Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles finish their second week of OTAs on Friday. They return on Monday, when coach Doug Pederson will start the week with a news conference. Before then, Carson Wentz hosts his charity softball game on Friday night.
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— Zach Berman
When linebacker Nigel Bradham watched the film of his season, he saw about seven pass breakups that should have been interceptions. In conversations with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz this offseason, Bradham has emphasized his need to finish more plays in 2018.
"I probably have a few gray hairs that I might not have if he had sealed some of those pass break-ups as interceptions," Schwartz said.
Bradham, 28, was one of the Eagles' most important defensive players the last two years. It helped him earn a lucrative contract during the offseason. He's also earned more respect around the league, although he's not a Pro Bowl player. Eye-popping statistics often help gain notice when being compared to other linebackers in the league. Bradham is a ferocious tackler, but he only has two career interceptions. That's a statistic he plans to change in 2018.
"I felt like last year I wasn't looking the ball in," Bradham said. "My eyes were looking downfield, trying to look to score. And that's where I made my mistake."
Bradham finished with a career-high eight pass deflections last season. The problem might not be his catching ability – Schwartz lauded his hands – but Bradham said he must slow down and focus on catching the ball. Then, he can look for the end zone.
"It'll come," Bradham said. "That's why I'm working. I've still got room to elevate my game. I know what I've got to attack."
If you remember, quarterback Nick Foles missed time last summer with a sore elbow. He did not have that problem during the season, although the throwing schedule is different compared to the offseason workouts and training camp. Doug Pederson is managing Foles' workload this spring. Pederson said that's not because of Foles' elbow, but rather so the Eagles can evaluate Nate Sudfeld. (They have a good idea of what Foles can do.)
Behind the scenes, Foles is making sure he keeps his elbow healthy. His warm-up is crucial – Foles learned the value of a pre-practice routine last year – and he's also been diligent about working on his body.
"I've been able to really push it in the weight room this offseason, which is great, so I can work on all the strengthening things," Foles said. "You play a sport a long time – I'm going to be 29 now – I've been very fortunate with my body throughout my career. Occasionally something happens like it did last year. You learn from it and you just take precautions so it doesn't happen again."
Carson Wentz will host his AO1 Charity Softball Game at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. with a home run derby at 6:30 p.m. and a game between the offense vs. defense at 7:30.
Wentz and Jordan Hicks will be the two coaches. Chris Maragos will be the on-field master of ceremonies.
The following 25 players will participate in the game: Corey Clement,Bryce Treggs, Zach Ertz, Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Jalen Mills, Mike Wallace, Stefen Wisniewski, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Nelson Agholor, Steven Means, Nate Sudfeld, Dallas Goedert, Sidney Jones, Jake Elliott, Nigel Bradham, Mack Hollins, Nick Foles, Richard Rodgers, Wendell Smallwood, Brandon Brooks, Rasul Douglas, Derek Barnett, Rodney McLeod, and Ronald Darby.
I don't think that would happen. If Carson Wentz is the starting quarterback, he'll take the first snap. Nick Foles should get recognized in some way, but that type of tribute isn't the way to do it. Frankly, Foles shouldn't want that, either. The first snap belongs to the starting quarterback. There's symbolism in Wentz taking the first snap, too. Foles will get his recognition, but he's the backup quarterback.
I think cornerback Sidney Jones is going to play a lot this season, and I can still see a scenario where he's on the outside in nickel and Jalen Mills moves to the slot. Maybe Jones plays the slot instead – there's much to be determined. But it's not out of the question for the Jones to be the Eagles' No. 1 cornerback by the end of the season. I'm fascinated to see how the positions are sorted out. Ronald Darby has a lot of talent, but must play better than last season. Mills does so much that Jim Schwartz likes and earned a starting job. It's a good problem to have this depth, but ultimately, the best players play.
As for Rasul Douglas, I don't think he'll be that third safety. The Eagles have kept him as an outside cornerback. I'd guess he's a reserve cornerback on the outside and not an inside player or a safety this season.