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Spadaro: Nick Sirianni sheds light on what makes this team special

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

As the NFL playoffs begin with Super Wild Card Weekend and we all stuff our days and nights with football watching, some news and notes from the Eagles as they finished up their week. It was a great week, from all accounts. Quarterback Jalen Hurts is on the practice field slinging it and progressing from his shoulder injury and extremely confident about what's ahead. Defensive end Josh Sweat says he is “absolutely” going to be on the field when the postseason begins. Offensive tackle Lane Johnson took part in Friday's practice and is aiming for a return to the lineup next weekend.

All wonderful, encouraging pieces of news as the Eagles – everyone, and that means everyone – take the weekend off. Anyway, here are some notes to chew on as the postseason begins ...

1. Head Coach Nick Sirianni dropped into the studio at the NovaCare Complex on Friday after practice and I asked him, among other things, how he feels about this team as it heads into the playoffs.

"This is a great, special group of guys that are close together, that want to win for each other, that want to play good for each other," Sirianni said. "That's what makes you feel good. That's what makes you feel good – the talent we have on this team, the guys we have on this team, the work that we got this week. I definitely see that as an advantage. Everyone is fighting for their football lives this week; we get to watch it.

"We've had a chance to watch what we did all season and we'll fix some of the things we did and all of those different things. It's an advantage and it's an advantage to be able to play at home and so we feel really good. We had a good couple of days of preparation this week and I look forward to next week when we're in preparation for our next opponent."

2. Will they watch football this weekend? "Of course," Sirianni said. Linebacker Kyzir White is going to make it a mission to couch-potato it as much as possible with his family. Running back Miles Sanders will check in "maybe a little bit." Wide receiver A.J. Brown will "watch a couple of different games, but not all weekend." Defensive tackle Jordan Davis is going to "watch some here and there, but I don't want to get too deep into it because then I start watching it like I'm studying it." Center Jason Kelce is going to be as "all in as possible," but there are two games on Saturday and three games on Sunday plus the Monday night game and, hey, the guys deserve to spend this weekend any way they want.

"We're not working, we get to relax and that's the important thing," White said. "It's the mental break that is going to be so nice. We'll get back here next week refreshed and ready to go."

3. Davis has played well in his rookie season and could be a significant factor for the Eagles in the playoffs as part of the very deep defensive tackle rotation. He was part of the University of Georgia's National Championship Team last season and played in the Southeast Conference, so there is no higher quality of college football in the land. The NFL playoffs, however, will be a new experience and Davis has heard others tell him there is a jump from the regular season to the postseason.

"Everybody is telling me it's going to be faster," he said. "There is a lot riding on the games – it's win or go home – and there is a lot of emotion going into, too. But at the end of the day I'm excited about it. I'm ready. I know all the guys are ready. We've been preparing. This week, we've been working on ourselves. That's the biggest thing."

4. Six Eagles were named to the AP All-Pro Team in a vote of 50 sportswriters and broadcasters nationwide. Two were first-team All-Pro – center Jason Kelce and right tackle Lane Johnson – and four more were named to the second team – cornerback James Bradberry, wide receiver A.J. Brown, quarterback Jalen Hurts, and linebacker Haason Reddick. This is Kelce's fifth All-Pro selection and only two other centers have been All-Pro five times since the 1970 NFL merger – Pittsburgh's Mike Webster (5 times) and Dermontti Dawson (6 times). Both Webster and Dawson are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Kelce's chances are very, very strong someday, but he sure is playing at the top of his game.

5. Johnson talked about returning to the practice field as well as his third All-Pro selection (to go along with four Pro Bowls) in the locker room.

On the All-Pro: "It's something you always strive for when you play. A lot goes into it. Obviously, having a great team around me, a great guard (Isaac Seumalo) next to me, great teammates, it all goes together. As you get older, your sense of urgency increases, so I'm happy."

On returning to practice: "It felt good. The goal was just to keep testing it and progressing it. I made a lot of progress this week. Looking to have a regular week next week and see how I feel."

Johnson said his progress is "encouraging" and he feels "a lot more confident" about his chances to play. He recognizes how special this season has been and the very real chance the Eagles have to do something in the postseason, and that's why he decided to pursue rehabilitation to heal the groin injury.

"I'm excited to be out there and feeling good," he said. "We'll see how it goes from here. Today was a good day for me. I just want to keep progressing."

6. The depth of this roster is incredible and Howie Roseman and his personnel staff deserve so much credit for making it all happen, and the coaches deserve kudos for putting the players in the right position to make plays and, of course, the players deserve a ton of credit. Two Eagles signed as unrestricted free agents – Reddick and Bradberry – made the All-Pro Team for the first time, understanding immediately that they made the right decisions and now further validating those moves.

"I'm extremely grateful and appreciative," Reddick said. "Finally being recognized, I'm taking these victories as they come. I'm not in the least satisfied, but it is gratifying. It's a team thing and that's what is important, but the individual recognition is nice and I'm going to build on these things."

Added Bradberry: "It feels great. I wouldn't be able to get the accolade without my teammates, especially the front seven. They pretty much dominated, and they made my life a lot easier. I've tried to be consistent and I feel I've had that kind of season. We have more games to play, so that's my focus, but this is a great honor and I'm proud of it."

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