Big hopes for Smallwood against the Packers - Daily News
On Monday night, he'll likely have a chance to play an important role from the very start in a game the Eagles absolutely, positively must win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
"I really like what I see in Wendell, both in the run game and in pass protection," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said Friday of the 5-10, 208-pound running back out of West Virginia by way of Wilmington.
"I like everything about him. I think he's a really good football player and I think the more he plays, that's just going to show more and more."
Smallwood has only 57 carries this season, but has made the most of them. He is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, has 14 rushing first downs and eight runs of 10 yards or more.
Eagles vs. Packers: Five matchups to watch - Philly Voice
A week ago against the Seattle Seahawks' makeshift offensive line, the Eagles' defensive line had one sack for a loss of zero yards. That doesn't mean they didn't often beat their blocks when they were pass rushing. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson simply did an outstanding job eluding the rush and making plays on the run.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has also made a career of keeping plays alive with his feet and throwing on the run, as noted by Jim Schwartz.
"It's tough," said Schwartz. "There's a lot of carryover from last week with Russell Wilson. Puts a lot of stress on your defense from an ability to extend the plays. He's made a lot of plays this year with his feet, including scoring touchdowns, getting first downs. Also creating time to make plays down the field."
How well the Eagles adjust their game plan against a second straight mobile quarterback this week could be the difference between three-and-outs, or long extended drives.
Receiver Jordan Matthews revealed that the Eagles have tweaked their practice approach following a conversation between himself and Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. Typically, the first-team offense works against the scout team during the week, which usually consists of reserves and practice squad players. Now, members of the first-team unit are jumping in to give the receivers an experience that more closely resembles what they will face on game days.
"It's got to be competitive all week. We can't have guys just reading the card, and saying, 'Oh, just adjust on this double move,' and now we have this illusion that we're going to be getting open on Sunday, and now we have to go against a real corner," said Matthews. "So it's like, 'OK, if we've gotta go on this six-week win streak, then let's make this thing game day every single day.' Jenk and those guys committed to it, we did a little bit of it [Wednesday], and then that's also us going over to scout team offense and helping them out a little bit, and just keeping the competitiveness high."
Matthews made it clear that this is a player-driven initiative. He noted that coach Doug Pederson is careful not to over-work the players during the week, and suggested that he recently cut back on their reps to make sure they stay fresh.
Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame Q&A: Merrill Reese - Philly Mag
What’s your favorite non-Eagles broadcast you’ve ever done?
I did a lot of college basketball, I did some tennis and I’ve done a lot of other stuff. During the players’ strike of 1982, we picked up the Penn football games. There was a game when Penn was playing Harvard at Franklin Field and they were all but done and they had one last-gasp effort. They drove the ball down the field and set up the game-winning field goal from about 40 yards, and they missed it. It appeared they lost the game and then suddenly, I looked down and there was a flag. It turned out there was a roughing the kicker penalty on Harvard, they moved up 15 yards and Penn got to kick it again. They made it, they won and the stands at Franklin Field poured out. It was one of the greatest comebacks in Penn history.