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Eagles News: Zech McPhearson taking on a new role

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 6/2/23.

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Eagles OTA observations: Zech McPhearson moves to slot, Nakobe Dean wearing the green dot - The Athletic
3. Two nominal position changes to note. The most significant is the move of Zech McPhearson inside as a nickel corner, where he worked during seven-on-seven drills with the first- and second-team defense. McPhearson has mostly played on the outside during his first two seasons in the league, while remaining on the sideline because of the good health of the starting cornerbacks above him. Cornerback is perhaps the deepest position on the roster, so showcasing the ability to play inside will help the 2021 fourth-round pick earn his way back onto the roster. He has been such a key special teams asset that the team would presumably like to find a way for him to stick. New defensive backs coach D.K. McDonald also noted after practice that McPhearson spent plenty of time in the slot in college. With Maddox and Scott out Thursday, McPhearson soaked in some valuable reps. The second position change for a former defensive draft pick was Kyron Johnson spending his day as an off-ball linebacker in the middle of the field, not on the outside as a Sam linebacker like last season. The addition of Nolan Smith changes the roster math for that Sam position, and the Eagles are desperate for linebacker depth. Up to you whether to read that as bad news that the team thinks Johnson is a worse edge rusher than Patrick Johnson or good news that it thinks he has the versatility to play a different role

OTA Stuff - Iggles Blitz
The Maddox injury explains why McPhearson was in the slot. The Eagles also have improved depth on the outside with Josh Jobe, Greedy Williams and Eli Ricks. McPhearson can slide inside and there are still plenty of good backup CBs. I’m sure the coaches would love McPhearson to beat out Josiah Scott. [...] I agree that Elliss is overlooked by some. He impressed last year on STs, but also when he played LB in some games. I was shocked because Elliss really struggled in the 2022 preseason. I definitely think he’s a player to watch. Maybe he’ll be the LB version of Marcus Epps…the player the team liked more than fans/the media and who turned out to be good. We’ll see how things go.

Eagles OTA practice notes ft. Jalen Hurts, Nolan Smith, D’Andre Swift, and others - BGN
Multiple media members remarked that Nolan Smith is bigger than they expected him to be. Smith’s activity in team drills was limited because he wasn’t going up against offensive linemen and obviously wasn’t allowed to truly rush the quarterback. But it seemed like he was out there for almost every defensive snap and he brought energy to the table. On one rep, he ran down the field to be one of the players stripping at the ball that Goedert had caught. The two had some words after that. Nothing that seemed heated, to be clear. But it’s not every rookie who goes up to an established player like that. Kinda speaks to Smith being that ‘bring it on every single rep’ player who might be best described as a dog.

Eagles OTA practice notes: Nolan Smith could be a fan favorite - PhillyVoice
There was punting! In fact, the Eagles had Arryn Siposs and undrafted rookie free agent Ty Zentner punting right of the media, almost as if they heard my pre-practice pleas. Each punter got eight punts, and I timed their respective hangtimes. The day was decisively won by Siposs.

Why Eagles’ Jordan Davis familiarity with Jalen Carter could lead to ‘freaky’ things on the defensive line -
There was a glimpse into that future during Thursday’s practice, when they donned their helmets and wore their white jerseys, joining the other defensive linemen who were working on firing off the ball. Although the two have not put on the pads and have not gone one-on-one against the Eagles starting interior offensive line, they already have an unspoken code on when they want to freestyle at the defensive line to throw off what an offensive lineman expects. “I’m like, ‘Hey, let’s get freaky,” Davis said. “If I want to jab inside, then make sure you cover me. Just stuff like that. He had three-plus years of experience with that at Georgia, so I could look at him a certain kind of way he gets the message.”

Why Eagles teammates are excited for Nakobe Dean’s big chance - NBCSP
Nakobe Dean has the green dot. That’s not surprising. We pretty much already knew that was going to happen. But as the Eagles took the practice field to begin OTAs this week, we actually got to see it in front of us. The second-year player from Georgia is the Eagles’ MIKE linebacker and wearing the green dot on his helmet, signaling his role as the on-field point man for the defense. “I’m proud of him,” second-year safety Reed Blankenship said. “Me and him, we’re pretty close friends. Just knowing him and knowing his work ethic and knowing his leadership role that he’s going to have to take, it feels really good to see him out there working. “He looks comfortable. He loves doing what he’s doing. He communicates all over the field and I feel strong about him.” The Eagles obviously feel pretty good about Dean too. Because they lost their two starting linebackers from the 2022 season and made just one significant addition, bringing in Nicholas Morrow. The middle linebacker job was always destined to be Dean’s and now he gets to prove to everyone that he deserves it.

