Good morning, Eagles fans. This is a Thursday edition of Early Birds. The Eagles practice at 12:45 p.m. and players will meet with reporters after practice. Running back Jay Ajayi is likely to be among the players who take questions.
By this time tomorrow morning, the Eagles might be NFC East champions. The Eagles can clinch their first division crown since 2013 without even playing a game if the Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys tonight. Washington is favored to win in Dallas. The Cowboys have dropped three consecutive games. Eagles coach Doug Pederson wants his players to know the Eagles are playing for more than the division title. "Obviously it's one of our goals to win the NFC East, but the bigger message is you're still playing and fighting for home field," Pederson said. "You're fighting for that first-round bye if possible. I mean, there's a lot of things that you're still playing for, even though you've checked the box for your first goal. It's great, love it, but the Eagles have also won a bunch of NFC East titles here, too. We're proud of it. It's a tribute obviously to the players, but there's something bigger out there that we strive for." If the Cowboys win Thursday, the Eagles can still clinch the division crown with a win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
You might have read that LeBron James said Carson Wentz is his favorite football player right now. That quote reached Wentz, who was a 10-year-old kid in North Dakota when James made his NBA debut. ""It's pretty cool," Wentz said. "A ton of respect for LeBron. When I was a kid, watching him tear up the league when he was a rookie. I love watching that guy play. He's unbelievable. Quite the talent. He's one of the most impressive athletes in the world. It's pretty humbling to hear that stuff."
When Eagles running back Corey Clement was a freshman at Glassboro High School, a guidance counselor told him she'd give him her BMW if he made it to the NFL. She followed through on her promise with Clement now in the NFL. "It was in the back in my head, I always bugged [out] about it when I went back to the high school games, I'd say, 'You know you still have that bet you owe me'," Clement said to a large gathering by his locker Wednesday. "Just yanking her chain a little bit. I'm not going to put pressure on. If they're going to do it, they're going to do it. The message isn't the car. It's that [when] people that really set themselves with a high goal, it doesn't mean you can't obtain it."
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— Zach Berman
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If you missed Wednesday's Early Birds, find out why crowd noise and Russell Wilson are in focus this week.
From the mailbag
It's certainly something that must be cleaned up, but it's uncharacteristic of this team, so I don't think you should be overly concerned. LeGarrette Blount hadn't fumbled this season before Sunday, although he fumbled in the Super Bowl last year. Earlier in his career, Blount fumbled more frequently. It's something to watch going forward. Jay Ajayi hasn't been here long enough, but he fumbled four times last season and lost one of them. So pay attention to his ball security, too. Jenkins doesn't have the ball enough to be concerned about fumbling, and Nick Foles and Blount probably didn't have their timing down. Big picture, I'd say it's too soon to be concerned. But Doug Pederson is sure making the players aware of it this week.