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Spadaro: What's the vibe ahead of Eagles vs. Rams?

DeVonta Smith
DeVonta Smith

The West Coast waits for the Eagles, who have beaten the Rams in six of their last seven meetings and in 13 of the last 16 times the teams met. Philadelphia played in Los Angeles in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, winning each time, but Sunday will be the team's first game at SoFi Stadium. 

It's also the first Sunday-to-Sunday week for the Eagles in this 2023 season and it almost feels … normal. What are the Eagles thinking as they prepare for the 2-2 Rams? Let's take a weekly trip around the locker room … 

Jordan Davis: A big jump Year 1 to Year 2 

"I definitely have more confidence now than I did 12 months ago. Just being here for a full season, you know what to expect and how to prepare and what it takes to go out there and have success," Jordan Davis said. "You know that you're here for a reason, and being the first-round pick last year, I felt that, but now I'm seeing it every day." 

Davis started five games of the 13 he played as a rookie, battled an ankle injury, and showed a tremendous upside. In four games this year, Davis has 17 total tackles, 1.5 quarterback sacks, 3 quarterback pressures, 6 quarterback hurries, and a forced fumble.  

Quite a jump. 

"I feel a lot better out there seeing things, knowing the game more and having that experience, but I'm never satisfied," he said. "Nobody on this team is satisfied. We want to dominate every game. That's the mindset, so you just prepare to be the best every day and you see what happens. But, definitely, I feel the difference from last year to this year. And I'm still growing and improving every day."

DeVonta Smith: Always making it look so easy

It was a huge play, high-pointing a Jalen Hurts throw late in the first half against Washington and putting the Eagles in scoring position. Jake Elliott brought the Eagles to within seven points with the field goal and the Eagles scored on their next three possessions and Smith chalked up the 37-yard catch to just wanting it.

"It was about locating the ball and going up and getting it," said Smith, who has 22 receptions for 284 yards and two scores in four games. "I just saw the ball the whole time and made the play. It fell right and it was easy, actually."

Smith makes it look easy, but of course, it's anything but. He puts the work in to make sure he is as detailed as he can possibly be and that effort pays off. He and A.J. Brown have been outstanding through four games in an offense that Smith thinks has a lot of room to grow, even if the Eagles are averaging 29.5 points per game.

"I feel like we can be better in some areas, specifically in the passing game," he said. "We started off slow and we're picking it up now and there is always room for improvement. The Rams like to fly around to the ball, so we have to be ready."

From St. Louis to Los Angeles, the Eagles and Rams have had some intense battles. Check out the best moments and games in this week's Best Moments gallery.

Darius Slay: A reunion with Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford 

They were together in Detroit through some lean seasons – seven seasons total – and both cornerback Darius Slay and Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford have found success in other places. Stafford, of course, won the Super Bowl with the Rams in the 2021 season and Slay has been part of two Eagles playoff teams, including last season's Super Bowl squad. 

"He's one of my good friends and I'm happy for him," Slay said. "Guys were always questioning him and 'can he do this' and 'can he do that' and as soon as he went somewhere else, he showed everybody what he can do. 

"He's a smart dude, amazing arm talent. He gets it done. He's in that elite-arm-talent conversation. He can put the ball anywhere, fit it anywhere. Honestly, he's been doing 'no looks (passes)' before they had that going on. Now, everybody is hype about it." 

Slay and the secondary have a tough challenge against rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua (who leads the NFL with 39 receptions for 501 yards) and veteran star Cooper Kupp, who will likely see his first action after missing the opening four games because of a hamstring injury. 

"Every week is a challenge," Slay said. "This is the new challenge. They have a great offensive mind over there (Head Coach Sean McVay) and they're going to try to push it."

Sua Opeta: Quiet contributor thrust into prominent role

In his fifth season with the Eagles, Sua Opeta has played in 29 games, with four starts. He's a backup offensive lineman, so he doesn't get a lot of headline time.

That could change on Sunday.

Opeta is in line to start at right guard with Cam Jurgens sidelined, and all he has to do is prepare for Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the tough Los Angeles front. This is nothing new for Opeta, who has been up and down on the 53-man roster, has been on the practice squad, and has been part of 18 transactions since the Eagles signed him following the 2019 NFL Draft.

"You just stay ready and you prepare your best and listen to Coach Stout (Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland)," Opeta said. "You learn that things change in this league and the best way to be your very best is to prepare every day.

"I've always had confidence that I could play here, so when I get the chance, I'm going to go out there and do my very best."

The Eagles have a deep and talented offensive line, so having Opeta in reserve is a huge plus. He's a strong, explosive interior lineman with experience and he could be a central figure on Sunday.

"I just have to do my job," he said. "That's all I worry about, all I can control. It's about listening to Stout and paying attention to detail."

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