Spadaro’s OTA observations: It’s the little things that add up -
Oh, there were some moments to enjoy, that’s for sure. Quarterback Jalen Hurts looked great throwing the football and showing that his timing with wide receiver A.J. Brown remains on point. D’Andre Swift, wearing jersey No. 0, looked quick and hard to cover coming out of the backfield on passing routes in 7-on-7 drills. Cornerback Darius Slay had a couple of pass breakups down the sideline. Linebacker Christian Elliss had a terrific, leaping interception and on the next play tight end Dallas Goedert made a nifty, lay-out, fingertips catch of a Hurts pass. The tempo was great. Very few balls landed on the ground in 7-on-7, and that’s a good thing. It was crisp and efficient, and the Eagles walked off the field healthy for another day. They’ve spent seven weeks together in the classroom and in the strength room and now they are on the field for these OTAs and the work is smooth and purposeful. The story of the day, if there was one, was Cam Jurgens lining up at right guard as the Eagles – who are going to explore all options at that position to see who earns the job – next to Jason Kelce at center.

What Browns’ Offense Could Look Like With Deshaun Watson in 2023 - SI
From David Kromelow (@dkrom59): Which team in the NFC is the best equipped to dethrone the Eagles and make it to Super Bowl LVIII? David, I still think it’s San Francisco. Yes, there’s the quarterback question, and that’s a big one. But their roster is really strong, and if you list the 20-somethings—Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk—and add them to the one graybeard (Trent Wiliams) in that mix, then consider the fleet of good players on their second tier, you’ll get an idea of what kind of team this could be. They’ll have more answers on where Brock Purdy is at in the coming weeks, and clarity there, one way or the other, should help, with Sam Darnold and Trey Lance also in the mix.

Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard named 5th most explosive runner in NFL last season - Blogging The Boys
While the idea of paying a running back even franchise tag money is not a popular one among Dallas Cowboys fans given recent history, it is hard to look at this information and not feel adamant about Pollard being in the fold of the team’s 2023 offense. When the ball is in his hands he is very difficult to touch and/or catch. For what it’s worth, there are only two running backs in front of Pollard on this list. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was number four and Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields took home the top spot. Jacksonville’s Travis Etienne (third) and Seattle’s Kenneth Walker III (second) are the only two actual running backs who beat out Pollard in this overall ranking. It is hard to know whether or not Pollard will beat them out (or anyone else for that matter) in a season where he is expected to have a significantly larger workload, not to mention the fact that he is coming off of injury. But it seems pretty fair to say that he had to be a part of what this team is going to do this year, in many ways he himself is the quickest path to the endzone.

ESPN names Giants ideal landing spot for veteran edge rusher - Big Blue View
One big question about a pickup like Houston, though, will be the money. Coming off a 9.5-sack season, he may want more money than the Giants have to pay him. He made $3.5 million with the Ravens last season, but that was coming off a four-sack year. GM Joe Schoen may be able to afford a similar deal, but he’s not going to give much more than that to an older specialist. Per Over the Cap, the Giants currently have just $3.8 million in both total and effective cap space. Of course, signing Saquon Barkley to an extension could give the Giants more cap flexibility. However, the deadline for that is July 17, and it seems unlikely that a deal will come together until closer to that date, if at all. The team can also make smaller moves like releasing Darnay Holmes to free up over $2.7 million, but that is more a final cuts move if the Giants like one or more of their other corners. Overall, Houston to the Giants is an interesting proposition and definitely one that Schoen should do his due diligence about.

The 5 O’Clock Club: Using veteran free agency to improve the Commanders LB depth chart - Hogs Haven
Here’s a selected list of free agent linebackers who are still on the market and available to be signed. All five players are under 30 years old and an argument can be made for signing each of them, though it’s important to realize that there will be a reason for a veteran player to still be a free agent in June — meaning that none of these guys is ‘perfect’. If any of them were, he’d’ve been snatched up in the March free agent frenzy.

NFL grows cardiac arrest work started after Damar Hamlin collapse - ESPN
The NFL is growing its coalition of sports organizations and medical and advocacy groups and expanding its work to help prevent fatalities from cardiac arrest following the events of Jan. 2, when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field in Cincinnati. After increased attention to cardiac arrest and the dangers of what can happen if the proper resources and training aren’t available, the NFL announced Thursday morning that it is expanding The Smart Hearts Sports Coalition to include 15 new members — bringing the total to 26 — with the goal of advocating for all 50 states to adopt policies that will help prevent fatalities from sudden cardiac arrest among athletes. New members include the WNBA, National Women’s Soccer League, United States Tennis Association and National Council of Youth Sports. The coalition, which also includes Hamlin’s Chasing M’s Foundation, was initially announced during the NFL owners meetings in March.

Tom Brady clears air about future with Raiders, FOX broadcasting job - SB Nation
Well, someone has stepped up to pour some cold water on those dots. None other than Brady himself. Speaking with Robin Lundberg of SI Now, Brady made it clear that his future is in the broadcast booth with Fox Sports, and in the ownership box with the Raiders. Not down on the sidelines.


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