Eagles in the spotlight on Super Bowl Opening Night | Early Birds

Good morning, Eagles fans. Super Bowl week kicked off on Monday with Super Bowl Opening Night, and the Eagles had their fun at the made-for-television event.

They will begin their normal weekly routine on Tuesday, but there are extra media requirements. Doug Pederson will hold a news conference at 1:40 p.m., and 10 players will follow at 2 p.m.: Beau Allen, Trey Burton, Vinny Curry, Jake Elliott, Nick Foles, Tim Jernigan, Jason Kelce, Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills, and Torrey Smith. You’ll find around-the-clock coverage on Philly.com.

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— Zach Berman

The Eagles' Lane Johnson wearing a knit cap and sunglasses.
Camera icon DAVID MAIALETTI /Staff Photographer
Lane Johnson at “Super Bowl Opening Night” on Monday.

Lane Johnson ‘having fun with it’

Lane Johnson was a big attraction on Monday night. He wore sunglasses from Jay Ajayi so he could have more “swag.” and he answered repeated questions about the dog mask and Tom Brady.


Do you believe Tom Brady’s assertion that the Eagles are not underdogs?

“We’re here, I’m having fun with it,” Johnson said.

Remember Johnson’s comment after the NFC championship calling Brady a “pretty boy”? (He also called him the “best quarterback of all time.”) Johnson did not back off that comment on Monday and didn’t buy into the insinuation that it could motivate Brady.

“This is the Super Bowl; I don’t think you have to get fired up for this game,” Johnson said. “I don’t get the whole point about bulletin-board material. Put it by your nightstand, it’s not going to make you play any better.”

When asked about the boos the Eagles heard on Monday night, Johnson said he takes it in stride because the Eagles are in Minnesota and “they’re not happy about what happened last week.”

He liked how the dog masks have taken on a life of their own, and he has his mask in his hotel room. Maybe Johnson would pull it out for a Super Bowl parade if the Eagles win — Johnson is ready for more cameras if that happens, when he said there would be “outrageous stuff.”

“I want to win this game and get some type of documentary together for this parade,” Johnson said.

Malcolm Jenkins keeps Tom Brady’s interception ball as a souvenir

Between the Eagles and Patriots sessions on Monday, the captains of both teams took the stage together. A moderator asked Brady whether there was anything he wanted to say to Malcolm Jenkins about 2015, when Jenkins had a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown in an upset win over the Patriots in New England.

“I’ve got to make sure I don’t throw it to Malcolm,” Brady said.

Jenkins made sure to chime in before the subject changed.

“I do have that ball in my man cave,” Jenkins said with a laugh. “It’d be nice to get another one.”

Also while on the stage, Nick Foles said he watched Brady win his first Super Bowl and that the Pats’ signal-caller, who’s 11 years older than Foles, was “a guy I looked up to growing up.”

When Brady was asked to give advice to Foles, he suggested Foles didn’t need advice.

“He knows what to do. He’s a professional quarterback. He’s a great player,” Brady said. “Been a great player since he came into the league. … I heard a lot of great things from Nick. I know he’ll do a great job.”

Why the Eagles arrived early

The Patriots didn’t arrive in Minnesota until Monday. They’re Super Bowl veterans, and they stayed in New England until their first league obligation.

The Eagles came a day earlier. That was Doug Pederson’s decision and part of how he wanted the team to get adjusted to the hoopla of the Super Bowl.

“I wanted our team to get here and kind of get settled in, get used to the hotel, get set up, get our meetings room set up, and let our guys unwind,”  Pederson said. “We’ll work through tonight and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. It’s just a matter of prioritizing and putting what’s important first.”

Players had Sunday to explore the Mall of America, and they had a workout on Monday. They’ll have a walk-through on Tuesday and will practice Wednesday-Friday, like a normal game week.

The Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins leaps over a would-be Patriots tackler.
Camera icon Steven Senne / AP File
Malcolm Jenkins returns an interception for a touchdown against the Patriots in 2015.

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 From the mailbag

I received a similar question last week, but I chose this version to answer again because it’s such an important story line to the Super Bowl. There’s understandable concern that the Patriots will use a game plan similar to the one the Giants used against the Eagles that allowed Eli Manning to throw the ball quickly. Tom Brady can do it better — and with much better weapons. So what can the Eagles do? The Eagles won’t win this game if they don’t get pressure on Brady, and my guess is they play aggressive coverage to try to disrupt the Patriots routes and force Brady to hold the ball a second longer. The risk there is getting beat for a big play, which is why Rodney McLeod has such an important job as a deep safety. The other key for the Eagles will be open-field tackling — especially when the Patriots throw the ball to running backs out of the backfield. My guess is you’re going to see a lot of that on Sunday, and the defense can’t miss tackles. It must be all 11 swarming to the ball; Jim Schwartz requires his defensive linemen to chase down running backs in the screen game and short-passing game. The four-man rush will be its most effective if the Eagles can force the Patriots into long third downs.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Philly.com is collecting photos from Eagles fans this week. Tag your photos #OurPhilly on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and we’ll pick one each day this week to feature in this newsletter.