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'Dallas Week' intensifies for the Eagles | Early Birds

Does the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry matter in the locker room?

Eagles' tight end Zach Ertz takes a knee before the Eagles played the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, October 30, 2016 in Arlington, TX.
Eagles' tight end Zach Ertz takes a knee before the Eagles played the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, October 30, 2016 in Arlington, TX.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Good morning, Eagles fans. This is a Thursday edition of Early Birds. The Eagles practice at 12:45 p.m. It's "Dallas Week," and everybody who has a microphone in front of them in the locker room has been asked some version of a rivalry question.

  1. Some of the hype is admittedly media-driven, but the players and coaches have a sense of what Eagles-Cowboys games mean to the Philadelphia fans. Coach Doug Pederson said, as a player in 1999, he remembered hearing about it all week leading up to Sunday. "It was like you just [say], 'I don't care what else happens the rest of the year, you just have to beat the Cowboys,'" Pederson said. "That's the mind-set of the city. … If you do win the football game, obviously the city of Philadelphia is, it's big, it's big for the city." Quarterback Carson Wentz is playing in his third Eagles-Cowboys game. He said he's "heard all sorts of stuff" from fans about the rivalry. "We don't take it lightly, either," Wentz said.

  2. For the Texas-bred Eagles, the rivalry can get personal. Take Lane Johnson, who's from Groveton, Texas. Johnson's grandmother cheered for the Cowboys during the playoffs last season. "I told her to shut her [butt] up," Johnson said. Will she root for the Eagles on Sunday? "I don't know, I hope so," Johnson said. "We'll see." When the Eagles realized they weren't going to make the playoffs last season, left tackle Jason Peters was even more bothered knowing the Cowboys were on the way to the postseason. "It's tough on me, because that's where I'm from," Peters said at the time. "That [stinks]."

  3. The new players on the Eagles quickly learn about the rivalry. Tim Jernigan said it's not discussed in the locker room, but he can tell its significance. "It's just kind of expected," Jernigan said. "Everybody knows what's going to go down Sunday. It's no secret." Jernigan experienced a bitter NFL rivalry between the Steelers and Ravens during his three years in Baltimore. "Especially this week as it goes on, you're starting to get that vibe a little bit," Jernigan said.

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— Zach Berman

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. Sunday will be the second full Carson Wentz-Dak Prescott matchup. They add a new element to the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry as two of the most promising young quarterbacks in the NFL.

  2. Want to know one area Wentz has improved this year? His eyes. Jeff McLane explains in this film breakdown using the voices of the players and coaches.

  3. If you're expecting LeGarrette Blount to complain about his role after the Eagles added Jay Ajayi, keep waiting. Bob Ford writes about a veteran who says he has no negativity.

  4. Lane Johnson continues to try to make up for last season's suspension, Paul Domowitch writes.

  5. Chip Kelly isn't here anymore, but the Eagles are trying to "win the day." The message comes from coach Doug Pederson, Marcus Hayes writes.

  6. Listen to the latest Birds' Eye View podcast for a breakdown of Ronald Darby's return and Tim Jernigan's contract extension.

  7. If you missed Wednesday's newsletter, the Eagles added Super Bowl experience to their roster.

From the mailbag

I don't think the Eagles have direct plans to get Will Beatty on the field, but he's insurance in case something happens to a starting tackle. The Eagles seem fine with Halapoulivaati Vaitai at left tackle. That likely won't be disrupted. And my guess is Isaac Seumalo will be active over Beatty, so he would enter a game if something were to happen to Vaitai or Lane Johnson. But the key with the Beatty signing is that he has game experience. Taylor Hart has not played offensive line in a regular-season game. So if the Eagles needed to start a reserve, there's at least confidence knowing Beatty has played in big games. This signing shouldn't be viewed as more than a depth piece, although depth often matters.