okwuegbunam, the new guy at the position. The Eagles acquired Okwuegbunam in a trade with Denver in late August and since then he's been expanding his knowledge of the scheme.

Okwuegbunam has had success against the Chiefs in his career – 7 catches for 60 yards in a 2020 game, 3 catches for 21 yards a season later, and then 3 receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown in last season's regular-season finale. And he's been giving the Eagles' defense looks trying to replicate Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce in practice all week.

Could he be a factor on Monday night?

"That's not up to me, but if I'm called on, I'll be ready," he said. "I've probably learned four offenses in my time in the NFL, but this is the first time I've learned it during the season. It's been a little different in that aspect, but it's been going. I like what we do offensively and I enjoy what the coaches think and how they approach things.

"Gaining timing is tough because you don't get a lot of reps in practice during the season and there isn't any install. But I'm coming along and I'm confident in what I'm doing. When you're down a guy in your room so whatever opportunity I get, I'm going to take advantage of it."

S Kevin Byard: Much respect for the Chiefs' offense

Safety Kevin Byard and the Tennessee Titans went 4-2 against Travis Kelce and the Chiefs and now that he's an Eagle, Byard has a keen perspective of Kelce and quarterback Patrick Mahomes and what the Eagles might see on Monday night.

"Great connection. They know each other so well and things are done on timing and confidence and trust," Byard said. "There aren't many times when it's not clicking for them. The big thing you learn playing against Mahomes is that the play is never over. He avoids the pass rush and he isn't afraid to take some chances. He's a great player. They both are great players."

There is a whole lot more to the Kansas City offense than Mahomes and Kelce, but that combination is what makes the Chiefs go in most games. Bearing down and staying on the routes until the whistle blows, that is what Byard thinks is the key for the Eagles' defense.

"It's not just the first route. It's the second route and the entire play," he said. "The cerebral part of the game is something that Mahomes understands and he's on top of everything. He knows we want to put attention on 87 (Kelce) and he knows where his outlets are. They have new receivers, but you can tell they're on the same page with his checks. He's going to get his, but you have to get some turnovers, you have to hit him and stop the run, mix things up. It's a big challenge."

WR A.J. Brown: A fresh feeling after the bye week

Wide receiver A.J. Brown has been, as we know, a dominant force all season. He is already over 1,000 yards receiving and made history with six straight games of 125-plus yards. His look back at the Super Bowl as he watched film this week, Brown says, wasn't emotional. It was just football.

"It wasn't hard for me to watch. When it was over, when the game was over, I put that game to bed. I had to move on. We had to move on," Brown said. "We have a job to do and we know we have to play mistake-free football to win on Monday night. That's the challenge."

Kansas City's defense has been among the league's best, especially a young secondary that has grown in a season's time. Brown sees that when he watches the Chiefs play.

"They're playing really good football. They've matured. We've got to go out and make plays."

Brown enjoyed his bye week, kept it quiet, and relaxed. He returned feeling, well, ready to finish strong down the stretch.

"Refreshed," he said, smiling. "That's how I feel."

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