Jan 072011
Eagles CB Asante Samuel

Eagles CB Asante Samuel

January 7:

Philadelphia Eagles news and stories from around the web…

McCoy says Eagles may rely more on ground game against Packers

January 7 Philadelphia Inquirer:

LeSean McCoy made thousands – millions? – of Eagles fans ecstatic when he said Thursday that the Eagles plan to run the ball more against the Green Bay Packers.

It remains to be seen what coach Andy Reid thinks of his running back’s divulgence. Of course, McCoy’s candidness could just be part of the cat-and-mouse games opposing teams play against each other before a big showdown.

“I think so,” McCoy said when asked if the pass-oriented Eagles intended to rush the ball more. “Going into this game plan, I’m running the ball a little bit more. With [the Packers’] type of defense – a 3-4 – they kind of invite you to run the ball.”

There are a host of reasons why running the ball a touch more on Sunday would benefit the Eagles. And, yes, the Packers’ run defense – which has allowed a sixth-worst 4.7 average yards per carry – is one of them.

But exposing quarterback Michael Vick, who will be playing with a quadriceps bruise, to fewer hits has to be the primary motive.

“We’re going to run it a bit and kind of get him out of that pocket a little bit more,” McCoy said. “I think that, with play fakes, will help him out.”

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Baptism of fire for Eagles’ seventh-round rookies Chaney, Coleman

January 7 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Les Bowen:

“MIDDLE LINEBACKER and free safety are two critical positions in the Eagles‘ defense; in both cases, the guy occupying that spot carries responsibilities that extend beyond his own play.

So is it a problem that the starting middle linebacker and the starting free safety for this Sunday’s wild-card playoff game against Green Bay are seventh-round rookies? And that one of them will not just be making his playoff debut, but his third overall NFL start?

One of the few pieces of good news that seemed to come out of last Sunday’s regular-season-ending loss to the Dallas Cowboys was middle linebacker Stew Bradley’s assertion that he thought he would be able to play this week. But the next day, Eagles coach Andy Reid gently suggested that Bradley was being unrealistic, Reid noting that Bradley had little strength in his healing elbow. Reid said it was going to be “a stretch” for Bradley to play. Bradley has not practiced this week. Everyone involved now seems to assume rookie Jamar Chaney will again take Bradley’s place.

Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott insisted his unit will be just fine with Chaney in the middle and fellow seventh-round rookie Kurt Coleman, who is more experienced, at free safety, in place of second-round rookie and knee-injury victim Nate Allen.

“He was the first one here Monday morning,” McDermott said of Chaney. “He was gung-ho, getting ready to play, whether he was going to be the starter or not, based on Stewart’s health.”

McDermott wasn’t ready to concede yesterday that Bradley won’t play, but he said of Chaney, “the menu will be full in terms of what we ask him to do; he’s a good football player.”

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Jackson does good things for Eagles when the ball’s in his hands

January 7 Camden Courier-Post:

“Although DeSean Jackson is the Eagles‘ leading receiver in yards and leads the league in creative touchdown antics, he doesn’t receive special treatment from quarterback Michael Vick.

“You treat them all the same; they always feel like they are open, they all want the ball,” Vick said of the wide receivers. “They work hard. Out there in practice, it is like they are on the track team. You want to reward those guys; all they do is run.”

Vick, though, understands DeSean Jackson is a special player.

After all, the third-year pro was named to his second straight Pro Bowl after averaging a league-best 22.5 yards per catch.

“When he is involved in the game, our chances go up to score more points and moving the ball down the field, so you got to get the ball in his hands,” Vick said.

Last year, quarterback Donovan McNabb wasn’t able to get the ball into Jackson’s talented hands. Jackson caught just three passes for an uneventful 14 yards in the 34-14 playoff loss to Dallas.

In Sunday’s wild-card playoff game against Green Bay, Vick will make an effort to get the ball to Jackson.

“There are ways to get him in the game,” Vick said. “He always puts himself in position to be open.”

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Eagles must get creative on defense

January 7 Camden Courier-Post:

“With Aaron Rodgers slinging the ball around the field, the Eagles will need more than creative blitz packages to keep the Green Bay quarterback from getting too comfortable in the pocket.

The Eagles must also be able to cover Rodgers’ receivers Sunday. Really, it is that basic.

Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said Thursday he feels Rodgers is one of the best in the NFL at picking up the blitz.

“When we faced him the first week, they did a great job and the credit goes to their offensive line as well,” McDermott said of the Eagles‘ 27-20 season-opening loss to Green Bay.

With Rodgers so adept at beating the blitz, McDermott will need to dial up some creative coverages.

“It’s spread around to their receivers because they get open and they get open fast, and he distributes the ball extremely well and fast,” McDermott said.

McDermott will certainly employ nickel coverages in the wild-card round game at Lincoln Financial Field. What linebackers he will use remains in question.

Stewart Bradley and Ernie Sims had been used in the nickel packages, but Bradley has been out three games with a dislocated elbow, and McDermott said on Thursday he was “day-to-day.”

Meanwhile, Sims was pulled as the nickel backer in the second half of the Minnesota game.

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Samuel is the key to Birds’ chances

January 7 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Ashley Fox:

“He was not being arrogant, or flip, or disrespectful. He was being truthful, and that unabashed honesty is part of the beauty of Asante Samuel – or as he calls himself on Twitter, Thepresidentcb.

Asked for whom he would vote for all-pro at cornerback, Samuel leaned back in his chair, flashed that money smile, and said: “Myself, myself, myself.”

You better believe he meant it.

Samuel is the lone star on the Eagles‘ defense, the one guy with the hardware, the accolades, the numbers, and the respect. He is a two-time Super Bowl winner, a four-time Pro Bowler, and a onetime all-pro selection, albeit second team. This is Samuel’s eighth season in the NFL, and his eighth postseason. Some players, like Takeo Spikes, play their entire careers without sniffing the playoffs; Samuel has never missed one.

He knows more than any other player in the Eagles‘ locker room what it will take for the Eagles to advance past the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Play fast, physical, and as a unit. Hold the opposition to 17 points. And win the turnover battle. For that to happen, Samuel will have to be at his ball-hawking best.

The postseason is all about the almighty interception, that vaunted turnover that is so precious in the playoffs. If Samuel gets one, the Eagles will win. The Birds are 11-0 at Lincoln Financial Field when Samuel makes a pick. New England, Samuel’s first team, was 14-0 at home when Samuel made a pick.

“Turnovers are magnified, man,” Andy Reid said. “Your takeaway, giveaway, all of that, that’s very important; field position, very important.”

Samuel: very important.

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